My Experience Attending FOSSC Oman 2015
Seismic Hazard Assessment for Oman
Mind Over Matter
Counselling Centre Conducts Awareness Campaign
News Update
Smoking Habit
Among Students
Department of Public
Relations and Information
Sultan Qaboos University
Issue 309
View Point
The Open Source
Mohamed Salem Al Ghailani
Editorial Supervision
Santhosh Muthalath
Senior Editor
Sara Al Gheilani
Nasebah Al Muharrami
Najah Al Harthi
Design & Layout
Photography Dept., CET
Salim Al Sudairi
Open source software is present everywhere there’s a computer. Open source
is an approach to coding and creating software. It’s free to use and the code is
open to be used, adapted and distributed by anyone. One can examine it and
learn from it, change the purpose of it and share it. This approach offers cost
savings, and the ability to play with the software offers the greatest benefits.
The main advantages of open source are that it promotes creativity and helps
make technology more democratic allowing a community to work together
to solve common problems. Academics can connect this kind of software freedom with the academic freedom they often argue for! The initial Open Source
movement grew in part out of US academic establishments in the 1970s and
1980s. Open source, as the name suggests, comes with open access, and at the
same time encourages use, reuse and adaptation of software which is already
open and available for edit.
Open source has made inroads into industry and consumer technology. Oman
is also promoting the use of open source software among the public and private sector organizations. The Information Technology Authority (ITA) is
spearheading the FOSS National Initiative in order to support the free and
open source software and the deployment of technical awareness of the existence of free software as a technical option to meet the growing needs of
individuals and institutions. SQU is a strategic partner with ITA in the FOSS
National Initiative. As part of the understanding between ITA and SQU, FOSS
labs have been set up and IT experts from the university are very much involved in spreading information on and promoting the use of free open source
software across institutions in the country.
The second edition of the FOSSC Oman conference, which was aimed at promoting the use of free and open source software in Oman, focussed on expanding opportunities in this field and welcoming more communities to this platform. By adapting open source software culture, individuals and companies
decide where to make improvements in the system, the collective desires of
the community determine the overall direction of progress, and yet without
compelling anyone. People with opinions about what direction is best can urge
others to join in, request help, and in this way influence the overall direction
of progress. Sounds good!
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]
10 March 2015
Fax: +968 24413 391
News Update
Focuses on Opportunities
and Communities
and dissemination of culture in general, and a free and open source
software in general, the university is keen to contribute to the national
initiative to support the free and open source software, in cooperation
with the ITA.”
The second edition of the Free and Open Source Software Conference
(FOSSC Oman) jointly organized by the Communication & Information
Research Centre (CIRC) at Sultan Qaboos University (SQU), and the Information Technology Authority (ITA), in support of the National Initiative on Free and Open Source Software, concluded recently. The opening
ceremony of the two day conference was held under the patronage of
H.E. Dr. Abdullah bin Nasser Al Harrasi, Chairman of the Public Authority for Radio and Television (PART). This event was aimed at promoting
awareness on the use and development of free and open source software
for professionals, staff, students and the community in Oman. A number
of well-known international and local experts participated in the conference with topics such as sustainability of open source communities, role
and opportunities of FOSS in public administrations, open source for the
public sector, scaling applications for global communities and others.
In his speech at the conference opening, Prof. Amer bin Ali Al Rawas,
Deputy Vice Chancellor for Post Graduate Studies & Research at SQU,
said: SQU places a great importance for the field of research in various
vital sectors, to ensure the advancement of scientific and cultural level
and meet the needs of the community. The university is keen to develop
the telecommunications and information technology field in terms of research and educational programs and the organization of scientific and
applied activities that enhance the reality and effectiveness in teaching
and research. In order to carry out its leading role in the field of adoption
Omar Salim Al Shanfari, ITA Deputy CEO for Operations, delivered
the ITA’s speech at the conference opening and he stated: “The key
objective of the FOSS National Initiative is to support the free and open
source software and the deployment of technical awareness of the existence of free software as a technical option to meet the growing needs of
individuals and institutions. In terms of capacity building, 1200 people
have been trained in FOSS application and more than 70 workshops
presented in this field.”
