Water and Sustainable Development
Panorama
BPA (Bisphenol A): Our Stolen Future?
Mind Over Matter
Counselling Centre Launches Spring Events
News Update
Phytoremediation for
Diesel-contaminated
Soils of Oman
Department of Public
Relations and Information
Issue 311
View Point
We Have a Lot to Learn
Mohamed Salem Al Ghailani
Editorial Supervision
Santhosh Muthalath
Senior Editor
Sara Al Gheilani
Nasebah Al Muharrami
Translation
Ahlam Al Wahaibi
Design & Layout
Photography Dept., CET
Photography
Salim Al Sudairi
Circulation
SQU-info
What you learned is important. It is more important to learn how
to learn and keep learning, because things change so rapidly, and
knowledge can get out-of-date very quickly. In this context, we have
to think if the particular expertise that we acquire remain relevant
and put us at an advantage in the real world. There is, of course a
real distinction between degrees and education. There are ongoing
discussions that degrees may not be as important as they used to be.
However, one thing is certain: education, or the ongoing process of
discovery, is absolutely essential. Becoming an expert in a field of
study is and will continue to be important only if you keep learning.
Therefore becoming an expert at learning is invaluable.
“Knowledge” is not a static commodity that one can go out and acquire once and store up in a shelf for later use. Such a knowledge is
neither useful nor sustainable. Instead, we need a perpetual state
of learning, of taking in all the new information that’s coming our
way, and using it to increase our understanding, which allows us to
drive innovation. The most valuable kind of learning you can do is
to learn how to adapt and innovate, not to memorize but to contribute, not to consume but to create.
The future of education will be driven to a large extent by mobile
technology, so learning will certainly be digital, but it’s no longer
limited to a “digital classroom” as we define it today. Instead, it is
both contained and uncontained. Education exists anywhere there
are curious people who are networked and eager to learn and contribute. It is a two-way street that enhances collaboration and enables both real and virtual lectures by the world’s best and two-way
conversations. It’s all devouring. It doesn’t limit itself to a course
syllabus but modulates the lessons to suit the demands of the day.
In our rapidly transforming world, learning is still paramount, but
the old trappings of education perhaps matter less. The notion of
the school is getting unraveled, expanded, rebooted, and integrated
much more with real endeavors in the real world. And we all have
a lot to learn.
@SQU-info
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]
30 March 2015
P2
Fax: +968 24413 391
Website: www.squ.edu.om
News UpCounselling Centre Launches
Spring Events
The Student Counseling Center of Sultan Qaboos University launched its
spring events, the aim of which is to enhance the skills of individuals in
dealing with academic challenges, social and personal developments. The
first one in the series is a set of group counseling and training programs on
specific skills for a number of students in a group delivered by specialists
from the Student Counseling Center.
The program coverd a range of important topics, such as “Dealing with the
loneliness, by Dr. Abdel Fattah al-Khawaja, “The Emotional intelligence
skills” by Dr. Aisha Ajwa , “Presentation Skills” administered for students
with visual disabilities by Dr. Maha al-Ani , “ Behavior management “ by
Muhammad Al-Rawahi and “ Believe in yourself and achieved what you
want, “by Dr. Abdul Hafiz Amer.
The Center also launched the first lecture in developmental counseling
program titled “The secret of success in university life” in cooperation with
the Language Center, delivered by Dr. Samira Al- Hashmi. Dr. Aisha Ajwa
gave an evening lecture for the students within the outreach counseling
program on Monday, March 9, entitled “What hurts me from my friend”
(the limits of friendship).
In association with Centre for Community Service & Continuing Education, Dr. Aisha Ajwa delivered a lecture about the “Impact of modern communication messages use” on the evening of Sunday, 8 March at the Social
Club of the Sudanese community in Falaj Ruwi. The Student Counseling
Center continues its activities during the academic year at the university in
cooperation with stakeholders outside the university.
