Municipal Solid Waste in Muscat: Facts and Figures

Nanotechnology for Water Treatment and Solar Energy
Wireless Communication between Vehicles
Mind Over Matter
SQU, UCONN Discuss Research Ties
News Update
Municipal Solid
Waste in Muscat:
Facts and Figures
Department of Public
Relations and Information
Sultan Qaboos University
Issue 330
View Point
The Philosophy of Science
The value of philosophy is appreciated more when it is interconnected more
with life. Philosophy is interconnected with the whole system of life directly or
indirectly through science, art, morality, religion, law, and politics. Philosophy
and science are always complimentary. They have always learned from each
other. Philosophy draws from scientific discoveries fresh strength, material for
broad generalisations, and philosophy imparts to science the world-view and
methodological impulses of its universal principles. The latest theories of the
unity of matter, motion, space and time, the unity of the discontinuous and continuous, the principles of the conservation of matter and motion, the ideas of
the infinity and inexhaustibility of matter were stated in a general form in philosophy.
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
Apart from influencing the development of the specialised fields of knowledge,
philosophy has always been enriched by progress in the concrete sciences. Every major scientific discovery is a step forward in the development of the philosophical world-view and methodology. Philosophical statements are based on
sets of facts studied by the sciences and also on the system of propositions, principles, concepts and laws discovered through the generalisation of these facts.
The link between science and philosophy has endured for thousands of years.
Philosophy is aptly called the “science of sciences” in the sense that it is, the selfawareness of the sciences and the source from which all the sciences draw their
world-view and methodological principles, which have been honed down into
concise forms. As a whole, philosophy and the sciences are equal partners assisting creative thought in its explorations to attain generalising truth. Philosophy does not replace the specialised sciences and does not command them, but
it does arm them with general principles of theoretical thinking, with a method
of cognition and world-view. Scientific philosophy legitimately holds one of the
key positions in the system of the sciences.
Philosophy safeguards the unity and interconnection of all aspects of knowledge of the vast and diversified world whose substance is matter. Philosophy
helps us to achieve a deeper understanding of the social significance and general prospects of scientific discoveries and their technical applications. The solution of all the pressing problems of our time depends not only on a rational
philosophical orientation. It also depends on the political orientation of nations
and leaders, which in turn is related to the nature of the social structure.
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 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
20 January 2016
Fax: +968 24413 391
News Update
SQU, UCONN Discuss
Research Ties
H.H. Sayyidah Dr. Mona bint Fahad Al Said, SQU Assistant Vice Chancellor for International Cooperation, recently received Prof. Jeffrey D.
Fisher, Director& Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor of Psychology, Centre for Health, Intervention, and Prevention at the University
of Connecticut (UCONN). They discussed on prospective collaboration
between the two institutions in medicine and health sciences in general
and a joint research project on prevention of diabetes and coping with
the disease, in particular. Esra Alkhasawneh, Dean of the College of
Nursing, and Dr. Hamed Al Sinawi, Senior Consultant, Department of
Behavioural Medicine, SQU Hospital attended the meeting.
The University of Connecticut is one of the top public research universities in the United States, with more than 30,000 students pursuing
answers to critical questions in labs, lecture halls, and the community.
Knowledge exploration throughout the University’s network of campuses is united by a culture of innovation. The university attracts internationally renowned faculty and the world’s brightest students
Medicine Professor Bags
Distinguished Service Award
The Gulf Chapter of the American
Association of Clinical Endocrinologists recently presented the
Ibn Sina Distinguished Service
Award to Prof. Nicholas Woodhouse, Professor in the Department of Medicine of the College
of Medicine & Health Sciences at
Sultan Qaboos University, for his
outstanding contributions in the
field of diabetes and endocrinology. The award was presented
at the Third Clinical Congress &
Gulf Chapter annual meeting of
the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists held at the
end of 2015.
Prof. Woodhouse also serves as a permanent honorary lecturer in Human Metabolism and Clinical Biochemistry at the Division of Pathology, University of Sheffield, England. He has been in hospital medical
practice since 1963 and have been responsible for the care of a wide
variety of general medical problems in both inpatients and outpatients.
