SQU Project Bags Green Research Award News Round Up The Saudi Arabian Job Market for Female Graduates Mind Over Matter SQU and Daewoo Sign Agreement on Training Students News Update Health Care System Needs Change Department of Public RelationsandInformation SultanQaboosUniversity Issue 246 View Point Summer Thoughts The weather is just too hot. Many of us dread stepping out because we feel like being thrown into an electric grill every time. It’s like the sun is literally burning through our skin. Global warming, we know. Keeping the air conditioners on round the clock is the most common method that we adopt to keep us comfortable. However, this is not a sustainable way especially when if you are concerned about saving the planet by reducing the carbon footprint. Mohamed Salem Al Ghailani Editorial Supervision Humaid Abdullah Al Adwani Editor in Chief M.K. Santhosh Senior Editor Ahlam Al Wahaibi Design & Layout Rashad Al Wahaibi & Photography Dept., CET Photography Are there any smart and sustainable ways to beat the powerful sun in summer. Take the case of Japan. After the Fukushima Nuclear disaster, and resulting energy crisis in that country, the government asked workers to not wear neckties and other formal clothing to work. The obvious lesson here is that wearing weather-appropriate clothing makes it a lot easier to keep comfortable inside while dialling back the air conditioners. Even in the Gulf countries where mercury levels sore up to 50 degree Celsius in summer, we see lots of people relishing the sweltering heat. The people who have to work outdoors have no option but dare the scorching Sun from morning till dawn. The mandatory summer noon break is a sort of consolation for them. Those who find pleasure in the sweltering heat are the guys who love baking on a beach all day. But for the people who don’t, summer heat can become truly oppressive. You may start spending every weekend hiding out in your air-conditioned bedroom, watching television until your eyes ache. You may begin to skip your usual before-dinner walks because of the humidity. You may rely on unhealthy takeout because it’s just too stifling to cook. But beware, any of these things can contribute to summer depression. Why do seasonal changes cause depression? Experts aren’t sure, but the longer days, and increasing heat and humidity may play a role. Specific symptoms of summer depression often include loss of appetite, trouble sleeping, weight loss, and anxiety. The ideal way to follow is to enjoy the positive traits of summer and translate the negatives into positives. 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 July 2012 P2 Fax: +968 24413 391 Website: www.squ.edu.om SQU and Daewoo Sign Agreement on Training Four students from the different departments of the College of Economics & Political Science at Sultan Qaboos University will undergo summer training this year at Daewoo Engineering & Construction Company Limited in Seoul, South Korea. The students belong to the Departments of Marketing, Management, Finance and Operations Management at the college. An agreement in this regard was signed recently between the officials of SQU and Daewoo. Dr. Said bin Ali Al Yahyaee, Deputy Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs & Community Service represent SQU in the signing ceremony. Nam Chul Kim, Senior Vice President, signed the agreement on behalf of Daewoo Engineering and Construction Company. HE Choe Jong-Hyun, the Ambassador and Ms. Yanhye CHO the Cultural Attaché of South Korea to the Sultanate, Dr. Fahim Al Marhubi, Dean of the College of Economics & Political Science, SQU were present on the occasion. The training will last for five weeks in South Korean capital and the students will be based in Daewoo’s headquarters in Soul. Upon their return from South Korea will join Daewoo’s office in Muscat to complete their work and to prepare the final report of the project. The Embassy of Korea in Muscat played a key role in facilitating this training opportunity and to cement the ties between SQU and the Korean firm. Nam Chul Kim said that Daewoo E&C is looking for strengthening ties with SQU in terms of giving training opportunities to engineering students as well. The firm has operations in Duqm, Sur and other locations in Oman. News Update Note-takers Distributed to Visually Impaired Students Oman India Fertilizer Company (OMIFCO) donated RO 23000 to purchase electronic note-taker for the visually impaired students at Sultan Qaboos University. A special function was held at the College of Arts & Social Sciences in which 11 visually impaired students received the special equipment donated by OMIFCO. Dr. Abdullah Al Kindi, Dean of the College of Arts & Social Sciences and Hamed Al Hashmi, Procurement & Contract Manager, OMIFCO, attended the function. The visually impaired students received notetakers for the blind with a Braille keyboard and Braille display. This equipment has the capabilities of a word processor, web browser, schedule manager, and media player, for use at work, home or school. Dr. Abdullah Kindi, said in a speech that the partnership between the College and OMIFCO is to support students with vision disabilities. He pointed out that the initiative came