Nizwa, Sept 22 - Oxford University and University of Nizwa (UoN) research student exchange, which has taken place during the last four weeks at the Natural and Medical Sciences Research Centre (NMSRC) on the UoN’s Birkat Al Mouz campus concluded. Scientific Collaboration Officer, Ahmed Nasser al Rawahi, said, “This has been an amazing opportunity for us, to respond to an idea, an initiative, created by Dr Ahmed al Harrasi, the director of the Research Centre, in which we were able to invite applicants from the institution at the pinnacle of global higher education, that probably has more tradition, gravitas and achievement in its alumni than any other in the world’’.
BA student Karen Yan, MA students Sungmin Cho, Daniel Farooq, Solomon White, Zoe Heighes, and PhD student Leila Hill took part in the programme. “The research engaged in on-campus at Birkat Al Mouz was first and foremost,” said Al Rawahi, “specific to their own specific research requirements, and the task for the selection panel was to ensure that both Oxford and University of nizwa would also benefit institutionally’’.
Himself a molecular biologist, Al Rawahi admitted that “on every scientific level, academically and professionally, we are exceeding our initial expectations, and the intention is that the next exchange will feature our own research students reciprocating, by travelling to Oxford’’.He continued, “Dr Al Harrasi is always insistent that we need outside influences, more especially from other cultures and societies, to engage with our research, as they have a different way of looking at what challenges us within the research units, especially in the field of medical science which is this centre’s priority’’.
University of Nizwa Liaison Officer, Dr Mila Gabruck was determined that the visitors should “enjoy a wide cultural experience, truly reflective of Oman’’. She explained that they had arrived with a ‘blank canvas’ perspective, unsure of what they would encounter here, but that “they genuinely embraced Arabic language classes, workshops on the Sultanate’s history, religious tolerance, handcrafts, food, traditions and customs, Omani fashions and national dress, and tourism’’. A field trip to Jabal Akhdhar was a highlight. Solomon White said; “The peace and serenity up on the mountain was a genuine reflective experience, the walks amazing, and the diversity of plant life, absolutely stunning”.
For compatriot Zoe Heighes though, “Nothing could beat the camel racing. “It was madness... I’ve never seen camels outside the movies, and to see them running like that, with those little robots on top, and the trucks alongside, horns blaring, all dust and noise. I will never forget it”.
Andrew Hamilton, a former Vice-Chancellor of Oxford, insisted that, “By the time our students reach their graduation they are able to debate on level footing with their academic masters. That is what Oxford is all about’’. It could too, become what University of Nizwa is ‘all about’.