This has involved working with patients on the coronary care and intensive care units, and on the “on-call” cardiac arrest team. As a result,
Prof. Woodhouse has become proficient in resuscitation and investigative techniques, including D.C. shock, endotracheal intubation, jejunal,
liver and colonic biopsies and sigmoidoscopy. His outpatient work has
included running general medical, hypertensive, diabetic, endocrine
and bone disease clinics.
Special Issue of Edited Book on Desalination and Environment
Arab Emirates, Australia, Germany, India, and around the world.
The editors of the book are Dr. Mahad Baawain, Director of the
Centre for Environmental Studies & Research (CESAR) at SQU,
Dr. B.S. Choudri (CESAR), Dr. Mushtaque Ahmed (College of
Agricultural & Marine Sciences), and Dr. Anton Purnama (College of Science).
The book is divided into two parts. The first part deals with desalination systems includes ten chapters which describe a variety of techniques and designs intended not only to minimize the
impact of desalination, but also to save energy and use natural
resources to maximize the output of integrated desalination systems. The second part deals with environmental systems. The
book aims to inspire developments in desalination technologies
that are specifically aimed at reducing energy consumption and
cost, and minimizing environmental impact.
Leading publisher ‘Springer’ brought out a book titled “Recent Progress in Desalination, Environmental and Marine Outfall Systems” coedited by four researchers from Sultan Qaboos University. This book is
a collection of the latest research, advanced technologies and case studies in desalination and marine outfall systems from Oman, the United
This book is a special issue of edited book series of Springer Proceedings in Environmental Science and contains 22 selected papers presented at the International Conference on “Desalination,
Environment and Marine Outfall Systems” held during April 1316, 2014 at Sultan Qaboos University. CESAR organized this conference, in association with the International Water Association
(IWA) and International Association for Hydro-Environment Engineering and Research (IAHR) and supported by the Research
Council (TRC) of Oman.
20 January 2016
Municipal Solid Waste in
Muscat: Facts and Figures
Thenmozhi M. Palanivel
The increasing population trend, economic development and urbanization
are the main reasons for the increment of solid waste generation in Oman.
According to Muscat Municipality waste generation report, 257,004 tons of
waste was generated in 2001. Municipal solid waste in Muscat increased
more than four folds in 2009 to 1,343,486 tons. As part of her Masters’ degree project, Thenmozhi M. Palanivel from the Department of Biology of
the College of Science at Sultan Qaboos University conducted a unique
study that investigated the composition of municipal solid waste (MSW)
in Muscat. Thenmozhi who specialized in environmental science, studied
generation and composition of MSW under the supervision of Dr. Hameed
Sulaiman, Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology, with the aim of
providing data to policy makers and the public at large.
Thenmozhi paid several visits to Al Multaqaa landfill in the Wilayat of
Al Amerat in Bowser, which is the disposal site for municipal solid waste
in Muscat. It is a well-maintained engineered landfill. Based on the samples collected, she calculated global warming potential based on the organic waste percentage present in the municipal solid waste stream. Organic composition is the major component in the waste stream. The next
important waste is paper and its byproducts. The organic waste consists
of food, paper and cardboard, textiles, gunny bags, wood and inert matter are mainly responsible for the production of greenhouse gases in the
landfills. From her research, Thenmozhi identified that organic waste consists of 68.5% of the total generated waste, which makes an impact on the
global warming. The recent studies estimate 3.4 to 3.9% of greenhouse gases (GHGs) discharged worldwide to the atmosphere is from the landfills.
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a major priority in managing the
organic waste stream.
The third important category is the plastic waste. Results from this study
shows that the percentage of plastic waste by volume is comparatively
high, even though the percentage by weight is less, which means, the space
occupied by the plastic waste in landfill is relatively very high in Muscat.
Plastic containers of soft drinks and beverages are found all over the waste
piles in the landfill site. In Oman, milk and milk products like yogurt, leban, cheese, juices and soft drinks are frequently consumed essential foods
and always come in plastic containers. Such containers contribute to larger
composition in the waste stream. Plastic containers occupy more space in
landfill due to its rigidity against compaction. Thenmozhi’s study stresses
on urgent need to focus on less usage of plastic bags and plastic containers.
