1. VC Receives US Academician
  2. Workshop for Internal Institutional Quality Audit Held
  3. National Bioethics Committee Meets at SQU
  4. ISPCAN International Congress Kicks off
  5. SQU Organizes Orientation Program for Postgraduate Students
  6. DPS Holds Orientation Program for Postgraduate Students
  7. NDC Delegation Received
  8. Trial Platform for Massive Open Online Courses Launched
  9. SQU receives new students
  10. SQU Student Project on 3D Printer Earns Praise
  11. Experts from SQU Come up with Book on Clinical Biochemistry
  12. Recognition for Book on Food and Huntington’s disease
  13. ICT Technologies: SQU, Huawei Sign Letter of Agreement
  14. SQU Receives 3070 Students
  15. Oman’s First CubeSat Project at SQU
  16. International Accreditation for SQU’s LL.B. Program
  17. SQU Celebrates Renaissance Day
  18. Summer School: Exhibition Features 4IR  
  19. SQU, Omantel Join Hands to Foster Innovation in Oman
  20. Honor for SQU Nurse Educator
  21. Research Groups at SQU Serve Oman’s Sustainable Development Goals
  22. Solar Electric Cars: SQU, Nafath Renewable Energy Join Hands
  23. SQU to Offer PhD in Information Systems
  24. Global Honour for CPS Academician
  25. “Young Explorer” Program to Hone Skills of School Students
  26. QS: SQU Ranked 379 Globally
  27. SQU, Oman Equestrian Federation Sign Cooperation Program
  28. CIS Unveils New Systems and Services
  29. Foundation Stone Laid for MEGA Service Station on Campus
  30. Study Proposes Design Framework of Small Private Online Courses
  31. Annual Trip 2019: Students Set Off to Europe
  32. Global Citizen Award for Dr. Khalaf
  33. Dr. Jokha Al Harthi Wins Man Booker Prize 2019
  34. An Engineer’s Reminiscence of the Construction of SQU
  35. SQU, Ministry of Information, PART Joint Committee Meets
  36. ICE Recognition for Civil Engineering Program
  37. “Demo Day 2019” Highlights Final Year Projects
  38. SQU, Armed Forces Medical Services Sign Cooperation Program
  39. SQU Hosts Seminar on Japanese Scholarships for Students
  40. Forum Highlights Role of Islamic Banks
  41. SQU, ‘inma’ Sign Cooperation Program
  42. Researchers Develop Innovative Nanocoatings for Water Desalination
  43. SQU Celebrates the 19th University Day
  44. His Majesty’s Trust Fund for Seven Research Projects
  45. SQU Celebrates Anniversary of His Majesty’s Visit
  46. Abu Dhabi Research Competition: SQU Project Bags Second Place
  47. SQU, Taiwanese University Discuss Ties
  48. Oman FOSS Platform Launched
  49. SQU Council Approves Proposals
  50. Open House of SQU’s Research Centers
  51. Pak University Explores Ties with SQU
  52. SQU, HUAWEI Discuss Long-term Multifaceted Links
  53. SQU to Offer Turkish Language Course
  54. ECE Students Visit Oman Data Park
  55. Emirati Philanthropist Juma Al Majid Visits SQU
  56. Student Group Holds Animal and Veterinary Sciences Forum
  57. SQU Holds Panel Discussion on National Project on Teaching Profession
  58. Students Showcase Skills in Civil & Architectural Engineering
  59. Spotlight on Research Centers’ Accomplishments
  60. 323 Outstanding Students Honored
  61. ECE Dept. Holds Retreat to Discuss Accreditation
  62. Forum Highlights Translation in the Digital Age
  63. SQU Hosts Lecture by Famous MIT Scientist-Entrepreneur
  64. SQU Organizes 2nd Student Research Conference
  65. SQU Holds National Workshop on BA English Program
  66. “Art is for everyone”
  67. Spotlight on Student Research
  68. Forum Discusses Digital Leadership in Information Sector
  69. Vice Chancellor Concludes Visit to Australia
  70. SQU, Jusoor, Orpic Sign Cooperation Program
  71. Conference Focuses on Innovative Approaches in ELT
  72. 8th GCC College Games: SQU Bags Eight Medals
  73. IoT Lab Opened at SQU
  74. Symposium to Promote Research in Mathematical Modelling
  75. 49 Projects on Display at 9th Engineering Forum
  76. Student Group Pilots Aquaculture of Ornamental Fish Variety
  77. Training Workshop on Trade Ideas Kicks Off
  78. SQU Hosts Workshop on Ethics of Research Involving Human Subjects
  79. Occidental of Oman Funds Equipment for SQU’s SERC
  80. Gulf Programming Contest Kicks Off
  81. Student Group Holds Biomedical Science Exhibition
  82. IBA 2019 Contest: SQU Team Bags First Place
  83. Czech Republic Senate President Visits SQU
  84. SQU Hosts Omani Moot Court Competition
  85. Project to Study Aversion Towards Teaching Profession
  86. Czech Senate President Visits SQU
  87. Conference Discusses Reality and Challenges of Student Affairs
  88. New Disease Threatens Citrus Trees in Oman
  89. SQU Staff Authors Biochemistry Lab Manual
  90. SQU, MRMWR Mark World Water Day
  91. SQU, MoAF Joint Committee Meets
  92. Brains Innovation Summits Official Meets VC
  93. AQAS Accreditation for Two Departments
  94. Independent Learning Centre Officially Launched
  95. Wooden Bridge Competition: Students Bring Home Accolades
  96. Conference Discusses Updates in Neurology and Related Fields
  97. Chief Engineer of SQU Project Revisits the University
  98. SQU to Set up Research Centers in Duqm
  99. SQU Organizes LAMAD Forum on Food Technology