SQU Hosts Representatives
from UK Universities
The International Cooperation Office at Sultan Qaboos University, recently organized a get together for representatives from a number of
higher educational institutions in the United Kingdom, who participated in the UK Education Expo in the Sultanate. The representatives
from the UK higher educational institutions were received at SQU by
Dr. Shahid Mahmoud Al Balushi, Expert-International Cooperation
Office, and Assistant Dean for Postgraduate Studies & Research, College of Economics & Political Science at SQU. Assistant Deans responsible for postgraduate studies and research from different colleges at
SQU, attended the event, interacting with delegates from the British
universities and higher educational institutions with focus on prospective student exchange and collaborative research between SQU
and the UK institutions.
Kate Clarke, Managing Director of Al Ahlam Higher Education Services, the company that hosts UK Higher Education Expo in Oman,
said: “We are hosting representatives from as many as 30 educational
institutions from different parts of the United Kingdom, which includes universities, English language schools, and Pathway Providers, which provide study and language preparation programs. The
aim of the visit to SQU is to interact with academics and officials at the
university to explore avenues for future research collaboration and
exchange of students and faculty members”. She further said that UK
is the number one destination for English language study and ranks
second in the world for university education. “The UK is a great place
to study whether it is for undergraduate, post-graduate, or language
development”, she added.
Students Showcase Civil & Architectural Projects
color in architecture, as the Civil and Architectural Engineering Group
seeks to refine and strengthen the talent of the student by merging theory
and practice.
The White City exhibition was divided into two sections: the first section
belonged to civil engineering where the students displayed coastal engineering, environmental engineering, transport and communications engineering , soil engineering, and related engineering projects and ideas.
The second section was earmarked for architectural engineering, the projects showcasing the blend of Omani architectural traditions with modern
technologies in the field.
The Civil & Architectural Engineering Group at the College of Engineering recently organized the “White City” exhibition at the exhibition Hall
of Sultan Qaboos University. Honored Sheikh Dr. Al Khattab bin Ghalib
Al Hinai, Member of the State Council presided over the opening of the
event.
The exhibition introduced the specialization of Civil & Architectural Engineering, and showcased the work and efforts of the students. The idea
and the name of exhibition was derived from the philosophy of the white
Commenting on the efforts of the students, Sheikh Dr. Al Khattab bin
Ghalib Al Hinai said: “ I am happy to open this exhibition of students.
Every time I visit SQU, I’m more and more impressed with the progress
and output from SQU. The university is research output is impressive
whether it comes from students or faculty members. The Civil & Architectural Engineering Group, organizes several events throughout the
year, including training sessions on several engineering programs, visits
to several geometric cultural landmarks, and recreational activities and
competitions.
P3
30 March 2015
Insight
Phytoremediation for Dieselcontaminated Soils of Oman
By: Dr. Prabha Padmavathiamma, Suad Al Lawati & Dr. Mushtaque Ahmed
College of Agricultural & Marine Sciences
Phytoremediation describes the treatment of environmental problems through the use of plants that mitigate
the environmental problem without the need to excavate
the contaminant material and dispose of it elsewhere.
Phytoremediation consists of mitigating pollutant concentrations in contaminated soils, water, or air, with
plants able to contain, degrade, or eliminate metals, pesticides, solvents, explosives, crude oil and its derivatives,
and various other contaminants from the media that
contain them. Phytoremediation may be applied wherever the soil or static water environment has become polluted or is suffering ongoing chronic pollution. Examples
where phytoremediation has been used successfully include the restoration of abandoned metal mine workings,
reducing the impact of contaminants in soils, water, or
air. Contaminants such as metals, pesticides, solvents,
explosives, and crude oil and its derivatives, have been
mitigated in phytoremediation projects worldwide.
The abundance of petroleum products in Oman occasionally results in spills contaminating soils and water.
Diesel, like all fossil fuels mainly consists of mixtures
of hydrocarbons, the most common group of environmental contaminants observed in industrialized countries. It contains sulfur, nitrogen and oxygen in low
concentrations and metals such as lead, nickel, copper,
zinc and uranium. Petroleum products in large concentrations are highly toxic to many organisms, including
humans. There is a pressing need for an effective, lowcost, and sustainable technology for the remediation of
hydrocarbon impacted environments of Oman.
