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Kuwait University students visit Oman to uncover sultanate’s infinite mysteries – The enchanting mountains of Oman

Student Eisa Al-Musaileekh (left) with other students.
Student Eisa Al-Musaileekh (left) with other students.

The first thing you notice is the air – fresh, clean and pure. The air, earth and rain all combine to create a sense of serenity and calm. The land entirely, as a matter of fact, is captivating with the charm of divine miracles and diverse colors that are mixed between mountains, green rainforests and dry deserts. The powerful sound of high Indian Ocean waves never rest – the more they hit in the rocks, the more they resound greatness.

Oman is where the order of mountain layers tells the globe what happened more than four billion years ago when Earth was formed. For 17 years, undergraduate students from the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the Faculty of Science at Kuwait University have been visiting the sultanate to uncover the infinite mysteries of Oman. “There are significant symbols of the Stone and Ice ages, and sporadic places with ophiolite, which is oceanic crust emplaced onto the continental crust, visible to the naked eye,” explained Dr Arafat Al-Shuaibi, Instructor of Field Geology and the Ambassador of the Asian Council of Science Editors (ACSE).

“The oceanic crust is hard to reach because it is heavier than the continental crust. When such a collision occurs normally, it goes downward because of the component of metals, such as iron and magnesium. Ophiolite is rare and is found in three locations around the world. Oman is one of them. Therefore, it is an excellent opportunity for scholars and scientists to study the oceanic crust that is located habitually seven kilometers below the sea level. It is the paradise of geology,” enthused Shuaibi.

More reasons
Geological diversity can be found in many parts of the world. So perhaps there are other reasons besides the close distance between Oman and Kuwait that has encouraged the continuity of these field trips. “Every year during the summer, senior students, after passing all academic requirements, become qualified for field work. They come here to identify rock types, minerals and structures,” explained Soad Qabazard, a Teaching Assistant. “There are some political reasons that prevent us from visiting other places in Arab lands. Thanks to Dr Abdullah Al-Zamil, who was the first to suggest Oman for field studies. Uniquely, the Omani people are generously friendly and peaceful, and they have warmly been welcoming us for 17 years,” she added.

It is important to mention that field trips in Kuwait are often organized for undergraduate geology students as the final step before entering the job market, to face tougher challenges and gather experiences along with educational attainment. “It’s the first time I am traveling solo with other classmates and professors. I came here to study the mountain rocks of Muscat and Salalah, applying all what I’ve learned over the years. But what I found was beyond that,” said Eisa Al-Musaileekh, a student.

Daily routine
Another student, Salim Al-Hajri, explained their daily routine, from the time they get up at 6:00 am until they return back from the field by sunset. “We have breakfast at 7:00 am and must leave the hotel at 8:00 am sharp. The exploratory rounds are predefined by the course instructor. We call them ‘stops’. Every stop has a number and a particular description. Some of them are nearby and others take about an hour to reach. We use hammers for sampling and compasses. We also collect information by drawing maps, taking photos and recording GPS readings,” he said.

“Every evening at 8:00 pm, we sit together with our instructors to present our findings, discuss them and complete the work we started in the morning. Students get used to self-discipline, respect for time, teamwork and leadership. The trip teaches us how to be patient and polish our personalities. Many students have changed after these trips,” added Qabazard.

“The nature of field work is harsh. There is a positive impact on students when you incorporate fun with learning. I want to turn their field of study into a hobby by incorporating thrill and suspense,” Dr Shuaibi said. “The Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences tries to attract outstanding scholars from the beginning and encourages them to get master’s degrees and PhDs. Not all students end up as professors. Most students want to find a good job. We function as a human resource provider for the oil sector in Kuwait. In fact, we provide nearly 40 to 50 graduates per year, ready to work in the petroleum sector,” he added.

“Since I was in high school, I have been dreaming of working in the Kuwait Oil Company,” said Fahd Al-Ajmi. Fahd was among the pupils who believed that the trip to Oman added a lot to their personal experiences. “Although the trip was fun, it felt like a military drill. It truly taught me discipline and commitment. The field geology course made me see things differently. Whenever I observe rocks and mountains, I sense that they are talking to me, telling me the long story of Earth, which is reflected deeply in the way of my understanding other aspects of life,” he said philosophically.

By Athoob Al-Shuaibi

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