Lacking the necessary raw materials has been a major barrier to any kind of paper industry in Oman, but that could change if a young inventor commercializes his patented palm leaf waste to paper technology. A recent graduate of Sultan Qaboos University, Mustafa Salim Abdullah Barami first learned how to use the palm leaf waste as pulp for paper while he was working on his Chemistry and Petrochemicals degree.
Barami has since gone on to win a host of accolades for the patented – and carefully-guarded – process. Now he is working on developing his entrepreneurial skills so that he will be well-poised to take the next step towards scaled production.
The young inventor dreams of establishing a paper industry in Oman, which would boost the Sultanate’s economy and mitigate the need for imports. Barami estimates that a successful scaled manufacturing plant could cover 30 per cent of Oman’s current demand for paper.
But there is also an environmental aspect to his ambitions.
“In Oman we have around 8 million date palm trees generating an estimated 160,000 tonnes of palm leaf waste annually, which in invariably burnt causing environmental problems,” he told the Oman Observer.
“When one ton of palm leaf waste is burnt, it produces 1.8 tonnes of carbon dioxide, which contributes to global warming.”
Long valued by the desert people as a resource for everything from creating shade to making baskets, the palm leaf (also known as gireed) is undergoing a certain renaissance in the Middle East and North Africa.
In Egypt, Studio Meem has developed a line of contemporary gireed furniture, while a recent exhibition in London demonstrated the application of palm leaves in vernacular architecture.
Although Barami has received widespread acclaim for his process, including 2nd place at the recent Industrial Innovation Fair in Oman, he is still a long way from building a plant. But he has put his full weight behind the venture.
Next month he is attending the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Dubai and he is enrolled in CELL – an entrepreneurship program designed to transform his ideas into a viable business plan.