Tuesday, 7 July 2015

MENA Scorpion Economies (Part-II)
A Sting in the Tale!

Looking wider, some of the world’s most familiar engineering archetypes orientated from the Middle East in the early stages the Persian civilization. Air Conditioning that circulates cool air through buildings without any input of energy were incorporated in dwellings and souks as early as 3000 B.C. The irrigating Persian Wheel, a partly submerged vertical geared wheel with containers attached filled and emptied into a trough that carried water to crop fields. The original Postal System appeared in the 6th Century BC Persian Empire. Parts of the postal system in fact outlived the Persian Empire, continuing to operate in Egypt, where it was seen and copied by Augustus, the first Emperor of Rome.

Ever wondered who thought up the idea of the Road? One of the first planned roads was the Persian Royal Road, built by Darius I, in 500 B.C in what is now Iran. The Royal Road was about 2,400-km long and stretched throughout ancient Persia. The road was constructed for royal use, enabling Darius to keep up to date, communicate orders, and to move goods needed by the royal court.

And perhaps we are seeing a return to this tradition of technological innovation in the region. For example, Terrain University is developing Surena, a humanoid robot. Recent tests compared the performance of four similar world class robots: Asimo (Japan), Reem-B (Spain), Justin (German), Charli (US) including Surena (Iran). The tests – carried out by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) - placed Surena in comparison the top 5 humanoid robot performance.

This has been taken a lot of effort, with over 10,000 man-hours have been spent on the state-of-the-art robot. Surena-II, which weighs in at 45kg with a height of 1.45-meters, has a human like stride, and is equipped with sensors such as a gyroscope and accelerometers providing steady motion. The next generation - Surena-III - will walk faster, recognize faces, objects, words and even sentences with intelligent responses.

In aerospace, things are making headway. Thirty years ago during the Islamic Revolution in Iran, the Air Force had only one combat unit. Today, Iran has moved ahead of such confines to make defensive military weapons; working on advanced radars with a range of more than 1,000 kilometers. Iran's capability in building aircrafts such as the Mirage and Simorgh, has lead to the design and the development of a new kind of jetfighter that cannot be detected by radar.

This fifth generation of undetectable military airplanes is to be manufactured in Iran in the near future. A third generation of defensive jetfighters dubbed the Sa'eqah has enhanced weapons capabilities in terms of the radar systems and ammunition. This growing aerospace expertise is emphasising the need to reach self-sufficiency in this respect. In the field of production of jetfighters Iran has made tremendous progress despite foreign pressures.

Heading south across Oman Gulf from Iran to the Island of Bahrain, is an ambitious project known as the Selman Industrial City designed to provide facilities for industrial development. It neighbours the Khalifa Bin Salman Port, the Bahrain International Airport and King Fahd Causeway which leads direct to Saudi Arabia, ideally placed for international companies seeking to set up industrial operations to service the multi-trillion dollar Gulf market. It is an outstanding location for auto manufacturing due to the availability of raw materials such as
Aluminium, low cost of energy and the availability of a skilled workforce.

The industrial sector plays a major role in the Bahrain economy, contributing approximately 16 percent of GDP (6 percent greater, in relative terms, than the UK’s manufacturing base in fact). One of Bahrain’s strengths is that it leads the Middle Eastern automotive sector. The Kingdom has extensive expertise, particularly in motor sport, high performance car manufacture and aluminium component fabrication.

One notable program is Tanmiyat Aloula Holdings who are setting up a solar power plant in Bahrain. The $200 million project will be run in collaboration with Bahrain University and the Bahrain Economic Development Board.

Then there is the prototype Nanotechnology Centre, supplying hands-on products used in multiple market sectors such as motor transport, medicine and construction. The centre aims to create a technological hub for scientific and engineering breakthrough in the region with significant emphasis on molecular nanotechnology. And it seems ironic that Silicone is one of the key materials in nanotechnology production!

In addition, construction has begun on a multimillion dollar investment on an industrial municipality off the coast of Hidd. A 600,000-sq-metre investment Gateway for Bahrain accommodating several industrial programs, business parks, storehouses, showrooms and advanced clean room assembly units. International manufacturing companies such as Kraft, Nestle and Coca Cola are all ready on the ground alongside MTQ Corporation who make apparatus for oil and gas industries, Abahsain Fibreglass, and home producers Awal and Ahmadi.

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