Sultan Qaboos University President:
Within the last three years, more than 4400 scientific papers from the university appeared in SCOPUS.
We are satisfied with the university's research efforts in the community, and we constantly monitor their impact.
We published 52 issues of the university's refereed journals, which contained more than 600 scientific papers.
We aim, through international cooperation, to highlight the Omani research competencies internationally
"We want this university to be outstanding." It has been twenty-three years since his majesty the late Sultan Qaboos bin Said, may Allah have mercy on him, voiced these timeless words during his historic visit to the university on May 2, 2000, which was the real start of the scientific research process at the university after the generous support given by the late Sultan Qaboos bin Said, may Allah have mercy on him, which continued with the same generosity during the reign of his Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tariq, may Allah protect and preserve him.
Today, as we celebrate this noble visit, “Tawasul” recalls the leadership role that the university took upon itself in the fields of scientific research, innovation, and research support, until it became a locally and regionally recognized house of expertise. This was discussed in a dialogue with His Excellency Dr. Fahad bin Julanda Al Said, the President of Sultan Qaboos University, to highlight this aspect.
Your Highness, the efforts of the university in the field of scientific research have become clear to everyone; the echoes are heard, and the impact is evident, but let us first be acquainted with your evaluation of everything the university has done since its noble appointment twenty-three years ago.
Your question partly answers itself. The university has taken the initiative to lead the scientific research journey in the Sultanate of Oman in cooperation with other government and private entities linked to this important field. It qualified and motivated the human cadres with competitions and prizes, prepared the appropriate research environment to serve them, provided tools and equipment for their use, allocated financial resources and strengthened them over the years to fund internal research, established specialized research centers, and made other contributions that we see have represented the university in the fields of scientific research. Since evaluation of this field is related to numbers and statistics, the university has the privilege of contributing to quality research bearing the name of the Sultanate of Oman and contributions have been steadily increasing, praise be to Allah. The output of scientific papers by university researchers that appeared in the SCOPUS database reached approximately 4,400 during the past three years, and the number of scientific papers published in Q1-ranked global journals reached 1,051. Additionally, the university has undertaken over 700 broad-based research projects to address issues in sustainable social and economic development. The number of books published by university researchers that are registered in the PURE database was 42. The Scientific Publishing Council issued 52 issues of the university's seven refereed scientific journals, containing 635 peer-reviewed scientific papers and six scientific books. To encourage the generation of knowledge and the publication of important research results in universal databases that are internationally recognized or approved by the university, the university honored 2377 scientific papers published by university researchers during the period 2020-2022, as part of the Sultan Qaboos University Prize for Scientific Publishing and Patents for published scientific papers.
We deduce from your Highness's answer that there is satisfaction with the university's efforts in scientific research and innovation. How do you monitor the results of these efforts on society?
It is known to everyone that most of the university's research efforts are focused on studying Omani issues and phenomena, finding effective solutions to them, and managing the challenges it faces. Therefore, in its medium-term strategic plan (2021-2025), the university has included a project to develop applied and interdisciplinary research that focuses on expanding applied research that contributes to meeting social and economic needs, promoting innovative research findings, and multiplying the development of research partnerships with the industrial and business sectors by solving the problems facing society as well as creating or improving new inventions or executing processes leading to commercially viable products.
In this context, I give three recent examples that are self-explanatory: First, the discovery by a university research team of the largest meteorite impact crater in Oman, which is considered a national heritage site and a rare scientific location for studying the effects of such impacts on Earth, and has international significance from a scientific and tourism perspective. Second, the discovery of a settlement dating back 5000 years in the Wilayat Al-Mudhaibi in the Governorate of North Al Sharqiyah. The third example involves the production of biofuel from date palm kernels in university laboratories and operating the first bus using this fuel by blending it with diesel. This is a pioneering achievement in the region that reinforces Oman's direction towards zero-carbon neutrality.
With regard to the process of monitoring the impact of research efforts on society, we see continual effects, not a phase that ends but rather an ever-going process. To obtain these results, we use numerous different measures. Examples include, but are not limited to, different methods of scientific publishing, meetings with decision makers, conducting seminars and conferences, and holding stakeholder meetings, in addition to electronic means that provide an opportunity for society to express their opinions, perspectives, and suggestions on the educational and research services provided by the university.
Certainly, this would not have been possible without the interest of university academics and researchers in ensuring that their studies had a positive impact on society. So, how does the university encourage them, especially those with combined teaching and research responsibilities?
The university has not overlooked this aspect but rather has been proactive in providing incentives that, we believe, can motivate and drive their high potentials to conduct qualitative studies. Besides providing an integrated research environment that assists and facilitates their research, we have launched prizes and competitions to encourage researchers to conduct and publish research. The university also provides financial support for research and participation in regional and international conferences, as well as scientific publication. Every year on University Day, the strategic projects winning honorable support are announced, and distinguished researchers are honored. Believing in the academic and innovative capabilities of researchers and encouraging and supporting the use of their experience, priority is given to experienced research consultants within the university campus. Praise be to Allah, all these incentives resulted in local and external achievements by the university's academic researchers. We are currently working on another incentive for academics, which is the possibility of reducing the teaching load for active researchers to encourage them to produce more research.
I would like to point out that these motivational methods will not stop and will continue in different ways, adaptable to each stage, and, God willing, we will add more that will contribute to activating and enhancing the research process.
The three questions you answered, your Highness, relate to the local community, so how about your regional and international cooperation in the field of scientific research and innovation, which is considered a cross-border activity?
This is also one of the aspects that Sultan Qaboos University believes is important. Enhancing collaborations with external academic and research institutions, both regionally and internationally, contributes to enhancing research capabilities at the university and provides opportunities to collaborate on world-wide research-related matters and stay updated with their developments. Additionally, the Omani research culture will be exported, and national competencies will be highlighted throughout the world. Praise be to Allah; we have made good progress on this front. Recently, we have succeeded in obtaining joint international funding for some research with Zhejiang University, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Qatar University. We also conducted several studies in collaboration with external institutions, including a study on venous thromboembolism in adults with the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute in Canada, a study on the use of smart water meters to manage multi-period groundwater layers with Hamad Bin Khalifa University in Qatar, a study on identifying scientific codes in collaboration with the Marine Research Office Award, a research project on the effect of work-life balance satisfaction on the mental health of healthcare professionals with Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences, and a laboratory replication study with the University of Catania in Italy. Additionally, we cooperated with UNICEF on a child protection project and a research project on the impact of eddies and water currents on food and water security with the American Office of International Marine Research. Another form of cooperation that the university is keen on is receiving various delegations from external research and academic institutions and exploring ways to collaborate with them, as well as supporting the participation of the university's researchers and academics in international research and innovation conferences.