Discovering More Panorama Exploration of Network using Random Walks Mind Over Matter Grand Mufti Delivers Talk on Islamic Unity News Update Fasting and Sustainable Development Department of Public Relations and Information Sultan Qaboos University Issue 249 View Point A Note of Thanks Mohamed Salem Al Ghailani Editorial Supervision Humaid Abdullah Al Adwani Editor in Chief Santhosh Muthalath Senior Editor Ahlam Al Wahaibi Design & Layout Rashad Al Wahaibi & Photography Dept., CET Photography SQU is going to a have special section added to its Main Library: a library for the visually disabled. This library will contain books in a specially designed format that can be read by visually impaired readers. Thanks to Qalhat LNG, for funding this project. Every person deserves the opportunity to enhance their lives through access to the books that teach, entertain and inspire. Bringing access to libraries of books to the blind is truly one of benefits of the digital revolution. The new section for the visually disabled is expected to have large selection of mainly donated English language books on audio-tape, CD, journals, and large-print books and more. The normal books can be scanned and digitalized using special software, which can be used by the visually impaired or downloaded to devices that read the text aloud. Qalhat LNG, is funding the special library project at SQU as part of the former’s corporate social responsibility. The company’s policy earmarks one percent of its annual net profit for different social service initiatives and charity. The library project is a testimony of Qalhat LNG’s commitment to its well-developed social investment program adopted since inception. This reflects the Company’s dedication towards developing Omani society in different fields. This initiative will enhance further cooperation between Qalhat LNG and SQU, and let us hope the project will achieve the desired results and goals in serving student with visual disabilities to contribute effectively in the development of their academic knowledge. Another industrial organizations, Oman India Fertilizer Company (OMIFCO) had donated a substantial amount to SQU to purchase electronic note-takers for the visually impaired students. As part of this initiative, 11 visually impaired students received the special equipment this year. The visually impaired students received note-takers for the blind with a Braille keyboard and Braille display. This equipment has the capabilities of a word processor, web browser, schedule manager, and media player, for use at work, home or school. There are 77 students with different disabilities study at SQU, 11 of whom are visually impaired. Let’s hope that more private and public sector companies will come with new projects to support the needy in the society. Horizon invites contributions from SQU members of staff and faculty. Contributions in the form of articles, news, travelogues, stories of unique and interesting experiences, encounters, etc., are welcome. Contributions may be edited for the sake of clarity and length. Please send your contributions to [email protected] preferably, as MSWord attachments. Authors will be suitably credited. The views and opinions expressed in the articles published in this newsletter are those of the authors and are not to be construed as the official views of the publication. Horizon is published three times a month by the Department of Public Relations and Information, Sultan Qaboos University, P.O. Box 50, P.C. 123, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman. Phone: +968 24141045 E-mail: [email protected] 20 September 2012 P2 Fax: +968 24413 391 Website: www.squ.edu.om Grand Mufti Delivers Talk on Islamic Unity News Update New Facility at SQU Hospital His Eminence Sheikh Ahmed bin Hamad Al-Khalili, the Sultanate’s Grand Mufti delivered a lecture on “The Islamic Unity: Reality & Expectations” at the Cultural Centre of SQU. The lecture comes within a series of guidance programmes and awareness lectures organized by the Religious Guidance Department at the Students’ Affairs Deanship. HE Dr. Ali bin Saud Al Bimani, Vice Chancellor of SQU was present on the occasion. The Grand Mufti called for motivation among Muslims and stressed the need for unity among them in an era characterised by rapid changes in all fields. He called upon the students to excel in the realm of science and knowledge without compromising Islamic values. He observed that Islamic values, which involves doing good and keeping away from all the evils, is good for the nation and the world at large. New Employees Taken Around Muscat The Cultural & Social Activities Section at the Department of Public Relations and Information at SQU organized a trip around Muscat for nearly 70 people consisting of newly joined staff at the university and their family members. The participants were taken around the capital area, Muttrah and old Muscat where they visited The Sultan’s Armed Forces Museum in Bait al Falaj Fort and Al Alam Palace and other places of interest. The participants expressed satisfaction over the first phase of the trip. Most of them captured images of various places including the Muttrah Corniche, Old