Phytoremediation, which involves plants and their
associated microorganisms to remove or break down
contaminants, is a promising technology for the remediation of hydrocarbon-contaminated soils. Phytoremediation can be successfully employed for the remediation of a broad range of environmental contaminants,
including organic compounds such as petroleum hydrocarbons, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs),
organic solvents, metals and pesticides. It involves a
combination of different phyto-strategies that result
in better remediation of the contaminants. These processes comprise stabilization of contaminants within
the matrix, plant uptake and removal, transformation
to nontoxic forms, and stimulation of soil microorganisms capable of degrading the contaminants. Plants not
only degrade organic pollutants directly by their enzymatic activities (phytodegradation), but also stimulate
30 March 2015 P4
the rhizosphere microbial community which may cause
the degradation of organic pollutants by microorganisms (rhizodegradation). Nonetheless, the potential of
plants to increase the degradation of contaminants varies between plant species. The selection of plants with
improved growth and performance in hydrocarboncontaminated soils under the climatic conditions of
Oman, is the key area for the development of phytoremediation in Oman.
A study was conducted by researchers in the Department of Soils, Water & Agricultural Engineering at
the College of Agricultural & Marine Sciences on the
comparative efficiencies of identified plant species for
phytoremediation of diesel under the arid climatic conditions of Oman. Diesel contaminated soil was brought
from Barka for the study. It is important to differentiate
between anthropogenic contamination and background
or natural levels to accurately evaluate of the degree of
contamination in an area. The background soil used in
the present study had almost the same physico-chemical characteristics as that of the contaminated soil except that the soil is not contaminated with the diesel.
The effect of compost in complementing phytoremediation was also studied by applying compost at 10 % and
20 % levels to the tested soil. The study was conducted
by using two plant species, Rye grass (Lolium perenne)
and Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon) in the experimental farm under natural photoperiod between April
and June 2014.
The efficiency of plants in the remediation of total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH) was assessed in terms of
TPH concentration in soil and plants (root and shoot)
at 90 days after planting. A 65 % reduction in total petroleum hydrocarbons was noticed by the growth of
Bermuda grass, which was significantly higher than the
values obtained by the growth of Rye grass and Natural
Attenuation. The root excretions as well as the microbial growth in the rhizosphere of Bermuda grass with
high root biomass (9.6 g/pot) might be the attributing
factors for high TPH degradation. The organic compounds released by the roots triggered the microbial
growth in the rhizosphere, which stimulated the rootcontaminant interactions, favoring more degradation of
TPH in soils grown with Bermuda grass. Overall, the
promising attribute of Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon) for remediation of petroleum hydro carbons in the
diesel contaminated soils was revealed from the study.
Mind Over
BPA (Bisphenol A): Our Stolen Future?
Mrs. Jansirani Natarajan
Lecturer
Fundamentals & Administration
College of Nursing, SQU
BPA stands for Bisphenol A. BPA is an industrial chemical that has been
used to make certain plastics and resins since the 1960s. BPA is a chemical
found in hard plastics and the coatings of food and drinks cans which can
behave in a similar way to estrogen and other hormones in the human body.
BPA is used to make many products, including water bottles, baby bottles,
dental fillings and sealants, dental devices, medical devices, eyeglass lenses,
DVDs and CDs, household electronic
and sports
equipment. BPA can also be
found in epoxy resins which
is used as coatings inside
food and drinks cans.
Bisphenol A is an endocrine
disruptor
- a substance which
interferes with the
production,
secretion, transport, action, function and
elimination of natural
hormones. BPA can
imitate our body’s own
hormones in a way that
could be hazardous for
health. Babies and young
children are said to be especially sensitive to the effects
of BPA. Some research has
shown that BPA can seep into
food or beverages from containers
that are made with BPA. Exposure
to BPA is a concern because of possible
health effects of BPA on the brain, behavior and prostate gland of fetuses, infants and
children. One study found that BPA levels can
rise by two-thirds if people drink from polycarbonate bottles. A breastfed baby will have much lower
levels of BPA compared to a bottle-fed baby.
