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SHAPING THE FUTURE
A THOUGHT FOR THE ARTS
P-13 SUBVERSION IN CYBERSPACE
P-22 CLASS OF 2010
P-28 STAR WORLD
EDITOR’S NOTE Hi Everybody,
better financial returns. Nowadays, in universities, finance for research in humanities can become difficult to come by because of differences on how to assess a study and measure its value. Campus asked Dr Asmahan Al Garoo, Associate Professor of Ancient History at Sultan Qaboos University, what value the humanities holds in our lives. For the Better is an article based on her views. NATURAL ATTRACTION If you first got to know Oman through its postage stamps,
What is most difficult?
a) Becoming CEO. b) Getting gallantry award. c) Establishing business. d) Successful painter.
t is only through the study of humanities will we be able to correctly interpret the behaviour of people. For an illustration, let’s look at a society that has been disturbed by the emergence of an ‘exclusive group’. Some in that community will believe that they are a group because they do not like the others. But those who are familiar with the humanities will understand that, because people in that ‘clique’ speak the same language, they have acquired the same culture, interests and hence the kinship. Language sustains a culture; and the reality could be that the group is not so exclusive and is probably grateful to that society for letting them thrive there. By studying a people’s language and culture, we can reach a stage where their behaviour can be predicted with some accuracy. The need to have the ability to understand and predict people’s behaviour cannot be over-emphasised in a world ridden with conflicts. There is demand for it in governments, think-tanks and corporations. The study of the human experience also helps us understand the world and the values of different peoples. We will find that the laws of a country are shaped by its morals, ethics and history; and to fully understand its supreme statute, one will have to study its history. We depend on the works of scholars to get ourselves a better appreciation of the past, an analysis of the present, and clearer picture of the future and also the ability to gain insights into poetry, paintings, music, writing and so on. The study of the human experience can never become irrelevant, but interest in it has declined at the universitylevel because there has been a spurt in business and applied science courses which have a direct relation to economic activity. They get us jobs and
vation biologist, this is a good place to start. Campus met Ali Al Kiyumi, director general for nature conservation, at the Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs and asked him what it takes to be a conservation biologist and his experience in the Sultanate. Natural Attraction is an article based on an interview with him. OPINION POLL In last month’s Opinion Poll, readers have conveyed that Hard Work is what is most required for success, followed by Intelligence, Ambition and
VOL 1 - ISSUE 8
SHAPING THE FUTURE
A THOUGHT FOR THE ARTS
P-15 SUBVERSION IN CYBERSPACE P-26
CLASS OF 2010
you would have realised that the country has a wide variety of birds and animals and they were very valued inhabitants of the Sultanate. One is more likely to meet with success in conservation projects in the Sultanate than elsewhere because there is a determination in its government to preserve its natural world. Its other strengths are a small population and increasing awareness among them about matters in conservation. So if you want to be a conser-
SEND your response ‘a’ or ‘b’ or ‘c’ or ‘d’ to email@example.com or SMS to 99255965 by October 20, 2010.
Courage. It appears to be right, but isn’t that simple. Hard work should get you success, while intelligence can help you to it and very often give you the edge. At other times, you could need courage the most – courage to buy a business, or join a combat operation. That’s for now. Do keep in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org
DIFFERENT STROKES ICON
An insight into the life and achievements of the outstanding aeronautical engineer Burt Rutan.
RANDOM THOUGHTS THE FIVE Ws A sequel on the process that leads to inventions.
THE INTERVIEW FOR THE BETTER
Dr Asmahan Al Garoo tells us about the impact the humanities have made on the human mind.
MCT News Service, Agencies, Jeta Pillai, Wikipedia, Archives
CAREER NATURAL ATTRACTION
Oman is a good place to work as a conservation biologist and Ali Al Kiyumi, director general for nature conservation, tells us about the profession and his work.
The Royal Oman Symphony Orchestra during a performance.
READERSâ€™ CORNER / HEALTH DESTINATION SRI LANKA RISING Now that the war is over, the island is doing everything it can to lure tourists.
25 ON THE ROAD 28 STAR WORLD 29 LIFE Avril
JUST BETWEEN US
Hitler’s gift to roll again Kathmandu palace.
car said to have been a gift from Adolf Hitler to a Nepali king will be repaired and used to drive visitors around the grounds of a palace museum, a government official said on Thursday. The 1939 Mercedes Benz was presented by the Nazi leader to King Tribhuvan, grandfather of Nepal’s last King Gyanendra. It has been stored at an old palace garage for more than five years, after being abandoned by an engineering college that had been using it for classes. Authorities said the doors, seats and bonnet were damaged. Mod Raj Dotel, a Ministry of Culture official, said the equivalent of $537,000 was being sought from the government to restore both the car and a chariot once used by King Tribhuvan. “The idea is to repair them so visitors can drive in the car and ride the royal chariot,” Dotel said. The car was initially carried to the Nepali capital Kathmandu by laborers at a time when automobiles in the city were scarce and the mountainous capital was several days’ walk from the outside world.
The oldest share
Dutch history student has unearthed the world’s oldest share, dating back to 1606 and issued by the sea trading firm Dutch East India Company. Locked away in forgotten city archives, the share was made out to Pieter Harmensz, a male resident of the Dutch city Enkhuizen who served as an assistant to the city’s mayors. After his death in 1638, Harmensz left the share to his widow and their daughter Ada and the document eventually ended up in Enkhuizen archives, kept in the northwestern city Hoorn. As the Netherlands’ largest trading company in the 17th and 18th centuries, the Dutch East India Company (VOC) was also the world’s first company to issue stock. The ‘Enkhuizen share’ dates back to Sept. 9, 1606, when Harmensz paid the last installment of his 150 Dutch guilders. The share is to be displayed at the Westfries Museum.
erman officials have created a labyrinth in the shape of a giant sausage to help people learn about the health risks associated with the popular fast food currywurst (curried sausage). On the ground, visitors discover what ingredients are used and how the dish is made as they weave through the 2.5 km long educational maze made out of cultivated plants and flowers. Recent studies have shown that Germans, who gobble down millions of currywurst every year, suffer from one of the highest rates of obesity in Europe. Seen from the air, the “Currywurstfeld” shows a smiling curried sausage slathered with ketchup and mayonnaise and accompanied by chips. “Visitors are asked questions on the way round the maze and if they give the wrong answer, they are led down the wrong path so that they learn from it,” said a spokeswoman for Germany’s Federal Institute for Risk Assessment.
German company that fired a man for the theft of 1.8 euro cents (two US cents) worth of electricity had no grounds for sacking him, a court ruled, dismissing the firm’s appeal against his reinstatement. Network administrator Oliver Beel lost his job after charging his Segway, a two-wheeled electric vehicle, at work in May 2009. After he connected the vehicle to the firm’s power source for 1-1/2 hours, his boss asked him to remove it. Twelve days later Beel found himself without a job. The court ruled that dismissal was disproportionate to the offence, especially given the “minimal electricity cost involved, the plaintiff’s 19-year employment by the company and the fact other employees charged mobile phones and digital photo frames at the firm’s expense without punishment.”
or tourists tired of traditional sightseeing tours, one Berlin tour guide is offering something altogether different: a tour of Berlin’s public conveniences. Tour guide Anna Haase wanted to take visitors to Berlin off the beaten track and came up with the novel idea of showing them some of the German capital’s most famous toilets. She takes groups around the city’s lavatories, telling them about the history of the toilet’s development from Biblical times to the present day and showing them toilets ranging from the oldest and most primitive to the newest and most technical. Highlights of the tour include a visit to a toilet block dating from the late 19th century and a trip to the Kaiser’s fully restored bathroom at the Potsdamer Platz square.
Politics of implants
Venezuelan politician is offering breast implants as a prize in a raffle to raise funds for his parliamentary election campaign. “Some people raffle TVs and we decided to offer this. It’s an interesting prize and there’s a lot of interest,” Gustavo Rojas, an opposition candidate for a National Assembly position said, while campaigning in Caracas. Cosmetic surgery, especially breast enlargement, is widespread in image-conscious Venezuela, whose beauty queens have won numerous international pageant titles. Even a recession has not diminished Venezuelans’ appetite for cosmetic surgery, with many people taking out loans for operations. Rojas, of the opposition First Justice party, said he was not too worried about potential feminist criticism or the medical details of his offer.
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ounger chief executives with high testosterone levels may be more likely to try a hostile takeover – and to get burned in the attempt, Canadian researchers said. They found age was clearly linked with aggressive takeover behaviour, and did a careful but indirect analysis to see if testosterone might be involved. It likely is, said Kai Li and colleagues at the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia. “Young male CEOs appear to be combative: they are 4 per cent more likely to be acquisitive and, having initiated an acquisition, they are over 20 per cent more likely to withdraw an offer,” Li’s team wrote in the Sept. issue of Management Science. “Furthermore, a young target male CEO is 2 per cent more likely to force a bidder to resort to a tender offer. We argue that this combative nature is a result of testosterone levels that are higher in young males.”