Muscat and other parts of the city in their cameras. The tour was concluded with a grand buffet lunch at Al Quaram. The participants were taken good care during the trip by providing them with snacks and drinking water whenever required. Every year, the Department of Public Relations and Information organizes one day trips for new employees and their family members. Sultan Al Saadi, Head of the Social & Cultural Activities Section said that during the second phase of the trip, the employees will be taken around the water springs in Al Rustaque and other places in the Al Batinah region. The automatic system for transferring samples of medical tests was inaugurated at SQU Hospital recently under the patronage of HE Dr Ali Bin Saud Bin Ali Al Bimani, Vice-Chancellor of SQU. Dr Ahmed Bin Salim Al Mandhari, Director-General of SQU Hospital, said the need for this system is because of the constant demand to improve and develop the services provided in order to make it easier for patients and reduce cost, as well as minimising waste of financial and human resources. “Several studies showed that the hospital needs to reduce the time taken to dispatch samples and get results. With this project the hospital could achieve various goals, inter alia saving energy of human resources, reducing time of dispatching samples and consequently getting results quickly”, he said. Eng. Juma Bin Said Al Jabri, Director of Technical Affairs department of SQU Hospital, said the project reduces 80 per cent of the time required to get the result and increase time spent on medical and nursing staff with the patient, as well as reducing the risks caused by manual transport and human conditions which may cause damage to the samples subjected to many circumstances, whether human or natural. The inauguration ceremony began with a detailed presentation of the project by Eng. Abdullah Bin Said Al Hinai, Head of Maintenance Section at Technical Affairs Department, in which he touched upon the stages of implementing the project and the prior visits that were undertaken to find out the views of the users of this system and to identify the rules in various hospitals, such as Malaysia, Austria, Saudi Arabia and Ireland. He noted the challenges — such as not placing the sample in the container the right way, and then viewing the documentary material of similar systems for the project and stages the sample goes through from one station to another and system control methods. 20 September 2012 P3 Insight which provides a death blow to the love of the comforts and luxuries of this world. Zakat is for the welfare of the unprivileged people of the community. It is the blessing of Allah (SWT) for the giver as well as for the receiver, as it improves the total economy of the nation. Zakat establishes a community on a humanitarian ground. It removes the economic hardship for the poor and needy and reduces the inequality among different groups of people from the community. Zakat satisfies the recipient’s needs and alleviates his financial as well as mental sufferings. However, all of these benefits we receive from the fasting month of Ramadan. Today where familial relationships are strained because of working hours, fasting month of Ramadan comes across as a cementing force that binds people. In an atmosphere of pervading piety the entire family sits together for iftar and suhr. This benefit of Ramadan has been more acutely observed by Muslim families particularly residing in western countries where it is rare to find all family members together at a meal. The fasting month becomes a source of education for the youngsters and adults alike in Islamic values and teachings. At the end of month, a family emerges stronger, more united, more God fearing, more humble, more grateful for the blessings of Allah (SWT). By: Dr. Mohammad Zakir Hossain Associate Professor College of Economics and Political Science Fasting and Sustainable Development The word sustainable is now a very popular and frequently used word for many reasons both developing and developed countries in the world. A working definition for sustainable development is offered by Rees in 1989 as “sustainable development is a positive change of the social systems upon which communities and societies are dependent”. The prior requirements for sustainable development of a community are manifold; they range from physical development to moral development, from individual development to collective development, from worldly development to spiritual development. This article highlights how fasting can be useful to remove hungry and poverty from the community, to strengthen family bonds, to increase interaction with relatives, to tighten the social integration, which are very much important and essential ingredients for sustainable development of a community. First of all, we discuss how fasting is useful to remove hunger of the poor people. A fasting person experiences the plight that many of underprivileged people undergo around the community. In experiencing the pangs of hunger, one realizes the suffering of the poor and his heart opens up for charity and feeding the hungry. One gets to realize the great bounties of Allah (SWT) in