Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Visionary Engineer Sadeq Faris Outlines How Arab States Can Defy Globalization

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Visionary Engineer Sadeq Faris Outlines How Arab States Can Defy Globalization

Article excerpt

Dr. Sadeq Paris captured the imaginations of architects and engineers Feb. 17 as he gave a power point explanation of his revolutionary approach to technology's challenge to globalization. The occasion was an Arab American Executive Forum dinner in the Radisson Midtown hotel.

The forum, dedicated to Arab-American architects and engineers, was arranged by Dr. Hassan Sassi under the auspices of Joseph Haiek and the News Circle advisory board. Noting that it has been 30 years since he last saw the keynote speaker-when both were engineering students-Dr. Sassi said Dr. Paris agreed to travel from Malaysia to address the Los Angeles audience.

Sassi also pointed out a neglected piece of history in the Arab-American narrative is that architectural achievements by Arab engineers have not been individually recorded. A history of this body of work must be compiled and prepared in presentation form, he emphasized.

Dr. Paris opened his keynote address by explaining that in 1966 he left his home in Tripoli, Libya, for graduate studies, culminating in a Ph.D. in electrical engineering and computer sciences from the University of California, Berkeley.

The foremost goal in his life, Paris declared, is to help Arab nations develop technological sovereignty.

"I didn't return to Libya because it lacked the scientific environment necessary for me to carry out my research," he explained. "Eighty percent of Libyan university graduates have no jobs-this results in the brain drain to technologically developed countries."

Dr. Paris defined this dilemma as technological colonization. "If everything you buy is manufactured elsewhere," he stated, "your country is a technological colony. This problem is expanding daily as Third World countries continue to buy the technology of other nations."

To close the gap, according to Dr. Paris, "You develop laboratories to come up with answers for unsolved problems. When the Silk Route became irrelevant, the Arabs lost their technological sovereignty once achieved by camel caravans. Can they get it back? Of course-look at our Arab Nobelist in physics, Ahmed Zuwail.

"Confidence is uppermost," Dr. Paris continued. "One must recognize the need for technological sovereignty, find solutions to achieving this and identify bench marks and goals. Then new methods must be tried to solve a problem no one else is dealing with. Lastly, execute the mission."

A good example, he said, is Finland's development of the Nokia cell phone which realized a S70 billion turnover for that small Scandinavian nation.

In 1991 Paris established Reveo, Inc., which has facilities in New York, California and Taiwan that focus on metal fuel cell technologies. He holds 200 patents and has more than 200 pending in superconducting electronics, electro-chemistry, MEMS, and terabyte optical communication.

When the prime minister of Malaysia learned of Dr. Paris' breakthrough InventQbation projects, he invited him to Southeast Asia to develop an indigenous technology for export. A $175 million research facility was built in Malaysia under the name InventQjaya, and within one year, several companies were created for products invented there.

Malaysian engineers working abroad were invited to return to work at the facility, where non-Malays also are conducting research and local engineers are receiving training.

While it took 10 years to develop his InventQbation projects, Dr. Paris noted that the Malaysian facility was up and running in one year. A case in point is an all-electric amphibious car that sells for under $10,000. It took only five months from concept to production to develop this unsinkable, non-polluting vehicle.

Electric cars have been around for more than 100 years, Dr. Paris pointed out, but the early models were impractical because they relied on batteries. His vehicle operates on fuel cell generators fed by chemical energy stored in aluminum foil. …

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