  100. ‘Lamad’ Event Showcases Food Technology Research
  101. CoE Holds Symposium on Renewable Energy Systems Technology
  102. College of Nursing Marks International Day of Happiness
  103. Event Sheds Light on Institutional Arbitration
  104. SQU, Ministry of Education Sign Cooperation Program
  105. Researchers Produce Fish and Vegetables in Aquaponics System
  106. Business Week Highlights Impact of 4IR on Economy
  107. Zero Emission Campus: Field Survey Ends
  108. Conference on “Terms in Arabic: Issues and Prospects
  109. Meaningful Partnership in Islamic Studies
  110. Omanis Strongly Favor Locally Produced Food Products
  111. Oman Mathematics Committee Marks International Day of Mathematics
  112. Dr. Jokha Al Harthi on List for Top Global Literary Award
  113. Engineering Students’ Graduation Project Wins Accolades
  114. SQU, Military Technological College Sign Cooperation Program
  115. Nelson Mandela Remembered
  116. SQU Hosts Forum on Research Projects Funded by HM Trust Fund
  117. SQU Organizes Conference on “Terms in Arabic: Issues and Prospects”
  118. Workshop to Hone Jobseekers’ Skills in Port Logistics
  119. SQU Organizes Career & Training Fair 2019
  120. Zero Emission Campus: SQU Partners with German Institute
  121. Turkish Foundation, SQU to Establish Ties
  122. National Bioethics Committee Meets
  123. University of Tübingen Seeks Ties with SQU
  124. 55 Institutions Participate in SQU Career & Training Fair 2019
  125. SQU Hosts 21st ISANH Redox Congress
  126. SQU Organizes Forum on Leadership and Decision Making
  127. SQU Delegation Concludes Its Visit South Africa
  128. SQU, BP Oman Officials Review BP Fund Research Grants
  129. “Standards Vital in Ensuring Quality and Safety”
  130. Forum Highlights Leadership and Decision Making
  131. SQU Hosts International Workshop on Natural Hazards
  132. Cardiff University Seeks Ties with SQU
  133. Poster on Tokophobia Wins Accolades
  134. SQU at Muscat International Book fair
  135. Workshop on Performance Measurement Program
  136. 3rd ICAOG Discusses Advances in Obstetrics and Gynecology
  137. SQU at Muscat Book Fair
  138. ELT Conference on 11 and 12 April
  139. Focus on Floriculture
  140. Mazaya Exhibition Showcases Special Offers for Employees
  141. Tenth Agricultural Festival Launched
  142. Chemical Engineering Forum Held
  143. SQU organizes The 4th Conference of Free and Open Source Software 2019
  144. Student Group Holds Used Book Fair at Muscat City Centre
  145. SQU’s Rebranded Media Identity Turns 1
  146. Efforts to Support FOSS in the Sultanate Hailed
  147. Technical Forum Features Student Projects
  148. FOSSC 2019 Oman Kicks off
  149. SQU Honours 520 Outstanding Students
  150. College of Engineering Receives IAESTE Award
  151. Conference to Highlight Issues Related to Population in the Sultanate
  152. 1st International Conference on Unnamed Vehicle Systems
  153. SQU Hosts IFMSA Regional Meet
  154. “Political Factor is the Top Element that Affects the Price of Oil”
  155. “UVS-Oman 2019” Concludes
  156. Webometrics: SQU Ranked 1353 Globally
  157. Study Chronicles Characteristics of Illicit Drug Users Seeking Detox
  158. SQU Organizes 3rd Media Family Forum
  159. SQU’s Organic Kale Sets an Example
  160. Research Centre Receives German Student Delegation
  161. Agriculture, Fisheries Development: SQU, FAO Sign LoU
  162. Empowering Students in the Foundation Programs
  163. 95 Students Attend Winter Program for School Students
  164. SQU Organizes Technology Camp for Kids
  165. Support for Global Learning
  166. SQU, UW–Eau Claire to Boost Ties
  167. SQU, University of South Australia to Promote Cooperation
  168. SQU Receives Houston-Clear Lake Delegation
  169. University Tower Hall Opened
  170. Independent Learning Centre Workshop Concludes
  171. SQU Tower Hall Launched
  172. Council Approves Name Change of Academic Departments
  173. SQU organizes football championship.
  174. SQU Staff Football Championship Concludes
  175. Green Climate Readiness Support: SQU, FAO Sign LoA
  176. National Bioethics Committee Meets
  177. SQU Honors Turkish Students
  178. SQU holds the 2nd Customer Services Forum
  179. Forum Highlights Digital Transformation of Customer Services
  180. CAMS Workshop Addresses Whitefly Management in Tomato
  181. SQU-Institute of Public Admn. Committee Meets
  182. Information Systems Computer Lab Launched at CEPS
  183. Researchers Present Progress of Internal Grant-Funded Projects
  184. SQU Mobile App Launched
  185. MSF Hosts Workshop on Seafloor Mapping Technique
  186. On-Campus Fuel Station, Shopping Mall Planned
  187. SQU Organizes 5th Alumni Day
  188. 5th Alumni Day Held
  189. Springboard Program: SQU Teams Bring Accolades
  190. SQU Celebrates World Arabic Language Day
  191. SQU Signs Letter of Intent with Salalah Methanol
  192. SQU Holds Training Program in Logistics and Supply Chain in Aviation Sector
  193. SQU, Omantel Joint Committee Meets
  194. Workshop for Internal Audit Panel Members Held
  195. Main Library Organizes (Awalem) Event
  196. CEPS Gets EQUIS Accreditation