shielding him from want and hunger. Thus a fasting person develops a feeling of gratitude towards Allah (SWT). This feeling of gratitude motivates a person to value the blessings he has received and becomes more humble. He develops feeling of compassion towards the suffering of poor people of his community and this training leads to a humane revolution within him. This training is intended to develop austerity and avoidance of extravagance among the community people. We know that almost all Muslims in the world pay their Zakat during the fasting month of Ramadan because every good deed that is done in this month will receive a multiple rewards from Allah. Zakat is an obligation binding upon every wealthy Muslim. It is the minimum amount of charity that a person has to pay. Apart for the obligatory Zakat, Muslims have been urged to give as much charity as possible. The rewards of voluntary charity are much greater in fasting time than any other time. The act of giving such charity kills the miserliness within a person and reduces the poverty from the society 20 September 2012 P4 The Messenger of Allah (SWT) said: He who gives food for a fasting person to break his fast, he will receive the same reward as him, except that nothing will be reduced from the fasting persons reward.” (Ahmad, Tirmidhi, Ibn Maajah). Because of this hadith, fasting month becomes a month of increased interaction with relatives. People invite each other for iftar and end up with sharing the spirit of bonding. The neighbors and relatives are connected more often and the rights of neighbors and relatives are more strictly observed in this holy month. With most of the people praying five times in masjid, the Muslim community appears vibrant and united and reflects the living and vibrant religion of Islam. The fasting month of Ramadan is a signal for a mass movement towards equality and social integration which is not limited to one community or even one country but affects the whole Muslim world. The rich and the poor may stand shoulder to shoulder in one row in the mosque, but in their homes they live in different environments. A great social barrier thus exists between the two classes, and this barrier is removed only when the rich feel the pangs of hunger like their poor brothers and go without food throughout the day. This experience has to be gone through, not for a day or two, but for a whole month. After the obligation of fasting is done, all Muslims are required to pay sadaqat-ul-fitr before the Eid prayer. The purpose of this special chairity is to ensure that the poor people join with the rich in the celebration of the Eid festival and none should be left from celebrating from such a joyous occasion. Through this charity after end of fasting, occasion of Eid brings equal joy to everyone, rich and poor alike of the community. However, all these collective benefits of fasting can be obtained only if the true spirit of fasting is upheld. In that case the benefits of fasting will become manifest within the individuals as well as in the entire community which could bring its sustainable development too. If a community as a whole fails to understand the moral, spiritual and social benefits of fasting then the entire exercise would become a mere ritual. Mind Over Matter Exploration of Network using Random Walks Dr. Farha Al Kharousi and Dr. Zuhoor Al Khanjari, researchers in the Department of Computer Science at SQU, studied methods to improve the cover time (exploration time) needed to explore or visit all computers (nodes) in a network using random walks on graphs. In this era characterised by Information and Communication Technologies, large networks are plenty. Obtaining information from these networks is a real problem. Examples of such networks include the World Wide Web, and social networks such as Twitter and FaceBook. These networks are very large, change over time and are essentially unknowable or do not need to be known in detail. They are highly interlinked and can be viewed as part of a larger whole. New social networks appear frequently, and the influence of these networks on social, economic and political aspects of everyday life is substantial. Searching, sampling and indexing the content of such networks are a major application area a substantial user of computer time, and likely to become more so in the future. The evolving use of these networks is changing social and economic behaviour. Improving the ability to search such networks is of value to us all. “Random walks” are a simple method of network exploration, and as such, are particularly suitable for searching massive networks. A random walk traverses a network by moving from its current position to a neighbouring vertex chosen at random. Decisions about where to go next can be taken locally, and only limited resources are needed for the search. The exploration is carried out in a fully distributed manner, and can adapt easily to dynamic networks. The long run behaviour of the walk acts as a distributed voting mechanism, in which the number of visits to a vertex is proportional to its popularity or accessibility. Speeding up random walks, to reduce search time, is a fundamental