Apart from these, she found glass waste and metals in a small percentage.
“Daily generation of waste works out to be 0.97 Kg /day/person by weight,
20 January 2016
3.113 x 10-3 cubic meter/day/person by volume with a density of 311.73
Kg/cubic meter”, the study revealed. Commenting on the findings of her
research, Thenmozhi said that the municipal waste generated in Muscat
contains mainly biodegradable and recyclable waste. “By practicing waste
management options such as composting, recycling and energy recovery,
there is greater possibility of reducing substantial amount of waste stream
getting disposed to the landfill. Oman is yet to realize the recycling potential similar to other developing countries. No recycling process is in practice, presently in Oman. The wastes are simply disposed in the landfills.
There is no segregation in the household or even in the transfer stations.
Thus the basic step for material recovery option is missing”, she observed.
“Dumping waste in landfills would cause lot of negative impacts in the
environment and other living organisms. For example, the ground water
may get contaminated, which may create environmental and health risks to
the surrounding communities, since the ground water is used for domestic
and agricultural activities. Heavy metals that are present in the solid waste
have the chance of leaking into environment leading to serious health
hazard. The organic part of waste stream is the main culprit for producing greenhouse gases. These gases trap heat and make the earth warmer”,
Themozhi said.
Thenmozhi further said that proper waste collection and appropriate disposal methods are essential to maintain the cleanliness and public health
of a community. “Proper waste collection includes both regular collection
service and cleanup of wastes that generators have disposed in an unacceptable manner (litter). Similar to developed countries, the waste can be separated at the point of generation (household) itself like organic, inorganic
and recyclables. For this purpose, the municipality can offer a wide range
of containers for the public at free of cost. This practice will enhance the
proper management of solid waste at all the levels. It is a huge investment
to start with, but the benefit is high in long run. Initially, at least the organic
component can be segregated from other waste to use for other recovery
processes”, she added.
“Disposal of municipal solid waste in an appropriate way is critical to
maintain the aesthetics of city or town. For that reason, it is considered
as foremost importance activity in the waste management program. The
safest way of disposing waste is to place it in a properly designed, constructed, and well maintained landfills. Technology is available to collect
methane from engineered landfills and to generate energy”, Thenmozhi,
who is currently pursuing PhD at SQU, concluded.
Mind Over Matter
Wireless Communication
between Vehicles
experiments. Despite the large amount of efforts carried so far, further room in performance improvement
of message dissemination is still highly desirable, especially in the presence of heavy communication over
a dense network.
Multi-hop message dissemination is expected to be
the primary mode of communication among vehicles for many VANET applications. High reliability in
terms of messages reception and low communication
delays are among the key requirements of any dissemination scheme in VANETs, especially when handling
safety-related messages, which are inherently criticalin-nature. Furthermore, any message dissemination
scheme should ensure efficient utilization of the available communication bandwidth, which is a resource
that is often scarce in VANETs. However, guaranteeing good performance levels in reliability of messages
reception, communication delay as well as bandwidth
utilization is a challenging issue in message dissemination over VANETs. Osama Rehman’s research investigates the above-described performance aspects of
message dissemination in VANETs, with a particular
focus on improving reliability of messages reception
over high node density networks.
The Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering of the College of Engineering
at Sultan Qaboos University, has conferred PhD on a researcher for his work on efficient link quality-based message dissemination schemes for vehicular ad hoc networks
(VANET). The scholar Osama Muhammad Hussain Rehman, completed his doctoral
studies under supervisors Prof. Hadj Bourdoucen, Prof. Mohamed Ould-Khaoua, and
Dr. Dawood Al-Abri from the College of Engineering at SQU. Osama Rehman successfully defended his doctoral thesis in the presence of two external examiners, Prof. Dan
Ionescu, Professor at the School of Information Technology and Engineering, University
of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, and Prof. Abdelmadjid, Head of the Computer Science &
Engineering Department of University of Technology of Compiegne, Paris, France. The
PhD work of Osama Rehman was funded by an open research grant from the Research
Council of Oman (TRC) allocated to the Communication & Information Research Centre
(CIRC) at SQU.
