Young Omanis as digital curators

Reimagining heritage sites across Oman through a programme of immersive storytelling

Oman’s 2040 Vision provided the backdrop to this project. Oman’s National Priorities include a focus on education and in particular Inclusive Education, Life-long Learning, and Scientific Research; as well as recognising the importance of celebrating the Omani identity and drawing inspiration from the history and heritage of Oman.

 At the same time there is a wish to keep abreast of sustainable development, future skill sets, and of  diversifying educational tracks.

 One of the 2040 National Priorities of supporting Inclusive Education, Life-long Learning, and Scientific Research.

 The aim of this project is to do that a mix of involving young people as digital curators, not only giving them skills for heritage research and interpretation, but also training in new digital techniques and soft skills to enhance their employability or open up opportunities for them as entrepreneurs.

The richness of Oman’s past has:

  • contributed to building of modern Oman
  • influenced civilisations across the Indian Ocean
  • underpinned a vibrant tourist industry
  • Created an opportunity to create jobs and grow revenue by promoting tourism in Oman.

Innovations using digital technology enable us to share the heritage experience never before possible.

4Dheritage teamed with the Cultural Heritage Institute at the Royal Agricultural University, the Centre for International Learning and Leadership and GUTech in Oman to completed a course on  ‘iimmersive storytelling for young digital curators in Oman’ involving virtual instructions, practical sessions at GUTech and involvement in a series of international webinars involving thought leaders and innovators in the field of heritage, conservation and ediucation.

This has been achieved with the backdrop of the  Coronavirus crisis. This has put many initiatives that relied on travel on hold, but the blended approach and use of online learning has overcome many of the perceived challenges. At the same time it has created opportunities for innovation and much greater readiness for people to work in a virtual format.

We need to build back better following this crisis. What might that look like?

  • Virtual, augmented and extended reality are transforming the media sector.
  • Traditional media businesses need a new generation to help them explore the opportunities created by immersive technologies and the new audiences and markets they will create.

These technologies could be critical in rebooting the tourism industry and well as sustainable heritage development.

Despite the challenge of the Coronavirus restrictions, the programme achieved its aims.

  • More than 100 students applied for places on the course
  • 7 students were trained
  • 3 sites were mapped and immersive experiences created
  • 6 webinars were run providing insights for heritage and tech innovators from around the world, involving more that 100 participants from over 12 countries.

 

The aims of this project

We expect the long term outcome to promote Anglo Omani friendship and engage a new generation involved with the conservation and promotion of both Oman’s natural and built heritage.

Aim 1- Build new Anglo-Omani partnerships
  • Build new Anglo-Omani partnerships in a programme to support the 2040 Omani Vision
    1. This has involved academic collaborations in both the UK and Oman
    2. It has also involved organisations with a particular focus on innovation and entrepreneurship as well as heritage
Aim 2 - Give Omani students exposure to some of the digital technology
  • To give Omani students exposure to some of the digital technology that are reshaping the world and give some technical training in these tools
    1. Use a mix of online training and practical sessions introducing 360 imaging cameras at GUTech
    2. engaging them in international webinars with innovators and respected leaders in this field from across the region and round the world
Aim 3 - Create virtual reality exhibits to engage, inspire and inform which can be used locally, nationally and internationally
  • To create virtual reality exhibits to engage, inspire and inform which can be used locally, nationally and internationally to promote heritage tourism in Oman.
    1. Guide and mentor the students as they explore local heritage sites and stories identified and developed with the faculty of GUTech in Oman
Aim 4 - Provide an opportunity for participants to share their heritage and research on an international stage.
  • Provide an opportunity for participants to share their heritage and research on an international stage.