in response to the efforts made by students with vision impairment, academics and the “Ibdah Al Baseerah” Group in following-up the implementation of this initiative. There are 77 students with different disabilities study at SQU, 11 of whom are visually impaired. Sering International Discusses Tie up with SQU External Cooperation Department. They were received by Dr. Ali Al Harthy, Dean, College of Engineering at SQU. They discussed the possibilities of mutually benefitting partnership between the two institutions. Sering is an Italian engineering consultancy firm, locally registered since 2009 and operating in Muscat and in Oman in general. Sering has plan to recruit Omani Engineering graduates as trainee engineers in their operations in Oman. A delegation from Sering International LLC visited SQU recently to explore ties up with the university. The team consisted of Eng. Sergio Di Maio, Chairman & CEO, Eng. Chiara Cei, Project Manager & Resident Coordinator, and Prof. Andrea Alaimo, The officials said that “as the business is expanding and other projects may arise soon, we are seeking for Omani Engineers. We believe that the transfer of knowhow from senior experts to young engineers, through an active programme of on job training”, participation to courses and to engineering activities in our office abroad will be a great opportunity of professional growth for the young graduated and cultural growth for us”. 30 July 2012 P3 Insight Health Care System Needs Change Recent improvements in health and an increased standard of living in Oman have led to a reduction in environment-related and infectious diseases. Now the country is experiencing an epidemiological transition characterised by a baby boom, youth bulge and increasing longevity. This means that Omanis will suffer less ill health. However, a survey of literature, suggests that chronic non-communicable diseases are unexpectedly becoming common. This is possibly fuelled by some socio-cultural patterns specific to Oman, as well as the shortcomings of the ‘miracle’ of health and rapid modernisation. Unfortunately, such new diseases do not spare younger people; a proportion of them will need the type of care usually reserved for the elderly. In addition, due to their pervasive and refractory nature, these chronic noncommunicable diseases seem impervious to the prevailing ‘cure-oriented’ health care system. In a research paper published in the latest issue of SQU Medical Journal, Dr. Hamed Al-Sinawi, Consultant and Old Age Psychiatrist in the Department of Behavioural Medicine at SQU Hospital, and colleagues, say that this situation calls for a paradigm shift: a health care system that goes beyond a traditional cure-orientation to provide care services for the chronically sick of all ages. Although the elderly constitute the minority of Oman’s population, the country is likely to be beset with a silent epidemic of medically compromised individuals (MCI). This stems from the emerging trend of Omani youngsters suffering from a compromised wellbeing that was previously associated with the middle-aged or elderly. Such a trend would likely pose a challenge as the country moves away from the threat of environmentrelated and infectious diseases to the ‘potential minefield’ of impairment, disability, and handicaps arising from other conditions. Life expectancy in Oman has increased dramatically in a little more than four decades from 50 years in 1970 to 74.22 years in 2011. Socio-demographic patterns in Oman are deemed to be in an ‘epidemiological transition’ phase marked by the ‘shift from the acute infectious and deficiency diseases characteristic of underdevelopment to the chronic non-communicable diseases characteristic of modernization and advanced levels of development’. Recent affluence, as well as cultural patterns, have triggered a ‘baby-boom’ and the population structure is characterised by a youth bulge, where ‘tomorrow’s people’ constitute the bulk of the population. In contrast to this youth bulge, available estimates suggest that the elderly, defined as over 60+ years, constitute barely 4.8% of the population. Although Oman’s populations is indeed predominantly young, the country has many MCI, some of whom are not elderly. There is an unusual trend whereby youth people are seeking types of health care often perceived as only relevant for the elderly. The country now faces the challenges of a rising tide of non-communicable diseases, sometimes labelled ‘diseases of affluence’. These ‘elderly-onset’, intransigent, and debilitating diseases seem to be affecting Oman’s youngsters. Many of these emerging diseases of affluence are triggered by lifestyle changes and combating them will require concerted efforts in the domain of rehabilitation and remedial services rather than simply curative medicine. Another contributor to impairment, disability and handicap in Oman is what is referred to as ‘flying coffins’, the mishap that happens to motor vehicle and their occupants on the road. Although an ‘accident is an accident’, road traffic injuries are a major public health problem in Oman disproportionately affecting the section of the population under 40 years of age. The type of health care provision needed, if