Al Shanfari also talked about the importance of having a genuine
partnership between the ITA and the academic institutions, saying:
“In order to achieve the objectives of the initiative, the ITA sought to
establish a partnership with the academic institutions, through which
four Memorandums of Understanding with the Sultan Qaboos University and the University of Nizwa, the Ministry of Education and Middle East College. Through this initiative, we seek to increase awareness
and spread the culture of free software between academic staff and students, provide specialized training opportunities for them, and encourage research and development using free software to produce technical
solutions that meet the needs of telecommunications and information
technology sector in the Sultanate.”
After the opening ceremony, the guest of honor opened the FOSSOman 2015 exhibition, which showcases the national and international
open source solutions and products. The projects which won in the
Oman Summer Code competition are also present in the exhibition.
Counselling Centre Conducts Awareness Campaign
The Student Counselling Centre at SQU recently organized an awareness campaign on the importance of counselling psychology and various counselling and related services offered by the Centre. As part of the
campaign organized under the theme “Let’s know each other”, counselling experts at the Centre disseminated information about the services by
camping at different locations within the university.
Dr. Manal Khasib Al Fazari, Deputy Director of the Student Counselling
Centre, said that the campaign aims to promote people’s awareness on
counselling psychology. At SQU, this subject is offered to students in the
College of Education. However, we intend to send the message of counselling psychology among the whole SQU community. In future, we would
like to take up this campaign among students outside SQU. Through this
initiative we would like to spread awareness on the positive aspects of
psychological counselling and thereby encourage students to seek help
for various psychological problems that affect them”, Dr. Al Fazari said.
Sayyidah Tamader Ghalib Al Said, Counseling Psychologist at the Student
Counselling Centre, said that the Centre offers individual counselling services to students and staff, group counselling sessions for students who
face the same psychological problems, and outreach activities including
lectures and seminars on relevant topics in psychology. “The consultation
service offers quick solutions to student’s problems. Apart from these, we
conduct workshops for students and employees about our services. The
idea of the campaign “Let’s know each other” is to reach the students
where they are and create awareness on our activities. Some people have
the wrong perception that psychological counselling is for people with
mental disorders. We want to give them the message that we psycholo-
gists and counselors help people understand the nature of difficulties
they may be dealing with, develop insight and skills to minimize and
manage the impact of problems, in their daily lives as students or professionals”, Tamadar Al Said explained.
As part of the “Let’s know each other” campaign, each day the counselors provided information at a different location within SQU. Psychology quiz and positive sentence writing competitions were also held on
the sidelines of the event.
10 March 2015
Smoking Habit Among Students
The Student Counseling Center at SQU is conducting a study about the
spread of smoking habit among the university students and its causes. This
study reflects the university’s interest in providing a suitable academic
environment for students, by creating awareness on the negative impact of
smoking on personal, health, physiological and social spheres and how the
negative impacts of smoking habit reflect directly on students’ ability and
achieving their academic and career goals.
perspectives, as well as to identify the level of students’ awareness about
the different means to reduce smoking and its impact on them. Further,
the study will come up with scientific solutions that help to limit smoking and suggest an effective treatment plans to reduce smoking among
university’s students.
Dr. Saeed bin Sulaiman Al Dhafri, Director of the Center said that this
study is considered as a practical tool to reveal the extent of smoking habit
among university’s students, so the university would be able to take necessary procedures to solve the problem based on scientific evidence and that
will help in reducing the spread of this bad habit among the students. This
study is expected to contribute to formulating treatment and therapies for
the students who have addiction to smoking and to help them get rid of it.
Dr. Dhafri said that the idea of this study came from the directives of the
H.E. Dr.Ali bin Saud Al Bimani, the Vice Chancellor, who is keen to follow
up various issues related to university’s students.
According to information from American Lung Association, cigarette
smoking has been identified as the most important source of preventable morbidity (disease and illness) and premature mortality (death)
worldwide. There are approximately 600 ingredients in cigarettes. When
burned, they create more than 7,000 chemicals. At least 69 of these
chemicals are known to cause cancer, and many are poisonous.
