Describe your professional (and/or personal) experience relating to water and space technologies. 

My professional experience is primarily focused on data analysis and information technology, which has equipped me with the skills to work as a data analyst. My academic background centers around information and communication technology, where I have studied database systems, management information systems, programming, and networking. These subjects have been instrumental in shaping my career and providing me with the tools to analyze data effectively. Additionally, my passion for staying updated with the latest technologies has allowed me to remain at the forefront of advancements in the field.

My interest in water and space technologies stems from my desire to work on projects that can have a positive impact on humanity. Implementing my own projects has made me realize the importance of contributing to initiatives that benefit society. This realization kindled my fascination with both space science and water-related projects. The potential to use advanced technologies, including space technologies, water management, and machine learning, to address critical challenges and improve the quality of life for people is what excites me the most.

Regarding space technologies, I am captivated by the vast opportunities they present for exploring the cosmos and unlocking the mysteries of the universe. The idea of contributing to space missions and utilizing satellite data to gain insights into our planet and beyond is truly inspiring. As for water and hydrology, the prospect of working on projects that aim to optimize water resource management, monitor water quality, and address water-related challenges in a sustainable manner is deeply fulfilling.

Machine learning, in particular, intrigues me due to its transformative potential in data analysis. The ability to extract meaningful patterns and make informed predictions using vast datasets opens new avenues for research and problem-solving in various domains, including space exploration and water management.

Can you elaborate on where computer science and space-based data analysis meet. What are the challenges for a computer scientist in analyzing space-based data and what is the big chance for the space sector to work with computer scientists? 

The intersection of computer science and space-based data analysis offers tremendous opportunities for ground-breaking advancements. Computer scientists play a vital role in extracting valuable insights from the vast amounts of data collected by space-based instruments and satellites. However, this synergy also comes with unique challenges. Firstly, handling the massive volumes of data generated by space missions requires sophisticated algorithms and data processing techniques to ensure efficient analysis. Dealing with real-time data streaming and managing data storage and retrieval pose additional complexities. Moreover, space-based data often contains noise, uncertainties, and missing information, necessitating the development of robust machine learning and data fusion methodologies to enhance accuracy and reliability.

The collaboration between computer scientists and the space sector holds significant potential. Computer scientists bring expertise in developing cutting-edge technologies, such as artificial intelligence, data analytics, and image processing, which can be applied to enhance space-based data analysis and mission planning. Leveraging these advancements can lead to more precise space exploration, improved satellite operations, and optimized resource utilization. Additionally, computer scientists can contribute to the development of autonomous spacecraft and advanced space-based robotics, facilitating cost-effective and efficient space missions. Ultimately, the integration of computer science with space-based data analysis has the potential to revolutionize our understanding of the universe and propel space exploration to new frontiers.

How can space technology contribute to water resource management, hydrology, or any water-related field?

Space technology plays a pivotal role in revolutionizing water resource management, hydrology, and various water-related fields. Satellite-based remote sensing instruments provide valuable data on various water parameters, including surface water extent, water quality, soil moisture, and precipitation patterns. This data is crucial for monitoring water availability, identifying potential drought or flood-prone areas, and managing water resources more effectively. Additionally, space-based technologies enable the mapping of groundwater resources and tracking changes in aquifer levels, aiding in sustainable groundwater management. Satellite data also facilitates the assessment of glaciers and ice melt, contributing to an improved understanding of water availability in mountainous regions. Moreover, space technology helps monitor and forecast extreme weather events, enabling timely and informed decision-making for disaster preparedness and response. By providing a comprehensive and real-time view of Earth's water resources, space technology empowers policymakers and water managers with critical information to address water challenges and promote sustainable water management practices.

Could you tell us about your current work, your latest project, or your proudest professional moment?

Presently, I am engaged in various new initiatives, and among them, one of the most notable projects pertains to the vital task of monitoring Bahrain's air quality. Ensuring clean and healthy air is essential for the well-being of our society and environment. Regarding my proudest professional moments, I find immense satisfaction in each successful project completion. Knowing that my efforts contribute to the betterment of humanity and my cherished country fills me with a profound sense of pride and accomplishment. Each project undertaken represents a significant milestone, signifying progress in addressing critical challenges and providing tangible benefits to the community and the nation at large.

Many young professionals dream of working at a space agency, are you willing to share some of your experiences? 

