Muscat – The ninth cycle of the Annual Research Forum, organised by the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation (MoHERI), took place at the Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre on Wednesday, in which the winners of the National Research Award and Upgrade programme were announced.
The forum was under the patronage of H E Eng Said bin Hamood al Maawali, Minister of Transport, Communications and Information Technology, and was attended by H E Prof Rahma bint Ibrahim al Mahrooqi, Minister of Higher Education, Research and Innovation, and a number of officials, academics, and research winners.
H E Dr Saif bin Abdullah Al Haddabi, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation, for Research and Innovation, said, “The National Research Award contributes to directing research to serve national priorities, raising the quality of research publication in international peer-reviewed journals and periodicals, and strengthening the Sultanate of Oman’s ranking in the Global Innovation Index.”
The forum announced the 11 winning research projects out of the 307 projects submitted this year for the 9th National Research Award (NRA), divided into the best published research led by a PhD holder or equivalent (senior specialist or higher in the medical field) category and the best published research led by a young researcher (non-PhD holder) category.
Under the PhD Category, ‘A novel drone-based system for accurate human temperature measurement and disease symptoms detection using thermography and AI’ by Dr Ahmed Said al Maashri from Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) won in the Information and Communication Technologies sector.
In the Cultural, Social and Basic Sciences sector, the award went to ‘The complementarity of green supply chain management practices and the impact on environmental performance’ by Dr Anwar Khamis al Sheyadi from the University of Technology and Applied Sciences, Rustaq, while in the Environmental and Biological Resources sector, the award went to ‘Energy recovery and carbon/nitrogen removal from sewage and contaminated groundwater in a coupled hydrolytic-acidogenic sequencing batch reactor and denitrifying biocathode microbial fuel cell’ by Dr Mohammed Abdullah al Mamun (SQU).
As for the Education and Human Resources sector, ‘Learner readiness for MOOCs in Omani higher education institutions: Disparities between projections and reality’ by Dr Aisha Salim al Harthi from SQU was awarded for her project. ‘TMEM63C mutations cause mitochondrial morphology defects and underlie hereditary spastic paraplegia’ by Dr Fatema Abdullah al Salmi (University of Technology and Applied Sciences) took the award in the Health and Social Services sector.
Lastly, in the Energy and Industry sector, the award went to ‘Enhancing oil recovery by electric current impulses well treatment: A case of marginal oil field from Oman’ by Dr Svetlana Rudyk (SQU).
Under the Young Researcher’s category, ‘Self-Detection of Early Breast Cancer Application with Infrared Camera and Deep Learning’ by Dr Mohammed Abdullah al Husaini from SQU took the award in the Information and Communication Technologies sector.
For the Environmental and Biological Resources sector, the award went to ‘Fresh-saline water dynamics in coastal aquifers: Sand tank experiments with MAR-wells injecting at intermittent regimes’ by Shahad Mattar al Yaqoubi (SQU).
‘The Role of the Technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution in Achieving the Requirements of Sustainable Development in Higher Education Institutions in the Sultanate of Oman’ by Dr Mashael Awad al Saiari, from the University of Technology and Applied Sciences, Salalah, was awarded in the Education and Human Resources sector.
In the Health and Social Services sector, the award went to ‘Efficacy of a Six-Week-Long Therapist-Guided Online Therapy Versus Self-help Internet-Based Therapy for COVID-19-Induced Anxiety and Depression: Open-label, Pragmatic, Randomised Controlled Trial’ by Dr Mohammed Salim al Alawi (Sultan Qaboos University Hospital), while ‘Retrofitting and simultaneous multi-criteria optimisation with enhanced performance of an industrial gas-cleaning plant using economic, process safety, and environmental objectives’ by Debasish Tikadar (SQU) took the award in the Energy and Industry sector.
The Annual Research Forum also announced the nine winning teams of the latest edition of the Upgrade programme, a programme that transforms the best graduation projects into startups, which is divided into two tracks – the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) track and the newly launched industrial track.
In the ICT track, the six winning projects went to ‘Long-term Forecasting of Solar PV System Output Using Machine Learning’ by Insiya Zehra, Wadhah al Darii, Tamadher al Hosni and Safa al Baiti, ‘Drilling Rigs Planning and Scheduling’ by Ahmed al Mazroey, Husam al Nasseri and Mazin al Rubkhi, ‘Mobile App for Handling Legal Issues’ by Sara al Sinani, Balqees al Ghafri and Maroa al Dairi, ‘Low-Cost Smart Poultry Farming Based on IoT’ by Saif al Janabi, Mohammed al Shaaili, Aaisha al Risi and Rahma al Waili, ‘Drone Jamming’ by Dr Selvarani Murugesan and Aflah al Hajri, and ‘Q Drop’ by Ahmed al Jabari and Fatema al Alawi.
As for the industrial track, the three winning projects went to ‘Design of Photobioreactor for Microalgae Cultivation’ by Mona al Maashani, Maryam al Balushi and Fatima al Hinai, ‘Graphene-Based Polymeric Solar Cells’ by Aisha al Wahaibi, Al Hasnaa al Adwani, Muzn al Abri and Nusiba al Kharusi, and ‘Sustainable Fabric Production from Recycled Plastic Water Bottles’ by Zainab al Hajri and Jihan al Busaidi.
For this year, with the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation, the Upgrade programme included two new partners, Bank Muscat and Madayn Academy for Industrial Innovation, in addition to the existing partners, Oman Telecommunications Company (Omantel), the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth, the Authority for SME Development, Ministry of Transport, Communications and Information Technology, and Oman Technology Fund (Takween).
Talal bin Said al Mamari, CEO of Omantel, said, “Omantel is proud of the partnership with the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation and other partners in launching the Upgrade programme more than six years ago, which comes as part of Omantel’s commitment and social responsibility and its constant endeavour towards building the capabilities of Omani youth and encouraging them to enter the labour market, forming global and local partnerships to serve the objectives of Oman Vision 2040, especially in aspects related to innovation and building a knowledge-based economy.”
Shaikha bint Yousuf al Farsi, Chief Operating Officer at Bank Muscat, added that Bank Muscat is keen to adopt young Omani talents and support them to implement and develop their various projects through Upgrade program as part of the bank’s initiatives to strengthen its leading role in the field of social responsibility and community service.
In addition to announcing the NRA and Upgrade programme winners, the forum also held 3 accompanying sessions to discuss research support programmes directed to the government sector, the industrial sector and the academic sector, the challenges they face and the appropriate proposals for their development.
The academic sector session was about the research support programmes in the academic sector including the Block Funding Programme, headed by Dr Issa al Shabibi. The government sector session revolved around the Strategic Research Projects Programme, headed by Haitham al Slami, while the industrial sector session discussed the challenges of research and development and its impact on the industrial sector, headed by Dr Mohammed al Rawahi.
The forum also included an exhibition with 23 posters on the winning NRA papers, the winning student projects of the Upgrade programme, as well as an overview of the programmes and projects of the Research and Innovation Sector of MoHERI.
The Annual Research Forum aims to enhance the research and innovation culture in the Sultanate, promoting creativity and entrepreneurial potential among Omani citizens, and developing new ways to turn the Sultanate of Oman into a knowledge-based economy and society in line with Oman Vision 2040.