The research is carried out by a team led by Dr. Saeed bin Sulaiman Al
Dhafri. The other members of the team are: Prof. Dr. Samir Ibrahim Hassan, Dr. Zakiya bint Qahtan Al Busaidi, Dr. Manal bint Khasib Al Fazari,
Dr. Maha Abdul Majeed Al-Ani, Al Mur bin Mohammed Al Hashmai and
Marawa bint Nasser Al Rajhi. Dr. Zakiya Al Busaidi, Senior Consultant,
Family Medicine and Public Health and Supervisor of the Student Clinic at
SQU said that the SQU Hospital has introduced a service to offer treatment
and counselling for students at the clinic and processes are underway to
conduct awareness campaigns against smoking.
Maha Abdal Majeed Al Ani, from the Student counseling Center, said the
objectives of the study are to identify the spread of smoking phenomena
among the university’s students, realize the attitudes of students towards
smoking, whether smokers or non-smokers. In addition, the study will
evaluate the spread of smoking phenomena among students according to
a number of variables including (sex, age, academic year, college, region,
place of residence during the study) by assessing the social, economic,
demographic and behavioral characteristics of smokers.
The study aims to identify the reasons that force the students to smoke
and the level of the university’s students awareness about the negative effects of smoking in health, social, psychological, economic and academic
10 March 2015
Health Effects of Smoking
Smoking is directly responsible for approximately 90 percent of lung
cancer deaths and approximately 80-90 percent of COPD (emphysema
and chronic bronchitis) deaths. The list of diseases caused by smoking includes chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD, including chronic
bronchitis and emphysema), coronary heart disease, stroke, abdominal
aortic aneurysm, acute myeloid leukemia, cataract, pneumonia, periodontitis, and bladder, esophageal, laryngeal, lung, oral, throat, cervical,
kidney, stomach, and pancreatic cancers. Smoking is also a major factor
in a variety of other conditions and disorders, including slowed healing
of wounds, infertility, and peptic ulcer disease. Smokers die significantly
earlier than nonsmokers: 13.2 years for men and 14.5 years for women.
Cigarette smoke contains nicotine, tar and carbon monoxide. Nicotine is
a drug that stimulates the brain. If you are a regular smoker, when the
blood level of nicotine falls, you usually develop withdrawal symptoms,
such as craving, anxiety, restlessness, headaches, irritability, hunger,
difficulty with concentration, or just feeling awful. Tar contains many
chemicals which deposit in the lungs and can get into the blood vessels
and be carried to other parts of the body. Carbon monoxide affects the
oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood.
The majority of today’s daily smokers began smoking before they were
18 years old. But youth smoking can be prevented with the combined
efforts of families, schools, communities and policy makers. Parents can
set a positive example for their children by not smoking themselves, and
keeping their homes smoke-free. Schools can provide tobacco prevention programs to educate students about the dangers of smoking.
Mind Over Matter
Seismic Hazard Assessment for
Scientists studying seismic hazard assessment for the Sultanate, say that
based on calculations on how hard the earth shakes in a given geographic
area (Peak Ground Acceleration, PGA) , the highest hazard is found in the
northernmost city Khasab. This is because of the proximity of Khasab to
Zagros and Makran seismic zones near the Strait of Hormuz. Earthquakes
at a distance of 90 kilometers from Khasab contribute most to the hazard of
this city. These findings were discussed at the second workshop on seismic
hazard assessment for the Sultanate of Oman, organized by the Earthquake
Monitoring Centre at Sultan Qaboos University recently. Dr. Eissa El Hussain, Director of the Earthquake Monitoring Centre at SQU, presented the
results of the “probabilistic and deterministic seismic hazard assessment
of the Sultanate of Oman”. The workshop marked the completion of the
seismic hazard assessment study for the Sultanate of Oman.