Heart disease (females) - BPA can cause heart disease in women,
scientists at the University of Cincinnati found.
Heart disease in adults - another US study linked BPA exposure to diabetes
and heart disease in adults.
Sex hormones in men - an August 2010 study linked BPA exposure to
changes in sex hormones in men.
Male impotence – Dr. De-Kun Li, a reproductive and perinatal epidemiologist at Kaiser Permanente’s Division of Research in Oakland, California,
reported in the journal Human Reproduction that BPA exposure may raise
the risk of erectile dysfunction. Sexual desire and problems with ejaculation
were also linked to BPA exposure among men.
Type 2 diabetes - A UK study linked higher levels of urinary BPA to type 2
diabetes, cardiovascular disease and liver-enzyme abnormalities.
Brain function, memory, learning - US researchers linked BPA exposure to
loss of connections between brain cells in primates, potential problems with
memory and learning, as well as depression.
Women’s eggs - Californian researchers found that exposure to bisphenol A
may affect the quality of a woman’s eggs retrieved for in vitro fertilization
(IVF).
Chemotherapy - University of Cincinnati scientists found that BPA exposure may reduce chemotherapy treatment efficacy.
Breast cancer - A Yale School of Medicine study found a possible increase
in breast
cancer risk among females exposed to
BPA and DES (Diethylstilbestrol) in
the womb.
Asthma - A US study suggested a link between
increasing asthma rates
and a particular threshold of BPA.
However, the Food and
Drug Administration
(FDA) has said that BPA
is safe at the very low
levels that occur in some
foods. This assessment is
based on review of hundreds of studies. Although
public authorities set BPA
safety levels, many experts
believe these levels should be
reviewed after a number of recent
studies were published. The Endocrine Society, USA, in 2009 expressed
concern in a public statement over current human exposure to BPA. A CDC
(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
study found 95% of adult human urine samples
and 93% of samples in children had bisphenol A.
The FDA is continuing its review of BPA, including supporting ongoing research. In the meantime, if you’re concerned
about BPA, you can take these steps to reduce your exposure:
Seek out BPA-free products. More and more BPA-free products have
come to market. Look for products labeled as BPA-free. If a product isn’t
labeled, keep in mind that some, but not all, plastics marked with recycle
codes 3 or 7 may be made with BPA.
Cut back on cans. Reduce your use of canned foods since most cans are
lined with BPA-containing resin.
Avoid heat. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, part
of the National Institutes of Health, advises against microwaving polycarbonate plastics or putting them in the dishwasher, because the plastic may
break down over time and allow BPA to leach into foods.
Use alternatives. Use glass, porcelain or stainless steel containers for hot
foods and liquids instead of plastic containers.
But the bigger implications are for what it foretells about the FDA’s approach to assessing risk and its move to incorporate 21st Century science
into its regulatory decisions. That’s good news for public health.
P5
30 March 2015
News Round
SQU Academic’s
Book Adjudged Best
A book co-edited by Dr. Mohamed
Essa, Associate Professor in Food
Science and Nutrition Department
at Sultan Qaboos University, Dr.
Mohammed Akbar (NIH, USA)
and Dr. Mushtaq Memon (WSU,
Pullman), titled “Food and Brain
Health”, has won the award in the
category of “the best health and
nutrition book – institutions” and
qualified for the next world competition of the Gourmand World
Cookbook Awards, which will be
held in Yantai, China in June 2015.
This book is the one of the outcomes of the project funded by
The Research Council of Oman
to Dr. Mohamed Essa. Benefit of
food (fruits, vegetables and nuts)
on brain related diseases are discussed in this book. The book has comprehensive collection of research studies/review articles that will benefit
students at various levels, researchers in several disciplines (such as alternative medicines, nutrition, neurosciences, agriculture, food science
and medicine) and many others interested in the discipline. The authors
have accumulated many years of experience in their respective scientific
fields including natural compounds and their potential beneficial effects
on human health. The articles are written by experienced researchers from
various countries including USA, Australia, Japan, India, China and Oman.
