SQU Addresses Key Issues in Marine and Fisheries Sector

Encouraging Students to Pursue Engineering Careers
Attitudes of Early Childhood Teachers towards Bilingual Education
Mind Over Matter
Workshop Promotes SQU-South Africa Research Ties
News Update
SQU Addresses Key
Issues in Marine and
Fisheries Sector
Department of Public
Relations and Information
Sultan Qaboos University
Issue 334
View Point
The Need to Conserve
Genetic resources are often referred to as the first resource of the natural
resources on this planet, the others being land, air and water. They are the
link from generation to generation of all living matter. They are the substance of agriculture and food production, and are of extraordinary social,
cultural and economic value. However, our animal genetic diversity is under threat. The reported rate of breed extinctions is of deep concern, but it
is even more worrying that unrecorded animal genetic resources are being
lost before their characteristics can be studied and their potential evaluated. It is widely acknowledged that animal genetic resources for food and
agriculture are an essential part of the biological basis for world food security and contribute to the livelihoods of people.
Mohamed Salem Al Ghailani
Editorial Supervision
Santhosh Muthalath
Senior Editor
Sara Al Gheilani
Nasebah Al Muharrami
Ahlam Al Wahaibi
Design & Layout
Photography Dept., CET
Salim Al Sudairi
The full potential of animal genetic resources is far from being realised. In
fact, they face serious erosion in both developed and developing countries.
This erosion is being caused by changes in production systems, disease
outbreaks, poor breeding policies and practices, inappropriate introduction of exotic breeds, to name but a few. Moreover, the erosion and eventual
loss of animal genetic resources threaten the ability of farmers to respond
to environmental and socio-economic changes, including changing diets
and consumer preferences. In simple terms, these losses matter and affect
every one of us. Oman has been blessed with a rich abundance of animal
genetic resources but conserving them is an imperative. Our agricultural
landscape is part of Oman’s natural capital and, as it underpins our food
chain, is essential not just to the wellbeing of those whose livelihoods are
connected to the land, but to every single one of us and the generations
that come after us.
Animal genetic resources have been contributing to food and agriculture
for more than 12,000 years, providing meat, milk products, eggs, fibre, fertilizer for crops, manure for fuel and draught power. They are a part of our
common heritage and culture and far too valuable to neglect. Commitment
and co-operation in the sustainable use, development and conservation of
animal genetic resources are urgently required. A commendable move in
this direction was the Regional Conference for Animal Genetic Resources
Conservation, which served as a springboard for action towards conservation of animal genetic resources.
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 horizon@squ.edu.om 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: horizon@squ.edu.om
10 March 2016
Fax: +968 24413 391
Website: www.squ.edu.om
News Update
Workshop Promotes SQUSouth Africa Research Ties
AIAP Joins Hands with Injaz
Oman and BP Oman
In order to strengthen the research cooperation between scientists from Oman and South Africa, the Sultan Qaboos UniversityRepublic of South Africa (SQU-RSA) Water and Agri-Biotechnology Researchers’ Workshop, was held recently. The workshop,
organised under the Oman-South Africa Science and Technology
Bilateral Cooperation Program, was a platform for researchers
from the two countries to share information and explore potential
areas of collaboration and water and agri-biotechnology fields.
The Academic Innovation Assistance Program (AIAP) at Sultan Qaboos University and Injaz Oman signed an agreement to
carry out a number of AIAP projects including student competition and research projects related to oil and gas industry. As
per the agreement, BP Oman, in association with Injaz Oman
as implementing partner, will support the activities of AIAP for
one year. Dr. Salim Hamood Al Harthi, AIAP Co-director and
Shabib Al’Maamari, Executive Director of Injaz Oman signed
the agreement in the presence of Dr. Rahma Ibrahim Al-Mahrouqi, SQU Deputy Vice Chancellor for Postgraduate Studies
& Research, and Khalid Al Kindi, Deputy General Manager of
BP Oman.