As a senior space data analyst, I can attest that working at a space agency is a dream career for many young professionals, and it has been a profoundly rewarding journey for me personally. Being part of a space agency allows young professionals to immerse themselves in cutting-edge projects, working on missions that push the boundaries of scientific knowledge and space exploration. Collaborating with experts from diverse backgrounds fosters a stimulating and enriching environment for growth and learning. From analysing satellite data to contribute to climate studies or monitoring planetary phenomena, each day offers unique challenges and opportunities for personal and professional development. Moreover, the sense of pride in contributing to the advancement of space science and humanity's understanding of the universe is truly unparalleled. However, it's essential for aspiring professionals to pursue relevant educational qualifications, gain practical experience through internships or research projects, and remain adaptable to the ever-evolving landscape of space technology and data analysis. The journey to working at a space agency is demanding, but for those who have the passion and dedication, it is an extraordinary path to pursue.

You did a course called Introduction to Geo-informatics at the University of Twente. What is your main takeaway, your lessons learned? Did you miss anything in the course? 

During the early months of 2020, I had the opportunity to enroll in the "Introduction to Geoinformatics" course at the University of Twente in the Netherlands. The duration of this course spanned 12 weeks, commencing on the 13th of January and concluding on the 3rd of April. The curriculum of the course was diverse, encompassing a wide array of topics such as cartography, remote sensing, geographical information systems (GIS), and 3D modeling.

As an employee at the National Space Science Agency, this was my inaugural experience of attending an academic course. Undoubtedly, the knowledge and skills I acquired during these 12 weeks laid a solid foundation in the field of Geoinformatics, leaving a lasting impact on my professional growth. Throughout the duration of the course, I discovered an intense passion for GIS, which prompted me to make a decisive choice to specialize further in this area.

Consequently, I decided to pursue advanced GIS studies as my major focus. My dedication and hard work paid off, as I achieved the distinction of being the top student in my batch, a gratifying achievement that further reinforced my commitment to this field. I wholeheartedly attribute my success to the excellent curriculum and teaching at the University of Twente's International Institute for Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation (ITC).

Given my positive experience and the transformative impact of the course, I strongly endorse and encourage individuals with an interest in Geoinformatics to consider registering for this course at the ITC. The program's comprehensive approach and supportive learning environment make it an excellent choice for aspiring professionals seeking to embark on a rewarding journey in the realm of GIS and related disciplines.

You developed a machine-learning algorithm to identify oil spills. What role did space technologies and data play? What is the output of the algorithm, and what other supplementary data did you need? Can you expand on this project, the context it is applied in, and its accuracy? 

Detecting oil spills is a critical aspect of efficiently managing marine contamination. In this particular project, we tackle the challenge of identifying the location of oil spills in the Arabian Gulf region, employing a Machine-Learning (ML) approach facilitated by the Microsoft Azure Machine-Learning Service (Custom Vision) on a cloud-based computing platform. The main focus is to evaluate the effectiveness of this ML workflow using Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) imagery specific to the targeted area. The SAR imagery is instrumental in training and testing the algorithm to accurately detect instances of oil spillage.

Both, qualitative and quantitative assessments were conducted to gauge the performance of the proposed algorithm. The results reveal that the algorithm demonstrates an accuracy rate of 90.5% in identifying occurrences of oil spills. Such a high level of accuracy is of paramount importance in ensuring prompt and efficient response measures to mitigate the environmental impact and contain the spread of oil spills in the sensitive marine ecosystem of the Arabian Gulf.
By leveraging cutting-edge technologies such as cloud-based computing and machine learning, this project has made significant strides in advancing the field of marine contamination management. The utilization of SAR imagery, known for its high-resolution capabilities and ability to penetrate through adverse weather conditions and darkness, further strengthens the algorithm's ability to accurately detect oil spills in real-time.

This research has far-reaching implications, not only for environmental conservation but also for ensuring the sustainability of marine resources and safeguarding the livelihoods of communities reliant on these waters. The ability to swiftly and accurately detect oil spills can aid authorities in identifying potential sources and taking timely actions to minimize the extent of damage caused to marine ecosystems, wildlife, and coastal areas.

The success of this project underscores the immense potential of machine learning and cloud-based computing in addressing complex environmental challenges. Furthermore, the promising results serve as an incentive for the broader application of similar methodologies in other regions facing similar issues, enhancing global efforts toward preserving our oceans and marine life. As technology continues to evolve, there is great optimism that advancements in ML and remote sensing will play an increasingly pivotal role in safeguarding the health and integrity of our planet's delicate marine environments.

