Muscat: After winning the ‘Omani Young Water Researcher Award’ for 2017, Manal Al Bulushi is hoping she can inspire others to contribute towards making Oman a better place.
Organised by the Middle East Desalination Research Centre (MEDRC), in association with Diam, the Public Authority for Water Resources, Al Bulushi’s project looked at how water loss could be minimised when piped from stations to homes.
Using the Seeb area as a test region for her investigation, Al Bulushi deduced that losses could be avoided if better quality pipes were used to supply water to homes. She will now represent Oman at the Amsterdam International Water Week, which takes place at the end of October 2017.
“I am very happy to have won this award, and am proud to receive this honour,” said Al Bulushi, speaking to the Times of Oman. “I am very keen to represent Oman in Amsterdam later this month, but as for what work I will show them there and what I learn there, I will leave that to God.”
“I have a message to give to all young students in Oman: it is very important to work hard and do what you believe in, because that is how you can best help your country,” added Al Bulushi, a student of the Middle East College.
“I was inspired by my professor, Dr Mohammed Abu Shammala, and I want to thank him for his help in making this possible.”
Al Bulushi faced stiff competition from Muzna Al Shezawi, Bushra Al Riyami, Nasiyba Al Hinaai and Mubarak Al Souti, all of whom were also conferred certificates by MEDRC.
The Omani Young Water Researcher Award was also made possible because of assistance from the Omar Zawawi Establishment and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Oman.
“Water is vital to our survival, and it is very important for young people in Oman to understand that and actively contribute towards this,” said Laetitia van Asch, the Dutch Ambassador to Oman. “I am proud of all the Omani participants in this contest and most of all, proud of the winner. These fine young researchers are the future for solutions on water scarcity.”
“As a result of the history of living with water, the Netherlands sees water cooperation and innovation as a necessity, not a luxury,” she added. “This Omani Young Water Researcher Award is part of this international cooperation to find solutions for water challenges together.”
Present to give advice to Al Bulushi and the rest of the competitors was Dr Hilal Al Hinai, the secretary general of The Research Council.
“In western nations, people are used to living with an abundance of water,” he said.
“However, the problem in Oman is different: here we have a scarcity of water, and for a long-term solution to this, we need to have young Omanis participate in this research.”
“Many young students have a way of thinking that is different from the traditional ways,” added Al Hinai. “Many of them thought of apps that helped monitor the amount of water we consumed in a day, and this is a very new and innovative way of doing these things, so I think it is always good to welcome new and alternative ideas.”
The initiative was spearheaded by Dr. Jauad El Kharraz, head of research for MEDRC, who is hoping for more young Omanis to come forward with innovative research plans.
“Water scarcity is a problem not just in Oman, but in the region as well,” he said. “I think the research that is done here could have far-reaching effects, and in future, I don’t see why Oman cannot become a research hub when it comes to finding solutions for water shortages, because there are many parts in the world that share this concern.
“Sometimes, young scientists and researchers may have ideas that we may think are unfeasible, but they are innovative and new, and they offer an alternative way forward,” added El Kharraz.
“In the future, we could welcome researchers from Europe, the United Kingdom, the United States or Australia to mention a few countries, who could come to Oman for the purpose of water research.”