The workshop was presided over by HE Dr. Ali bin Saud Al Bimani, the
Vice Chancellor of SQU. Speaking on the occasion, Prof. Amer bin Ali Al
Rawas, SQU Deputy Vice Chancellor for Postgraduate Studies & Research,
said that the study on seismic hazard assessment for the Sultanate of Oman
comes from SQU’s efforts to build capacity in this area. “The government
is aware to the importance of the earthquake risk assessment. Hence, the
the Council of Ministers has assigned the task of preparing a study of the
risk of earthquakes in the Sultanate to the Earthquake Monitoring Centre
at SQU in cooperation with the relevant authorities in the Sultanate. The
project began at the end of 2009, where a committee was formed to oversee the project, headed by SQU with members from Muscat Municipality,
Ministry of Regional Municipalities and Water Resources and the Supreme
Council for Planning”, Prof. Al Rawas said.
The Deputy Vice Chancellor further said that the results of this study have
shown that the northern areas of the Sultanate may be more vulnerable
to earthquake risks than Muscat. “So we have to start thinking about conducting a detailed studies of earthquake risks of northern areas, especially
the areas with high population density and major economic significance.
Therefore, a permanent committee called the “Committee for Monitoring
Earthquakes” has been formed to establish construction and development perceptions in terms of seismic risks”, he added.
In the subsequent session of the workshop Dr. Ahmed Deif from SQU
presented a paper on “mitigation of seismic risk by microzonation in
Muscat area”. Microzonation maps provide city planners with better
understanding of spatial variation of seismic hazard to develop various
hazard mitigation strategies for cities. Prof. Eser Cakti from Bogazici
University in Turkey gave a talk on development of shake maps for
Muscat. The Shake Map methodology enables estimation of the level
and distribution of regional ground shaking and enables the assessment of the regional effects of an earthquake immediately after its
occurrence once earthquake source information, i.e., the magnitude
and location, is known. Reliable maps of ground shaking level and
distribution lead to realistic estimation of earthquake losses such as
causalities and building damage, which in turn provide vital assistance
to the planning of emergence response actions. Dr. Ufuk Hacilar from
Bogazici University covered the topic “development of risks maps for
Prof. Edral Safak from the Turkish university presented “development of Oman seismic design code for buildings”. He said that “Oman
seismic design code was prepared to officially furnish the earthquake
resistant design requirements for reinforced concrete, steel, steelconcrete and masonry building structures to be constructed with in
Oman”. The seismic ground motion in the Oman Seismic Design Code
is based on a country specific probabilistic seismic hazard analysis conducted by SQU using most up to date hazard analysis methods. For
the purposes of the Code, the country has been divided into two seismic zones, where Zone 1 is identified as a higher seismic hazard zone
including Muscat, Sohar, Diba and Khasab, while Zone 2 is identified
as a lower seismic hazard zone including Nizwa, Sur and Salalah. The
design earthquake considered in Oman Seismic Design Code is identified as having a probability of exceedance of 10% in 50 years, which
corresponds to an earthquake with a return period of 475 years.
10 March 2015
News Round Up
Forum Sheds Light on
The opening ceremony of the Second International Conference on
Fisheries, Aquaculture and Environment in the Indian Ocean, organized by the Department of Marine Sciences Fisheries of the College of
Agricultural & Marine Sciences at Sultan Qaboos University, was held
under the patronage of H.E. Sultan bin Salim Al Habsi, Secretary General of the Supreme Council for Planning. This international forum
hosted 220 participants from 24 countries including 8 keynote speakers.
The conference featured 97 abstracts, 62 oral presentations, 35 poster
presentations, 21 students’ abstracts, and 11 sponsored students.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the conference organizing committee, Dr. Hussein Al Masroori, chair of the committee said that the Indian Ocean, which is the third largest ocean, is home to a rich biodiversity, which populations depend upon, not only for their livelihood, but
also for recreation and tourism. “The Sultanate like many other Indian
Ocean countries lays great hopes on the marine and fishery resources
to support national income and to diversify its resources to reduce dependence on oil and gas. According to the Ministry of Agriculture and
Fisheries 2014 report, the fisheries and aquaculture sectors contribute
to more than 184 million Omani Riyals of the total production of approximately 210,000 Tons. Achieving a growth of 61% in production
quantity and 241% increase in value over the past fourteen years. This
has contributed in providing foreign currency for the country as a result of exporting Omani fish products to global markets, which has led
to the diversification of income and investment for around 300 to 400
thousand Omanis who work directly or indirectly in the fisheries sector, of which 45,000 are fishermen”, Dr. Al Masroori said.
