HALBAN Under the auspices of H.E. Ahmed bin Abdullah bin Mohammed al-Shehi, Minister of Regional Municipalities and Water Resources and the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany, H.E. Thomas Schneider as well as the Ambassador of Japan to the Sultanate of Oman, H.E. Mitsugu Saito, the 3rd International Symposium on Flash Floods in Wadi Systems (ISSF) entitled “Disaster Risk Reduction and Water Harvesting in the Arab Region” was opened on the 5th of December at the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) in Halban. “To understand the nature of flash floods including the forecasting of wadi flows, a multi-disciplinary approach is needed. This unique and important symposium gathers geoscientists, hydrologists, physicists, urban planners and architects. I am confident that the conference will contribute to establishing an improved flood management,” said Prof. Dr. Michael Modigell, Rector of GUtech in his welcome speech. More than one hundred local and international experts, including Japan, Canada, Morocco, Saudi-Arabia, Jordan, Iraq and Germany are attending the three-day symposium, that includes an excursion to the Fulaij Flood Protection Dam in Sur as well as a pre-conference training workshop on “Flow and Sediment Transport Modelling in Rivers and Wadi System using TELEMAC 2D and 3D numerical codes”.
According to the researchers, the occurrence of flash floods worldwide and in particular in Arabia has increased in recent years. “Flash floods are caused by extreme weather conditions. Their occurrence is highly random and the associated problems are expected to increase in the near future due to climate change. Therefore there is an urgent need for flash flood protection and risk reduction. In addition, rain water can be considered as a valuable resource for water harvesting and used for example for agricultural purposes.” said Prof. Dr. Ekkehard Holzbecher, Hydrologist at GUtech. Prof. Ekkehard, who has been conducting a joint research project on water harvesting with Wageningen University in the Netherlands. “To improve flood management, the Ministry of Regional Municipalities and Water Resources in Oman has prepared comprehensive studies on flash-flood prone cities and detailed maps of those hazards to illustrate high and medium risk areas in the Sultanate of Oman” said Rashid bin Yahya Al Abri, Director General for Water Resource Assessment at MRMWR. A total of 156 dams exist in Oman; 107 are storage dams (e.g. Wadi Dayqah dam), 46 are recharge dams (e.g. in Al Khoud) and three are protection dams (e.g. in Salalah).
“Population growth, urbanisation, poor infrastructure, the absence of response plans and socio-cultural factors have increased the exposure and vulnerability of arid areas on the Arabian Peninsula,” said Saeed Alharbi of the University College Dublin (Ireland) during his talk on the assessment of exposure to flash floods in an arid environment, based on a neighbourhood in Jeddah, Saudi-Arabia.
The participants of the annual symposium have been working on a 5year Road Map towards establishing a framework of international guidelines for the management of flash floods in wadi systems. This framework includes international research projects, international management guidelines, continuous monitoring of the wadi systems, modelling of the wadi flows, as well as continuous public awareness through education and health services.
The Department of Applied Geosciences (AGEO) at GUtech with Prof. Ekkehard is a member of organizing committee of this symposium, that is organized in cooperation with the Water Resource Research Center in Kyoto (WRRC), the Global Alliance of Disaster Research Institutes (GDRAI) of the Disaster Prevention Research Institute (DPRI), Kyoto University, and the Ministry of Regional Municipalities and Water Resources (MRMWR). Moreover, the symposium is sponsored by Hölscher Wasserbau GmbH, COMSOL Inc., Al Bustan Construction as well as Gulf Lake. The organizers also wish to acknowledge all support received from the Association for Hydro-Environment Engineering and Research (IAHR).
Since 2015 the Symposium on Flash Floods in Wadi Systems was held in Kyoto (Japan) and in Campus El Gouna (Egypt). For further details and registration please check out the conference website http://isff2017.gutech.edu.om/
Caption: Opening ceremony of the International Symposium on Flash Floods in Wadi Systems held at GUtech
© Text : GUtech/ Dr. Manuela Gutberlet & Dr. Ahmed Haddidi; Photo: GUtech/ Media Center