the claim of a tsunami of 30 July 2012 P4 road traffic accidents is substantiated, would parallel that often provided for the elderly. Oman is not immune to congenital and inheritable genetic diseases as well those that are thought to be triggered by new mutations. As consanguinity is intimately embedded in Omani culture, this is likely to exacerbate the development of diseases that owe their origin to inherited genetic traits and health impairing mutations. This will lead to more youngsters with a dented quality of life and level of dependency that will echo those of the elderly. On such grounds, social engineering, framed in the parlance of rehabilitation and remedial intervention, would be essential. Mental illness is one of the contributory factors to the magnitude of the problem of the growing number of MCI. Despite this, cognitive, emotional and behavioural disorders (CEBD) have largely been relegated to a less prominent position in the algorithms of health care. CEBD appears to outstrip all other medical conditions in terms of number of years lost due to ill-health, disability or early death. CEBD tend to peak when afflicted individuals are still at a young age, thus depriving them of meaningful existence for many years. This has obvious implications for society. In addition to impairment, disability and handicap, CEBD tend affect other areas of health. For example, emotional disorders tend to have a strong link with physical illness. In addition to this, there is strong evidence to suggest that some well known physical illnesses tend to create a psychological burden. Although sometimes framed in the local idioms of distress, CEBD are widely recognised in Oman. Possible Solutions Regarding possible solutions to these issues, Dr. Hamed Al-Sinawi and team assert that Oman needs to contemplate a new direction for its health care system. An integral part of Oman’s health system should be meeting the needs of MCI through remedial services—since it would be an untenable aspiration to find a cure for all the causes of impairment, disability and handicap in the country. Health care services should enable MCI to reach and maintain their optimal levels of physical, sensory, intellectual, psychological and social functioning in order to achieve a measure of selfdetermination and meaningful and independence existence. Rehabilitation or remedial services need multidisciplinary medical teams, with a range of skills from social work to neurosurgery, which are also supported by educational/vocational institutions and other social agencies. Within the context of a family-oriented society, one approach that might be appropriate for MCI in Oman, according to Dr. Hamed Al Sinawi, is outreach services similar to home health care, otherwise known as domiciliary care or social care. This could help MCI have their health needs met within their own community which mean they are likely to remain closer to their social network of friends, neighbours and family thus mitigating loneliness, depression and other existential dilemmas. Another alternative approach is a non-residential facility that provides activities for the MCI during the day. This would mean that MCI could spend 10–12 hours per day in a setting possibly with access to a medical facility. Under this scheme, meals, social and recreational outings, and general supervision are provided by a team of experts. MindOverMatter The Saudi Arabian Job Market for Female Graduates By: Ibrahim Y. Vaid Assistant Professor Effat University Jeddah, Saudi Arabia not obtain access to the field to observe real world practices; and also to collect materials from showrooms, and retail stores; that they need for class projects. For example, in the Building Construction course at the local university, students are required to write a paper on assigned building material such as glass block, types of cement, paints, Saudi granites or related materials. However, some students complained that they could not go out alone and need to get help from brothers, close relatives, drivers, and fathers to go with them to get materials. Additionally, students complained about difficulty regarding conducting interviews for class projects and also, calling on salesmen regarding product information. There are numerous challenges faced by women who are studying architecture and other technical related fields in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). They also face many obstacles to work in a society which is not ready to accept them; especially, in technical fields such as architecture. Problems start with difficulties in conducting construction site visits, restricted work opportunities in local companies, lack of separate office spaces according to the local customs. Another problem is being accepted in a new field of study for women in a community which is not used to seeing women working in this profession. Although these problems exist, many people think that Saudi women are the same as women from other countries. In this regard, Dr. Chaman Rahim who is originally from Bangladesh has spent 34 years as an educator in Jeddah. In her career, she has witnessed many positive changes for women in the education sector, and is an optimist who