  197. Best Sports College Award: New Initiative to Promote Sports
  198. Smoke Emissions from Shinas Copper Mine Due to Sulphide Combustion
  199. SQU, NFRCEC to Tie-up on Research
  200. SQU Hosts 2nd Blockchain Symposium
  201. SQU Hosts MEACR Annual Meet
  202. Dr. Ahmed Al Salman Elected as Fellow of TWAS
  203. Opportunities in Future Technologies
  204. SQU and the GULF 3 International Conference
  205. Need for More Mental Health Services for the Young
  206. Sustainability through Reuse Centre
  207. CAMS Hosts International Workshop on Innovative Marine Management
  208. SQU Celebrates World Soil Day; International Day of Persons with Disabilities
  209. SQU Marks International Day for Persons with Disabilities
  210. Start-ups Should Address Social Problems: Dr. Belgacem Haba
  211. SQU, RAP-Green Sign Cooperation Agreement
  212. SQU Hosts the 4th Science & Technology Exchange Program
  213. SQU organizes the 1st open day for Student exchange
  214. Public Speaking Contest: Student Teams Win Third Place
  215. SQU Academician Wins L’Oréal-UNESCO Fellowship
  216. Oman’s Trade Potential with IORA Member States
  217. University of Denver Explores Ties with SQU
  218. SQU, Charles University to Boost Ties
  219. “Your University Celebrates” 48th National Day
  220. SQU Celebrates 29th Graduation Ceremony of the Scientific Colleges
  221. Counselling Psychology Conference Kicks Off
  222. Workshop Discusses Outcomes of Mango, Lime Diseases Research
  223. 1303 Students from Scientific Colleges Graduate
  224. Medical and Nursing Graduates Take Oath
  225. Big turnout at “Walk for Your Health” Walkathon
  226. SQU organizes Japan’s open day
  227. Utilizing Drilling Waste in Cement Industry Ensures Sustainability
  228. SQU Celebrates Omani Women’s Day
  229. Growth in Demand for IP Right is a Good Indicator
  230. SQU Hosts Japan Day
  231. Prof. Sabah Bags Qatar Green Research Award
  232. SQU celebrates 29th graduation ceremony (humanities Colleges)
  233. CSD, RMO Holds Workshop on Operational Risk
  234. SQU Wins OER Power Brands 2018 Award
  235. SQU, IDO Holding Sign Research and Innovation Cooperation Program
  236. Conference Highlights Frankincense and Medicinal Plants Research
  237. 1651 Students Receive Their Degrees at Inspiring Graduation Ceremony
  238. Saudi University Explores Ties with SQU
  239. Humanities Students to Celebrate Graduation Today
  240. Daytime Sleepiness Common among Young Omani Drivers
  241. International Award for Dean of College of Education
  242. Omani-French Friendship Association Honors Dr. Kamla Al Busaidi
  243. SQU to Teach Students Values, Rights and Responsibilities as Citizens
  244. Lakehead University Delegation Visits SQU
  245. SQU to Host Middle East Cancer Research Association Meeting
  246. Educational Psychology Faculty Holds Research Forum
  247. Latest developments in research and postgraduate studies highlighted
  248. Spotlight on Oman’s Maritime Heritage
  249. Lakehead University Seeks Ties with SQU
  250. NBC Holds Panel Discussion on Ethics in Research and Publication
  251. SQU Hosts WIPO-Oman Summer School
  252. Muscat Finance Extends Support for Research and Innovation at SQU
  253. ACM-OCPC: SQU Teams Bag First and Third Prizes
  254. Climate Impacts on Water Resources
  255. SQU Organizes Oman Collegiate Programing Contest
  256. 29th Graduation Ceremony on 28 Oct, 11 Nov
  257. Student Group Marks World Food Day 2018
  258. Conference Highlights Trends in Innovative Mathematics Curriculum
  259. SQU This Week
  260. European IT Security Advisor Visits SQU
  261. Award for Excellence in Child Health Nursing
  262. Repeat Migration of bar-tailed godwits wintering at Barr Al Hikman
  263. Conference Stresses on Sport and Sustainable Development
  264. Outstanding Scientist Award for Nurse Educator
  265. Forum Highlights Student Counselling Services
  266. SQU This Week
  267. Forum Highlights Machine Learning in Remote Sensing
  268. New Book Explores Link between Food and Huntington’s disease
  269. Majors Fair 2018: Spotlight on 60 Academic Majors
  270. UNESCO-APCEIU Chief Visits SQU
  271. Oman Does Exceedingly Well in Student Exchange
  272. THE: SQU Enters World’s Top Universities’ List
  273. SQU This Week
  274. SQU Hosts Dinner in Honor of New Staff
  275. CEPS Gets One Step Closer to Accreditation
  276. SQU, NRAA Approve Private Records Management System
  277. Forum Highlights Remote Sensing Applications in Physical Oceanography
  278. SQU, Starcare Hospital Join Hands for Nursing Training, Research
  279. SQU, University of Nizwa Prepare for Conference on Frankincense
  280. SQU This Week
  281. SQU, Oman Munition Production Company Sign Cooperation Program
  282. The Sultanate, Represented by SQU, Joins UNESCO IGCP
  283. Bioethics Committee Discusses International Legislation on Paternity
  284. DPS Holds Orientation Day for New Postgraduate Students 
  285. Career Guidance: SQU, Ooredoo Sign Cooperation Program
  286. Nanotechnology Helps Extend Shelf Life of Local Vegetables
  287. A New Centre for Innovation & Technology Transfer
