Saudi university team wins international award for pioneering marine technology

Bluefin fish tagging technology was developed at KAUST’s MMH Labs. (Supplied)
Short Url
Updated 18 January 2020

Saudi university team wins international award for pioneering marine technology

  • Bluefin will be available this year for scuba divers, naval forces, and fisheries interested in marine life tagging for ecological data

JEDDAH: A pioneering marine data-gathering device developed at a Saudi university has scooped a prestigious international technology award.

Bluefin, produced at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), won the Tech for a Better World category at the 2020 CES Innovation Awards staged in Las Vegas.

KAUST professor of electrical engineering, Muhammad Mustafa Hussain, helped his university MMH Labs team to develop the fish tagging technology that can measure water temperature, pressure, depth, and pH levels in parts of the ocean where humans cannot reach.

Weighing just 2.4 grams, the standalone electronic sensory system can be attached to the shells or skin of a marine creatures to continuously transmit ecological data from depths of up to 2 km for a whole year.

“The sensors monitor the environment, save the data in an integrated memory, and when the tag is brought to the surface it can wirelessly transmit the data to nearby smartphones, tablets, or computers,” Hussain told Arab News. “I realized we could help marine species by developing comfortable and convenient wearables for them.”

Compared to similar gadgets used for monitoring ocean environments, Bluefin is completely noninvasive and biocompatible.

Hussain said: “This is the first-ever technology which is fully flexible and uses silicon. We have developed technologies that can transform physically nonflexible electronics into fully flexible electronics. This makes it unique.”

Bluefin will be available this year for scuba divers, naval forces, and fisheries interested in marine life tagging for ecological data.

The CES Innovation Awards program is an annual competition honoring outstanding design and engineering in consumer technology products. Winning entries are selected on the basis of their engineering, aesthetics and design, uniqueness, and the innovation they bring to the consumer market.

The awards are open to any individual, organization, or authorized agent manufacturing, designing, engineering, or promoting consumer technology.

“CES Innovation Award is equivalent to the Nobel Prize in consumer electronics technology and it was a pleasant surprise for us to be honored as the only academic research lab, and along with major industries.

“A heavily resourced university like KAUST needs to be globally competitive and to be recognized in serious top competitions involving science and engineering,” added Hussain.

Based at KAUST in Thuwal, MMH Labs is the only academic research group in the world that has paved the way for manufacturable hydrogenous integration strategy for high-performance flexible and stretchable electronics.


Saudi village is a treasure hidden above the clouds

Located 25 km from Abha city, the region has become a top tourist destination due to its rich heritage, history, culture and all-year-round good weather. (Reuters)
Updated 03 August 2020

Saudi village is a treasure hidden above the clouds

  • Al-Souda overlooks the Tihama mountains with their stunning valleys and quaint villages dotted along the plains and slopes with terraces hanging from the steep cliffs

ABHA: Saudi Arabia’s southern Al-Souda mountains harbor one of the Kingdom’s most prized hidden treasures.
At 3,000 meters above sea level, a hidden village above the clouds gives spectacular views on the world below. The village of Al-Souda offers panoramic 360-degree views of the surrounding paradise on Earth consisting of mountains covered in sheets of greenery, dense forests, peaks and valleys.
Located 25 km from Abha city, the region has become a top tourist destination due to its rich heritage, history, culture and all-year-round good weather.
Al-Souda  overlooks the Tihama mountains with their stunning valleys and quaint villages dotted along the plains and slopes with terraces hanging from the steep cliffs. The villages are less crowded than other sites but unique in its location.
In the summer, temperatures can drop below zero degrees and rain clouds provide awesome sights as the higher peaks break through them.
Ahlam Mash’hadi, a physiotherapist and artist, said the mountains provided an inspirational and perfect environment for her work.
“I felt completely energized and meditation helped me relax and enjoy the natural scenery. The sight of the clouds sparked my imagination and I’m sure it would do the same for any artist who loves to create unique works.

Some people will be impressed with the beautiful scenery while others will enjoy the cold weather on the top. Some will stand in awe because of the overwhelming feeling of the place.

Abdulrahman Al-Zahrani, Psychology consultant

“The memories of visiting Al-Souda are etched on my mind because of the pure beauty of the place — very inspiring.”
The serene thick vegetation and clean air of the mountains offer an experience to visitors and those looking for inspiration or “escape therapy” to rejuvenate.
Another visitor to the village, psychology consultant Abdulrahman Al-Zahrani, said: “Some people will be impressed with the beautiful scenery while others will enjoy the cold weather on the top. Some will stand in awe because of the overwhelming feeling of the place.”
The area is a photographer’s dream and Nasser Al-Shehri said he gained immense joy from taking shots of the clouds and valleys from the mountaintop. One of the best times was at sundown, he added, when visitors could stand with a blanket of clouds at their feet and watch the reflected moonlight change the look of the landscape.
Al-Soudah’s countryside and mountains offer a plethora of opportunities for trekkers as well who would like to wander and get lost in the beauty of the forests overlooking breathtaking views of the world below.