question in the theory of computing. The price of this speed up is normally some extra work which is performed locally by the walk, or undertaken by the vertices of the graph. Dr. Farha al Kharousi and Dr. Zuhoor al Khanjari, researchers in the Department of Computer Science at SQU, studied methods to improve the cover time (exploration time) needed to explore or visit all computers (nodes) in a network using random walks on graphs.”We investigated some approaches to speeding up random walks on graphs and evaluated the performance of forward random walks (FRW), which try to avoid going back to recently visited nodes, and multiple random walks in extensive experiments involving various types of graph topologies. Most of our experiments were on networks with high diameter, since computer networks are expected have such property and the basic ran- dom walk performs relatively poorly on such networks”, the researchers said. The observation from their experiments with forward random walks is that on some random graphs with large, linear diameter shows quadratic cover time, similarity to the basic random walk, but for any forward rand walks which remember some previous visited nodes at least 2, shows sub-quadratic cover time. “We also observed that if we modify forward random walk with memory of more knowledge about the visited nodes, then a sub-quadratic time can be obtained also for forward random walk that remembers only a previous visited node”, they said. Multiple random walks is another approach that is used to improve the performance if random walks. A multiple random walk is a collection of simultaneous random walks by 2 or more agents. The random walks of different agents may be fully independent or they may interact when they meet in the same node. It was found that “the level of improvement of the performance of the multiple random walks over the performance of the basic single random walk depends on the structure of the graph”. The improvement is better on high diameter graphs than on graphs with short diameters. The broadcasting to all agents is faster than the exploration of the network and the exploration is faster than the broadcasting to all nodes. The study proves that “the differences between the times taken in these processes may be large if the number of agents is small, but the performances of these three processes converge when the number of agents grows”. These results tell that forward and multiple random walks improve the exploration process of random walks in some graphs. According to Dr. Farha al Kharousi, the results indicate a number of possible directions for further work, with the aim to resolve the open question whether the cover time of such walks are linear. “It is important tofind theoretical explanations of, or at least develop further experimental insight into, our observations that the forward random walk has sub-quadratic cover time. Further studies may be conducted on random walks with limited memory to establish what the best way to use the available memory is. There is scope to investigate in more detail, the convergence of the broadcasting information to all agents and broadcasting information to all nodes of multiple random walks when the number of agents increases, aiming at obtaining theoretical quantitative results, she said. 20 September 2012 P5 News Round Up Rare Recognition for DOMAS Professor Prof. Dr. Ibrahim A. Eltayeb, Professor in the Department of Mathematics & Statistics of the College of Science at Sultan Qaboos University, was elected Corresponding (Foreign) Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society of Edinburgh. This is a prestigious appointment which is based primarily on the high quality of research he has conducted. This indicates the high quality of some of the research carried out at SQU. Prof. Eltayeb was invited to the Induction Ceremony of the new Fellows on 14 May 2012 at the Head Quarters of the Society in Edinburgh and he was inducted into the Society by the President of the Society, Sir John Peebles Arbuthnott, together with three other Corresponding Fellows. Election to the Royal Society of Edinburgh is possible only if the candidate is nominated by three Fellows of the Society and then the application has to go through four levels of assessment before the names are put to the ballot by all the Fellows of the Society. In particular, the election of Corresponding fellows , which is made from those who are not domiciled in the British isles or rarely not British, is more considered more difficult as they are considered more senior than normal Fellows. As a result the Society has 1570 Fellows and only 65 Corresponding Fellows. Engineering Students Design Concrete Canoe A group of Civil Engineering students from the College of Engineering successfully designed a canoe which floats above the water surface. To design concrete canoe, the students applied physics and concrete technologies such as Archimedes law, structural analysis, and application of different materials. The objective of this project was to produce a low density mix for the canoe to float, and to produce high strength, and design structure of the canoe which allows it to float above the