  288. Student Council Election: Nominations Open on 10 Sept
  289. SQU, ‘be’ah’ Join Hands to Set up Reuse Centre
  290. Experts Lead SQU Training Course on Sustainable Energy
  291. Conference on Frankincense and Medicinal Plants in October
  292. SQU This Week
  293. SQU and Petrofac sign Sponsorship Agreement
  294. Ways to Make Farming More Sustainable
  295. SQU Marks Renaissance Day
  296. Ways to Make Math Fun for Kids
  297. Prerequisites for Significant Learning
  298. Omani Studies Centre Team Visits Brunei
  299. Conference to Address Research Management
  300. Cooperation Program to Promote Date Palm Sector in Oman
  301. SQU, Orpic Sign LoA for Funding Engineering Design Lab
  302. Dead Zones of the Western Arabian Sea
  303. Conference to Address All Aspects of Unmanned Vehicle Systems
  304. SQU Gets Patent for New Antimicrobial Formula
  305. SQU Council Approves Center for Innovation & Technology Transfer
  306. SQU Signs Cooperation Agreement with Muscat Securities Market
  307. Information Systems Students ‘Capture’ the Cybersecurity Flag
  308. SQU This Week
  309. SQU, Al Buraimi Solar Energy Systems Sign Cooperation Program
  310. SQU, Oman Oil Marketing Company Sign Sponsorship Agreement
  311. “Anwaar Ramadhan” Exhibition Features Pics of the Past
  312. Association of Arab Universities Executive Council Meets at SQU
  313. CAMS Academic’s Book Deals with Food Microbial Analyses
  314. SQU This Week
  315. Forum on Future Media Discusses Media Sector Challenges
  316. SQU This Week
  317. SQU Hosts Pearl Initiative Award Ceremony
  318. Huge Enthusiasm for Blockchain Technology in Oman
  319. First Phase of Solar Parking Shades Opened
  320. MSF Students Visit Oman Aquarium Project
  321. Nursing Students Urge Evidence-based Maternity Care Practice
  322. Project Examines Population Structures of Spiny Lobster along Oman’s Coastline
  323. Workshop Sheds Light on “Integration of Technology into Nursing Education”
  324. New Patent for Invention based on “Therapeutic Composition for Treating Gangrene”
  325. SQU This Week
  326. HMTF Projects 2018 Announced
  327. 18th SQU Day Celebrated with Grandeur
  328. SQU Signs Research Cooperation Program with OAPGRC
  329. SQU Organizes First Aid Workshop for School Children
  330. New Assessment Unit Facility at CPS
  331. Statistics to become Independent Department at SQU
  332. Dr. Mona Al Said Receives Charles University’s Gold Medal
  333. SQU This Week
  334. ELT Conference Addresses Current Perspectives, Trends and Challenges
  335. Workshop Highlights Nutritional Antioxidants Therapy
  336. Academics Co-edit Volume on Cancer Prevention and Treatments
  337. Power Station and Transmission Lab Opened
  338. Conference Focuses on Law, Economic and Social Transformations
  339. SQU Marks Biomedical Laboratory Science Day
  340. SQU, RUDN University to Boost Ties
  341. Commercially Valuable Bioproducts from Waste Paper
  342. Forum Highlights Role of Information Specialists in Smart Society
  343. IS Department Holds Industry Advisory Board Meeting
  344. SQU This Week
  345. Jordanian NDC Delegation visits SQU
  346. The Earthquake Monitoring Center and Seismic Hazard Studies in the Sultanate
  347. Research Workshops and Training Held
  348. The Story of a Lighting Revolution
  349. Patent for “Method of Making an Ajwa Date-Based Treatment for Snake Envenomation”
  350. SQU Holds the First Students’ Conference for Scientific Research
  351. Engineering Students Projects on Display
  352. SQU Hosts National Conference on Civil & Architectural Engineering
  353. SQU, Ministry Mark World Water Day 2018
  354. Forum Deliberates Business Intelligence and Big Data Analysis
  355. SQU-Ministry of Higher Education Joint Committee Meets
  356. Forum Addresses Soil System as Foundation of Food Security
  357. Framework for Making Oman an Innovation Hub
  358. CETL Official Opening Held
  359. SQU, University of Nizwa to Enhance Ties
  360. SQU This Week
  361. SQU Receives Egyptian Minister of Higher Education
  362. SQU Team Wins Robot Championship
  363. Conference Discusses Risk Management Practices
  364. Institutional Accreditation
  365. SQU This Week
  366. SQU Launches its New Media Identity
  367. Neuroprotective Effects of Plant Extracts
  368. Technical Festival Features 20 ICT Projects
  369. ICT Accessibility: Oman Well-positioned to Continue Playing a Leading Role
  370. SQU Team Makes Breakthrough in Breast Cancer Research
  371. Sensor-activated Taps Most Effective for Saving Water
  372. Study Underscores the Need for Stronger School-University Partnerships
  373. Study Identifies Factors Impeding Entrepreneurial Growth in Oman
  374. OCMB Hosts Frontiers in Marine Biotechnology Conference
  375. SQU Council Approves Master’s Program in Psychological Counselling
  376. Nursing Conference Focuses on Technology and Innovation
  377. Microbial Fuel Cells: A Promising Energy Source
  378. Researcher Prepares Database of Aquatic Plants in Wadis
  379. Blended Learning Approach Can Tackle Transitional Academic Challenges
  380. Medical Research Centre to Focus on Themes Relevant to Oman