Shopping in the recession
he US recession has changed how people shop for fashion, with an eye for special pieces rather than trusty wardrobe basics, and top retail buyers say this trend is likely to last beyond an economic recovery. “We have seen a change in the way that customers shop as a result of the economic climate that we have been in, and I see that trend continuing,” said Colleen Sherin, fashion market director for Saks Fifth Avenue. “Women are not necessarily looking for basics ... they’re looking for wow pieces, something that inspires more of an emotional reaction,” she said. “They are looking for value. They’re looking for quality at a price.” Even classic, basic pieces such as a white shirt are being reinterpreted to appeal to customers, with perhaps a dramatic new collar or interesting cuff details, Sherin said.
Games for decision makers
iolent video games like “Call of Duty” can help trigger-happy players make decisions faster in real life, according to a study. Researchers from New York’s University of Rochester found that first-person shooter games produced a heightened sensitivity and led to more efficient use of sensory evidence.
“These benefits of video games stem only from action games, which almost always means shooter games, where you go through a maze and you don’t know when a villain will appear,” researcher Daphne Bavelier said. “It’s not exactly what you’d think of as mind enhancing. Strategy or role-playing games don’t have the same ef-
fect.” The study, published in the journal Current Biology, involved testing 26 people aged 18 to 25, none of whom had played shooting games before, over several months. Half of the participants played 50 hours of shooting games like “Call of Duty” and “Unreal Tournament” while the other half played 50 hours of a strat-
egy game, “The Sims 2.” The researchers found that the group who had played the shooting games was able to make judgments faster and more accurately. They were found to be 25 percent better at decision making.
e call it Mojavewood - have you seen the movie?» asks Burt Rutan sardonically as we drive towards the legendary aircraft designer’s office, tucked away in a hangar at Mojave airport, California. Suddenly he bursts into song “Oh Mojaaavewood, tada tada tada Mojaaaveewooood...” Despite being a bit of a media recluse, Rutan is a megastar in aerospace circles. Over the last 40 years he has overseen the design and construction of more than 40 novel aircraft, including the record-breaking and ultraefficient Voyager, which in 1986 flew non-stop around the world on a single tank of fuel. In Oct. 2004, financed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, he secured a place in the history books when one of his aircraft, the waif-like White Knight, carried another of his designs, a rocket plane called SpaceShipOne (SS1), up to 50,000 feet. From there, SS1 was launched to the edge of space, winning Rutan the X Prize, an international contest to build the first privately funded crewed spacecraft to fly to an altitude of at least 100km and return safely to Earth twice within two weeks. Born Elbert L. Rutan in 1943 and raised in Dinuba, Califor-
GENIUS nia, he began building model aircraft as a child. He graduated from California Polytechnic State University with a degree in aeronautical engineering in 1965 and landed a job as a flight test engineer at the US military’s Edwards Air Force Base, not far from Mojave. “It was unbelievable training for a youngster,” he says. Rutan later set up an aircraft design company and in 1982 went on to found Scaled Composites to enable him to realise his own creations, including SpaceShipTwo (SS2). Rechristened Virgin Space Ship (VSS) Enterprise, it will carry six passengers and two crew to an altitude of over 100km to experience 5 minutes of weightlessness and a view of Earth only a handful of people have seen with their own eyes. Now, at 66, Rutan still looks in good shape, with his trademark sideburns like tiny folded wings. He has no plans to retire, although these days he’s taking it a bit easy after a rare heart condition took him out of action for a while a couple of years ago. It also ended his flying days – Rutan has notched up 4,000 hours. “To my surprise, I don’t miss flying. I had this warm feeling. I thought, (I’m not going to die in a general aviation incident’,” he says.
He believes claims of catastrophic global warming are nothing but scare-mongering and are a product of “the greatest scientific fraud ever”. At first I think this is some sort of joke but he’s totally serious and at times gets quite angry. And yet, if you didn’t know his views, you’d think Rutan was an arch environmentalist. In 1989 his house featured in Popular Science magazine, billed as the ultimate energyefficient dwelling, and for years he drove an electric car. “People thought I was a liberal and a tree-hugger, but I’m not. It’s not because I have any concern about saving the planet, or peak oil. It’s about neat technology.” Rutan has a penchant for swimming against the tide. Every few years he gets hooked by some sort of mystery and pretty quickly it completely absorbs his spare time. First it was how the pyramids were built, then there was the assassination of JFK. Hunting for the “real” motive for the murder took Rutan to a “darkened library” in Washington DC where, just like in a scene from a John Grisham novel, documents he looked up one day mysteriously went missing the next. His appetite for mystery and controversy has served him
Burt Rutan, a leading aeronautical engineer, noted for his innovative designs and light, energy-efficient air and spacecraft talks to David Cohen about his work
well in his aerospace work. His approach to research sums up his attitude: take an idea and tell it to a bunch of experts in the field. “If half of them believe it’s impossible, and half think it’s really hard but worth doing, then it’s a research project.” That’s how the feathering mechanism that softens the re-entry of SS1 and SS2 came about. “I had a lot of critics, very experienced aerodynamicists, telling me this thing will spin like a top and you won’t be able to recover it. It’s a crazy idea. But I knew that it would work.” Rutan hinged the wings of the craft so that for the first part of the journey back through Earth’s atmosphere they fold by almost 90 degrees and the craft falls like a shuttlecock, with minimum acceleration. Only once it is deep in the atmosphere do the wings straighten out again, allowing a glided landing, rather than a parachute splashdown like the Apollo capsules. Rutan’s career has not all been plain sailing, though. In July 2007 came a terrible reminder that building rockets can be a deadly business. An explosion during a test to examine the flow of nitrous oxide in a rocket motor killed three workers. An independent investigation did not determine a
cause, but it was likely caused by the nitrous oxide somehow escaping the system. “We have several hypotheses and we redesigned the rocket motor to make sure none of those possibilities could happen again. I can’t say any more about it,” Rutan says. I ask him if the accident changed his mind about the programme. “Well we lost a lot of sleep at night because of it.” If there had been a risk he couldn’t ameliorate, Rutan says, then he would have considered stopping development, but that was not the case. “I think there’s considerably less risk on the rocket motor system now. We were taking a big risk on SS1 but we didn’t know it. It could have happened then. The safety elements on the rocket motor of SS2 are now much more significant than they were on SS1, partially because of the accident.” Over the next few days Rutan sends me numerous emails supporting his argument about a climate change conspiracy. I am far from convinced, but find myself thinking there’s something beguiling about such passionate persistence – perhaps this is exactly what makes him such a maverick genius. Tribune Media Services
Subversion in CYBERSPACE
t has become fashionable these days to express scepticism about “cyber war”-and for good reason. The concept is ill defined; it has been used to describe everything from defacing websites
To preserve its openness, we must stop the cyber arms race, writes Ronald Deibert
to attacking critical infrastructure to committing espionage over computer networks. More troubling is that many of the heralds of cyber war have a commercial stake in the cyber security market. Some may have more ulterior motives for ramping up fears, such as a desire to fan the flames of Sino-American rivalry or to diminish privacy on the Internet. But a troubling shift toward censorship, surveillance, andyes-militarisation in cyberspace is very real. Internet filtering is increasingly accepted worldwide, companies have imposed heavy-handed copyright controls, and surveillance in both the public
and private sectors is widespread. Meanwhile, there are no international rules of engagement in this domain, and a burgeoning ecosystem of crime and espionage – cultivated by shadowy actors and state intelligence systems that stand to benefit – is ensnaring governments, civil society, and industry. All this could soon generate a perfect storm. Individuals might withdraw from cyberspace altogether, gradually eroding the network effects that have benefited us for 20 years. All armed conflict today invariably includes a cyberspace component: think of the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war; the 2008 Russian-Georgian war over South Ossetia; the ongoing hostilities in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Somalia; and domestic hostilities in Burma, Tibet, Pakistan, and, most recently, Thailand (among numerous other places). Be it through kinetic strikes on the infrastructure of information and communications technology,
missile attacks targeted with the aid of cellular geolocation, espionage that makes fraudulent use of social networks, or privateering that disables key computer networks at critical times, warfare has taken on this dimension because cyberspace is the strategic communications environment in which we all live. Although invoking fears of an electronic Pearl Harbor may be overheated rhetoric, an arms race in cyberspace creates an environment in which crime, espionage, malware, denial of service, filtering, and surveillance prosper and thrive. In the rush to reject alarmism about cyber war, we should not lose sight of the very real geopolitical conflict that has insinuated itself into this domain and threatens to subvert its architecture. The militarisation of cyberspace is not a fantasy but an urgent problem requiring immediate solutions. Tribune Media Services
The five Ws
The five Ws Reaper drone.