Can you expand on the role of Internet of Things and its potential for water resources management, particularly the WASH sector? 

The Internet of Things (IoT) plays a transformative role in water resources management, especially in the Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) sector. IoT devices and sensors are instrumental in collecting real-time data on water quality, quantity, and usage. By deploying IoT-enabled smart water meters, pumps, and water quality sensors, stakeholders can monitor water distribution networks and identify leaks or wastage promptly. This data-driven approach enhances water efficiency and conservation efforts. In the WASH sector, IoT-enabled water purification systems can ensure access to safe drinking water in remote or disaster-affected regions. IoT technology also facilitates remote monitoring of water infrastructure, optimizing maintenance schedules and minimizing downtime. Moreover, data collected from IoT devices can be analyzed to identify trends and patterns, enabling evidence-based decision-making for water resource planning and allocation. Overall, IoT's potential in the WASH sector lies in its ability to provide real-time insights and enhance the sustainability and accessibility of water resources, promoting a positive impact on public health and environmental conservation.

Which water-related topics are among the priorities for space agencies in the MENA region? 

Water-related topics have emerged as significant priorities for space agencies in the MENA region. Among the key areas of focus are water resource monitoring, drought, and flood prediction, and sustainable water management. Space agencies are actively leveraging satellite-based remote sensing technologies to monitor water availability, assess groundwater levels, and monitor changes in sea level rise, surface water bodies and aquifers, and the effects of climate change on oceans. Additionally, space-based data is essential for monitoring extreme weather events, enabling early warning systems for floods and droughts. Furthermore, space agencies are working towards enhancing the accuracy and precision of water-related data to support evidence-based policymaking and improve water resource management in the region. Collaborations and partnerships between space agencies and regional stakeholders further reinforce efforts to address pressing water challenges in the MENA region and promote sustainable development in the face of increasing water scarcity.

With the increase of droughts both, in terms of temperature and duration, desalination plants are becoming more popular, do you see any potential for the use of Earth Observation to support desalination projects?  Can you expand on what happens with the excess salt or brine water? 

Earth Observation holds great potential in supporting desalination projects, especially in regions experiencing increased droughts and water scarcity. By leveraging satellite-based remote sensing technologies, operators of desalination plants can gain valuable insights into factors such as sea surface temperature, ocean currents, and salinity levels. This information is critical for identifying suitable locations for desalination plants, ensuring efficient intake of seawater, and optimizing the desalination process. Earth Observation data also aids in monitoring coastal ecosystems and mitigating potential environmental impacts of the plants.

As for the excess salt or brine water generated during the desalination process, its proper disposal is a significant concern. Earth Observation can contribute to monitoring the dispersion and movement of brine discharge in coastal waters. Understanding the dispersion patterns can help identify potential areas of impact and ensure responsible and environmentally sustainable disposal practices. Furthermore, by integrating Earth Observation with hydrodynamic models, authorities can predict the behavior of brine discharge under different environmental conditions, enabling proactive measures to minimize adverse effects on marine ecosystems. This comprehensive approach, utilizing Earth Observation data, can promote the successful implementation of desalination projects while safeguarding the delicate balance of coastal environments.

The National Space Science Agency of Bahrain undertook a palm tree mapping exercise. Can you elaborate on the links of palm trees to water management? Which role do these trees play for water and the soil? 

Bahrain has been historically referred to as the "land of millions of palm trees." These iconic trees have played a significant cultural, economic, and ecological role in the country. The lush greenery of palm groves has long been an essential part of Bahrain's landscape, contributing to its unique identity. Palm trees have provided various socio-economic benefits, with the dates produced being a traditional staple and a source of livelihood for local communities. Beyond their economic significance, palm trees have been valued for their environmental contributions. Preserving and understanding the distribution of these palm trees through the palm tree mapping exercise conducted by the National Space Science Agency of Bahrain underscores the nation's commitment to sustainable water management and the conservation of its cherished natural heritage.

Palm trees play a crucial role in the water and soil ecosystem. These trees have adapted to thrive in arid environments and are remarkably efficient in water utilization. The mapping exercise helps in assessing the distribution and health of palm trees, offering valuable insights into their water requirements and overall condition as well as sustainable practices to preserve these vital natural resources. Moreover, palm trees contribute to soil conservation by preventing erosion and improving soil structure. Their extensive root systems help stabilize soil, reducing the risk of desertification and enhancing water infiltration. Furthermore, the presence of palm trees in the landscape can influence microclimates, providing shade and reducing water evaporation rates. 

