GUtech aims to become Oman hub for drone R&D

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 Ahead of next week’s much-anticipated business forum on drones, the organisers GUtech (The German University of Technology in Oman) have outlined their ambitions to evolve into a national, and potentially regional, hub for drone research and development (R&D).
The daylong ‘WeDrone in Oman’ forum will be held at GUtech’s Halban campus on February 27, 2019, under the auspices of Dr Ahmed bin Mohammed al Futaisi, Minister of Transport and Communications. The event is backed by, among others, the Public Authority for Civil Aviation (PACA), Petroleum Development Oman (PDO), and Brave Hawks LLC, a local Omani firm offering drone hardware and expertise across a number of areas.
According to a faculty member who has played a key role in putting together the Business Forum, next week’s event will further reinforce GUtech’s pioneering role in driving the development of a drone industry in the Sultanate.
“GUtech was the first institution in Oman to address the increasingly important topic of drones. This was during the first edition of the ‘WeDrone’ event on April 24, 2018. Indeed, during that event, we invited experts from several organisations and industries (including PACA, Civil Defence, Royal Oman Police, PDO, and so on, and discussed local drone regulations as well as the current uses and challenges of drones,” said Dr Nafaa Jabeur, Director of Research at GUTech.
“Based on the outcomes and the recommendations of the event, GUtech decided to investigate options for collaboration with research institutions as well as with the business sector. The main motivation is to transfer knowledge about drone technologies to the Omani context and build local competencies that will be ready to support the expected rapid growth of drone applications on the local market.”
In comments to the Observer, Dr Jabeur said GUtech is positioning itself to serve as a hub for drones in Oman and the wider region, particularly with a focus on Research & Development. To this end, the University signed in 2017 an agreement with Spanish-based Drone Valley International to help connect with the drone community internationally. Dr Jabeur also represented GUtech at a number of international forums on drone technology and mobility solutions held in key capitals around the world.
“We also had discussions with local firm Brave Hawks LLC, and international partners Hasselt University and Dronematrix from Belgium, on the creation of a comprehensive drone solution. A related MoU is expected to be signed during the WeDrone event next week,” he noted.
On the Halban campus, students are being encouraged to assemble and test home-made drone solutions, according to the research. “Several electronic components have been purchase and made available for the creation of a small-scale home-made drone. This drone will be further extended in scale and capabilities. GUtech has also applied for permission to get part of its campus as a free-flying drone area. In addition, some visiting professors (also called fly-ins) are coming from Hasselt University and are closely collaborating with the local faculty to set up drone related projects that would attract local and European funds.”
Supported by PACA, WeDrone in Oman is also backed by local firm Statistics Consulting as well as Transportation Research Institute, IMOB (Hasselt University) and the Belgian company TechnoShift.
“Attendees will have the opportunity to know more about local regulations, learn about the use of drones in Oman, hear the opinions of experts, network with other people with similar/complementary interests, and see drones in action. I am confident that there will be good business and collaboration opportunities. I look forward to seeing drones accepted as an economic force that will generate a lot of in-country value, rather than a toy or a threat,” Dr Jabeur added.

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