Speaking on the occasion, Prof. Amer bin Ali Al Rawas, SQU
Deputy Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs & Community Service, said that currently there are research collaborations in the
areas of crop sciences, marine sciences & fisheries, soils & water, and animal & veterinary sciences between researchers from
the College of Agricultural & Marine Sciences at SQU and their
counterparts from various institutions in South Africa. “Today’s
workshop is another step forward in enhancing this cooperation.
The main objective of this workshop is to provide an impetus to
researchers in both countries to identify specific areas of focus in
the broad areas of water and agriculture”, he said.
Oman and South Africa signed a scientific and technological cooperation agreement in Pretoria in March 2007 to enhance scientific and technological cooperation between the two countries.
Oman’s Minister for Higher Education and South Africa’s Minister for Science & Technology signed the agreement. A joint committee from the two sides was formed to follow up the implementation of the agreement. The South African side of the joint
committee visited the Sultanate in November 2008. As a result,
six priority areas for cooperation were identified: renewable energy, water purification and treatment, petrochemicals, fisheries
& agriculture, information & communication technologies, and
exploitation of minerals. It was agreed to pursue further cooperation in these areas through official visits, workshops, training
courses, research collaboration and short-term consultancies.
Prof. Amer bin Ali Al Rawas, who is also the Chair of the Omani
side of the joint committee, hoped that research proposals in water and agri-biotechnology areas to be funded by the South African National Research Foundation and The Research Council of
From the South African side, Mr. Teuns Phahlamohlaka, Professional Officer, International Relations, National Research Foundation, gave an outline of the South African Science & Technology policy context of international cooperation. He said that the
policies and strategies to promote growth and innovation in science and technology in his county are in tune with the transition
from resource-based economy to knowledge-based economy.
According to the agreement, BP Oman, will support the Innovation Cup student competition in the year 2016. The Innovation Cup competition acts as a platform to display new and
innovative ideas from students of SQU in various fields. To students, the competition offers a chance to improve leadership,
communication and teamwork skills, and receive a critical
analysis and feedback on their ideas from experienced panel of
judges. To AIAP, the Innovation Cup competition falls within
its objectives of fostering a culture of innovation within SQU
and networking with Industry. For BP Oman, the competition
comes under its social investment program towards serving
and empowering young Omanis driving Oman towards a selfsufficient and progressive future.
In addition to the student competition, BP Oman will support a
number of research projects selected from a number of proposals submitted through AIAP’s online application system. The
outcomes of the intended projects are expected to enhance the
academic knowledge and support in providing innovative solutions to the Oil and Gas industry.
Commenting on the agreement, Dr. Rahma Al Mahrouqi, said
that SQU was proud to receive support from the leading companies in the Sultanate to promote innovation and entrepreneurship among students and researchers. “We are grateful to
BP Oman and Injaz Oman which have come up with a joint
initiative with AIAP to support the youth in promoting innovation and research that would ultimately contribute to strengthening the economy of the nation”, she said.
Khalid Al Kindi, Deputy General Manager of BP Oman said
that his organization is proud to collaborate with SQU with
good projects. “Investing in innovation is vital for future long
term economic growth of the nation. We hope that the student
contest and research projects will yield productive outcomes
that support the economy”, he added.
10 March 2016
SQU Addresses Key Issues in
Marine and Fisheries Sector
The Marine Science and Fisheries (MSF) Department of the College of
Agricultural and Marine Sciences (CAMS) is a leader in the marine science research and teaching dealing with the marine environment and
fisheries in the Sultanate of Oman and among GCC countries. The MSF
has on campus and off campus facilities for marine (Al Hail) and freshwater (SQU Agricultural Experimental Station) research. Additionally,
the Department runs a 17.5m research vessel ‘Al Jamiah’ and a 10m
boat ‘Hamour’ for both fisheries and oceanographic investigations and
sampling. These vessels are used for student training as well. At the
Department, four laboratories designed for the chemical analysis of
marine samples, microscopic observations, histology, molecular and
microbiological work, and accessible to faculty, technicians, students
and private enterprise. The MSF focuses research mainly on fisheries,
aquaculture, oceanography, ecology of marine species and marine biotechnology. The Department offers a B.Sc. in Marine Science and Fisheries and a M.Sc. in Marine Science and Fisheries. In 2008, the Department started offering Ph.D. program in Marine Science and Fisheries.