Enabling direct wireless communication between vehicles on the road is a core component of the envisioned Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS). The directly-connected
vehicles are commonly referred as Vehicular Ad Hoc Networks (VANETs). VANETs are
self-organizing networks that facilitate direct communication among vehicles without
the need for costly infrastructures. In such networks, vehicles function as nodes where
each can play the role of a host as well as of a router. VANETs have the potential to offer a wide spectrum of useful applications spanning from road safety to infotainment
services. Different types of vehicles-enabled technologies including laser scanners, cameras, radars, sonars and ultrasonic sensors, have limitations on how far they can sense
surrounding objects, such as vehicles. For a vehicle to detect an object successfully, the
object has to be in the view field of the sensors. Connected vehicles based on VANETs
have two unique capabilities over the above highlighted technologies due to the usage
of radio signals, which are the non-line-of-sight (NLOS) and long distance assessments.
The endorsement of information and communication technology-based solutions vehicles can enhance drivers’ awareness of immediate and far distant traffic situations. As a
consequence, VANETs can lead towards more intelligent decisions to deal with dynamic
road related events, such as road accidents, traffic congestions and vehicles presence at
blind spots. The action against an event could be taken by drivers or automatically exerted using a built-in control system. Governments, industries and academia have realized the impact that connected vehicles can exert in transforming the way vehicles move
on the roads, especially in reducing the road traffic accidents or avoiding them in the first
place. Experts envisage that VANETs will become the de-facto enabling technology for
communication among vehicles.
There has been growing research interests on vehicular ad hoc networks (VANETs) over
the past years due to their ease of deployment and potential support for wide range
of applications that can greatly enhance our everyday driving experience on the road.
Research on VANETs has come a long way in terms of theoretical studies and on-field
Osama Rehman said that the first part of his research
proposes a new message dissemination scheme for
multi-hop communication over a platoon of vehicles,
referred to as Link Quality-Based Message Dissemination (LQMD). “The LQMD scheme selects nodes
as relays based on the estimated link qualities of the
communication links between a given sender and
its neighboring nodes. The performance of LQMD
scheme is investigated over differing mobility scenarios, mainly reflecting low and high speed variations
among vehicles. Our results reveal that the proposed
LQMD scheme improves reliability of messages reception, especially over a highly dense network, compared to similar existing solutions, while it still manages to maintain low communication delays and high
efficiency in bandwidth utilization”, he said.
The second part of Osama’s research suggests a new
class of hybrid relay nodes selection scheme that attempts to combine the best features of existing message dissemination schemes. The hybrid scheme takes
into account the spatial distribution of the potential relay nodes from the sender. “To the best of our knowledge, the study is the first in literature to propose such
a class of hybrid scheme. Our performance analysis
presented in this research indicates that compared to
the existing conventional versions, the new hybrid
scheme improves reliability of messages reception by
up to 40%”, he added.
In order to investigate the performance behaviour
exhibited by the different message dissemination
schemes examined in this research, a new performance
measure is introduced, referred to as the “Relay Selection Optimality”. The introduced measure attempts to
capture the ability of a given message dissemination
scheme to make a better selection of the next-hop relay node among a group of contending nodes. A plausible spectrum of applications that can be benefited
from our proposed LQMD and hybrid schemes over
VANETs include pre-emptive measures for enhancing
road safety and traffic flow efficiency alongside with
the provision of a variety of infotainment services.
20 January 2016
News Round Up
Study Stresses on Child
Passenger Safety
By: Kannekanti Saraswathi &
Salima Shames Ali Al Badi
Safety is one of the important basic needs of a human being
as per Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. After satisfying physiological needs, safety needs are next where person feels secure and safe. For children all these basic needs are met by
care takers.
Motor vehicle accidents are one of the major causes of deaths
throughout the world. Ministry of Health, Oman reports that
20% total deaths of children below 15 years are due to the car
crashes every year. This may be due to not using car safety
measures while child is on board.Evidences show that child
safety restraints can reduce the risk of child deaths up to 70%.