Give them the opportunity to take part in the international webinars, asking questions and even moderating

Aim 5 - Improve employability through digital, project management and entrepreneur skills
  • Improve employability through digital, project management and entrepreneur skills 

    1. Highlight the value of technical knowledge and soft skills in employability
    2. Introduce international heritage and media entrepreneurs as potential role models
    3. Share examples of the applicability of this technology to other sectors that are strategic to the Omani plan

Information about the partners

Here are the partners involved in this project

Centre for International Learning and Leadership

The Centre for International Learning and Leadership (CILL) aims to:

  • Promote the importance and added value of international experience in education, employment and the transition between the two.
  • Provide courses, study visits and internships that develop international, transferable knowledge and skills.
  • Assist other organisations to build capacity and partnerships for international cooperation.

CILL is an association of professionals from many different backgrounds and with complementary knowledge and expertise, who share a belief that “internationality” is the key to success in the modern world – whether for individuals, organisations or whole communities. 

Our experts themselves have many years’ experience in the international field, spanning 5 continents, working across the public, private and third sectors, and covering different aspects of education and training.

CILL’s Heritage Futures Programme

CILL seeks to reimagine heritage education by putting young people at the centre of the process, so heritage becomes a resource for youth development: the means rather than the end, facing firmly towards the future. For heritage organisations, it’s the smart thing to do, because the young people they help today will become their employees, leaders and supporters tomorrow.

What excites young people to begin with may not be heritage itself but the process of digital innovation and the chance to learn 21st century skills. But through this they come to appreciate their heritage as a source of identity, community, employment and self-worth. and build a sense of ownership. Ultimately this gives young people a meaningful role in heritage conservation, communication and education, facing both inwards towards the heritage sites and surrounding communities (acting as curators), and outwards (as communicators) towards schools, young people, tourists and others at home and around the world.

There are also opportunities to develop entrepreneurial skills among young people so that they can identify economic opportunities from their engagement with heritage sites, e.g. as virtual or real world guides, employees of conservation organisations, or other. Finding a career you enjoy and care about is something all young people and parents should aim for.

As they come to see their identity and prosperity being linked to heritage conservation, so young people will be able to play a more central and valued role within the local communities that surround particular sites. Communicating across generations, they will be a positive force for community cohesion.

By running similar activities in a variety of countries and cultures, we can also give young people the chance to see what they are doing as part of a bigger picture, with opportunities arising for additional learning and positive networking with their peers. Projects of this kind have great potential for intercultural cooperation because understanding what has made us different in the past is the means of making positive connections between us now and in future.

With this kind of project we can address the major issues affecting young people in the post-Corona world: unemployment, isolation, mental illness and the lack of a sense of purpose. These problems unite young people across all cultures: and so can the use of heritage and digital skills as a solution.

Our focus is the process more than the outputs. We adhere to the four key principles of youth work: Education, Participation, Equal opportunity (inclusion) and Empowerment.

The German University of Technology in Oman

The German University of Technology in Oman is a private university in Halban, Oman. It was established in 2007 in Muscat in collaboration with RWTH Aachen University in Germany, one of the leading and top-ranked universities of technology in Europe. GUtech is one of the leading universities in the region, having achieved internationally-recognised standards in education, research and innovation.

4DHeritage

LSN’s 4DHeritage Initiative builds on five years of mapping, modelling and monitoring endangered heritage sites in some of the world’s most remote places, and running training courses for heritage professionals and students. 4DHeritage uses drone based aerial photogrammetry and immersive imaging tools to create virtual models that can be used to create new avenues for international collaborative research, community outreach, education and advocacy with the potential to transform heritage stewardship.

The Cultural Heritage Institute

The CHI was established in 2018 by Prof Mark Horton to provide a new focus for international heritage training and research, in conjunction with the Royal Agricultural University, and will provide expertise and knowledge of cultural heritage management.

Astrolabe

The Astrolabe communications company has been providing advice to the group on Omani partners and project communications.

Meet the creative teams

These are the three teams that worked on this project

Team Bahla Fort

Team Bahla

Team Muscat

Tasneem Alkamyani

Belqees AlHinaai

Hawaraa Al Aufi

Maisam Al Busaidi 

Nawar Al Shakaili

Omar Al Harthy

Safa Al Khayali

Maya Al Barwani

See The Virtual Tours

Click below on the virtual tours to explore the students work…

The training team behind this project

Find out more from the team behind these great project

The training programme behind this project (click + for details)

The training programme has included a practical introduction to storytelling, 360 image capture and immersive reality authoring for young Omanis selected by GUtech and Astrolabe.