The first MSF student Khalid Abdullah Al-Hashmi received the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Marine Science and Fisheries in October 2015. His thesis is entitled “Seasonal and interannual changes
of phytoplankton community and dynamics of potentially harmful
phytoplankton in coastal waters of Muscat, Sea of Oman”. Khalid’s
work was supervised by Dr. Sergey Piontkovski (MSF). The thesis was
examined by the external examiners Prof. Joaquim Goes (Columbia
University, USA) and Dr. Sardar Farooq (Science, SQU).
Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) is a common phenomenon in Oman
waters usually detectable by the presence of green or red color of sea
water. In the Sultanate HABs lead to economic losses due to high fish
mortality and disruption of desalination plant’s work because of membrane clogging. Some of the microscopic algae can produce toxins that
can be harmful to humans. There has been only limited information
about of the composition and abundances of diatoms and dinoflagellates in Oman waters.
Khalid Al-Hashmi’s work resulted in identification of 278 microscopic
algae (belonging to dinoflagellate and diatom taxa) present in Bandar
Al Khayran area. During his Ph.D., he produced an atlas of marine
phytoplankton species of Oman waters that enable identification of
species of microalgae. His data suggested that the monsoon has a
strong influence on composition of phytoplankton; the highest number of microalgae was present during the Southwest monsoon and
the lowest one was detected during the spring intermonsoon. Usu10 March 2016
ally, algal blooms in Oman waters are dominated by the dinoflagellate
Noctiluca scintillans, which produces light (bioluminescent) at night.
Blooms of this microalga develop twice per year in winter and summer.
In total, 24 potentially harmful algal species of diatoms and dinoflagellates were identified by Al-Hashmi. A dense bloom of Cochlodinium
polykrykoides that had a devastating impact on marine ecosystems
was observed for the first time in the Sea of Oman during 2008-2009.
Research conducted by Al-Hashmi facilitates our understanding and
prediction of algal blooms and the distribution and abundance of potential HAB species.
The second Ph.D. student of the Department, Thirumahal Muthukrishnan defended her Ph.D. work in January 2016. Her thesis is
entitled “Quantitative and qualitative study of microbial biofilms on
marine antifouling coatings”. Dr. Sergey Dobretsov, Head of the Department of Marine Science and Fisheries, supervised Thirumahal’s
work. Her thesis was examined by the external examiners Prof. Claire
Hellio (Brest University, France) and Dr. Abdullah Al-Saadi (Crop Science, SQU).
Biofouling is undesirable growth of organisms on submerged installations. Annually, countries are spending billions of US dollars to prevent marine biofouling and control the problems caused by it. In the
Sultanate, biofouling is responsible for clogging pipes and membranes
of desalination plants, decreasing speed and increasing corrosion and
fuel consumption in the vessels sailing in the Sea of Oman, damaging
fishing nets and cages and decreasing their fishing efficiency. The most
common strategy to prevent biofouling includes the use of antifouling
coatings. While these coatings prevent accumulation of large fouling
organisms, limited information is known about microbes associated
with them.
During her Ph.D. work, Muthukrishnan demonstrated that abundances of microbes on antifouling coatings varied over the time and location. The type of antifouling coating, paint composition and experimental location significantly influenced fouling bacteria and diatoms.
Muthukrishnan evaluated a microbial counting technique and developed a new method for counting of bacteria that can help to obtain
a reliable estimation of the bacterial densities on solid substrata. Using the next generation sequencing technique, she was able to identify
unique bacteria associated antifouling coatings for the first time. By
light and electron scanning microscopy 29 species of fouling diatoms
were identified. This information will be used in the future research in
order to develop a novel antifouling defense.