In the modern world, using automobileswith proper safety
measures is inevitable for daily transportation.
In Oman it is obviously seen that use of child safety measures
are meager. Awareness should be increased to adaptto the
idea of using car safety measures. A survey was conducted
with 52 respondents by using self-administered questionnaire with the relevant consent by an undergraduate community health student of College of Nursing, SQU in the Al
Khoud community with the objective to generate awareness
of using car safety measure for the children below 15 years
in automobiles.
Results of the survey are as follows: 85% said their children
never travel with safety seat belts. 70% sample said that they
do not use safety seat belts for their children. All samples
agree that use of seat belts is safe and they encourage their
child to use safety seats and belts. 78% believe that use of
safety seats and belts will increase child survival. 65% sample
agree that parent should prepare child safety seat before the
discharge from the hospital after delivery of a newborn. Interventions include health educations, poster displays, handouts on child safety and demonstration of use of seatbelts.
Locations of health educations are Al Khoud health center,
maternity wards and to the audience of SQU Open day to
parents. Contents of health education included cases of child
deaths and disabilities, importance of using child safety
methods and stress on using child car safety seats and seat
belts for all the children travelling in a car. It is also suggested
that this study can be done with greater depth in all the parts
of Oman, with a request to the ROP to pass and implement a
law to use child car safety seats and seat belts in Oman.
20 January 2016
Workshop on Chemical
Analytical Instrumentation
The Department of Chemistry of the College of Science at SQU, recently
organized a three workshop on “Chemical Analytical Instrumentation”.
The workshop was aimed at shedding light on the use of different types
of analytical instruments, explaining their usage, identifying basic requirements to operate instruments, getting to know how to prepare
samples for analysis, describing and demonstrating the proper procedures for operating the instruments and understanding the scientific
concepts of instruments. Dr. Haider Al Lawati, Head of the Department
of Chemistry, said that there is a difference between technical side and
the academic side, but each side is linked to the other. “This workshop
focused on the technical side, because each graduate needs to know
the applications of instruments in the labour market”. He added that
the theoretical knowledge of the students helped them to analyze and
evaluate the results using the instruments.
Mohammed bin Ali Al Azwani, Supervisor of Chemistry Department
said that the workshop aimed to identify and analyze the chemical instruments, provide an opportunity for the practical application through
a number of theoretical and practical lectures and, as well as field trips.
We could involve the private institutions in this workshop who offered
their expertise in this filed. Mohammed Al Mahrizi said that this workshop contributed in improving the students’ skills by giving us the opportunity for practical application of chemical instruments. It included
many techniques that are used with these instruments.
SQU to Host Obstetrics &
Gynaecology Conference
The second International Conference on Advances in Obstetrics & Gynaecology (ICAOG), organized by the College of Medicine & Health
Sciences at Sultan Qaboos University will be held from 21 to 23 of January 2016. The conference will examine the research and developments
on the latest advances and updates in the field of obstetrics and gynaecology. The conference themes included infertility, gyne-oncology, maternal fetal medicine, and urology-gynaecology. In addition, there will
be pre-conference workshops on perineal repair, laparoscopy, obstetric
emergency, and hysteroscopy.
The aims of the conference is to update health care personnel involved
in women’s health about advances in the various sub-specialties in obstetrics & gynaecology, and provide a forum for interactive discussion
between a panel of international experts and participants. It also aims to
refine clinical skills at the point of delivery of care through workshops
and clinical tips, to promote opportunities for research, and to encourage regional and international collaboration. The organizing committee has invited nine International speakers. The organizers expect 300
participants from various countries such as United Kingdom, Germany,
Egypt, India, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Sudan. The opening
ceremony of the conference will be held on Thursday, 21 January under
the patronage of HE Dr. Ali bin Talib Al Hinai, Undersecretary of Ministry of Health for Planning Affairs.
Nanotechnology for Water
Treatment and Solar Energy
The demand for innovation in water treatment, environmental remediation and energy technologies has progressively increased over the years.
Nanotechnology is science, engineering, and technology conducted at the
nano-scale level. Nanotechnology has emerged as a viable solution poised
to revolutionize the environment sectors especially in the fields of water,
energy and pollution control.