Bjorn Watson is the ex-Chief Engineer for Cementation International, the UK based engineering firm that carried out the construction of Sultan Qaboos University as a turnkey project in the early 1980s. In March 2019, Watson visited SQU, the most important project of his career, after 32 years. In this interview, Watson shares some of his unforgettable experiences related to his professional personal life during the construction of SQU from 1982 to 1986.

Could you share with us some of your unforgettable experiences related to your professional and your personal andsocial life during the construction phase of SQU? Could you say a few words about your then team at Cementation International?

I was appointed as head of the engineering design team in 1981 and worked with the architects YRM International on the design of the civil and structural design of the infrastructure and buildings of the university. In 1983, I was asked to take up the post of Chief Engineer on the construction in Oman. I left the project in 1986 when the infrastructure and the buildings of the university were largely complete.

It soon became clear that this was to be an extremely challenging project and my main memory of my time on site was one of unrelenting hard work. I was allocated one of the first staff houses to be completed. Sadly because of their schooling we decided that my family would remain in England and join me for the school holidays. My two daughters have wonderful memories of spending time in the staff club with its swimming pool. On Friday we would set off on expeditions to inland, to Nizwa and into the Jebel Aktar. Sometimes we would take a few days holiday to visit the turtles camping under the stars. There was an active social life in the club but most evenings I was too tired to do anything but fall into bed.