Dr. Al Masroori further said that the Sultanate depends on the fisheries and aquaculture sector because of its vast and versatile potential,
and there are various development plans within the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries to further boost the gross national income. “The
predicted total fish production is expected to reach 500,000 tons, by
the year 2030, of which 40% should be from Aquaculture alone. All of
these issues impresses on researchers in the region to the importance
of sharing knowledge and experiences in the scientific, economic and
social fields to ensure the sustainability of marine resources in the Indian Ocean”, he observed.
In the opening ceremony, Prof. Daniel Pauly from the Fisheries Centre
& Zoology at the University of British Columbia, Canada gave a talk on
“the fisheries of the western Indian Ocean in the context of global fisheries development”. He said that the Marine fisheries of the countries
bordering the western Indian Ocean are more productive than suggested by official statistics as submitted to and disseminated by the Food
& Agricultural Organization (FAO). “However, the coastal resources of
the western Indian Ocean are overexploited, which is the reason why
their fisheries tend to move offshore, where they compete with the wellestablished distant water fleets from Europe and East Asia”,he added.
10 March 2015
Omani Adventurer
Accorded Reception
Sultan Qaboos University community, led by H.E. Dr. Ali bin Saud Al
Bimani, the Vice Chancellor, received Ahmed Harib Al Mahrouqi and
fellow travelers, who are undertaking a journey from Muscat to Salalah on camels. The trip named “Safe trip through the land of Oman”
will cover around 1000 kilometers in around 75 days. The journey
started from Al Alam Palace in Muscat on Sunday, 22 February. From
SQU, the first stop over, Al Mahrouqi and team proceeded to Adam
via Fanja, Bid Bid and Nizwa. From Adam, they will travel to Salalah
via Haima and Thumrait.
H.E. Dr. Ali Al-Bimani said: “We would like to congratulate Ahmed Al
Mahrouqi for this vital and national initiative to revive the cultural
heritage of Oman. This trip embodies the concept of safety and security in our country, and show that anyone can move from north to
south with utmost safety and peace”.
Al Mahrouqi is undertaking this long trip on camels because of his
love for Oman. “I want the world to know what Oman has to offer to
the travelers and tourists from different parts of the world. Through
this trip, I am trying to recreate the nomadic life in the deserts of
Oman. I am proud of the reach of the Omani culture and intellectual
diversity. In the past, the journeys through deserts have cultural, scientific and commercial importance. My initiative is an attempt to showcase the historical continuity between civilizations besides preserving
heritage”, he said. Al Mahrooqi and fellow travelers chose to ride on
camels in order to recreate the magic of the golden days when desert
travelers relied on one single mode of transport, the ship of the desert,
the faithful camel.
Workshop Sheds Light
on Nanotechnology
The Research Council Chair in Nanotechnology and the Water Research
Center, in collaboration with the College of Engineering at Sultan Qaboos University, organized a nanotechnology workshop today. Dr. Khaled
Day, Dean of Research, officially opened the workshop on behalf of Prof.
Amer bin Ali Al Rawas, SQU Deputy Vice Chancellor for Postgraduate
Studies & Research. Dr. Osman Abdalla, Director, Water Research Center,
spoke about the importance of cheaper nanotechnology applications for
water desalination in Oman and the contributions of the Centre and the
TRC Chair in this regard.
Dr. Ammar Al Obaidani, Director-Energy Sector at the Research Council
spoke about the importance of the research carried out at the TRC Chair
in Nanotechnology. He lauded the efforts of the researchers at the Chair
and the research output which is of strategic importance to the country.
Prof. Heinrich Hofmann of Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Lausanne, Switzerland, gave the plenary talk on “Nanoparticles, opportunities and challenges”. Dr. Margarethe Hofmann Amtenbrink, President of
Federation of European Materials Societies, spoke about “Critical materials for innovative products- Challenges to Materials Science and Engineering”.