SQU with the support from the Research Council of Oman (TRC) and the
US Office of Naval Research Global (ONRG) has organized the conference
entitled “Nanotechnology for Water Treatment and Solar Energy Applications”. This conference took place in the Golden Tulip Hotel, Muscat 1516 December 2015. Three major themes were identified including Nanotechnology for water treatment, desalination and biofouling; Solar energy
and environmental applications; Nanotechnology for environmental science and engineering. The topics of the conference were selected on the
basis of current and planned research activity in Oman and elsewhere in
the Middle East. The aim of the conference was to serve as a forum for
distinguished researchers, increase knowledge dissemination and capacity building, as well as set the stage for future collaborations between institutes, centers and industries worldwide. The conference featured 104
delegates from 13 different countries and 31 oral and poster presentations
have been given. The proceedings from the conference in terms of peerreviewed articles will be published in the Elsevier journal “Groundwater
for Sustainable Development”. Professor Amer Ali Al-Rawas Deputy ViceChancellor for Postgraduate Studies and Research, SQU and Dr. Ammar
Al-Obeidani, TRC opened the conference. Four keynote addresses from
Professor Jérôme Perrin, Scientific Director of Renault company, France,
Professor Kishore Paknikar, Director of Agharkar Research Institute, India,
Professor Joydeep Dutta, Chair in Functional Materials, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden (formal Chair in Nanotechnology, SQU), and
Professor Yves Blache, University of Toulon, France were given. With the
generous support from SQU with the support from SQU, TRC and ONRG
six international students from developing countries and the keynote
speakers were sponsored to the conference.
“Recognizing the pioneering role of Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) in
the Sultanate’s higher education sector as the most prominent institution
for teaching, research and community service, the first Chair of Oman’s
TRC was granted to SQU four years ago in order to meet the increasingly
changing needs of development in the Sultanate and leverage the existing and future capacity in Nanotechnology, with a special focus on Water
Desalination. This boosted up multidisciplinary nano-technological inves-
tigations in the country and put Oman on the map together with other
developing countries doing research in the field of nanotechnology”,
Professor Joydeep Dutta said. In his talk he highlighted several important achievements of the chair of nanotechnology program, such
as establishment of the fully equipment nanotechnological laboratory
and the start of multidisciplinary research in the fields of desalination
and water treatment that resulted in the creation of a prototype for
capacitive deionization of brackish waters.
“Biofouling is refereed to undesirable accumulation and growth of
marine organisms on the surfaces of man-made installations. Biofouling cost billions of dollars for marine industries, such as ship and boat
owners, desalination plants and aquaculture. Thus, it is important to
prevent this adverse process. Modern ways of prevention from biofouling include the usage of toxic compounds, such as copper, chlorine and organic biocides that kill corals and fishes and accumulate
in the environment. Due to the high detrimental impact of antifouling
compounds there is a strong need to develop successful, non- toxic
green antifouling solutions”, said Professor Yves Blache. Synthetic
compounds inspired by marine natural products and ZnO nanoparticles and nanarods can prevent biofouling in laboratory experiments.
These should be tested in the field over longer time and their potential
toxicity for marine organisms, such as fishes and corals, should be investigated in the future.
The keynote Professor Jérôme Perrin reminded the audience about
necessity of reduction of CO2 emissions in order to stop global warming. “Electric eco-friendly cars can provide new green solutions to cut
greenhouse emissions. Innovations in solar panels, batteries, electricity networks in order to reduce cost and increase their efficiency are
required. These can be achieved through nanotechnology“, he added.
The solar parking lots can be a great initiative and can be commercialized easily used in Oman and other Gulf countries.
“Nanotechnology can be used in medicine to construct new materials
with antimicrobial properties and in industry to remove environmental pollutants, such as heavy metals. Microfluidus can be used for the
detection of pathogens in the drinking water”, said Professor Kishore
All speakers at the conference emphasized that we are living in “the
world on the edge” and there is a strong demand in clean water, clean
environment and renewable energy. These can be done only through
combination of existing conventional techniques with nanotechnology enable emerging techniques to address major challenges. Oman
and all Gulf region countries could benefit from high amount of solar
energy every day, which should be used in many novel applications.