The trend is to invent something first and then start finding uses for it, writes
S. Madhusudhana Rao
HIS is a sequel to my last month’s article, The joy of innovation. Often, the question being asked is how to get an innovative idea. Can it be generated or is it an outcome of inspiration? For many innovators, ideas come like flashes of lightning. If we ask them what has inspired them, probably, they may not be able to express in a language understood by us. Some others feel creativity, innovation and inventiveness are all born gifts, can’t be acquired or generated out of blue. Whatever the truth is, the fact remains all great inventors and discoverers have a streak of genius that can’t be imitated. For others, it’s sheer hard work, a bit of luck and doing the right thing at right time. But all of them, irrespective of their levels of inventiveness or spirit of discovery, have a common trait. That is unquenchable thirst for knowledge and drive to go to any length in search of scientific truth. If that were the case with pioneers of science, what about people who conceive and develop simple ideas that industry translates into appliances and useful gadgets? They don’t spend years researching a project or checking and cross-checking complex formulas like Einstein’s that revolutionise the world. In a matter of months researchers and engineers will ready product designs and prototypes once an idea takes shape.
liest man had developed. Their singular purpose of the odd-shaped sharp rocks was just to kill or grievously injure a hunted animal. What had prompted the hunter to develop stone weapons? The logical conclusion was search for food and self-preservation. The primitive ideas set in motion millions of years of ago, surprisingly, still rule the roost in modern times, albeit in a highly refined way. If we delve a bit deeply into the issue we understand that if the earliest human beings had not bothered about where to find food, what kind of food, which and when an animal to be killed and eaten and why a particular meat was edible the process of discovery and invention would not have come into play. The same logic holds good even today. The five Ws form the basis for our search, whatever field you take, and research in unknown areas to find answers to our questions, and lead us to a new world of innovation and invention. It is said necessity is the mother of invention. It’s true to a large extent; but not necessarily always. The
trend is to invent something first and then start finding uses for it! Necessity is secondary because it arises out of our needs and they keep changing as our standards of living go up and with them our lifestyles. So, you need not wait for a spark to innovate. Simply,
you have to go in search of it, scientifically probing how best something could be done answering the five basic Ws at every level of development. Suddenly you will find yourself in a maze in which there may be one or two ways out. Until then it may be going round and round facing roadblocks. But, once again, the ingenuous mental faculties that have been shaping our lives for thousands of years come into play to guide us in the right direction.
Finding it is not easy. It’s like digging out the truth, removing layer after layer until you reach the core. A recent programme on Discovery Science channel illustrates my point. Researchers working in a lab far off from the city want to eat pizza. But the pizza joint refuses to deliver because
the lab is outside its area of operation. What do the young scientists do? They can’t leave their work half way and go to fetch pizza. They work out dozens of concepts, from remote-controlled vehicles to drones, and none of them proves to be the right delivery mechanism that should keep the pizza oven-fresh and in one piece. Finally, they hit upon an idea that promises to be the perfect solution to their quandary. It’s a robot the
scientists’ team assembles to go and fetch pizzas whenever they want! I don’t know whether the lab is really utilizing the robotic pizza delivery service. But a lot of things we can learn from this episode. First, the lab could have employed a boy to bring pizzas; it didn’t. Instead, it has gone to extra length to invent something that serves not only its purpose but also those of others such as industries and manufacturers of hazardous and chemical substances to handle dangerous substances. Second, the lab’s persistent and patient experiments with various devices already in existence and then search for alternatives. Third, expanding an invention’s applications to other high potential areas to make them commercially viable to generate revenues that can be used for further research. Fourth, how a simple need can finally end up in a hitech invention. So, if the story has inspired you, try to be as creative as possible in whatever manner you think is best suited for you in every activity you take up.
What’s more important is the birth of an idea that is responsible for effecting so many changes we see in our daily lives. If we look at the progress of human civilisation from the time of cave dwellers to luxury condos in skyscrapers it’s clear every development has begun with only one word: Search. The search for new things begins with five Ws: What, Where, Why, When and Who. Let me elucidate this. The earliest man was a hunter. He didn’t have any kind of weapons to kill animals to satisfy his hunger. It was a question of survival and the instinct was to live. If he wouldn’t kill animals, either for meat or self-protection or both, naturally he would become a prey to them. The survival instinct had made him think how best he could do it. As a result, he invented the Stone Age ‘weapons.’ Excavations in different parts of the world indicate the kind of blunt instruments the ear-
GPS in Italy.
For the better Dr Asmahan Al Garoo
There can be no material development in a society if it is not accompanied by cognitive and cultural development, Dr Asmahan Al Garoo tells Jeta Pillai
he humanities give us a framework with which society can make judgements. For instance, it gives us an impression of what a just society is, and how that could be reached and preserved. It also gives us the basis to study this world and its people as they travel through time. Then, the laws and institutions in our countries are embodiments of the values that those civilisations have gifted us. Unless we understand the works on which they are based we will not fully understand our laws and our institutions. These are among the many arguments put forward by those who want to stem the decline in interest in the humanities which has been on for some years now. The decline could partly be because vocational courses get us better paying employment or because students do not leave school with a fair enough understanding of the liberal arts. But societies still need lawyers, thinkers, writers, statesmen and an intellectual life that makes it capable of complex and reflective thought. And so, Campus found out from Dr Asmahan Al Garoo, Asso-
ciate Professor of Ancient History at Sultan Qaboos University, where things stand. Al Garoo sees the humanities as a science concerned with studying human reality and incidents that are related to each other. It also studies trends in society and their larger individual or group dimensions, so as to understand and interpret them causally. They are also called the moral sciences, because they look at people’s lives, the behaviour of individuals or groups, and include: philosophy, theology, literature, history, sociology, arts, and psychology. “Cultural development of society is no less important than its other components and there can be no material development in a society if it is not accompanied by cognitive and cultural development”. “The study of literature, history and the arts have had a positive impact on the human mind in every age, including the current, because of the knowledge and intellectual skills it brings. It also refines the mind, strengthens the imagination and develops a sense of taste”.
Omanis have preserved their culture and monuments.
Does the study of literature, history and the others, serve a social function other than that of giving pleasure? Al Garoo, who did her doctoral studies on the ancient history of Yemen at the University of Paris Sorbonne, said, without doubt, the humanities have a social function. It is through our study of the science of history, for example, that we seek to understand the human experience through the ages, and learn lessons. The study of history is a tool to raise morale, strengthen the sense of belonging and develop pride for the past. It also leads to interest in the global issues of today. The literature and the arts are a mirror of the people, and tame the heart and conscience and raise the sense of ethics. How have they helped shape our lives? She said, the human sciences have their cultural, psychological, social, historical and economic dimensions and a direct and profound impact on human behaviour. They form our tastes and our attitudes, whether mental, psychological or behavioural, and distinctiveness of na-
tions. The study of human sciences leads to improvement in human behaviour and emotions and the religious spirit. It also exposes us to ancient and modern knowledge that interpret the evolution of human societies. How do they broaden our understanding of life, help us make better judgements, and build intellectual capacity? She said, openness to human thought and world heritage is the only way to the so-called “assimilation, and bettering”. A thinker cannot be a man of culture or a reformer, if he does not understand the human heritage. Only then can he surpass it and attain something better. Can the study of literature, philosophy and arts benefit executives, engineers, lawyers? Al Garoo said, “The humanities create beliefs, attitudes, perceptions and values that stem from man’s personal experiences. They are a combination of concepts, expertise and experience stored within him. They represent the intellectual capital of the individual. So, they are considered a requirement for adminis-
trators, as they help understand human behaviour. They are the secret of successful management and excellence”. Humanities do not show measurable results. Is that right and a drawback? She said, “the natural sciences have achieved great success thanks to the use of the experimental method and the laws of inevitability. On the other hand, human phenomena cannot be subjected to experimentation, and therefore is not measurable”. Research in the humanities using the scientific method is still in its infancy, and most prestigious universities in the Arab world are only one century old. “In fact, the age of humanities’ departments in Arab universities do not exceed four decades. However, this does not absolve us from asking about the nature of the achievements in this area and to what extent they answer the questions posed by the humanitarian situation in the Arab world”. How important is it for us to think about the world we live in?
THE INTERVIEW my house as freely as possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any.’’’ Are the humanities still forces of change and resistance? She said, today, the vision of societies, governments and businesses tend to detract the role of humanities in community development. “This makes them marginal, compared to the role of the natural sciences and technologies that adhere to the concrete requirements of the market economy. This is why we see an increasing demand for colleges of applied science, as they provide job opportunities to graduates”. A museum-goer ponders the statue of “The Thinker” by 19th-century French artist Auguste Rodin, in the courtyard at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco, California.
At a fort in Oman.
Students with lower grades go to the humanities’ colleges. The primary role of the humanities is in building culture, thought and knowledge.
Al Garoo said, the social changes the world experiences today are reflected in the phenomenon of globalisation, which is clouding many communities. Vulnerable societies may drift and lose their identity when they cannot survive in the face of these challenges, while communities with wise leadership constantly look for and find a balance between global trends and maintaining their human values and cultural identity. “The preservation of identity does not mean stagnation, but a process that allows a society to evolve and change and accept that change without losing their national identity”.
A man repairs a window in the room where Mahatma Gandhi (left) lived and worked in Mumbai, India.
The palace in Babylon.
“Mahatma Gandhi said: ‘I do not want my house to be walled on all sides and my windows stuffed. I want the cultures of all the lands to be blown about
The sculpture of a mythical animal with head of a snake, body of fish, feet of a lion, found in Babylon.
“Experience has shown that there can be no material development in a society unless it is accompanied by an evolution in building the individual`s spirit. I mean in the way of thinking, understanding and awareness”. Why do the humanities and arts need to justify themselves? Al Garoo said, the humanities need to overcome their current crisis by reducing the dominance of traditional approaches that are used in humanities departments in universities. “They need to combine scientific research with what is theoretical and abstract. There is also a need to internally develop all the humanities’ departments, in terms of teaching methods and modalities”. They include the adoption of a sub-specialisation system and the use appropriate tools and equipment, especially computers and their accessories. (Al Garoo answered in Arabic. This is a translation.)