In this article, Elizabeth K. Joseph, Linux Systems Administrator with
HP working on the OpenStack Infrastructure team, narrates her experience of attending the FOSSC Oman 2015 Conference organized by the
Communication & Information Research Centre (CIRC) at SQU and the
Information Technology Authority (ITA).
I had the honor of speaking at FOSSC Oman 2015 in Muscat, following
an invitation last fall from Prof. Hadj Bourdoucen and the organizing
team. My first observation was that the conference staff really went out
of their way to be welcoming to all the speakers and making sure all our
needs were met. The second was that the conference was that it was really well planned and funded. They did a wonderful job finding a diverse
speaker list (both topic and gender-wise) from around the world. I was
really happy to learn that the conference was also quite open and free to
attend, so there were participants from other nearby companies, universities and colleges. Finally, there were more women at this conference than
I’ve ever seen at an open source conference, at least half the audience,
perhaps slightly more.
The conference itself began on Wednesday (18 February) morning with
several introductions and welcome speeches from officials of Sultan Qaboos University (SQU), the Information Technology Authority (ITA) and
Professor Hadj Bourdoucen who gave the opening FOSSC 2015 speech.
The first formal talk of the conference was Patrick Sinz on “FOSS as a
motor for entrepreneurship and job creation.” In this talk he really spoke
to the heart of why the trend has been leaning toward open source, with
companies tired of being beholden to vendors for features, being surprised by changes in contracts, and the general freedom of not needing
“permission” to alter the software that’s running your business, or your
The next talk was by Jan Wildeboer titled “Open is default.” He covered
a lot in his talk, including the fact that 80% of most software stacks can
easily be shared between companies without harming any competitive
advantage, since everyone needs all the basics of hardware interaction,
basic user interaction and more, thus making use of open source for this
80% an obvious choice.
My talk came up right after Jan’s, and with a topic of “Building a Career
in FOSS” it nicely worked into things that Patrick and Jan had just presented. Companies today need developers for features and they’re paying
good money for deployment of open source so there are a lot of jobs
cropping up in the open source space. My talk gave a tour of some of the
types of reasons one may contribute, types of ways to get involved and
companies to aim for when looking to find a job working on open source.
Directly following my talk, I participated in a panel with Patrick, Jan and
Matthias where we talked about some more general issues in the open
source career space, including how language barriers can impact contributions, how the high profile open source security issues of 2014 have
impacted the industry and some of the biggest mistakes developers make
regarding software licenses.The afternoon began with a talk by Hassan
Al-Lawati on the “FOSS Initiative in Oman, Facts and Challenges” where
he outlined the work they’ve been doing in their multi-year plan to promote the use and adoption of FOSS inside of Oman.
Flavia Marzano spoke next on “The role and opportunities of FOSS in
Public Administrations” where she drew upon her 15 years of experience
working in the public sector in Italy to promote open source solutions.
Her core points centered around the importance of the releasing of data
by governments in open formats and the value of laws that make government organizations consider FOSS solutions, if not compel them. Afternoon sessions wrapped up with a panel on open source in government,
which talked about how cost is often not a motivator and that much of
the work with governments is not a technical issue, but a political one.
The conference wrapped up with lunch and then we all headed went to
our hotels before an evening out.
Thursday began a bit earlier than Wednesday. Matthias Stürmer kicked
off the day with a talk on “Digital sustainability of open source communities.” He first talked about the characteristics that defined digital sustainability, including transparency and lack of legal or policy restrictions.
He then covered characteristics of healthy open source communities
included: good governance; heterogeneous community (various motivations, organizations involved); nonprofit foundation (doing marketing);
ecosystem of commercial service providers; opportunity for users to get
things done.
After his presentation, several of us speakers were whisked off to have a
meeting with the Vice-chancellor of SQU to talk about some of the work
that’s been done locally to promote open source education, adoption and
training. I then met up with Khalil to head over to Middle East College
for a short open source presentation to students in an introductory Linux
class. My day wound down back at SQU by attending the paper sessions
that concluded the conference and then lunch with my fellow speakers.
10 March 2015
Straight Talk
Prof. Jafar Jafari
Prof. Jafar Jafari, from the University of Wisconsin-Stout, USA, is
a renowned scholar in Tourism Studies. His entrepreneurial spirit,
creative mindset and personal commitment have resulted in the renewal and development of tourism scholarship. Examples of Prof.