From SQU alone, 11 chapters were published out of 27 chapters.
The Gourmand World Cookbook Awards were founded in 1995 by Edouard Cointreau. It is free competition and open to publishers in all languages and countries. The Gourmand Awards celebrate global cookbook
publishing and feature many world renowned chefs each year. It is sometimes described as the “Oscars of food awards” The main aim is to honor
the authors and to increase knowledge and respect for food culture, which
promotes peace.
Lecture Highlights FaultTolerant Systems
Dr. Afaq Ahmad, an academic from Department of Electrical and
Computer Engineering at SQU was recently invited to deliver an expert lecture at Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) University, New Delhi, India. The topic of the invited expert lecture was “Trends and Issues in
Fault-Tolerant Systems”. During the delivery of this lecture, Dr. Ahmad emphasized about the ethical responsibilities towards reducing
the risk factors and working towards the design of dependable sustainable systems. Dr. Ahmad presented the global cases and scenarios
of failures which eventually resulted in heavy damages of lives and
economy by ignoring the test procedures and ignoring the ethical responsibilities. He also, presented many examples to demonstrate that
how we invite the risks and how we can reduce the risk factors.
The lecture was targeted to faculty members, researchers and students
of the faculty of Engineering and Technology of the university. In the
last part of his lecture Dr. Ahmad gave a call to the students – “Future
Engineers” seriously understand your ethical responsibilities and the
true meaning of higher education. It is must, to inculcate a culture of
evaluating “Risks” thoroughly and truthfully. Further, he highlighted
the importance of failure confinements and their recovery procedures.
Dr. Ahmad reminded about the IEEE Code of Ethics and called upon
the engineers to accept responsibility in making decisions consistent with the safety, health and welfare of the public, and to disclose
promptly factors that might endanger the public or the environment.
He also advised the audience to maintain and improve our technical
competence and to undertake technological tasks for others only if
qualified by training or experience, or after full disclosure of pertinent
limitations; and to seek, accept, and offer honest criticism of technical
work, to acknowledge and correct errors, and to credit properly the
contributions of others. Dr. Ahmad highlighted the uttermost need of
reliable and dependable systems. He further emphasized that more
pace of research is required to cope the challenges of the fast growing
technologies. He spoke about the mechanisms for improving system
reliability and lowering maintenance cost.
Poster Award for Nurse Educators
Congress aiming to bring scientists, surgeons, oncologists and nurses together to work for breast cancer awareness from 28th to 30th
October, 2014 at AlBustan Palace Hotel, Muscat. In relation to the
theme of the conference , “Dr.Umberto Veronesi Founder Award“
was declared for the best poster.
Mrs. Frincy Francis and Mrs. Sheeba Elizabeth J won the best poster
award titled “Sensitize the young , say HI to early detection and BYE
to breast cancer”. The winners were honoured by Dr. Adil Alijarah
Alajmi, Sr.consultant ,SQUH, Dept. Of Surgery and the award was
sponsored by Prof. Umberto Veronesi , President of EURAMA and
senior oncologist in European Institute of Oncology,Italy.
The European – Asian Society for Breast Diseases, in collaboration with SQU hosted EURAMA – 2014 , the 3rd International
30 March 2015
P6
The poster was a research study done among the adolescent girls
by organising a education programme on TLC ( Touch Look and
Check) technique to make them aware of breast cancer , signs and
symptoms and the techniques for early detection.
Panorama
Water and Sustainable Development
supplies. Today we have serious concerns that algae
bloom or other human made interventions might interrupt the intakes of our plants and we may not have
sufficient water “in stock” to overcome such periods
of shortage or “scarcity”, Dr. Ralf Klingbeil observed.
On the occasion of World Water Day 2015, the Water Research
Centre at Sultan Qaboos University, in association with the Department of Soils, Water & Agricultural Engineering at SQU, and
the Ministry of Regional Municipalities & Water Resources, organized a workshop on “Water and Sustainable Development”
on 18 March. H.E. Mohammed Abdullah Al Mahrouqi, Chairman
Public Authority for Electricity and Water, chaired the opening
ceremony of the World Water Day activities at SQU.