water surface, by selecting the length, shape and depth of the canoe. Amani Al Shaqsi, one of group members said that their work comprised two phases; in the first phase, the mold for the canoe was ready for casting. In the second phase, several lightweight mix designs were developed in order to achieve the desired mix according to high strength and low density. “The project provided the students with an opportunity to gain hands-on, practical experience and leadership skills by working with concrete mix designs and project management”, she said. The Royal Society of Edinburgh is an educational charity, registered in Scotland, operating on a wholly independent and non-political basis and providing public benefit throughout Scotland. It was established by Royal decree in 1783. The Fellowship includes people from a wide range of disciplines - science , technology, arts, humanities, social science, business and public service. This breadth of expertise makes the Society unique in the UK. The production of the canoe were done in five main stages. The first step was the hull design which depends mainly on pure physics and dynamics. The second step was the structural analysis which depends on static and strength of materials courses, where the canoe is dealt with as a simply supported beam, and shear and bending moment diagrams. The third step was the concrete mix design, where the students produced concrete with low density and strong in compression and tension. The fourth step involved reinforcing the concrete to provide low density to the total composite, for example fiber mesh reinforcement. Finally, the fifth step was the construction process which included mold construction, casting and finishing. Ibrahim was born in a small village on the River Nile about 500 kilometres north of Khartoum, Sudan and was educated in government schools in Sudan. He was awarded a scholarship to study Mathematics in the United Kingdom. He graduated from the University of London in August 1968 and proceeded to read for PhD at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. He returned to Sudan and took up the post of lecturer in mathematics at the University of Khartoum in April 1972. He was subsequently promoted to Senior lecturer, Reader and then to Full Professor in 1980. He joined Sultan Qaboos University as a Full Professor in August 1986. Amani Al Shaqsi further said that the main difficulties faced during the project was to collect the raw materials from outside market. The canoe was tested in July and the experiment has been successful. The student group, ‘Helden’, consisted of Amani Al Shaqsi, Abdulmalik Al Qutaity, Aiman Al Ghazali and Marwa Al Mukhaini. This is the first ever successful attempt in the Arabian Gulf to build a concrete canoe that floats on water. The canoe has been named ‘Miracle’. This student project was supervised by Dr. Abdulla Al-Saidi, Dr. Salim Al-Oraimi and Dr. Ahmed Sana, academics in the Department of Civil & Architectural Engineering along with the technical staff in the Department. SQU Takes Part in GCC Meeting in UAE sociate Professor at the department of Geography in the College of Arts and Social Sciences. The meeting came up with a number of decisions, including the resumption of the publishing of issues III and IV of the association journal. The decision was taken after sufficient materials were made available for the two issues. The meeting also restructured the editorial and advisory boards of the journal. A number of the association boards were assigned to follow up the activation and updating of the association website. SQU participated in the first meeting of the Board of Directors of the GCC Geographical Association hosted by the University of United Arab Emirates. SQU was represented by Dr Salim Bin Mubarak Al Hatrooshi, As20 September 2012 P6 The meeting developed a plan for a scientific conference under the title ‘Geography and GCC Countries: Prospects and Concerns’ hosted by Al Medinah Al Monawarah, as the city has been selected as capital of Islamic culture 2013. Dr Salim Bin Mubarak Al Hatrooshi was chosen to chair the scientific committee to prepare for this conference. Panorama Discovering More By: Santhosh Muthalath Each small town in India offers distinctive experience to the travellers. The size of India is twenty times that of Great Britain and it is as large as Europe excluding Russia. The population of some of the states is more than that of many important countries of the world. It presents one of the most remarkable arrays of geographical, climatic and attendant economic features with racial, linguistic and religious differences. Photo courtesy of: Lucy Ahmed Of late, I along with Dr. Mushtaque Ahmed, Director of the Centre for Environmental Studies & Research at SQU and his family, ventured into a short tour to three South Indian states Kerala, Karnataka and Goa. In fact, I was born and brought up in Kerala and used to work in media organizations in this state before taking up my career in SQU. Before my first overseas life in Oman, I had very little experience of travelling and exploring the vastness and variety of the Indian subcontinent. For me, this trip was an opportunity