Mind Over Matter
Attitudes of Early Childhood Teachers
towards Bilingual Education
Ali Tekin
Oman’s Minister of Education recently declared a desire to adapt an educational philosophy in which the education of children and youth would
be shaped by the general interests of the national economy and the needs
of the labor market. This notion will be the backbone of Vision 2040, which
covers the country’s prospective national education policies and related
planning and directions of applications. Therefore, English is viewed by
the government and society as a must for Omani children and youth, especially for employment purposes. Besides the Omani government’s efforts
to improve its education system and the outcomes of initiated programs,
there are also social, cultural, and economical aspects of the ongoing bilingual movement in the country. Compared to earlier times, many Omani
parents have become more enthusiastic about bilingual education for their
young children. Due to this demand, many early childhood education settings that offer education for young children in both English and Arabic
have been opened in the country.
To fully understand and improve early bilingual education, it is critical to
start with an inquiry into prospective practitioners’ attitudes toward bilingualism in early education as they are the ones who will work in bilingual
education programs. Therefore, Ali Kemal Tekin, Assistant Professor in
the Department of Early Childhood Education of the College of Education
at Sultan Qaboos University conducted a research that investigated the attitudes of early childhood pre-service teachers in Oman toward bilingual
education during children’s early years. The findings of this research have
been published under the title “Attitudes of Omani Early Childhood Preservice Teachers Toward Bilingual Early Childhood Education: Benefits,
Challenges, and Solutions” in Child & Youth Services Journal.
A total of 64 early childhood pre-service teachers who were registered to
SQU participated this study. These questions were: (1) What are the benefits of bilingual education in early childhood? (2) What are the challenges
of bilingual education in early childhood? and (3) What are possible solutions to those challenges to overcome those challenges faced in early
bilingual education?
Based on the careful review of the responses exhaustive descriptions were
extracted for each research question. Thus, the findings revealed that participants believe “Bilingual education in the early years of life makes the
acquisition of foreign language easier and faster in this period in which
they have a greater capacity and are more sensitive to acquiring new
language skills than the other periods of lifespan, helps for their future
bilingual program and other educational life experiences, contributes
to their fluency in English in their later life, build linguistic foundations
for their future professional and career lives, improves other developmental domains in early childhood, provides early education opportunity for foreign nationalities residing in Oman, enhances their communication skills with others, and supports diversity in their vocabulary
Moreover, regarding the challenges, the study found that the participants believed “Bilingual education in early years in Oman faces with
several challenges including lack of expert, qualified, competent, and
professional teachers, well-designed strong bilingual education curriculum adequately supervised by the government that meet the objectives, good parental support, and financial feasibility.”
Regarding the challenges of early bilingual education and it was found
that the participants believed “There should be training and educating
teachers to acquire knowledge and skills for bilingual education in the
early years, more teacher preparation programs at Omani universities
in which the medium of instruction should be English similar to the
SQU’s who can exercise flexible, child-centered, contemporary, ageand-developmentally appropriate curriculum and involve and inform
the parents. Bilingual programs in the early years should take its place
in the public educational system and government should provide materials to these programs and financially support the parents, it should
employ native speaker educators and bilingual teachers who are experts and professionals in bilingual programs in ECED and keep these
programs updated and improved according to regular assessment and
evaluation. Government should provide training across of Oman for
all stakeholders of ECED and modify the attitudes of society toward
bilingual education.”
Several recommendations may be drawn for all related stakeholders.
The following suggestions are offered to move the debate forward: The
Omani government should take steps to supervise and improve early
bilingual education programs. Clear regulations for service quality
should be proposed and implemented in line with international standards. Policy makers should include these programs in the public education system or support private-sector and nongovernmental organizations in these programs’ improvement. In addition, it is a necessity to
recruit only well-trained professionals in the field.
To address the shortage of well-trained teaching staff, more effective training programs should be provided by either the responsible.
Schools should be obliged to have professionally planned and implemented family involvement programs.Teachers should develop and
implement developmentally appropriate curriculum. They also should
be able to create and use quality learning materials, and adopt childcentered, modern and up-to-date approaches and techniques in their
work rather than following traditional methods of teaching.
In conclusion, the number of and demand for bilingual education programs designed for students in their early years will continue to grow
in the Omani context. Early childhood pre-service teachers also favor
such programs because they offer numerous benefits. Although there
are a few challenges in the field, there are also possible solutions, especially through government channels as implied by this study’s findings.
