Muscat: It all started with a dream and now she has landed in the Hall of Fame, keeping the title in Oman for the third consecutive year.
For Rayan Al Kalbani, a 33-year-old Omani scientist-entrepreneur, chemistry has always been the most interesting of the sciences and that is why she decided to follow her heart without obsessing about her future career.
"I always liked chemistry and always wanted to study it regardless of where I am going to work later," says Rayan, who was recently honoured by the US Embassy in Oman for her induction this year into the Women in Science Hall of Fame of the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs of the US Department of State.
Rayan graduated from the Sultan Qaboos University in 2003 with a Bachelor's in chemistry and later attended graduate school in Germany where she received her Master's. As a hopeful, she faced a tough competition from female scientists nominated by US embassies across the region.
Since the launch of the award three years ago, only Omani nationals have succeeded in winning the annual award, which recognises women's achievements in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics across the Middle East and North Africa.
Speaking to the Times of Oman, Rayan said that she always wanted to be a scientist but dreamed of setting up her own business as well. She believes this is what helped her stand out.
"Six or eight years ago, there were not so many opportunities or exciting jobs for science graduates, so I decided to create a job for myself," said the new member of the Hall of Fame, who is now the co-founder and executive director of Mazoon Environmental and Technological Services, LLC (METS).
Her company, which has been serving Omani and international industry leaders since 2008, works towards preserving a clean, healthy and sustainable environment by providing modern solutions for environmental challenges that may result from human activities. "We are still a small enterprise but we are providing quality services to the clients on environmental biotechnology, chemical analysis, environmental monitoring and pollution monitoring," she said.
Rayan believes that the knowledge you acquire will be in vain if you do not impart it to others. This belief has motivated her to train fresh graduates and students at her company.
"It is nice to see young people who are keen to learn. Our trainees, who are mainly Omanis, get good jobs in larger companies or at the ministries later on," she said.
She also said that her family played a crucial role in her success.
"I was hesitant at the beginning, but my husband pushed me to do it," said Rayan, a mother. Asked about her experience as a female entrepreneur in a male-dominated society, she said, "I have always been welcomed. Nobody overlooked me. I think Omani women are lucky. We are not facing the obstacles that used to be there in the past. We are always supported."
Rayan has entered the Hall of Fame but the sky is the limit for her. "My goal is to expand my business and focus more on pollution monitoring," she said.
"When I work hard, I work hard for myself, not because I want a reward," added the accomplished scientist-entrepreneur.
During the ceremony, the US Ambassador to Oman, Greta C. Holtz, hailed Rayan's achievements, noting that she is "an excellent example of how scientific innovation can drive business and economic growth, and will serve as an outstanding role model for female scientists and young entrepreneurs in Oman and across the region."
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