believes that the work environment for women is changing for the better. It is a misconception that Saudi women stay at home and do not contribute to the society. Rahim said that “Education for girls was officially proclaimed by King Saud in 1959 on Saudi radio. King Faisal and his wife, Queen Effat, made great contributions to girls’ education”. Dr. Rahim also noted that “the process was slow at first and progressed gradually. Girls always seize any opportunity to study, and today women are at the forefront in almost all fields of work. This is indeed a great achievement”. Finally, just as in other countries, Saudi Arabia would like to continue to establish a developed society, and play a role in a developing the society. It is important to utilize the education acquired after graduating from colleges and university. Many women quit universities prior to graduating, either because of marriage, family problems, or unsatisfactory academic performances. Female dropout rates from universities are astonishing and reached 60% in the academic year 2005-06. In the same way many women do not work after graduating, because either their husbands do not want them to work, due to culture barriers, or family and children responsibilities. One thing is for sure, education (secular or religious) is power and educated women can take care and raise their children much better than women who are not educated. On the other hand many women want to work but cannot find a job for several reasons. One of the biggest reasons is many companies are not ready to hire women. Nashwa Taher, a well-known business woman in Saudi Arabia, accused many companies of “obstructing employment opportunities for women”. Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed, Chairman of Asharqia Chamber said, “Statistics show that about 82,000 women graduates are jobless”. Also, he added that “The work of women is more valuable than the money they posses because they represent half of the population and their active participation in economic activities is essential”. The spokesman for the Labor Ministry of KSA Hattab Al-Anazi said that, “Some big companies have already opened women’s sections inside their headquarters and branches”. The biggest problems educators face is when students complain that they can- Saudi Arabia has taken many positive steps to encourage women’s progression in the labor market. First of all, Saudi women are graduating from universities at higher rates than Saudi men, similar to the gender rate differential seen in western countries. The Foreign Ministry of Saudi Arabia has made progress in accommodating women by offering jobs as international relations researchers and clerks at the women’s section of its branch in the Mecca province. They are required to have a bachelor’s degree in the field of international relations, public relations experience, or political science for an international relations post, and a diploma in secretarial studies for clerks. Other opportunities are also provided in diverse fields such as in an allwomen’s light fixture factory, and car saleswomen, where they sell cars to other female buyers. It should be noted that legally, women cannot drive in KSA. Furthermore, other sectors which accommodate women are the financial industry (e.g. banks), sales, medical profession (i.e. doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other medical related fields) and education. Moreover, there are initiatives to promote Saudi women to work in the labor market includes prison employments, welfare centers, vocational fields, libraries, tourisms, food industries, first aids, beauty salons, computers industries, and telecommuting. Furthermore, the government has opened 17 technical colleges in different parts of the country to encourage women to study in technical fields. Education awareness among the Saudis is increasing especially in those families where their offspring have studied aboard. They support women to study and be the part of workforce. Despite all these obstacles the number of women’s educational institutions as well as the number of women students has been steadily growing, their illiteracy rate has been substantially declined, and they consistently do better on standardized school tests and achieve higher grades than their male counterparts. There are numerous cultural obstacles exist for female to work in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). Also, females are studying locally and aboard (i.e. encouraging steps of KSA to provide scholarships) more in the technical fields including architecture. As a result, within five to eight years, more females will be available to contribute their shares in a local market. Consequently, companies have to accommodate them by creating separate offices and work areas. On the other hand, if companies do not house them, then female have to look for other avenues and would start technical related businesses; resulting, a competition between male owned businesses versus female owned business. Females need encouragement from families in finishing educations and to work. In like manner, private and public sectors need to open door for them. Ibrahim Vaid is an educator and a vocational educational consultant, currently teaching as visiting professor in the KSA. He can be reached at [email protected] . 