Dr. Ralf Klingbeil, Regional Adviser Environment and Water, Sustainable Development Policies Division (SDPD), at the United
Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UN
ESCWA), Beirut, Lebanon, gave a talk on “Water for Sustainable
Development – Water for the Future We Want”. He said: “Without water there is no dignity and no escape from poverty. At
global, regional and national levels, water, its availability and accessibility in sufficient quantity and adequate quality has become
a central element of concern for any progressive socio-economic
development of our societies. Without the sustainable use of water there is no long term sustainable perspective for our development and prosperity”.
Dr. Ralf Klingbeil added that over the years the region has seen
enormous technical advancements that allowed developing technologies for groundwater abstraction from deep aquifer reservoirs. Many of these reservoirs have been replenished with fresh
water long before current civilizations. “Ancient groundwater
that has allowed us to develop irrigated agriculture and engage
in large scale agro-business developments provides specific economic benefits. Technologies have allowed us to develop desalination in its different forms to increase local water supplies under
natural conditions of limited surface and groundwater that did
not provide sufficient volumes of fresh water to sustain our ever
increasing demands”.
“But technical developments came at a price: Large scale abstractions from non-renewable groundwater have led to a substantial
drop of groundwater levels over large parts of the region. The
abstracted ancient groundwater has been put to direct economic
benefit – mostly for few individuals, not necessarily for the society at large. Now it is gone. Over the years most of our cities
became more and more dependent on a product water; a water
produced by desalination plants that consume large amounts of
conventional energy, contribute substantially to our individual
carbon dioxide footprints and come with other environmental
“side effects”. Discharged brines and additives cause severe impacts on our coastal and marine environments. We have made us
dependent on centralized desalinated water for domestic water
Dr. Jeffrey Layton Ullman, Asst. Professor, Dept. of
Agricultural and Biological Engineering, University
of Florida, gave a talk on “Sustainable Development
and Water Quality”. He said that while improvements
in water quality have been made in many regions,
water quality remains a critical issue across the planet. “Degradation of water quality threatens drinking
water sources around the globe, imparting critical
barriers for social and economic development. Even
in locations where safe drinking water exists, considerable deterioration of ecological systems threatens
fish and wildlife. Thus, it is vital to continue to improve water treatment facilities, promote conservation practices for agriculture and land management,
and encourage development of innovative methods
to protect water quality. However, the number of potential contaminants is large and growing, making
it increasingly difficult to reach water quality goals.
Emerging contaminants, such as pharmaceuticals and
other trace organic contaminants, make the challenge
even more daunting”.
Dr. Ahmed Al Busaidi and Dr. Mushtaque Ahmed
from the College of Agricultural & Marine Sciences
at SQU presented their research about “Sustainable
Reuse of Treated Wastewater for Agriculture”. They
said that to cope with the water shortage, it is necessary to adopt water-saving agricultural countermeasures and look for alternative resource that can replace
fresh water such as treated wastewater.
Dr. Hasan Abdellatif Hassan from the College of Engineering at SQU spoke about “Water Desalination &
Sustainable Development”. He said that the demand
for fresh water in the world in general and in the gulf
countries in specific is continuously rising. “To coop
with this rising demand more desalination plants are
being built. Sea water is withdrawn and desalinated
either by thermal processes or via membrane processes. The brine solution containing salt at concentration
twice that of the original one along with other chemicals such anti-fouling, antibacterial, and anti-scaling
agents are discharged to the sea. This represents a
real threat to the sea and its marine life especially in
the coastal region”. His presentation highlighted desalination and its consequences on environment, sea
water, and marine life.
