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QU Holds ‘International Conference on Sabkha’ | Qatar University

QU Holds ‘International Conference on Sabkha’

جانب من عرض الأبحاث

The President of Qatar University (QU), Dr. Hassan Al-Derham, inaugurated the International Conference on Sabkha in Qatar held at QU, 16-18 January. Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF), ExxonMobil Qatar and Qatar Airways sponsored the conference.

The conference provides an overview on the importance of Sabkhas as a natural resource and the urgency of protecting and preserving them. The conference gathered international scholars from the US, Europe, Australia, South America, and the Middle East to share the current state of knowledge on the topic and provide a historical background about the pioneering research on the Sabkha sediments that started during the sixties of the last century when the first recent dolomite was discovered in the Sabkha of Qatar in 1961.

Different sessions of the conference are dedicated to the physical and chemical characteristics of the Sabkha ecosystem, and one session deals with its biological components, including the microbial mats. Microbial dolomite was addressed since dolomite is a very important reservoir in Qatar (the Khuff Formation), forming the main reservoir of the supergiant North gas field of Qatar. In addition, sessions on other bio-minerals, such as clay minerals, and the use of the biological components in soil remediation and archaeological site preservation are held.

The conference concluded with a round table discussion by researchers and key decision-making representatives, discussing the future of Sabkha research and ways to develop the interdisciplinary nature of such research considering the importance of Qatar’s Sabkha as the only remaining well-preserved site in the world.

Prof Mariam Al-Ali Al-Maadeed, Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies at QU, praised the devoted efforts towards organizing the conference that combines the expertise of international scholars on Sabkhas and encourages interdisciplinary research on this matter. Prof. Al-Maadeed added: “The organization of this conference reflects the commitment of Qatar University to study and protect the natural heritage of the country through innovative scientific research.”

Jagir Baxi, Vice President and Ventures Manager for ExxonMobil Qatar said, “I would like to thank Qatar University and its Environmental Science Center for putting together this important conference of which ExxonMobil Qatar is a proud sponsor. I am confident that it will provide opportunities to enhance the exchange of knowledge and new discoveries in the field of Geosciences and related fields.”

“As an active partner and member of the local community, we want to help increase the resilience of coastal ecosystems, including preservation of Qatar’s beautiful sabkhas for generations to come. ExxonMobil Qatar is committed to work with the State of Qatar to find solutions and help ensure that the Qatar National Vision 2030 becomes a reality,” he added.

Prof. Hamad Al-Saad Al-Kuwari, Director of the Environmental Science Center at QU said: “Sabkhas are unique depositional ecosystems that are developing under arid climatic conditions. The best recent Sabkhas are found around the Arabian Gulf and the best-preserved ones are in Qatar.”

He added: “The aim of this conference is to bring under one roof scholars of different disciplines to present their research in this new line of research and find new ways of collaboration that can benefit them all.” Prof. Al-Kuwari acknowledged the different institutions that supported in organizing the conference, especially the three main sponsors QNRF, ExxonMobil Qatar, and Qatar Airways.