Ali Al Kiyumi
In Oman, the approach is to preserve the natural world so that future generations can gain from it, Ali Al Kiyumi tells Jeta Pillai
bout 15 years ago life for people along Surâ€™s coast still revolved around fishing and harvesting turtles. It was then a small population and their dependence on the sea did not endanger the coastal ecology. But around this time, Ali Al Kiyumi, who was then director for nature conservation and his colleagues could see the coming urban development, which would bring with it, more people, roads, housing, and facilities like hotels and restaurants. The government declared Ras Al Had, a nesting site for green turtles, as a protected area in 1996. Then, with the cooperation of government departments and the private sector they saw to it that the regionâ€™s development plans did not interfere with the coastal ecology. About the same time Daymaniyat Islands was also declared a protected area.
Since then the two places have become a must-see for visitors to the Sultanate. Their terrestrial and marine life, have become a source of
livelihood and pride for the local people, who see it as in their interest to preserve these ecosystems as it was for their own economic well-
being. Al Kiyumi is now director general for nature conservation, at the Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs
CAREER (MECA), but his work in Ras Al Had is not over. “The lights from the buildings along the coast have been disorienting turtle hatchlings. The young ones instinctively move towards whatever glows. So if there are dark mountains on one side and a glowing sea on the other, they move towards the sea. But because the lights are brighter than the sea, many move landwards and die of dehydration and exhaustion”. Al Kiyumi is now working to see how the lights can be made dimmer. He said, a good conservation biologist must have a passion for nature, and knowledge of subjects like ecology, biology, pollution, geography, anthropology and law. Al Kiyumi said he should also be prepared to face challenges from people who do not believe in conservation, and at times those who are ‘fanatic conservationists’. He will need creativity to find solutions to problems. For Al Kiyumi, becoming a conservation biologist was a natural progression for someone who had a fascination for animals, birds and plants since childhood. After high school, he went to study environmental science at the Faculty of Environmental Studies and Arid Land at King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah. And after having acquired a BSc. in Environmental Science, he did additional courses in fields like Environment Impact Assessment and Wildlife Conservation in Protected Areas, in countries like the UK, US, Spain and Costa Rica. For those who are keen, he said, Kenya and South Africa are countries which have good wildlife conservation courses. Al Kiyumi’s area of special interest is wild life conservation in protected areas – both terrestrial and marine. Based on his knowledge and experience, the biologist must develop the ability to analyse ecosystems, the causes of environmental degradation, extinction rates and develop conservation plans. For instance, he should understand from data or by survey that, if domestic animals like camels and goats graze in the habitat of the Arabian Leopard, then it would deprive the gazelle and ibex, which are among the prey species of the leopard of their diet, leading to a fall in their numbers. This in turn will deprive the leopard of its food, leading to fall in its numbers. In the same circumstanc-
Fox es, leopards are likely to prefer easy prey like domestic goats, which will lead to a conflict with man. The herders are then likely to find ways to kill the leopards. OMAN’S BIODIVERSITY A conservation biologist must also know human attitudes. “In Europe, people are extremely sensitive to anything that would disturb wildlife, because they have lost a lot of it. Here in Oman event though there has been hunting, it has been in a limited way and there is still a lot of wildlife. Hence, the approach here is to preserve the natural world so that people can benefit from it in the coming years. We feel we can use it for education and tourism”. “Oman is largely arid and therefore there is a greater effort to preserve flora and fauna that are endemic to this region. For example, in
Dhofar, more than 60 per cent of the plants and animals are endemic. Many of these biodiversity hot spots on land and in sea are threatened by over grazing, marine pollution and invasive species”. In Jabel Akhdhar, habitat degradation is due to “overgrazing by goats and donkeys, both feral and domestic, and logging. This has posed a threat to endemic plant species and also gazelle which live of the shrubs”. In the deserts of Central Oman the main vegetation consists of trees of Acacia, small shrubs and grasses. After the rains seedlings germinate but only a few survive. Woodlands are also present in wadis in many areas. This vegetation again is seriously threatened by camels and goats which graze there. Human activity can also seriously damage this ecosystem. “An off-road vehicle
will destroy everything in its path and that impact will last for 100 years. The top soil is very sensitive as it holds bacteria, insects and seeds of plants that will germinate with the coming of the rains. The compression caused by the vehicles turns the soil into sand clay”. Removal of topsoil for human activities also prevents re-vegetation and allows invasion by weeds. Al Kiyumi said, “People do not understand the relations between us and the environment and often there is no respect for the latter. People do not follow the regulations. That is the reason why the Daymaniyat Islands are littered with plastic bags and turtle eggs are taken away”. MORE PROTECTED AREAS Al Kiyumi said, in Oman, another 60 areas have been proposed for protection. Cur-
Off the coast of Oman.
rently, a part of Musandam is in the process of being granted protected status because of its landscape, which is unique in that region. It also has animals like caracal, gazelles and birds. The process of getting an area protected requires conservationists to declare its boundaries and then see that infrastructure development and private sector activity outside of it, do not interfere with its ecological balance. “Then we have to create buffer zones, declare hotspots, where not visitors can go, and places which can be visited by tourists”. Al Kiyumi said that as the list of such protected areas grows, the Sultanate will need many more conservation biologists in the future. He said in the coming years biotechnology is an area where a lot of advances will take place, but there is a lot of uncertainty. Genetic engineering is used to produce an abundance of one species or to protect another by cloning. “But we still do not know of its consequences on human health or the environment”. The focus is on a single specie and not for biodiversity. “If you modify a bacteria you cannot reverse that. You also do not know what impact it will have on other bacteria, species, the soil and human health. Who is going to take responsibility for it? But biotechnology can be used in a positive way to find cure for diseases like cancer, malaria and Aids”.
MIND YOUR LANGUAGE
To be accurate or appropriate? “Dr P N Ramani is a professor of English. He is now working with the Ministry of Manpower as Quality Assurance Specialist.”
You need to be aware of different usages appropriate for different settings or contexts
ome of you might have heard giggles or amused comments at the way you write or speak. Some might have got low grades; some others might have been pulled up or criticised by your authorities; many others may lose opportunities of getting good jobs. Should one be concerned only about the grammatical accuracy of one’s utterances, both spoken and written? This is a big question in the minds of language users. You may have often wondered why people should make such a big fuss over the language you speak or write. You may think that you have the right to express yourself in any way you like as long as it makes sense to the other person. Remember that, if you wish to communicate with others effectively in English, you should know what to say or write, when and how. The ability to get the meaning across (i.e., understand and express meaning in real life contexts) has assumed greater importance than grammatical accuracy (or correctness). Fluency and communicative efficiency have been valued as much as, if not more than, grammatical correctness. The language we use must be appro-
priate to the context. That is, we must use English according to the purpose of the communication, the content and audience. Let’s see what this means for us as language users. Suppose that you have a fever and you are unable to go to school or college. You are required to send in a request for leave. Can you write a letter to the principal, saying “I have a fever and I want leave, so give it to me”, or “My tummy is upset, so give me leave for a day”? Of course, not. Your sentences are grammatically correct – there are no grammar and spelling mistakes – but you cannot write so bluntly and informally (e.g., “tummy”). As a student, you have to write politely and in a formal language. What is wrong with these sentences found in formal letters? My buddy’s in the hospital, so I need to go early. Give me permission to leave an hour earlier. The old man / My grandpa has croaked/kicked the bucket, so I need leave for 3 days. Slang may be appropriate among friends, but not in an academic setting. Your teachers, authorities and future employers may penalise you for using nonstandard English. You will find plenty of ex-
amples of formal and informal (even colloquial and slang) expressions in PG Wodehouse’s novels. In one such novel, Jeeves wants to get back into Wooster’s employment. Jeeves almost always speaks in a very formal manner. “Then, as there is a vacancy in your establishment, sir, I wonder if you would consider it a liberty if I were to offer my services? . . . “I ventured to express the hope, sir, that you might be agreeable to considering my application for the post. I should endeavour to give satisfaction, as I trust I have done in the past.” Take another context. If the husband (or the wife) says to the other, “Excuse me, my dear. I’m rather hesitant to ask of you this favour, but may I request you to get me a cup of tea, if you don’t mind?”, what would the spouse think of the partner? Out of senses, perhaps? The relationship between husband and wife is intimate and informal, so neither expects the other to be so formal in asking for something. In other words, it is inappropriate for them to use such a formal language between them. Once a boy was playing loud music at home. His father, a judge in a court of law, ordered
his son to reduce the volume, but in vain. The judge became angry and said, “I hereby pronounce you guilty and sentence you to pay a fine of a hundred dollars.” The son merely laughed, because he knew that his father’s pronouncement was not valid and therefore could not be enforced. At home his father could not take on the role of a judge and award punishments as in a court of law. Of course, as a parent he could scold his son, pull him up, reprimand or even punish him as appropriate. He could not, however, use legal language at home, which is an informal setting. A few other conditions of context have also to be met for the judge’s pronouncement to be effective or taken seriously. Remember to use the right word in the right context. You need to be aware of different usages appropriate for different settings or contexts: informal vs. formal, spoken vs. written, and so on. Dictionaries may differ in how much usage guidance they provide, but they primarily show how people actually use English. Note carefully labels, such as formal, informal, nonstandard, and archaic/obsolete. Send in your feedback to: email@example.com
Enrich your EXPERIENCE T Salim Al Saidi is a career adviser.