10 March 2016
News Round Up
Student Counselling Centre
Announces Spring Activities
By: Marwa al Rajhi
Since its inception in 1999, the Student Counselling Centre
(SCC) at SQU has been helping the university’s students
and staff to improve their personal, social, and academic
well-being through consultative services, lectures and other
activities. Each semester, the Centre offers a variety of programs and activities for the university community. The specialists at the Centre present many activities in order to help
the students to adjust to their academic and social lives. In
addition, the Centre offers specialized workshops to SQU
staff. Besides the Centre’s main service of individual counselling that is given inside the Centre for individual clients,
there are many other activities including group-counselling
sessions, developmental counselling lectures, outreach
counselling lectures, dialogue seminars, student workshops
and staff workshops. The Centre has announced the events
to be offered during spring 2016. To make sure that the announcements about the activities reach all the students and
staff, the Centre makes use of the email system of the university, the social media and the internet. Group counselling sessions are provided inside the Centre
in the form of weekly sessions, each session lasts from 45
to 50 minutes, in a group setting that does not exceed 15
participants for each group. Although, one of the counsellors leads group-counselling sessions, they are interactive
in nature and each participant will get the chance to discuss
his/her issue or problem. By the end of these sessions, the
participants find effective solutions or techniques to overcome the problems discussed. During this semester, 8 sessions will be held on the following topics: “building selfconfidence”, “interpersonal communication skills”, “study
skills”, “art therapy counselling”, “gain yourself” (development of self-concept), “self-management and priorities
setting”, and “presentation skills”. In addition to this, the
SCC counsellors will give some relaxation practices to interested students every Tuesday for one hour (1-2 pm) inside
the Centre. No advance registration is required for relaxation session.
In order to reach the whole student community at SQU, the
SCC has developed an outreach program in which specialized counsellors go out of the Centre to meet the students in
their places such as in female student campuses and lecture
halls. In this program, the counsellors present interesting
and useful lectures to the students. For this semester, the
following topics will be presented: “Why did I change after
entering SQU?” “Choosing your life partner”, “ how to be
confident”, “addiction.com”, “be positive”, “the positive
personality”, and “developing intelligence”.
10 March 2016
Conference Discusses
Advancements in Medicine
The opening ceremony of the Advanced General Medicine Conference
2016, organized by Sultan Qaboos University, in association with the
Ministry of Health and Oman Medical Speciality Board, was held under the patronage of H.E. Dr. Ali bin Saud Al Bimani, the Vice Chancellor of SQU. The two-day conference coverd a wide range of topics
in general medicine, disease mechanisms and innovative advances in
clinical practice.
Different sessions of the conference discussed the following topics:
new techniques in cardiology, diagnostic molecular techniques, advancements in treatment of diabetes, treatment of bone diseases, neocritical care for internists, pathophysiology and treatment of bone
diseases, new insights into iron deficiency anaemia, use of nuclear
medicine in diagnosis and targeted therapy of disease, advances in
thyroid cancer, etc. Prof. Nicolas Woodhouse from SQU, who is one
of the organizers of the conference, in his address, pointed out that
the topics would be handled by international and local experts in the
respective fields.
In the opening ceremony of the conference, Prof. Sir Magdi H. Yacoub,
from the Imperial College London, who is one of the leading heart
and lung transplant surgeons in the world, gave a talk on “the glory
and threat of science and medicine. He observed that glory of medical science lies in new discoveries, healing diseases, teaching professionals and doctors’ interaction with patients. The threats in medical
science lies in doing harm to the patients or the society, false discoveries, over recognition in medical profession, destructive completion
among professionals, and loosing contact with patients. Prof. Yacoub
opined that all human beings, regardless of nationality, colour or religion have equal rights for medical care. “Science and medicine offer unprecedented opportunities for discovery and alleviating human
suffering. An ideal medial facility should provide free of charge entry
to all patients and practice highest standards in treatment patient care
and facilities. If these elements are combined with facilities to train
physicians, nurses and technicians and to conduct clinical, translational and basic science research, it becomes a humanitarian centre of
excellence”, he noted.