I had a team of expatriate engineers from the UK and from the sub-continent. At its height there were as many as 40 engineers with teams on each of the areas of the project such as the infrastructure, the faculties, the student residences and the staff housing. One of the first things we had to do was to construct temporary housing for the expatriate staff and a camp for the 1100 or so workforce. I have a vivid memory of constructing a kitchen where every lunchtime 4,000 chipatis would be prepared and transported by trailer to the workers on the site. The workers were mainly Baluchi but there were a number of craftsmen from Thailand. I remember they were so concerned about their skins burning in the blazing heat that they wore balaclava helmets!

How would you correlate your experiences during the construction stage and SQU’s present status (in terms of infrastructure and activities)?

When we were designing the infrastructure I employed a young Australian engineer with experience of working in desert environments. He persuaded me that despite the evident arid conditions the site would be subjected to very occasional major flooding events and that we would have to design accordingly. My first task was then to persuade the directors of Cementation International that a site in the middle of the desert would be subject to flooding and that they would have to pay for the cost of flood prevention. So we designed an extensive system of gabioned and rivetted drainage channels to prevent flooding in the built-up areas. In addition we designed a weir at the head of the valley with huge precast concrete blocks shaped to control the flow. The Cementation Directors were extremely sceptical about the value of building such a structure in the middle of what they saw as a barren desert but with the active support of Mike Slater, the director in charge all the flood prevention measures were installed and I was very pleased to see them in place when we returned this March. I understand that there has since been extensive flooding in the Muscat area and the university was the only place which remained accessible which testifies to the importance of our flood prevention system.

Could you reminisce any major challenges that the construction company and its engineering team face during SQU project construction? How did you overcome it?