You can compensate for the lack of experience by training with companies and organisations related to your major, during summer
he most important thing employers look for when evaluating applicants is their experience and expertise and whether they are the right ones for the tasks and duties to be undertaken, if chosen. The first thing that comes to the mind of job-seekers is their work experience, including previous positions. This is true in the case of those who have previous experience. But graduates, who are new to the job market, worry about what may increase their chances in getting the job. Dear graduate, you can compensate for the lack of experience by training with companies and organisations related to your major, during summer. When you get the approval of a company, you increase your ability to compete
in the labour market. This will be more so, if the training period is longer and the jobs you do are varied. Many students in higher educational institutions complain of the lack of proper training opportunities provided by their institutions. This may be due to the large numbers of students in each institute. However, the students must search for appropriate training opportunities. In fact, some higher educational institutions have made summer training optional for students. In this case, they have not committed to provide such opportunities. Yet, some students are proactive and go through more than one training period on their own. A diverse experience does not include just summer train-
ing, but also extends to other areas that contribute to qualifying you for the labour market and polishing your skills. For example, there are many nongovernmental organisations that may seek your contribution regardless of your field of study. Along with satisfaction, you may gain some expertise that will strengthen your competitiveness. There are also different student activities in all educational institutions which will help you develop your skills, learn team-work, time management and the ability to bear work pressures. As mentioned above, all this training and activities will increase your worth when you apply for jobs. (Salim Al Saidi is a consultant for vocational guidance)
Some students’ entire high school experience is online through a virtual school.
Class of 2010 Social media have become part of the classroom, writes Alice Pfeiffer
ime was, teachers would tell students to turn off their cellphones in the classroom. Less so, now. Facebook, Twitter, and iTunes have not only invaded the classroom but have also become part of the class. ArXiv.org, which emerged in 1991 from Cornell University in New York, was one of the earliest applications of academic social networking. An open-source Internet platform, designed to be used by researchers as a communication tool, it revolutionised the way scientists shared findings before official publication in journals. “Scientists used to mail each other ‘pre-prints’ of journals – which would
rarely happen between a scientist from MIT and say, New Delhi,” said Subodh Patil, a post-doctoral physicist at the Ecole Polytechnique, in Paris. ArXiv.org, updated daily, allows free worldwide access and response to almost 600,000 online research papers in physics, mathematics, computer science and more, increasingly sidelining the role of traditional print journals. “The scientific literature was always six months behind the current research,” Patil said, adding that journal articles now “are almost irrelevant, and many teachers don’t even bother writing them anymore.” The rising popularity of uncontrolled peer-to-peer
networking is having an effect on the classic role of peer review for research validation, one of the core functions of academic publishing. But if some researchers may be worried by the potential loss of rigor in the assessment process, others see it as liberating. “Having a paper peerreviewed is not necessarily an indication that the paper is right,” Patil said. “We all peer-review, but it is no longer as significant as it was before,” he said, adding that one consequence was that academics and researchers “get to read papers that have been rejected, some of which actually contain ideas ahead of their time, and were rejected unfairly.”
In contrast to journal publication, which is the outcome of a lengthy assessment process, social media postings provide “a real-time snapshot of the front of the state of the art at that particular moment,” he said. Digital publication has now morphed into “a new approach to learning,” said Clive Young, a learning technology adviser at University College London. It offers “new ways for teachers to connect with students and also for students to participate more actively in the creation of educational content and experiences.” For example, New York University is one of many institutions using Blackboard, a website that facili-
TRENDS tates the sharing of material and the exchange of ideas. Other examples of technology entering the classroom at that university include guest speakers weighing in via Skype, library workers providing support via instant messaging, and students accessing library resources from off-campus. “Access to 24/7 online research resources makes it possible for students who work full time to have the virtual library on their schedule,” said Marjorie Kalter, a professor at New York University’s integrated marketing master’s programme. “And faculty also find these services helpful.” In Britain, several institutions, including University College London and the London School of Economics, are using Moodle – the Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment – a free, opensource, e-learning platform that describes itself as a course management system or virtual learning environment. Now claiming more than 33 million users following more than three million courses in 207 countries, Moodle was conceived in the late 1990s by an Australian academic, Martin Dougiamas, to help
educators create online courses. University College London was also one of the first British universities, along with The Open University, to sign a partnership with iTunes U in 2008. Introduced in 2007 in the United States with the participation of 16 schools, iTunes U took the Apple music service and converted it into a store for free lecture and podcast materials. Participants now include more than 600 institutions – among them Oxford, Cambridge and Yale Universities – in 18 countries. “This is a typical network effect,” said Tomas Gonsorcik, strategy director at the social media consulting firm Interaction London. “The more people sign up on iTunes U, the more the platform will become successful.” Lawrie Phipps, program manager at the Joint Information System Committee, a British university technology innovation body, said the Internet’s biggest effect on research and teaching “has been the way in which we can instantly publish digital material using blogs and similar 2.0 tools” – a reference to the new generation of interactive websites.
Professors put a lot of study material online. “Now we are starting to see materials generated and disseminated via mo-
bile devices and using the same mobile devices to access rich information in
learning,” he said. Gonsorcik said teachers had started to use Twitter “for what it was designed for in the first place, for micro-communities with shared interest. <>They share teaching experience beyond the classroom, allow students to follow business activities, and make academia look much cooler,” he said. “It’s an opportunity for professors to come across as modern, top of the trend, and show they are part of the new generation”. More important, said Michael Wesch, assistant professor of cultural anthropology at Kansas State University, learning online promotes digital literacy. <>As we increasingly move toward an environment of instant and infinite information, it becomes less important for students to know, memorise, or recall information,” Wesch said. “They need to move from being simply knowledgeable, to being knowledge able; to examine, question, and even recreate the increasingly digital structures that shape our world”. International Herald Tribune
READERS’ CORNER / HEALTH
Manage your Destiny
ife takes us on journeys full of bumps, turns and winding paths, some of which we can control and the rest… let’s call them fate or destiny. Upon reaching our mile stone destinations, we realize that we don’t always end up where we thought we would. The good news is that the majority of the reward is found in the journey itself. When travelling with awareness and an eagerness to learn, the world becomes a fountain of endless possibility. It is with this philosophy in mind that we should approach the new academic year. We should keep our eye on the goal, but not lose focus on what we are able to gain at every step on the way to that goal. Hundreds of school leavers are not doing what they would like to be doing right now. Perhaps they were unable get into the course that most interests them, or they are forced into doing an unwanted foundation year, or they haven’t managed to get into their first choice university. Whatever the case may be, this is no time to wallow in defeat. Dust yourself off, open your eyes, remember your dream, and now find a way to get closer to it. “How?” I hear you thinking. There are many ways to Rome as I’m sure you’ve heard. It is up to you to find an alternative route,
or perhaps you need to substitute your mode of transport. If you are already at university or college, ask the student advisors to help you expand and understand your options. If you are still hoping to join an institute of higher education, don’t waste your time sitting at home doing nothing. Enroll in short courses, English courses or IT courses at your local institute. These certificates will stand you in good stead when applying to study. Now take hold of your life and start securing a better academic future for yourself and your family. You will not be disappointed!
For more information, contact, firstname.lastname@example.org Deidre Harvey, Director of Modern Gulf Institute.
There’s a lot of evidence from a wide range of studies that eating red meat or processed meat increases the risk of colon cancer
olon cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer but also one of the most preventable. Dr. Robert S. Sandler, a gastroenterologist at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, published an excellent review of colon cancer prevention. Dr. Stephen Goldfinger, a founding editor of the Health Letter, who remains an active member of our editorial board, brought it to our attention. We’ve depended on Dr. Sandler’s review to create our own little refresher course on colon cancer prevention. INCREASED RISK Meat: There’s a lot of evidence from a wide range of studies that eating red meat (beef, lamb) or processed meat (hot dogs, sausages, certain cold
cuts) increases the risk of colon cancer. Less clear are the reasons. One possible explanation is that cooking meat at high temperatures produces substances (heterocyclic amines, for example) with cancer-promoting properties. Avoiding charred red meat is often suggested as a way to reduce colon cancer risk. Abdominal fat: Obesity is a risk factor, but the evidence is more consistent for overweight men than it is for overweight women. Why? Perhaps because men are more likely than women to put weight on around the middle, and the abdominal fat that expands the waist is more metabolically active than fat deposits elsewhere. Some aspects of that metabolic activity may promote cancer.
REDUCED RISK Physical activity: Exercise lowers the risk even after researchers take weight and diet into account. Chemicals in plants: The evidence for fruit and vegetable consumption having much of an influence is equivocal. Even so, results from small, preliminary studies hint that certain chemicals in plant-based foods — sometimes referred to as phytochemicals — may offer some protection. Quercetin, found in apples and onions, and curcumin, found in the spice turmeric, are leading candidates. Calcium and vitamin D: Evidence from a variety of studies puts calcium solidly in the risk reduction column. Dr Sandler didn’t emphasise vitamin D in
his review, but an increasing number of studies are suggesting that it, too, has a protective effect. NO EFFECT ON RISK Fibre: Fibre-as-protector had great intuitive appeal. But results from randomised trials and cohort studies have shown that it doesn’t have much, if any, effect. But as with fruits and vegetables, there’s good evidence that fibre protects against vascular disease and diabetes. Constipation: Just as fibre was thought to be protective, constipation was thought to be a risk factor for colorectal cancer. Research has shown otherwise. Harvard Health Publications Tribune Media Services
ON THE ROAD
Porsche 918 Spyder.