SUPSI Students Received
A delegation from the University of Applied Sciences and Arts of
Southern Switzerland (SUPSI) visited SQU to learn about the administrative, academic and research systems in SQU especially
those related to theoretical and practical training. The delegation
watched a documentary on the science focus areas by SQU, the
major academic programs and colleges, as well as their role in
promoting scientific research, social and cultural development.
The delegation discussed cooperation in the field of student exchange. It also visited the College of Economics & Political Science during which the visiting delegation was briefed on entrepreneurship and the Omani political system.
Encouraging Students to
Pursue Engineering Careers
In order to motivate school students in Oman towards careers in engineering, the College of Engineering at Sultan Qaboos University, in
association with the London based BAE Systems, and the Ministry of
Education, organized a full day workshop for selected students from
schools in Muscat, Al Batinah south and Al Dakhilila regions. The aim
of the workshop, led by experts from BAE Systems, was to motivate
new generation of Omani students to careers in science, technology,
engineering and math education (STEM). BAE Systems is a British
multinational defence, security and aerospace company with operations worldwide. As many as 120 female and male students from various schools from selected regions of the Sultanate participated in the
workshop held on Thursday, 3 March 2016 at SQU.
The workshop consisted of several sessions including lectures on the
scope of careers in engineering; requirements and formalities for admission at the College of Engineering at SQU; a session which motivates students to come up with solutions to engineering challenges
from their own knowledge in Physics and Mathematics; and, a demonstration of BAE’s Typhoon fighter aircraft cockpit to show the students engineering in action.
Prof. Abdulnasir Hossen, Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Studies
at the College of Engineering at SQU, said that the STEM workshop
for schools students was organized as part of SQU’s commitment to
society. “Being the premier Engineering College in the Sultanate offering ABET accredited engineering program, the College of Engineering
organizes a series of events to promote engineering education and career among the youth. At present 2962 students are enrolled for various academic programs at the College of Engineering. This includes
674 female students. When the college started functioning in 1986, the
student strength was 92. Through the STEM workshop, the school students get a chance to meet engineering students at SQU, to learn more
about engineering as a profession, different branches of engineering
and their scope in career field and usefulness to the society, and to
know how to secure admission in the College of Engineering”, Prof.
Abdulnasir Hossen said.
BAE Systems’ participation in this work is as part of its social respon-
sibility. The company will be supplying 12 Typhoon and eight Hawk
Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) aircraft to the Royal Air Force of Oman
(RAFO), along with in-service support to its operational tasks. Deliveries are expected to commence in 2017. Matthew Heald, Head of
Strategy and Business Development Oman for BAE Systems, said that
through this workshop, they encourage Omani schools students to
pursue careers in engineering. “In order to motivate the students, we
have brought fresh recruits working with us in the UK to communicate with the school students about careers in engineering and making
choices about their future careers. We want to encourage the students
to take up engineering as a profession and we hope that some of them
will work for us in the future. Through the workshop activities, we
ask the students about their perceptions of engineering. We say that
engineering is everywhere touching all walks of life and it is an exciting career if you involve in it”, he said.
During the workshop, the students were given some engineering challenges to solve. “We make them come out with their own solutions
by using their knowledge in physics and mathematics to overcome
the challenges and complete the given tasks. This is exactly what engineers do. We also show the students examples of some successful
engineers in our company. The workshop gives the school students
the opportunity to interact with engineering students at SQU and to
know what steps they need to take to get here. Our idea is to give
them an all-round experience of engineering education and profession. The Typhoon fighter aircraft cockpit experience helps them to
pretend as fighter pilots and see engineering in action. We wish to see
more Omanis choose engineering as their career”, Heald added.
Dr. Mohammed Al Nadabi from the College of Engineering at SQU
opined that the STEM workshop would give the students a roadmap to a career in engineering so that they can have a clear vision
in choosing their professions. “The program would also guide them
to choose appropriate subjects at school to become an engineer. We
at the College of Engineering believe that we should take the lead to
mould future engineers of Oman. We care for engineers since they are
at school levels, after they graduate from SQU, and become alumni of
the university”.