The construction of the university project was let as a turnkey contract to the UK firm Cementation International. At the time it was the largest overseas contract given to a single UK contractor. When I arrived, the site was a barren desert and the axis of the academic centre had been chosen to align along a shallow valley towards Mecca. The contractor had agreed a very tight construction programme in order to open the university by 1986. We first had to create the accommodation and offices for the engineering staff and workers on the project – next came the roads, drainage and related infrastructure. The first buildings to be constructed were the staff houses and the staff club. The central academic area was designed in a modern Islamic style. The buildings were constructed in reinforced concrete with colonnaded walkways to provide shading. The design incorporated a strict discipline to facilitate modular construction which enabled the contractor to erect them with maximum speed and efficiency.

One of the major challenges was to produce and install concrete in extreme heat conditions. The standard specification for concrete in the UK says that concrete must not be poured in temperatures in excess of 33°C.  In the summer on site we had temperatures well in excess of 40°C and in some instances as high as 50°C. The challenge was to produce the concrete in the batching plant, deliver it to site and pour it into the formwork without premature hardening or loss of strength. We solved this difficulty with specially formulated mix of additives and ice in the delivery trucks. When concreting the deck was sprayed with a fine mist which reduced the temperature locally by several degrees and made the task for the concreting gang a lot more pleasant. The quality of the exposed concrete on the faculty buildings is testament to the success of our concreting operations and I was very pleased to see that 35 years later it has stood the test of time.

Another challenge that we faced turned up only when a large proportion of the staff housing and the student residences had been completed. Inexplicably we encountered cracking particularly in the walls of these buildings and when we investigated it turned out that there was a seam of montmorillonite clay crossing the site which had not been picked up in our initial site investigation. This is clay is highly expansive when wetted – so much so that it can lift walls by several centimetres. We immediately had to take measures to mitigate the effects of this expansion. We did this by carefully controlling the irrigation close to the buildings and where there were planting beds adjacent to the houses the soil was contained in a waterproof membrane.

You mentioned that SQU project is the most important project of your career. It implies that SQU has always been in your memories during the last 32 years. What was your first impression when you visited the university after more than three decades?

I am now a retired chartered civil engineer. It has always been my ambition to return to the most important project of my career and on 11th March 2019 we were able to realise that ambition.  We were greeted by Prof Hadj Bourdourcen, the Dean of the College of Engineering with other members of the faculty and final year students. We were also introduced to the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Prof Amer Ali Al-Rawas and we were privileged to meet His Excellency the Vice Chancellor of the University who presented me with a magnificent gilded plate to mark my visit and which will be one of my treasured possessions.

When I first visited Oman in 1982 there was very little development. The road past Seeb airport to Nizwa was almost deserted. When we drove along it this March it was extraordinary to see how it had developed – the road I remember was completely unrecognizable. The sight that greeted us however when we arrived at the university was familiar – the broad axis of the faculty buildings with their colonnaded walkways. The only difference to what I remembered was seeing the students both male and female going about their studies.

Do you think that the later stages of expansion of SQU infrastructure are in line with the original vision? Do you have any ideas or suggestions about future expansion of the University?

When I presented the infrastructure package to the first Vice Chancellor, Sheikh Amer, he had vision of what he wanted his university to be like. He quoted a poem by the English 19th Century poet, Rudyard Kipling, called The Glory of the Garden..:

OUR England is a garden that is full of stately views,

Of borders, beds and shrubberies and lawns and avenues,

With statues on the terraces and peacocks strutting by;

But the Glory of the Garden lies in more than meets the eye.

“That is what I want my university to be like”, he said! When I returned after more than 35 years I am pleased to say that the Sheikh’s vision has been truly realised and that my project has grown by more than six times its original size to become one of the most prestigious centres of learning in the Middle East.

My visit was so short and I only saw a small part of the university so it would be invidious of me to make any suggestions for the future expansion. I can only say that the expansion that has taken place has been carried out sensitively in the spirit of the original design and so long as this principle is adhered too then Sheikh Amer’s vision will be fulfilled.

Our time in Oman was the most memorable of my career – both from point of view the scale of the challenge and the nature of the technical demands that we encountered. As a family we look back at that time with great fondness- fondness for the stark beauty of the country and memories of our expeditions to places like Nizwa and Wadi Shams but also fondness for the wonderful, friendly people we met.

We look forward to returning and seeing in more detail the remarkable transformation that the university has achieved since I first walked the barren desert of the construction site.

 

Interviewed by: Santhosh Muthalath Kunhiveettil

This interview was originally published in Times of Oman on 11 May 2019.

 

 

 

 

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