30 July 2012 P5 NewsRoundUp SQU Project Bags Green Research Award used without any environmental problems, and the amount of treated wastewater to be thrown away or disposed was minimized. High amount of freshwater was saved, the wastelands were used with perfect plant growth and the fertility of soil was improved. In this project, chemical fertilizer was saved and organic fertilizer or natural amendments were used. However, the quality and quantity of produced oil (bio-fuel) was matching the international standards. Two scientific papers from this project were published in International scientific journals and four reports were published in local newsletters. Moreover, the work was presented in local and International conferences. A research project at SQU which explores maximizing the use of waste resources including waste lands and treated waste water, has bagged the “Special Jury” category of the Green Oman Award 2012 (Green Research Award). This project, carried out by the Department of Soils, Water & Agricultural Engineering of the College of Agricultural & Marine Sciences, describes the usage of waste lands and non-potable water to grow environmental friendly plants and produce bio-fuel that can help in greening and support the economy of the country. The main objectives of the project were to improve the productivity of waste lands (unsuitable for agriculture); to maximize the usage of treated waste water; to grow economical (bio-fuel) plant; to reduce the usage of chemical fertilizers and improve soil quality by natural resources; and, to conduct a preliminary research to assess the possibilities of growing Jatropha plant and produce bio-fuel. In this study, Jatropha plants were grown in wasteland (rocky unfertile soil) at Agricultural Experiment Station (AES), College of Agricultural & Marine Sciences. The plants were irrigated with saline and treated waste waters. The success of the project was shown through an excellent growth and production of plant seeds. Low quality of waters (saline water and treated waste water) were The project motivated others to contribute to a greener Oman through the following advantages. It will turn many bare soils to green lands. Jatropha plant cannot be eaten by animals so If it is grown in the edge of the land, it will work as a fence and protect the inside or domestic plants. If the growers are interested in Jatropha plant, they can harvest the seed and get biofuel from it. The husk of the seeds can be used as a fertilizer for edible crops so it will improve the fertility of the soil; it gives option to save fresh water and use non-potable waters. Otherwise it can be irrigated by low amount of fresh water. Moreover, if the plant is not irrigated, it will survive but the leaves will fall down. The whole plant has many medical applications. If the plant grown in a big scale, it will provide jobs, improve the income of the grower and support country economy. The plant has the ability to absorb high amount of CO2. In good growth, the place will be green and plant will produce flowers. Plant waste can be used as a fertilizer or cooking purposes. Dr. Ahmed Al Busaidi, Associate Researcher in the Department of SWAE, said that with this project, more lands can be brought under agriculture again but with newly changed economically attractive plants. “As a result farmers or owners of such lands can be re-employed on their original lands once again. The family income will increase. Livestock, goat and sheep feeding on these fodders can be a fresh source of milk and meat. Some new industry (like oil extracting) can develop bringing new jobs and increased income to the young population. Moreover, improving the fertility of many waste lands by using treated waste water mean saving freshwater for coming generation and producing food from lands that supposed to be unproductive are excellent job for covering food security issues”, he said. SQU Joins Hands with AMEI for Student Exchange Oman said that this is the first time that the US students are visiting Oman as part of this annual student exchange program by AMEI. “Oman is very open to foreign cultures while retaining its identity as an Arabic Islamic nation. The Arabic dialect in Oman is very pure which gives our students an advantage”, he said. Sultan Qaboos University hosted 15 American students visiting Oman as part of an Arabic language immersion and cultural exchange program for students which is coordinated by the American Middle East Institute (AMEI) based in Pittsburgh, USA. The visit of the American students was preceded by the three week visit of the same number of Omani students to Washington and Jefferson College in Pennsylvania from June 4 to 23. Georges Montillet, Director of Educational Programs at AMEI, who was in charge of the language and cultural immersion program in 30 July 2012 P6 In Oman, the US students lived with their counterparts from this country in order to share lifestyles and culture. During their three weeks stay in Oman, the students took assignments on critical thinking enhancement, language learning and cultural exchange. The students visited