10 March 2016
Straight Talk
Post-Petroleum Strategies
Vital for Arab Countries
Prof. Bernhard Stribrny
Prof. Dr. Bernhard Stribrny works as director and professor at the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural
Resources (BGR) in Hannover, Germany. He is head of the
division of Geoscientific Information and International Cooperation. BGR provides geoscientific advise for the German Federal Ministries as well as for the German industry
and carries out research in many parts of the world. Moreover BGR acts as the German implementation organisation
for technical cooperation with developing countries in the
fields of geology, mineral and energy resources (including
geothermal), groundwater, soil, geo risks and environmental protection.
Horizon: Could you say a few words about yourself and your research background?
Bernhard Stribrny: As geoscientist, working at different universities, ministries and research institutions I had the chance to carry
out research on natural resources of mineral deposits and coal, on the
disposal of radioactive wastes, palaeoclimate and the global carbon
Horizon: In your oral presentation at the German-Arab Scientific Forum for Environmental Studies (hosted by SQU), you mentioned that
the oil producing Arab countries have great potential for diversification of economy through investment in renewable energy projects.
Can you elaborate?
Bernhard Stribrny: Even though the oil-producing Arab countries
are real global players in respect to reserves, resources and the pro-
10 March 2016
duction of hydrocarbons, I would propose to develop strategies for tackling the so-called “post petroleum age”. In addition to protecting the natural resources of oil and gas, the
discovery and development of new markets in the “green”
or “low emission” energy sector might be favourable targets
for the Arab countries. Especially for solar energy, the natural
potential of North Africa and the Arab peninsula is unlimited. Both, the supply of domestic markets as well as an export
of renewable energies seem possible. For example, the development of solar-powered desalination plants for sea water
and salty ground water, as the first projects in Saudi Arabia
and Qatar will show, opens access to new water sources
for drinking and irrigation. Besides of large- and mediumscaled solar-powered desalination plants, the development
of small-scale, flexible, maybe even container- or truck-based
systems might offer new options for the supply in remote
areas. Solar-powered wastewater treatment systems are technologically turn-key ready supplements.
Horizon: Reserves and resources of raw materials and fossil
fuels is one of your research interests. Could you give some
insights into some interesting research findings in this area,
especially with respect to fossil fuel reserves?
Bernhard Stribrny: Energy resources are essential for the
economy and our standard of living. Germany, even if it is
moving towards the energy transition, will rely on the import of fossil energies for many years to come. German imports account for 98 % of crude oil, 88 % of natural gas, about
87 % of bituminous coal, and even 100 % of uranium. Due to
this, BGR monitors and evaluates the global energy supply
and demand situation and publishes for example the “2014
Energy Study – reserves, resources and availability of energy
resources” to provide advice to the German government and
industry on commodity issues. A comparison of global reserves and resources shows huge potentials primarily due to
the large coal deposits found in all regions of the world. The
costs for the liquefaction of coal might be the upper limit for
the oil price during the transition to the post petroleum age.
Horizon: Scientific advice for policy makers is one your areas of expertise. In the Middle East and Asian countries, the
culture of policy makers and political leaders receiving advice from scientists and technocrats is very limited. Could
you explain how the link between scientists and policy makers are sustained so as to benefit the society and the nation
at large?
Bernhard Stribrny: BGR is the central geoscientific authority providing advice to the German Federal Government in
all geo-relevant questions. This advice is provided on different levels and channels. For getting a close interaction
with policy makers, BGR sends each year two geoscientists
to work directly as contact persons in the Federal Ministry
for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) and to the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development
(BMZ). Questions deriving from the ministries, sometimes
day by day, are answered as soon as possible. Moreover,
common congresses, meetings and workshops build a forum
for the exchange of knowhow and information between governmental institutions, industry and society. In our technical
cooperation projects, we strongly promote and support this
concept of assigning advisory boards to the government for
specific and challenging topics that are staffed with highly
reputable scientists and technicians from scientific and technical authorities, academia or non-governmental institutions. Finally the publication of specific reports, articles and
statements are tools for supporting the current discussion for
example on carbon capture and storage, hydraulic fracturing
or radioactive waste disposal in deep geologic formations.