A former Syrian journalist forced to flee in the face of oppression and increased violence is rebuilding his life and helping farmers in the Arab World to irrigate drought-ridden farmlands and crops. Ayman Abdel Nour has submitted a patent for his new invention a sub-surface irrigation system to counter the region’s growing shortage of water.
By Ray Hanania
Ayman Abdel Nour (Abdelnour) was a recognized Arab World journalist and editor-in-chief of the daily online newspaper All4Syria.info, a widely read news and opinion source focused on Syria. His commentaries and analysis often ruffled feathers but captivated the attention of readers around the world. He was also a recognized voice for the Christian Arab community in the Middle East and in Syria.
A longtime reformist, Ayman Abdel Nour was forced to flee Syria in the face of growing corruption and the deteriorating economic conditions within Syria. He fled Syria in 2007, while it was under the dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad who was groomed for the Syrian presidency following the unexpected death of his brother in 1994. Al-Assad “really wanted to make reforms. We believed in that,” explained Abdel Nour recently explained. CNN and other media described Ayman Abdel Nour as a confidant to the Syrian President but Ayman Abdul Nour told the Arab Daily News that is not true, saying, “I was not in any way an official advisor or working with the Syrian government at all.”
But more than 50 years of turmoil and conflict convinced Ayman Abdel Nour that he had to leave his homeland to help make a difference for the Syrian people.
Ayman Abdel Nour first fled to the United Arab Emirates but later settled in the United States. Yet, despite his flight, Ayman Abdel Nour insists he has “never lost interest in what is happening in Syria.”
He has remained as vocal as ever. As a result, leading international organizations and major universities in the United States, Europe and the Middle East have sought his opinion. Interviews and stories with the media, like the New York Times, CNN.com, Financial times, Bloomberg, and BBC News, as well as leading universities like Columbia, Tufts, and Yale, where he has been invited to speak, have used him as a valuable information source on the Syrian crisis.
Despite the trauma of leaving his homeland, Ayman Abdel Nour, he found opportunities that gave him good fortune he might never have seen.
He said the dramatic change in his life allowed him to pursue other opportunities, including to focus on his long-time interest in engineering. This interest has led to Nour’s new life as an inventor. His invention, the HydraMiser, a sub-surface irrigation system, has been submitted for patent in the U.S. He and his colleague, Mr. A. Fawaz, have been winning awards for the invention, which has been extraordinarily useful in nourishing plants in drought areas.
Unlike most irrigating systems, the HydraMiser irrigates plants from below the surface. This reduces water waste by supplying plants with nutrients exactly where it is needed – at root level. This remarkable idea is revolutionizing the system of irrigation. It is not only reducing water usage, but it is also preserving soil nutrients, and eliminating about 90% of weed growth.
But most importantly, it is an irrigation system that will significantly lower the annual production cost of farming. Already it has become a successful irrigation system in the Middle East. Nour believes the HydraMiser can also be successful in the United States, especially in states suffering from droughts like California. Beginning September 1st, California will start fining cities within the state that do not reduce their water usage by twenty-five percent.
This device, according to some conservationists, could be valuable at conserving water and eliminating worries of fines for excessive water usage.
“Syrians want to share their talents to the world, and, I hope that the HydraMiser will be one that makes a difference in the lives of people all over the world,”Ayman Abdel Nour said.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was updated on June 8, 2015 to reflect Ayman Abdul Nour’s insistence he had no working relationship with Bashar al-Assad.]