 

The practical training sessions have been complemented by open access webinars to connect these students with thought leaders from around the world in the field of heritage conservation, advocacy and education.

 

They have also included webinars to explore the transferability of the technical skills to other fields such as tourism, real estate and occupational training.

These webinars have been part of a series that has reached hundreds of people in over 20 countries around the world, and have been supported by a series of blogs:

Topics covered and questions raised have included:

Heritage, education and entrepreneurship https://www.4dheritage.com/post/eight-tips-from-an-edtech-entrepreneur 

Is heritage stewardship a humanitarian issue? https://www.4dheritage.com/post/ahumanitarianperspective 

Digital Heritage in a coronavirus endemic world https://www.4dheritage.com/post/innovation-education-and-heritage-stewardship-in-a-time-of-coronavirus 

Engaging Young people and ensuring conservation projects have a lasting impact across the generations https://www.4dheritage.com/post/how-to-ensure-conservation-projects-have-a-lasting-impact-three-transformational-ideas 

Bringing the past to the present – being a Heritage entrepreneur and guide https://www.4dheritage.com/post/bringing-the-past-to-the-present-a-magical-conversation-with-matt-pike-of-timezone-productions 

Empathy and stories without borders – connecting with the world

A celebration of earthen architecture https://www.4dheritage.com/post/a-celebration-of-earthen-architecture 

Conversations with young heritage champions https://www.4dheritage.com/post/growing-up-in-the-siwa-oasis-nicholas-mellor-in-conversation-with-youssef-mekeal 

https://www.4dheritage.com/post/a-conversation-with-omar-el-mekati-about-siwa-hassan-fathy-and-the-al-ula-oasis-in-saudi-arabia 

Oases: Crucibles of prosperity and portals into the past https://www.4dheritage.com/post/oases-crucibles-of-prosperity-and-portals-into-the-past 

Learning from the past to sustain our future https://www.4dheritage.com/post/learning-from-the-past-to-sustain-our-future 

The vital need to conserve both the built and natural heritage  https://www.4dheritage.com/post/the-future-of-built-and-the-natural-heritage-are-intertwined 

How and why is it useful to document structures and places in 3D? https://www.4dheritage.com/post/how-and-why-it-is-useful-to-document-structures-and-spaces-in-3d 

3D Modelling for heritage – virtual, physical or a combination of the two? https://www.4dheritage.com/post/why-print-a-digital-model 

Stakeholders and finding news ways of engaging with them

https://www.4dheritage.com/post/heritage-its-stakeholders-and-engaging-with-them 

Ten reasons for investing in cultural heritage even when times are hard https://www.4dheritage.com/post/ten-reasons-for-investing-in-cultural-heritage-even-when-times-are-tough 

Immersive storytelling – five tips for building a career in the field https://www.4dheritage.com/post/five-tips-for-starting-out-in-a-career-in-immersive-storytelling 

Re-imagining the Keats-Shelley House experience in a digital age https://www.4dheritage.com/post/re-imagining-the-keats-shelley-house-experience-in-a-digital-age 

Heritage and the great digital migration https://www.4dheritage.com/post/heritage-and-the-great-digital-migration

Find out more from the team behind these great project

Malak ElKhadem

Malak El-Khadem is a specialist in heritage conservation, communications, and education; and has worked both with businesses and in the non-for-profit sector as a volunteer. She has worked on digital heritage and training programmes across the region, including Egypt, Oman and Morocco, and is currently an advisor to 4DHeritage and a country representative for CILL.

She has a particular interest in how heritage and the stories it represents is captured and shared across generations, with local communities and internationally, particularly using new approaches such as immersive storytelling. She is a graduate of the American University in Cairo.