Jafar’s outstanding contributions are the founding of Annals of
Tourism Research of which he was the Editor-in-Chief for 35 years
and the International Academy for the Study of Tourism. Prof. Jafar
Jafari, gave the first keynote titled “A Nice Place to Live is a Nice
Place to Visit” at the 7th International Tourism Congress hosted by
Sultan Qaboos University. Excerpts from his chat with Horizon:
Horizon: Your early studies on tourism focused more on developing
countries. What is the essential difference between the scope of tourism
industry of those in developing countries and developed countries?
Prof. Jafari: In the 1970s, when I did my research, one would not even
consider to question the positive values assigned to tourism, let alone answering them. Well, I asked and answered a few, despite all limitations of
the time. Since the 1970s, many studies have dealt with various costs and
benefits of tourism, sociocultural, ecological, and much more. In contrast
to the developed countries, the social fabrics of the developing countries
are tender, traditional, sometimes “closed”, and often not have been exposed to the touristic values and practices alien to them. Through tourism, the norm of these cultures or societies can quickly be disturbed, turning a rather peaceful patterns, despite or because of their “under-development”, to a life not aspired by the host community or country.
Horizon: The very words tourism or tourist brings an image of commercialization which involves business entities such as transportation (buses,
trains, taxis, airlines) hotels, guides, resorts, etc. What connotation can the
word tourism have from a human or non-economic point of view?
Prof. Jafari: Tourism, commercialized or not, is not the only business in
the world. There are many and hence no problem for it to be or become
a business or an industry. But because of its nature—which has the tendency to penetrate the sociocultural fabric of the host society—it must be
and become a sound and balanced business. Like any other activities, tourism has benefits and costs. It can build and can also have many unwanted
consequences. The task is (or should be) to come up with informed strategies which can maximize its benefits and minimize its costs—both for
the tourist (guest) and resident (host) populations. The values of tourism
are many, but reaching them is something else. If fostered and practiced
well, tourism can, among other things, be educational and eye opening,
allowing one to move from local issues or views to global perspectives.
For example, pilgrimage as one of the traditional forms tourism, besides
incurring religious merits, it brings both the diversity and unity of mankind to the forth. The benefits of travel are many: “the freshness it brings
to the heart, the delight of beholding new cities, the meeting of unknown
friends, the learning of high manners” (Saadi). If tourism is understood
and appropriately developed and practiced, it would benefit both the host
and guest populations, and hence the title of my talk at the December 2014
conference hosted by Sultan Qaboos University: “A Nice Place to Live is a
Nice Place to Visit”.
Horizon: Oman is in the process of diversifying its economy by promoting tourism as one of alternative means of revenue generation. What
advice do you offer to the policy makers in this regard? And what lessons
can be drawn from bad and good developments of the past?
Prof. Jafari: First and foremost, it is important to understand what tour-
ism is as a phenomenon and then as an industry. As to the latter, there are
many types or forms of tourism, with alternative development option for
each. It is essential to avoid copying success stories elsewhere, but instead
choose the type and speed of tourism development which agrees with the
sociocultural fabric of the host community or country and which, significantly, contributes to economic development. Tourism should blend in
and remain subordinate to the national development strategies and plans.
To be a late comer in tourism has several advantages. Among other things,
one can learn from the past development mistakes as well as the good
planning and development strategies of other destinations. For the developing countries, slow and calculated tourism development pays off, to the
advantage of the host country and its visitors.
10 March 2015
The success of tourism, anytime and anywhere, will depend on the availability of trained and educated career-minded individuals—from bottom
to top—to populate and lead the industry. Both the private and public sectors must join forces and come to the realization that tourism training is
not an expenditure. It is an investment: investment in the making and
shaping of a healthy industry which contributes to both the gross national
product and the gross national happiness (or per capita happiness) of the
country. In contrast to the popular practice of the industry which limits
its role to attracting, accommodating, and serving tourists or guests, the
grand design should opt for those development and operation types which
best benefit the host society.

Smoking Habit Among Students