The hybrid SUPERCAR Porsche predicts the 918 will go about 15 miles in electric mode
t the Geneva auto show last March, a gunmetal gray vision rolled onto the show floor that made every speed freak around the world breathe a sigh of relief. «The Porsche 918 Spyder provides the answer to whether there can be high-performance cars in the future,» says Detlev von Platen, CEO of Porsche North America. «Many have said they are finished. This car shows they are not.» The 918 is a plug-in hybrid, and Porsche predicts that it’ll go about 15 miles in electric mode. But using the 918’s electric motors to glide down to the country club would be as misguided as using Château Lafite Rothschild to flush your toilet. Better to depress the e-Boost button on the steering wheel and deploy those electrons in anger, appending the 218 hp of electric thrust to the midmounted V-8 engine’s 500 hp for short, violent bursts of acceleration. This is the real reason why Porsche is tin-
kering with hybrids: glorious speed. The Spyder’s sinuous bodywork, with its fenders tightly hugging the wheels, evokes the 1954 550-1500 RS Spyder. But the details – retractable ram-air intakes hovering above the engine, an active rear wing that raises and lowers depending on the speed, a centre console that looks like a next-gen iPhone – all point toward the future. In fact, the 918 is intended to eclipse the performance of its predecessor, the Carrera GT hypercar, yet still get 78 mpg (when you’re not indulging in the e-Boost). Technically, the 918 is just a concept. But pragmatic Porsche doesn’t waste time on flights of fancy – its last «concept» was the Boxster. At Geneva the company said it would build the 918 if it received 1,000 orders. So far it has 2,000. [est. $630,000; porsche.com/usa] THE NEXT-GENERATION GAUGE Analog gauges would be too simplistic, but a purely
Lexus LFA and instruments. electronic instrument panel wouldn’t reflect the mechanical soul of the Lexus LFA, a $375,000 technological tour de force with a 9,000-rpm V-10 engine. So Lexus invented a way to do both. A TFT screen displays a virtual tachometer -more specifically, a tachometer that morphs, rotating when you put the car in sport mode so the redline is at the top, where it’s more visible. But the coup de grace comes in a motorised metal ring with an acrylic lens that slides in front of the tach, lending depth to the display. Like the LFA itself, the gauge is an innovation on tradition. [lexus.com] THE FUTURE BIKE It has 10 times the battery
capacity of a Prius and an electric motor that creates 2.5 times the torque of a Ducati 1198 superbike, all wrapped in a futuristic package that looks like a collaboration between George Lucas and Apple’s Jonathan Ive. Currently only a prototype racing bike, the MotoCzysz E1pc represents more than the validity of electrotwo-wheelers – it’s the future of the motorcycle. [price N/A; motoczysz.com] THE SUPERCAR SPEEDBOAT Dutch exotic car builder Spyker creates four-wheeled sculptures with interiors so posh that they make Versailles look like a shanty. So when co-founder Maarten de Bruijn left the company in 2005 and began build-
ing boats, expectations ran high -- and yet his creation, the Silvestris 23’ Sports Cabriolet, still manages to drop jaws. Like a Spyker, the speedboat’s perfectly proportioned aluminum hull hides a stately throne. Sumptuous (yet salt-waterproof) leather covers nearly every surface, while the press of a button opens up a compartment behind the cabin with two more leather-slathered seats. It can burn agua, too, especially when equipped with the 600-hp V-8, good for a top speed of 65 knots. But that’s less fun than slowly motoring through the marina, collecting jealous stares. [from $315,000; silvestris-aquamotive.com] Tribune Media Services
Sri Lanka After years of upheaval, Sri Lanka is luring travellers with steep discounts, writes Matt Hendrickson
ith much of its coast rebuilt after 2004’s devastating tsunami and a decades-long civil war that ended last year, Sri Lanka is ready to welcome visitors – so eagerly, in fact, that some of its top resorts have cut rates aggressively. The luxurious Amanwella resort, for example, recently dropped its suites from $550 to $350 per night (amanresorts.com). What’s more, the jungle island now boasts well-run rafting trips and wildlife safaris to go with the beaches, food, and historic sites it’s long been known for – the ideal mix for an exotic vacation that’s never boring. WORLD-CLASS BEACHES The beaches in the southern part of the country are some of the world’s finest. And the best of the bunch is Unawatuna. It’s on the small side
Pinnewela Elephant Orphanage.
DESTINATION (only a half-mile long), but the semi-circular bay is a perfect spot to swim, snorkel, and windsurf beneath the giant stupa (Buddhist shrine) situated on the hill behind the sands. If it’s too crowded there, try nearby Goyambokka Beach, a coconut tree-lined spot that, if you’re lucky, you might just have to yourself. Book a private cottage at the Palm Paradise Cabanas for less than $40 a night (palmparadisecabanas.net); when you need a bit more action, the breaks in Hikkaduwa on Sri Lanka’s west coast and Arugam Bay in the east are near flawless. Or check out the little-known Mirissa Beach near the surf-centric Talalla Retreat, where eightfoot swells are commonplace (from $70 per night; talallaretreat.com). UNIQUE CUISINE Sri Lanka’s curries are distinct – heavy on coconut milk, and lots of fresh red and yellow chiles – and some of the hottest in the world. The country’s best curry restaurants, though, are in its hotels, including the Curry Bowl Guesthouse in Hikkaduwa Beach, a garden oasis of calm just off a bustling stretch of sand. But the roadside cafes hold their own too, especially those on the coast, such as the Angler in Colombo, which specialises in freshly caught seer (the local mackerel). If you grow tired of curry, try the Italian fare at Il Camino, near
Inside the restaurant in Kitulgula Resthouse on the banks of the river Kelani where The Bridge on The River Kwai was shot.
Frescoes in Sigiriya.
Bathing in the river Kelani.
A view of the gardens from the top of the fortress in Sigiriya.
the Amanwella resort on the south coast. The Italianowned restaurant specialises in pasta al forno (read: glorified lasagnas), but if you order only one dish, try the bolognese. TEMPLES FROM 5 AD Sri Lanka is loaded with
historic Buddhist and Hindu sites, including the mountaintop rock fortress Sigiriya, one of Sri Lanka’s ancient cities. It’s a 45minute climb to the top, done in part via a metal spiral staircase that seems to barely cling to the edge
of the rock. But it’s worth the risk – the view from the summit of terraced gardens and lush greenery is spectacular. If you’re looking to stay in five-star luxury in the surrounding hill country, book a room at the nearby Heritance Kan-
A water fall in Nuwara Eliya.
dalama hotel (from $140; heritancehotels.com) before heading 50 miles south to the country’s cultural capital, Kandy, a teeming market city of 110,000. Save a couple of days to explore Kandy’s rambling colonial buildings and temples, one of which, the Temple of the Tooth, houses the relic of the tooth of Buddha amid the royal palace complex. The city also serves as gateway to the tea plantations in the hills, where you can travel the rolling Tea Trails and spend the night lakeside in one of four peaceful tea-planter’s bungalows in the Bogawantalawa Valley at 4,000 feet (from $197 per couple, all inclusive; teatrails.com). WILD RIVERS AND WILDLIFE For those looking for whitewater, the Kelani River, which runs through Colombo, boasts Class III and IV rapids (movie buffs take note: This is where The Bridge on the River Kwai was shot) (from $20; srilankanexpeditions.com). Farther north is Minneriya National Park; during the country’s civil war, the park’s trekking safaris were infrequent and poorly attended, but now they’re lively affairs boasting water buffalo, spotted deer, scores of aquatic-bird species, and the largest gathering of Asian elephants in the world. Tribune Media Services
Jennifer most perfect
ollywood actress Jennifer Aniston has been voted the sexiest bikini body by the Parade magazine poll, whereas McConaughey was voted as best male beach body. Aniston beat Jessica Biel and Kim Kardashian, while McConaughey topped the male category, leaving behind Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron and David Beckham.
Sleep Katy, sleep
inger Katy Perry says she can be bitchy if she has not slept well. The California Gurls singer, who is engaged to Russell Brand, says she gets grouchy if she doesn’t have enough sleep, but believes her fans like her “outspoken” nature. “I can be bitchy. Give me six hours of sleep instead of eight and I will show you the other side of me,” said Perry. “I have always been outspoken and I am not easily influenced. My views are unsolicited, unfiltered and that’s why people never know what they’re going to get. There is some spice because it’s spontaneous,” she added.
Shah Rukh to watch his weight
ollywood superstar Khan lost so much weight sweating in the bodyhugging suit he was supposed to wear for the superhero film Ra One that his wedding ring slipped from his finger. “Need to feed my face more than I have been. Today my wedding ring nearly slipped and fell through... ha ha,” Shah Rukh posted on his Twitter page. King Khan’s suit in the film is made of silicon and rubber.