Alex Cameron

Hi I’m Alex and I am the Executive Assistant at CILL, I am interested in people and how connecting and learning from them can shape our lives. I currently enjoy studying Korean, a bit of amateur photography.

Heba Aziz

Prof Heba Aziz is Dean of the German University of Technology in Oman and Head of the Department of Logistics, Tourism and Service Management. She is also a Culture Tourism Advisor to the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities.

Nicholas Mellor

Nicholas Mellor is the director of 4DHeritage, an initiative of LSN Ltd., pioneering the use of agile, immersive approaches to enable communities to map, model and monitor their sites. This recognizes that the documentation and monitoring of such sites may be important to our understanding of complex ecosystems well as the identity and livelihoods of the communities that share them. Through this process we aim to open up new avenues of research and means of community outreach, education and advocacy. Projects have been undertaken in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. In seeking to re-imagine the heritage experience in ways that will mobilise communities and engage a new generation. In the longer term we hope to transform heritage stewardship, and the monitoring of the environment by communities. He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

Andrew Hadley

Andrew Hadley is co-Founder and Director of CILL. He studied Classics at Oxford University, graduating in 1983. After spending two years in Turkey as an English teacher, he joined the British Council, and worked for 20 years in a variety of management and policy roles in different parts of the world, including Ethiopia, China, Greece and the Republic of Macedonia, where he initiated several ground-breaking regional education projects, for which he was awarded the MBE. On return to the UK, he co-founded Momentum World, an education and training organisation which develops young people’s leadership and employability through international projects. Andrew retains a firm belief in the importance of intercultural learning, and a passion for music, travel and languages (he speaks French, Greek, Turkish, Chinese and Macedonian). He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. He is married with 3 children, and lives in London and Cornwall.

Paul Oxborough

Paul is the Creative Director of Momenum World and since the age of 17 has worked as a trained Youth & Community worker, professionally qualifying in 1992. Since then Paul has used innovation and technology to push the boundaries in his youth work in order to make projects educational, empowering and inclusive. Paul setup a successful film training company in 2000 and is a founding Director of Momentum World.  Paul’s work has allowed him to travel the world and meet some inspirational characters along the way. Paul is married with two teenage girls and  enjoys reading, motorbikes, running and new gadgets.

Our Sponsors

Our sponsors include:

The Anglo Omani Society (click + for details)

The Anglo-Omani Society seeks to support programmes which benefit the two countries, and in particular:

  • Advance the education of the British public by the promotion of learning and a wider knowledge about Oman; its people, history, geography, economy, literature, art, music, antiquities, languages, cultures, religions, beliefs, customs, industry and commerce by arranging lectures, seminars and meetings, which may be open to the public.
  • Advance the education of Omani nationals by the promotion of learning and a wider knowledge about the United Kingdom; its people, history, geography, economy, literature, art, music, heritage, the English language, cultures, religions, beliefs, customs, industry and commerce by arranging lectures, seminars and meetings, which may be open to the public; and by assisting individuals and organisations by providing bursaries, awards, scholarships, training, apprenticeships and financial and logistical support

 

GU Tech

The German University of Technology in Oman is a private university in Halban, Oman. It was established in 2007 in Muscat in collaboration with RWTH Aachen University in Germany, one of the leading and top-ranked universities of technology in Europe. GUtech is one of the leading universities in the region, having achieved internationally recognised standards in education, research, and innovation.

STID

Sustainable Technologies & Innovation Development Company (STID) is an Endowment and Philanthropic company, aiming to identify opportunities and in the innovation underpinning of the Sultanate. 

STID creates and delivers programmes and projects to strengthen the talent base of young Omanis, create new businesses and business opportunities. By driving new, disruptive technologies the Company and Sultanate will benefit and grow with these changes, creating new jobs and wealth.

Videos

Here is what some of the participants and team thought about the project

Get Involved!

Contact CILL

Telephone

+44 (0) 20 7062 8926

Address

Centre for International Learning and Leadership

52 Grosvenor Gardens,

London

SW1W 0AU