to dig into “a very small extent” of my homeland. An ardent traveller, Dr. Ahmed has explored as many as 50 different countries spanning almost all the continents. However, he admitted that the South Indian tour that spanned ten days added a lot to his international travel experience. His wife Lucy, a painter, was busy capturing the scenes along the western coast of South India and a few hilly terrains a Kerala, using her small digital camera. I am sure that quite a few of these images would be transcribed into paintings or motivate her to do some vivid creations. While travelling through central Kerala, the splendour, variety of designs and the architecture of the Christian churches attracted the attention of Lucy. She did not spare even a single image of church buildings seen along the roadside from the memory disc of her camera. Boating in Vembanad Lake at Kumarakom in Kottayam district was a pleasurable experience as the place was gifted with the natural beauty of Kerala. We could also see lots of indigenous birds species like owls, waterfowl, egret, heron, deck, cormorant, cuckoo and the moorhen. Migratory birds like the flycatcher, Siberian crane, lark and many more are the speciality of the nearby Kumarakom Bird sanctuary. Thekkady in Idukky district of Kerala was next in our itinerary. Thekkady is bestowed with the largest wildlife sanctuaries in India is a dream destination for any tourist visiting India . The Country’s sole Tiger reserve, Periyar , with its bountiful treasures of tropical flora and fauna is the ultimate reservoir of many an endangered species and a rich tribal culture. The boating in the large lake took almost two hours. Unfortunately, not many wild animals except a few Sambar deer and a couple of bison appeared along the coast to add pleasure to our cruise. Most of the roads including the national and state highways were not up to the mark if you attempt a comparison with international standards. It took more than 10 hours to travel 400 kilometres stretch from Mangalore to Goa along National Highway 17. The gutters caused by torrential Monsoon rains, absence of streetlights and incomplete works cause inconvenience to all motorists. However, Dr. Ahmed and family were puzzled at many contrasting features of India such as the splendours of temples, mosques and tombs, alongside the squalor of her villages, the intellectual brilliance of the educated men and women at the top, alongside ignorance and superstition of the majority of people. Goa, a tiny emerald land on the West Coast of India, was marked with natural scenic beauty, abundant greenery, attractive beaches and temples and churches with distinctive style of architecture. We spent three nights in Goa before returning to Kerala. Goa was a relatively clean, beautiful place, with no overpopulation, no slums, no poverty, no beggars, no pollution and most importantly, hospitable and peaceful people which are the essential ingredients for enjoyment and rejuvenation. New concepts like Night Bazar, Cruise Casinos, etc, are also emerging in this small state. The rich cultural heritage of Goa is an extreme contrast to the rest of country. Goa is a place where you can find people accepting the presence of all major religions without ego or hesitation. Due to the Portuguese rule in this place, the culture has invariably picked up on the Portugal cultural heritage. This lovely state is the perfect example of the East meeting the West. Along with Portuguese churches, you find ancient Hindu temples where people of different religions come to pray. At the same time, you will find people enjoying themselves in playful abandon on the gorgeous beaches of Goa. The co existence of different religious, traditional and cultural sentiments is what makes Goa a heady place to visit. Throughout the trip, Dr. Ahmed was initiating discussions on different topics, most of them about India including its social and political history and cultural heritage. Though I am Indian, my knowledge about the country was limited (not necessarily because I don’t take the efforts to know more, but the ocean of knowledge about this country is so vast), hence these discussions opened up new vistas of knowledge for me. As a result of this trip, I realise that it is a arduous task to construct a systematic ethnography of the teeming millions of Indian population. Different ethnic groups came to India as invaders, mingled with the Indian population and developed their own civilization and language. India contains a large variety of human types. The ethnological differences gave rise to a large number of languages. The linguistic survey of India records as many as 179 languages and 544 dialects. All the main religions of the world are found here along with religions which are born here. To sum up, this trip reminds me Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem ‘Ulysses’: “Yet all experience is an arch wherethro’ Gleams that untravell’d world whose margin fades For ever and forever when I move.” 20 September 2012 P7 Straight Talk Dr. David J. Fine Dr. David Fine is the President and CEO of St. Luke’s Episcopal Health System in Houston, Texas (USA). St. Luke’s is a multi-hospital system