After Hours: Muataz Al-Barwan

Arabian Computer News delves below the corporate strategy to understand what really makes the region’s IT leaders tick.

Tags: New York University Abu Dhabi ( Arab Emirates
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After Hours: Muataz Al-Barwan Muataz Al-Barwani, Manager, High Performance Computing, NYU Abu Dhabi
By Staff Writer Published  May 23, 2013

Arabian Computer News delves below the corporate strategy to understand what really makes the region’s IT leaders tick.

Muataz Al-Bawan, manager of high performance computing NYU Abu Dhabi.

Getting personal:
Nationality: Omani
Number of years in the industry: 1 year fully, 12 plus years partially
Favourite food: Nandos half chicken, hot
Holiday destination: Asia and Europe
Music: Jazz & Blues
Dream car(s): Porsche 911, Ford Raptor or Dodge Ram
Gadget: All of them!

How did you end up where you are now?

After graduating from Sultan Qaboos University (SQU), Oman, in 1992 with a degree in Physics, I was awarded a scholarship to complete a Master’s in Physics at Brown University (USA). In 1995, I returned to SQU as a lecturer teaching introductory physics for a year, after which I was awarded a scholarship to do a PhD in theoretical and computational physics at Bristol University (UK). I returned to SQU after completing my PhD in 2000 to take on the role of Assistant Professor.

In addition to my academic and research role, I managed the IT needs of the Physics department, and for a while, the whole college of science. In 2008, I set up a small High Performance Computing facility to support computational research at SQU. I managed the facility for four years before being offered an opportunity in 2012 to manage the new HPC at NYUAD. The HPC makes services available to researchers at NYU through access to a 70 TFLOP medium-size cluster called BuTinah.

What is your management philosophy?

Don’t be a manager, but be a leader and lead by example.

What was your first computer, and when did you first use it?

My first computer was a microcomputer, a Sinclair ZX81 with 1KB memory, given to me by our neighbour in 1981 or ‘82, on which I taught myself the BASIC programming language. My second computer was a Sinclair Spectrum microcomputer with 48KB of memory in 1984. My first PC was IBM XT clone in 1986, running Microsoft Dos and Windows 3.1.

What is your greatest achievement?

I am working on it…

What is your biggest mistake?

I have no regrets, true there have been potholes along the way, but I consider them learning opportunities.

What is your fondest memory of working in the Middle East IT industry?

I have always worked in the Middle East, but only recently moved to working completely in the IT industry so I am collecting them as I go along. My fondest IT-related memory is building my first cluster from scratch using eight PCs, Myrinet switch and cards, and compiling the Linux OS kernel, parallel libraries and applications from source.

What technology do you think will have the biggest impact on the IT market in 2013?

I wouldn’t know, as I don’t follow the consumer gadget market that closely. But I would like to see smart technology in every thing: home appliances, cars, watches, etc.

What’s the best way to deal with stress?

Exercise at the gym or watch a movie or television.

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