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Oman’s new app debunks tourist site misconceptions

12 Jun 2023 By MOHAMMED TAHA

Muscat – Omani researchers from Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) have created a mobile application called ‘The Scientific Traveler’ aimed at dispelling misconceptions surrounding tourist sites in Oman.

The team, led by Prof Sulaiman Mohammed al Balushi from the College of Education at SQU, collaborated with Huda bint Ali al Hosani, a PhD student; and researchers Yousra al Mughiri, Zahra al Shukaili, and Asmaa al Salmi to dig out and compile facts and figures on various tourist destinations.

Recognising the prevalence of misinformation among society and students, Huda highlighted the need for accurate information about popular tourist destinations.

“For instance, the researchers discovered that students believed Hawiyat Najm, also known as the ‘Bimmah Sinkhole’ in Quriyat, was formed due to a meteor impact. However, the truth is that it was created by the natural flow of groundwater over time.”

The first of its kind app in Oman serves as a direct link between the education and tourism sectors. Its primary objectives are to provide students with scientific insights about natural tourist sites, remove misconceptions, and promote Oman as an ideal tourist destination, Huda added.

Funded by the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation (MoHERI), the app was granted intellectual property rights by the Ministry of Commerce, Industry, and Investment Promotion in April this year.

A trial run of this app among a group of seventh-grade students proved to be effective in shaping their attitude toward scientific tourism, enhancing their understanding of natural sites, and rectifying misperceptions, the researcher said.

“It offers detailed information on various tourist attractions, including mountains, deserts, canyons, beaches, islands, lakes, wadis, caves, rocks, and more.”

The research team collaborated with the resource persons from the SQU’s geology department and the Environment Authority to gather accurate information on Oman’s flora and fauna.

“By leveraging technology, the app aims to simplify access to information and promote tourism,” said Huda.

Looking ahead, the team plans to expand the app’s coverage to include additional sites and debunk more misconceptions, thus provide users with a comprehensive understanding of Oman’s tourism reality.

Huda expressed her gratitude to MoHERI for its unwavering support, encouragement of researchers, and dedication to fostering innovation.

The Scientific Traveler app is currently available for Android devices.

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