and founding member of the Texas Medical Center (the world’s largest medical center). It is also the home of the Texas Heart Institute and is affiliated with Baylor College of Medicine and The University of Texas Health Science Center. In his 35 years of experience as a healthcare executive Dr. Fine has served as a CEO of university hospitals, multi-hospital systems, medical groups and managed care organizations. In addition to being CEO, he holds professorial appointments at Rice University, Baylor College of Medicine (with tenure) and The University of Texas Health Science Center. Horizon: Could you please tell a few words about yourself? Dr. Fine: While being CEO has been one of my primary pro- fessional goals, educating the next generation of leaders in health care administration has been equally important. I served as Regents Professor and Chair of the Tulane University graduate program in Health Systems Management from 1990-1999. I have been particularly honored by a number of awards that have recognized my dedication to this profession; including the Doctor of Philosophy degree (Honoris Causa) from the University of Southern Mississippi in 2007 and the Martin Luther King Special Humanitarian Award of the University of Cincinnati. In 2011, I was honored by the American College of Healthcare Executives, who established an academic scholarship in my name. Could you please give an outline of the existing collaboration between SLEHS and SQU? Horizon: In January 2012, St. Luke’s signed a ten year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Ministry of Health under the leadership of H.E. Dr. Ahmed Al Saidi. The MOU calls for collaboration and exchange between our organization and Oman in a variety of areas including medical training, education and research. We have parallel agreements with Sultan Qaboos University Hospital (SQUH) and Royal Hospital that call for a variety of focused educational programs. The first phase is to focus on Allied Health and Nurse training and clinical exchanges in Critical Care and Cardiac Medicine. Toward this end, we have already received five technicians from SQUH who have spent several months in specialized areas at St. Luke’s in Houston. This rotation exposes the trainees to a variety of patient conditions in a high-acuity setting that will further advance their knowledge and patient care skills. As part of the collaboration with the Ministry of Health, training programs will be broadened to include physicians and St. Luke’s will work with SQUH and Royal Hospital to develop platforms for clinical research. Dr. Fine: Horizon: Is there any scope for extending and strengthening the joint activities between the two institutions? The collaboration between St. Luke’s and Oman will focus on improving and optimizing treatments for diseases with high prevalence in the United States and Oman. Our particular focus on cardiovascular disease is one in which SLEH is a recognized world leader and one that is important for Oman as cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death. U.S. News & World Report has ranked the Texas Heart® Institute at St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital among the nation’s top 10 centers for cardiology and heart surgery every year since the survey began in 1991. In 2011, St. Luke’s ranked fourth in the USA. St. Luke’s and Texas Heart® have collaborated on some of the most important medical Dr. Fine: achievements in cardiovascular history — including my country’s first successful heart transplant, the world’s first total artificial heart transplant, and effective methods of preventing heart attacks by reducing the formation of artery blockages. Horizon: In your view what are the advantages for continuing this kind of cooperation between the two healthcare institutions? Dr. Fine: We are honored to be associated with Oman and the Ministries of Health and Higher Education and share a common focus on high quality patient care and education. In an age where medicine is constantly evolving, clinical leadership is critically important to the delivery of safe, effective and high quality patient care. Leaders must have adequate academic training and receive ongoing education in order to remain current in the proper treatment of increasingly complex diseases. In order to develop expertise in a certain clinical area, it is important for clinicians to see a high volume of cases. With nearly 40 heart catheterizations and 12-15 major heart surgeries daily, St. Luke’s offers an opportunity for Omani trainees to see many patients in a short time. Horizon: How far the two sides have been successful in reaping the benefits of this cooperation? Dr. Fine: The MOU signed in 2012 is the first step in exploring a range of additional opportunities that would be of interest to the Hospitals and Ministries, in keeping with Oman’s Health Vision 2050. We have been gratified by the degree of interest that leaders in Oman have placed in this relationship and their clear commitment to making the collaboration a success. We are only at the beginning of a robust partnership to improve the health status of our communities and prepare clinicians to lead the future of medicine.