New sartorial standards
ver since she lost nearly 5kg, British singer Kelly Osbourne has started taking a keen interest in dresses that accentuate her curves. The 25-yearold reality star, who split from fiance Luke Worrall, visited the sets of breakfast show Good Day LA and spoke about how confident she is now, sporting a size six figure. “I’ve only just started wearing lovely dresses like the beautiful black Tony Ward number I wore to the Emmy Awards last week. But losing another 10 lbs since splitting with my ex-Luke and becoming a size six has given me the confidence to dress up,’ said Osbourne. Osbourne credits her figure to her stint on reality show Dancing with the Stars last year during which she lost a lot of weight. Then she lost an extra 5kg after her July break-up. Nevertheless, she has kept up her exercise regime claiming it has helped clear her head after her split.
ctress Neetu Singh, who stars opposite her husband Rishi Kapoor almost after 30 years in Habib Faisal’s directorial debut Do Dooni Chaar, says she feels that today’s middleclass housewives are ‘Mother India’. “I truly believe, today’s middle-class housewives are mother India. She manages so many things. She manages a whole family in a tight budget,” Neetu said. In the 80’s the couple enthralled audiences working together in 11 romantic films. Neetu reveals that she dared doing Do Dooni Chaar because she could connect to her character and there was a certain comfort level as she was working with Rishi. “My role is of Kusum Duggal. She is a very middleclass wife and she has to manage a lot of things, and how she manages her children who are growing up. Her husband has some values… I kind of found there is some connect. I also basically am from the middleclass”.
LIFE ARIES Listen and examine issues carefully before giving an opinion. There will also be opportunities for travel and making money.
TAURUS There is some luck in store. There will be discussions on travel and some may materialise.
How to solve the puzzle:
GEMINI This is a period when you will get recognition for your work. There are also some difficult decisions to be made in money matters.
The number grid should be filled up with numbers 1-9. Each column and row should contain the numbers 1-9. No digit should be repeated within a row or column. Also, in the box, there should be no repetition of .numbers from 1 to 9
CANCER You could find it difficult with colleagues, avoid trouble. There will be differences with your partner. LEO You will become more efficient and productive. Take care of your finances or it could put you in an embarrassing situation. VIRGO You will be faced by strange situations and people. Take care to study a situation before taking decisions. LIBRA Your able to deal with people will prove very useful during this period. Be careful when handling equipment. SCORPIO See that you spend your time and money cautiously. Some changes could take place that will improve your appearance. SAGITTARIUS You are yearning for entertainment but it could cost more than you
expect. Some luck will come your way. CAPRICORN There will be a lot of social activity during this period. Your relationships could entangle you. Take care of your health by eating healthy food. AQUARIUS Be tactful in business matters. Avoid disputes, if there are some postpone their settlement. Luck will be on your side. PISCES Take care of your health by tak-
ing care of your diet. Be honest when expressing your views and control your temper.
Five ways to connect
lancing at the subtitle of the new book Click: The Magic of Instant Connections, I was skeptical. How much leverage can we really get on such an ephemeral phenomenon as quickset intimacy? A lot, it turns out. The brothers Ori (a business consultant) and Rom (a psychologist) Brafman don’t dissipate all the magic – who would want to read their analysis if they did? – but they dig up considerable research and talk to a variety of clickmasters – a hostage negotiator, a casting director, a flight attendant – to identify factors that catalyze such alchemy. And they make a convincing case that clicking does more than put you on a fast track to love or success: When you click you become yourself, only better. FIVE CATALYSTS FOR CONNECTION Vulnerability: Opening up to others by sharing personal information, admitting to an embarrassment, or even just expressing an opinion or emotional reaction immediately deepens the interaction. Eye contact and casual touching also help. Proximity: People tend to befriend and collaborate with others they sit next
to, live near, or work alongside. Mere facial familiarity enhances judgments of a stranger’s personality. So go out there and mix it up faceto-face. Resonance: Get out of your head and into the
us, so find common ground early. Similarities can be as trivial as a shared name or birthday or interest in a sports team. Whatever your background, you immediately become an in-group of two.
“zone.” You can reach a state of flow with another person where boundaries fade away by being present – offering undivided attention, listening actively, and responding to unspoken needs. Similarity: We tend to like people who are like
Shared Community: Creating a well-defined frame through, say, a corporate retreat, can amplify the other click accelerants by offering a safe space. Shared adversity also strengthens bonds and can forge permanent partnerships.
JUST BETWEEN US
It is self-evident that good conversations take place only between individuals with similar interests and erudition. This matters, because the talker may otherwise appear arrogant to the listener, especially if books are the subject of a conversation
good conversationalist is an admirer of his own craft. For, nobody would want to exhibit a part of themselves that they are not an admirer of. The conversationalist will himself want to listen to his melody of words and voice achieved by mastery over subject, language and delivery. And such a person will not mind being led into a topic for which is has a particular fondness and can give a discourse on. A part of the art of listening, is to guide the talker away from a subject that causes discomfort, due to lack of interest or knowledge, to one in which he revels. For instance, if you know that there is a great musician your friend knows a lot about either personally or by reputation, and of whom he is a fan, tell him that you have been told that the performer is ‘not great’. Your friend will tell you that whoever has said this “is a damn fool” and immediately begin a discourse on the musician’s greatness. It is self-evident that conversations take place only between individuals with similar interests and erudition. This matters, because the talker may otherwise appear arrogant to the listener, especially if books are the subject. In this to and fro type of engagement, where each derives satisfaction in the exchange of thoughts, facts and ideas, the conversationalists soon get a fair idea of each other’s minds. Apart from people, places, events and anecdotes, many of the conversations nowadays start with events that happen around us. The world is eventful and the media see to it that we know of events almost as soon
as they take place. Your friend could call and ask you what you think about “today’s assassination”. And you would say, “Well from what they are saying on TV right now, three bullets hit him. That means he did not have security. Had he had security, the first bullet could have hit him, and the rest his body guards”. And then you discuss why he may have been denied security. After this, your friend will definitely call you when there is a hijacking. “On TV I can see the hijacked plane on the tarmac getting refuelled. What do you think they can do now?” And you will say, “They should keep the plane on the ground, talk to the hijackers, and as soon as it is dark, ask specialforces to land on the aircraft by rope from a helicopter. Engines of nearby aircraft should be kept running to drown the sound of the helicopter and commando activity. They can then blast open the doors with plastic explosives enter the plane and shoot the hijackers dead”. And then he will tell you about the hijackers’ country, people from there who were with him in university, its history and how it had fallen in the wrong hands. So we need to know a lot for a good conversation on issues that are often protean. Through conversations, we learn our strengths and weaknesses. Areas within a subject we have not studied well enough, or did not know about, or fields like say, one of the sciences or strategic affairs we need to study. Normally we would go about getting proficient in each area we were found wanting in, so that we can have an engaging conversation the next time. Jeta Pillai
OAB gets best investment bank award
man Arab Bank (OAB) has been declared and awarded Best Investment Bank Oman 2010 by World Finance Magazine. “Let me take this opportunity to thank all of OAB employees and staff and IMG staff in particular for sustained efforts to maintain the standards we set for ourselves” said Abdul Kader Askalan, CEO, OAB. “By the way this is the first time World Finance Magazine gave this type of awards to an Omani bank in investment.” The Investment Management Group (investment arm) of OAB has built its reputation as the most comprehensive provider of investing banking services in Oman. The services include brokerage, asset management, corporate finance and advisory, wealth management and custody, backed-up by strong research capabilities. The total assets under management of the group are in excess of $750 million. Apart from managing
ath is one of Britain’s oldest cities, its history dates back 2000 years. If you’re curious about how the city got its name, it is a literal translation: Bath means to take a bath! Since Roman times, people came to Bath to bathe in hot spring waters that rise in the city; the only place in the UK with hot springs. Today the Roman baths are a major tourist attraction and a modern spa offers the chance to sit in the hot waters and gaze out over the city. Bath’s UNESCO designation owes more to its architecture than its constant supply of hot water. In the Georgian era, around 250 years ago, Bath became a very popular place for wealthy citizens to come and ‘take the waters’. This meant both bathing and drinking, although with the high mineral content in the water it has to be said it tastes pretty horrible and these days most people prefer more conventional drinks! The University of Bath is a far more recent addition to the city. It was founded in the 1960s, during an era in which higher education was expanded from being a privilege only a very small section of the UK population could enjoy to something wider society could participate in. In the space of 40 years, the university’s rise has been nothing short of spectacular. It is ranked among the top
several asset portfolios, the group also manages several funds such as the Investment Stabilization Fund founded by the government, and Oman Al Arabi Fund, its flagship mutual fund, and Arab Bank MENA Fund. A video interview of Askalan was podcasted on World Finance website as well as a special edition of the magazine was issued in August for all the winners. Askalan, along with Lo’ai Bataineh, DGM Investment & Develop-
ment and Head of Investment Management Group, received the award at the London Stock Exchange on Sept. 13.