different places in Oman such as Sur, Nizwa, Muttrah to see the historical monuments and interact with people. During the last week, the students spent their time in Salalah. Salahddin Al Sadi, Deputy Director for External Cooperation Office at SQU said that the university provided transportation, accommodation and food for both the Omani and US students who particpated in the program. Out of the fifteen Omani students, five were from SQU, six from Colleges functioning under the Ministry of Higher Education and four from the Senior Secondary Schools under the Ministry of Education. Apart from SQU, the hosting organizations included the Ministries of Higher Education, and Education and Sultan Qaboos Centre for Islamic Culture. The program concluded on July 19. From 557 in the year 1986, the number of students rose to 14722 in the academic year 2007-2008. This figure includes Diploma, Bachelors, Masters and PhD students. There has been gradual increase in the number of graduates as well; from 284 graduates in the year 1990 to 2422 in 2011. A Sun that never sets Straight Talk Horizon: How would you summarise your expertise and experience in satellite meteorology and training? Dr. Mark Higgins Higgins: I graduated from the University of Edinburgh, in Scotland, with a BSc in Astrophysics and a PhD in Geophysics. My core skill as a scientist is remote sensing, being able to estimate the Earth’s properties at a distance. I joined the Met Office in the UK and worked on remote sensing of the Atmosphere, bringing data into the computer models that are used in weather forecasting. Since 2003 I have worked more in the area of training and joined EUMETSAT last year where I am able to combine my scientific and training interests. Horizon: Could you summarise the applications of weather satellites? Higgins: Meteorological satellites are primarily used to monitor the weather and climate of the Earth. Today’s weather satellite sensors see more than clouds and cloud systems. Effects of pollution, sand and dust storms, snow cover, boundaries of ocean currents, energy flows, and other types of environmental information are gathered using these satellites, in real time. Visible-light images from weather satellites during local daylight hours are easy to interpret even by the average person; clouds, cloud systems such as fronts and tropical storms, lakes, forests, mountains, snow ice, and large scale pollution such as smoke, dust and haze are readily apparent. The thermal or infrared images recorded by sensors called scanning radiometers enable a trained analyst to determine cloud heights and types, to calculate land and surface water temperatures, and to locate ocean surface features. Fishermen and farmers are interested in knowing land and water temperatures to protect their crops against frost or increase their catch from the sea. The number of application areas is continually growing. Horizon: Can you explain how satellite data could be used for ocean monitoring? Higgins: Satellite data can be used as a tool for monitoring the environmental conditions of coastal waters and the health of oceans and seas. By looking at the ocean in different colours we can detect algae. We can measure the temperature of the ocean surface, we can measure the wind on the ocean surface, and the height of the ocean wave. We can also measure the height of the ocean itself. From these data scientists can make statements about sea level rise, the energy available from the ocean to a cyclone, the best fishing areas and the safest areas for mariners. In fact, during my stay in Oman, we had a meeting with the officials in the Ministry of Fisheries regarding the use of satellite data for the benefit of the fishermen in the country. They are already monitoring ocean colour – which relates to algae which fish can feed on. Horizon: Could you explain the major topics you cov- ered in the training workshop at SQU? Why they are important? Higgins: The course participants are all weather forecasters. Their principle role is to provide weather information and warnings. This can be to pilots, ship captains, fishermen, farmers, national disaster management bodies and the public. Producing a good forecast requires a good understanding of what the current state of the atmosphere. Satellite data can really help this step in forecasting, they provide a good all round view of the environment in real time. This course helped the forecasters deepen their knowledge of how to use the data from satellites in their forecasting. These forecasters will be better able to detect the first signs of a dust storm or change in wind over the sea, leading them to be able to make better forecasts. Mark Higgins is a Trainer in Satellite Meteorology at the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) specialised in weather and ocean monitoring. He visited SQU as part of his training assignment for weather forecast experts in Oman. The Remote Sensing & GIS Centre at SQU with DG-MAN and EUMETSAT is a partner in the World Meteorological Organization Centre of Excellence in Oman which trains scientists from Middle East, North African and South West Asian countries, on utilising and interpreting satellite data for metrological applications.