20 January 2016
Straight Talk
Open Source is Good
for Security
Wolfgang Finke
Prof. Dr. Wofgang R. Finke is a Professor in the Faculty of
Business Administration at the Ernst Abbe University of
Applied Sciences Jena, Germany. He is specialised and has
many years of academic and research experience in IT-strategies in large organizations, information management, information resources management, net-based learning systems,
educational management and related areas. Prof. Finke is
an expert cooperating with the national level free and open
source software (FOSS) awareness initiative, jointly carried
out by the Communication and Information Research Centre
(CIRC) at SQU and the Information Technology Authority of
Oman (ITA).
number of FOSS are increasing day by day. For instance,
the London Stock Exchange experienced a significant crash
of its proprietary computer information systems in September 2008, fired the CEO who was responsible for pushing
proprietary software, and moved to open source software.
The IT system of the New York Stock Exchange was converted to FOSS about a year earlier. In fact, it is claimed
that around 70% of the stock exchanges across the world
are running on FOSS.
Horizon: Apart from the cost saving factor, what are the
advantages of FOSS?
Prof. Finke: Apart from the cost saving factor, the free and
open source software has many advantages over the proprietary software. This includes increased security from cyber
spying. To facilitate cyber spying and collect confidential
information from other countries, certain intelligence agencies have adapted the practice of inserting malicious code
into the proprietary software to penetrate into the software
and the system at large. Free and Open Source Software is
more secure because the source code is available for scrutiny to large community. Bugs and security issues can be
identified and fixed easily and quickly. Spy agencies cannot
insert malicious code into the source code of open source
software because this would be detected immediately.
Horizon: Do you think that FOSS is more suitable for educational institutions?
Prof. Finke: Typically, a propriety software license requires
paying a separate fee for each machine or each user. Proprietary software companies such as Microsoft force people to
upgrade their versions quite often and put a lot of pressure
on customers to migrate from one version to the next one.
The fact is that such migration is expensive. However, the
code of open source software is available on the internet.
Anybody can download it free and contribute to it. It is difficult to manipulate FOSS, and this makes it more secure
than proprietary software. The source code of FOSS can
be inspect and modify, this is very useful for research purposes. Derivate software can be written using FOSS code
without any copyright issues. The advantage for advanced
higher education institutions - like SQU - is that academics,
students and researchers can freely share their work. Many
countries are moving from proprietary software to FOSS.
If the IT industry in Oman embrace FOSS, it will save the
country from spending a huge amount of money on copy
right associated with proprietary software and the copyright fees will no longer leave the Oman economy.
Horizon: Can you shed light on the acceptance pattern of Free and open
source software (FOSS) around the world?
Prof. Finke: The Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) movement had a
relatively slow start in the 1980s. FOSS grants the users the right to run the
software, inspect, modify, and distribute the source-code or software. In contrast to proprietary software, almost all of the Free and Open Source Software
have no buying or licensing cost. User has no restriction to make multiple
copies of FOSS for multiple users or multiple machines. Today, millions of
users all over the world are using the FOSS. Both the number of users and the
20 January 2016
Horizon: Do you think that more awareness creation initiatives are required to spread the advantages of FOSS?
Prof. Finke: Across the world funny misconceptions about
FOSS are common. The foremost of such misconceptions is
that open source software is not as safe as proprietary and
licensed software. It is just the opposite. To eliminate such
misconceptions we need to spread awareness among the
software user organizations. The fact is that as many as 40
countries have formed polices on implementing FOSS systems across their IT sector. In 2006 the City of Munich in
Germany started to converted its IT infrastructure to FOSS
platform. Russia has set a target that 90% of the government
organizations will embrace FOSS by the end of 2015. The
Communication and Information Research Centre (CIRC)
at SQU will be joining hands with the Information Technology Authority (ITA), in promoting the FOSS initiative
in Oman. The Centre will serve as a Centre of Excellence
that facilitates connection with the huge international FOSS
community. I am happy to associate with this venture.