‘Bath among UK’s top 10 institutions’
150 universities in the world and was recently ranked by the Sunday Times among the top 10 institutions in the UK and the best in the South West region of England. So what makes the university different from thousands of others around the world? Well, it isn’t just one thing, but a combination of factors that come together to create an environment that can genuinely be said to be different from any other. The university was founded with a very specific vision in mind – to deliver degree programmes with a professional and vocational emphasis. As a result of this, you will see a rather unusual portfolio of courses offered by the university, compared to what you may expect from an institution in a
city famous for its artistic and cosmopolitan environment. Instead of degrees in Literature or History, our specialisations encompass areas such as Aerospace Engineering, Business Administration, Pharmacy and Pharmacology and even Sport and Exercise Science. Many of our degrees are professionally accredited, over 60 per cent of undergraduate students undertake work placements (internships) as part of their degree, and the University’s graduates enjoy the highest rates of employment and starting salaries in the UK. This is a vibrant community, with students motivated to gain the skills and knowledge that will equip them for high level careers around the world. The campus is also quite spe-
cial. The city may be ancient but the campus is modern. State-ofthe art laboratories and lecture theatres, the UK’s first 24-hour library and learning centre, one of the country’s best English language teaching centres, hundreds of open access computer stations (all networked, with high speed internet access) and Olympic standard sports facilities provide an excellent environment in which to both study and enjoy recreational activities. We regularly host international events, be they academic or sports related, and can count world renowned athletes among the campus community alongside internationally famous scholars. What kind of experience can you expect at the University of Bath? Firstly, ours is truly an
international community. 30 per cent of our students and 20 per cent of our staff come from other countries, representing over 100 nationalities. After all, to be one of the best universities in the world, you have to attract the best minds from around the world. In Oman, we have links with Sultan Qaboos University and the Ministry of Manpower and similar collaborations exist all around the globe. We offer high levels of support to international students, some specifically for their needs, such as the International Student Advice Centre, and others aimed at encouraging integration and inclusivity. Our degree programmes are challenging and it is important to understand that our entry requirements will reflect this. However, we will look to provide the most stimulating and engaging experience that we can, throughout your time here. Research excellence is central to our identity. You will be taught by staff that are pushing back the boundaries of knowledge in their subject area. Interested? Find out more at: www.bath.ac.uk. Local contact: Kate Clarke, Al Ahlam Higher Education Services: email@example.com Tel: 00968-24562623 Andy Howman, International Office at Bath University.
Muscat Eye’s special discount for teachers
Sameer Al Awam
uscat Eye Laser Center (MELC) has joined hands with the Ministry of Education to offer special discounts and complimentary check-ups to teachers. In addition, MELC has re-enforced its support to the ministry for any new initiative that it undertakes. The Ministry of Education lauded the initiative taken by MELC. Hashim Al Moosawi, Head of Employee Benefits Section, Staff Care Department, said, “The Ministry of Education has always made efforts to provide the best
healthcare to the public by forging a strong relation between the public and private sector. The offer by the Center to provide free check-up for the teachers and the administrative staff of the ministry is a step in this direction. We would like to take this opportunity to thank MELC and its CEO Sameer for their cooperation and hope this paves the way for other private companies to take similar initiatives as well.” “While we have taken steps to support the Ministry of Education in the past, this is a reiteration of our commitment to the youth and the teachers who groom and lay the foundations of their future,” said Sameer Al Awam, CEO of MELC. MELC is also reaching out to the youth through one of Oman’s leading and popular online Arabic forums, Sa-
blah. Special discounts are exclusively being offered to the 134,000 plus members who are constantly updated on the ongoing activities at the MELC through emails and advertising online. MELC has consistently been promoting schemes to encourage the youth to get regular eye check-ups, while teachers play a pivotal role in spreading awareness and sharing information that could keep eye problems in check. Jointly established by Sameer Al Awam and Dr. Maria Clara Arbelaez, MELC specialises in refractive surgery using advanced technology and procedures. Arbelaez has successfully performed over 50,000 eye surgeries during a professional career spanning more than 20 years. Located in Qurum, MELC has two fully equipped operating theatres, six consultation
and meeting rooms, six diagnostic and four preparation rooms. For more information,
visit the website www.muscateye.com or the blog http:// muscateye.blogpost.com/
Mezbaan, a new restaurant for the special Indian taste
new Indian restaurant named Mezbaan, managed by Al Zam, one of the leading companies in the sector, recently opened its doors to the public in the heart of Muscat. India’s Ambassador to Oman Anil Wadhwa, was present at the launch ceremony and he, along with other distinguished guests, tasted the fine cuisine. Sufiyan Khan, director of the restaurant, explained that Mezbaan, the Persian name of the restaurant, literally means a welcoming host, and this will be reflected in the service-level and en-
vironment of the restaurant. Sufiyan said that the menu includes a wide range of dishes comprising all the fragrances and tastes of the subcontinent. These are lovingly prepared and served, and they combine quality and good taste. With regard to service, the director said that each guest will be given special attention and treatment so that everyone feels welcomed and inspired enough to come back. Sufiyan described the restaurant’s environment as typically Indian, with a
touch of elegance to make a diner’s experience as authentic, aromatic and relaxing as possible. Mezbaan also reflects Indian culture, etiquette and flavour, the director added. Sufiyan further said that Mezbaan will serve a range of North and Central Indian dishes in an environment of elegance with the Indian touch, and guests will get prompt, friendly and high-quality service so that they feel like kings. Regarding the aims of the restaurant, Sufiyan said that Mezbaan will work with innovative ideas in the service sec-
tor to bring out the best in the Indian food industry, unlike the clutter of the usual Indian delicacies. He also expressed the hope that Mezbaan would soon become the first thought of every mind and the first brand of every stomach, owing to the combination of spices and a pinch of affection. Sufiyan added that the founders have strengthened their service skills through their cooperation with Al Zam Food Company LLC after 25 years of operation and experience in trading and contracting.
Customising cars is their business and hobby
ost people are familiar with the various brands of vehicles that are seen in Muscat. But one brand a lot of people still ask about is Power Performance Customs (PPC). They wonder if it is a new one, despite the fact that it has been around for the last three years. The number of vehicles that carry the PPC brand in the local market is increasing, as the styled models look wonderful and deliver satisfactory performance levels. This report tries to delve into the matter by speaking to the three Omanis who came together for a project to turn their hobby of customising vehicles into a reality. After graduation, three Omanis Ali Bin Jafar Al Lawati, Aws Bin Isa Al Houti, and Hussain Bin Ali Al Za’abi, established in 2007, the first company in the Sultanate that customises vehicles. Power Performance Customs, PPC Oman, is the first 100 per cent Omani car tuning company. It started in Nov. 2007 and their work involves developing the outside style, inside decoration and tweaking the engine performance. They follow international standards of the big global automobile companies. PPC attracts car fans who love everything related to vehicles. It is located in Al Wadi Al Kabir and has a state-of-the-art facility, which includes a tuning bay, warehouse, showroom, customer’s lounge and an operations office. The idea of the venture first came about when Ali, Aws and Hussain worked to customise their own cars. They contacted global companies to change and develop some spare parts for them. During that time, when they were still students in university, they helped friends and others to improve the looks and performance of their vehicles. Ali said that the idea to set up a company was floated one day when the three partners were having coffee in one of the cafes in the Qurum beach area. “We talked about the project, and decided to keep discussing it every day at the same place” Ali said, adding that he, Aws and Hussain, studied various aspects of the project before starting out. They studied its strong and weak points, market requirements and also whether the Omani market needed such a project, in addition to discussing how to finance the company. On finance for the project, Ali said that the financial resources for the undertaking were not
enough. Yet they decided to begin testing the reaction of the local market towards their venture. “Some private companies, which we have good relations with, gave us moral, logistical, and consultative support,” Ali said, and thanked the companies which had opened the way for the project to expand and succeed. These are Mazaher Company, Public Warehouses for Trading, Hazar United and Auto Art. Ali also thanked HE Maqbool Bin Ali Sultan for his generous gesture of visiting their company’s office and giving them support for the project. He also thanked Mohamed Farahat from Egypt, Hussain Bu Khamas from Bahrain, Fahd Rashid from UAE, HE Dr Fuad Jaffer, Hani Al Zubair, Mazaher Jafar Al Lawati, Haj Jafar Habib Al Lawati, Ali Hassan Al Za’abi, Mohamed Hassan Al Za’abi, Mahfouz Isa Al Houti, Mohamed Bin Isa Al Houti, Ali Al Mahdar, Amir Sadek Al Habib, and Khaled Ahmed Al Shanfari for their support. Giving details of the beginning on their road to success, Ali said that the three partners began with a modest budget and rented a small office at Wadi Kabir Industrial Area. The Mazaher Company had let them use a part of their warehouse for the project free of cost. “The office was just big enough for us, but we were very happy to start a private project,” Ali said. He said they began to contact other regional
and international companies to sign contracts with them. PPC also got in touch with the best workshops in Oman, and the three partners visited a number of auto showrooms to explain the project. Ali said that the venture took off after seven months, when the company shifted to a big location with offices, parking, waiting room, and an area for vehicles. Aws said that the project first interested younger people between the ages of 20-35 years, but once their efforts became a success, car enthusiasts of all ages were drawn to it, and these included foreigners and expatriates. Hussain Bin Ali Al Za’abi said that the company has also taken part in a number of local, regional and international events. These are: Hemi club meeting 2007 in Dubai; Hemi club meeting 2007 in Muscat; Hemi club meeting 2009 in Muscat; Muscat Youth meeting 2009 in Muscat (Muscat City Centre); Essen Motor Show 2009 in Germany; Motor-sports Show 2010 in Muscat (Muscat Intercontinental); Classic Motor Show 2010 in Muscat (Oman Medical College); Porsche Spyder Day 2009 at PPC headquarters and PPC Show in 2008 (the opening of the new office). He added that the company’s participation in the Essen Motor Show 2009 was most successful. “It is a pride to represent the Sultanate in such big events,” Hussain said. Advertorial