Talking about “Water on Life Support”, Dr. Slim Zekri
from the College of Agricultural & Marine Sciences
at SQU, said that in many parts of the world domestic and urban water is subsidized by public authorities. “In Oman urban water users pay only 37% of the
cost. The current subsidy to fresh water is estimated
at $314 million/year, not including the wastewater
sub-sector”. Dr. Slim Zekri proposed a plan to target
the subsidy to the low income users and implement a
price policy that discourages wasteful use of desalinated water. He also presented ways to achieve sustainability through reduction, re-use and recycling of
water in an urban context such as use of grey water to
flush toilets and garden irrigation.
P7
30 March 2015
Straight Talk
Dr. Saad Al Barrak
Dr. Saad Al Barrak, is well known for his achievements, entrepreneurial skills and unique management style at the helm of the largest telecommunication company in the Middle East and Africa. In just seven
and a half years Saad Al Barrak managed to transform Zain, Kuwait’s
provincial telecommunication company, into a global giant. Under his
guidance the former-state owned operator grew from a customer base
of 500,000 operating in one Gulf state to 72 million customers across 23
countries. Over the same period, revenues at the company jumped from
$570m to $8bn. “A Passion for Adventure-Turning Zain into a Telecom
Giant”, his first book is a fast-paced story, full of tips on leadership,
business philosophy and personal values for those wishing to succeed
in the Middle East and beyond. Today, Dr. Al-Barrak is a much sought
out motivational and management speaker at prestigious higher educational institutions, industry conferences and corporate events across
the globe. At the end of 2010, Dr. Al Barrak founded ‘ILA’, an advisory
firm capitalizing on the emerging opportunities arising from the convergence between IT and telecoms. Dr. Al Barrak, gave the keynote
address on “Change, the Essence of Leadership” at the 8th IEEE GCC
Conference hosted by Sultan Qaboos University.
Horizon: Could you elaborate on the importance of change in leadership?
Dr. Al Barrak: Change is the essence of
leadership. It is the very essence of the business leader’s job. Sensing the need, identifying the direction and magnitude of change
required, convincing and inspiring the organization, blowing away the obstacles – this
is what real leaders do. Most find it excruciatingly difficult. Change implies transforming
the emotional, the intellectual and the behavioral state of the group. If the mind is to survive
this constant battle with the unexpected, two
qualities are indispensable: first, an intellect
that even in this moment of intense darkness
retains some trace of the inner light that will
lead to truth, and second, the courage to go
where that faint light leads. Uncertainty is the
very engine of transformation in a business, a
continuous source of new opportunities. If we
want to make a change we must first understand the process of changing in human beings
themselves, and the leader who is not making
any changes is an unsuccessful leader. Further,
changing should targeting all levels including
emotional and intellectual situations and the
actions of the team.
Horizon: What is factor that generates
change?
Dr. Al Barrak: Human beings need change
in order to be happy, to grow and to be wealthy.
But there is an important question: how to lead
the process of change in an entity from its current situation to the desired situation, whether
the entity is a state or a group of people with
a specific interest. There are many great examples of change management in GCC countries.
Oman is an example; Emirate of Dubai in the
United Arab Emirates is another example.
Each of them has its own unique experiences
in change management. You can depend on
and get inspired from these examples and their
experiences for the development of our societies or groups.
Horizon: Are there any obstacles that hinders
‘change’?
Dr. Al Barrak: There are obstacles or challenges that prevent the person from achieving
change management. There are many things
around us that either help us or act as an obstacle in our way, and it is important to know
that you need change. It is important to depend on a consortium of leaders than a single
or individual leader, because groups helps to
create proper vision or strategy. Collective participation, communication, persuading people
of the need to change and its mechanisms and
methods are very important in leadership. The
successful leader is the one who can make a
great effect of change on his group from their
existing situation to the desired situation, and
for me this is the only criterion for the good
leader.
Horizon: How do you correlate trust and
leadership?
Dr. Al Barrak: The leader’s prime job is to
create, develop and sustain trust. Low trust
creates hidden agendas, politics, interpersonal
conflict, interdepartmental rivalries, win-lose
thinking, defensive and protective communication - all of which reduce the speed of trust.
30 March 2015
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Phytoremediation for Diesel-contaminated Soils of Oman