What do you need to innovate? 

To foster innovation, several key elements are essential. Firstly, a culture that embraces creativity and encourages curiosity is paramount. Providing a nurturing environment that allows team members to explore new ideas and challenge conventional thinking is crucial for generating innovative solutions. Secondly, assembling diverse and collaborative teams enhances the innovation process. By bringing together individuals with varied perspectives, skills, and experiences, organizations can tap into a wealth of insights and foster out-of-the-box thinking. Additionally, empowering employees with autonomy and decision-making authority encourages risk-taking and experimentation, enabling them to explore unconventional approaches. Open communication and feedback channels play a pivotal role as well. Creating a culture where ideas are openly discussed, and feedback is valued fosters a dynamic exchange of thoughts and encourages continuous improvement. Lastly, embracing failure as a learning opportunity is key to promoting a growth mindset and encouraging individuals to push boundaries without fear of repercussions. By cultivating these foundational elements, organizations can create an environment conducive to innovation, paving the way for transformative and cutting-edge advancements in their respective fields.

What do you think are the key skills to have to be able to apply machine learning on earth observation data? What should young professionals start with and keep their focused on?  

In the context of this dynamic field, there are several crucial skills that young professionals should focus on to excel in this domain.

Firstly, a solid foundation in data analysis and pre-processing is important. Young professionals should develop expertise in handling and cleansing large-scale earth observation datasets to ensure data quality and relevance for subsequent machine learning tasks.

Secondly, a comprehensive understanding of various machine learning algorithms is vital. This includes both supervised and unsupervised techniques, as well as deep learning approaches, enabling the selection of the most appropriate algorithms for specific earth observation applications.

Thirdly, proficiency in programming languages, particularly Python or R, is essential. A strong programming skill set empowers professionals to efficiently implement machine learning models, experiment with different algorithms, and optimize their performance.

Additionally, a sound knowledge of remote sensing principles and techniques is critical. Understanding how earth observation data is acquired, processed, and interpreted enhances the ability to make informed decisions when applying machine learning in this context.

Furthermore, young professionals should focus on gaining domain expertise in specific earth science areas. This specialization allows them to grasp the unique challenges and intricacies of various environmental phenomena, such as climate change, land cover classification, and natural disaster monitoring, ensuring contextually relevant and impactful machine learning solutions.

To embark on this journey, young professionals should begin by pursuing relevant academic courses, certifications, or workshops that cover the fundamental concepts of machine learning and remote sensing. Hands-on experience through internships or research projects is also invaluable for owning practical skills and gaining exposure to real-world applications.

Staying updated with the latest advancements and research in the field is equally crucial. Regularly engaging with academic publications, attending conferences, and participating in professional networks will foster continuous learning and keep young professionals at the forefront of developments in machine learning and earth observation.

In conclusion, a combination of technical skills, domain knowledge, and a proactive approach to learning and development will pave the way for young professionals to thrive in applying machine learning on earth observation data. 

What do you see as key areas for capacity building in Bahrain with regards to space technologies for water management and in which areas do you see the greatest potential of the generation of young professionals in your country? 

In Bahrain, key areas for capacity building in space technologies for water management encompass a multidisciplinary approach. Firstly, training programs in satellite remote sensing and GIS applications would equip professionals with the skills to monitor water resources, assess water quality, and analyze hydrological data. Additionally, capacity building in the development and implementation of space-based sensors and instruments, such as SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar), LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging), and hyperspectral imaging, would enhance the country's capability to gather accurate and comprehensive water-related data. The integration of space technologies with machine learning and data analytics is another essential area for capacity building, enabling young professionals to process large datasets and derive valuable insights for effective water resource management.

Regarding the greatest potential of the generation of young professionals in Bahrain, the integration of space technologies with water management is a burgeoning field, and young professionals can play a pivotal role in driving innovation and research in this area. By harnessing their expertise in space technologies, data analysis, and hydrology, they can contribute to addressing water-related challenges, such as water scarcity, drought prediction, and efficient irrigation practices. Moreover, young professionals' adaptability to emerging technologies and their inclination towards sustainable practices can lead to novel solutions that promote the efficient use of water resources while safeguarding the environment. Collaborations with research institutions, space agencies, and international organizations can further augment their potential to advance space technologies for water management and contribute to Bahrain's sustainable development goals.