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Why Intellectual Property Matters Part 3: UAE Innovator Dr. Omar Chaalal Shares Insights on Harnessing the Power of Patents

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  • 24, Aug 2023
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For startups and SMEs aiming to stay competitive, intellectual property (IP) is crucial. In this series, four UAE IP holders explain its benefits. After delving into Dr. Mohammad Ismail Al Olama's insights, let's explore Dr. Omar Chaalal's journey to his latest patent and his plans for the future – both for his invention and the planet. 

Dr. Omar Chaalal, a prominent figure in the field of Chemical Engineering, holds the distinguished position of being a Professor at Abu Dhabi University (ADU). With a wealth of experience and expertise in separation technologies, Dr. Chaalal has made significant contributions to the realm of environmental sustainability and innovation. 

However, Dr. Chaalal has not only made significant contributions to his field but also learned valuable lessons about protecting intellectual property along the way.  

In the early stages of his career, after the disasterous oil spill in Fujairah Dr. Chaalal developed groundbreaking research into oil spills that quickly caught the attention of the international scientific community. However, he experienced the downside of not protecting his work before publication. One of his projects, which aimed to clean the sea and recycle plastic waste, was patented and sold by another researcher without crediting his contributions. This incident taught him a crucial lesson about the importance of safeguarding ideas and inventions before they are shared with the world. 

Reflecting on this early work, he notes, "I learned the hard way that not protecting your ideas before sharing them can lead to someone else profiting from your hard work." This experience taught him a crucial lesson about the need for patent registration before publication, a principle that now guides his work. 

Determined to avoid such situations in the future, Dr. Chaalal decided to prioritise patent registration before publication. He has since successfully obtained four patents, each representing an innovative solution to pressing environmental challenges. His most recent patent is at the centre of a new venture, Global Green Global, which seeks to revolutionise the landscape of water salinity. 

According to Dr. Chalaal oil carriers and desalination plants dominate industries, but their environmental impact is concerning. Desalination often creates 1.5 litres of chlorine and copper-contaminated liquid for every litre of clean water, harming ocean life when returned to the sea. 

Global Green Global is poised to change that. Dr. Chaalal explains, "Our focus is on reducing carbon emissions and addressing water salinity issues using a novel approach." By harnessing reject water from desalination plants and using CO2 to lower its salinity, Global Green Global not only curbs carbon emissions but also addresses water scarcity in the Middle East. At the core of Global Green Global's strategy is Dr. Chaalal's patent. "Our patent is the lifeblood of our operation," he says with conviction. It provides exclusive rights to their innovative process, empowering them to transform reject water into a valuable resource for emissions reduction and water purification. The patent safeguards their intellectual property from exploitation, giving them a competitive edge in the market. 

Navigating the path to patent acquisition is a multifaceted journey.  

Simply put it isn't a walk in the park, and Dr. Chaalal readily acknowledges the hurdles. "It's not just about inventing and patenting; it's about turning those ideas into tangible solutions," he says, his voice a mix of determination and practicality. 

One major obstacle lies in bridging the gap between having a patent and actually implementing the patented idea. Dr. Chaalal emphasises that holding a patent is just the first step. "It's like owning a key, but unless you unlock the door, the treasure remains hidden," he explains. This process requires funding, a dedicated team, and resources to turn concepts into reality.  

Another pressing challenge is the limited lifespan of patents. A patent has a short shelf life in the business world - 20 years. "A patent isn't a perpetual shield; it's more like a time-sensitive opportunity," he remarks. The urgency to capitalise on the patent's potential before it expires adds a layer of pressure to the equation. 

Enter Takamul, a crucial ally that has provided support and guidance on this journey. Dr. Chaalal speaks highly of Takamul's role in simplifying the patent registration process and offering valuable mentorship. "Takamul has been instrumental in navigating the complexities of patenting," he says, noting their role in bridging the gap between academia and industry. 

In partnership with Takamul, Dr. Chaalal's mission gains traction. He's not merely holding a patent; he's actively shaping ideas into solutions. With their support, he's determined to surmount challenges, make the most of his patents, and create a lasting impact on society. 

For Dr. Chaalal, it involved collaboration with Abu Dhabi University and its supportive innovation department. "The university played a pivotal role in guiding us through the complexities of patent registration," he explains. Organisations like Takamul, the intellectual property arm of ADNOC, also provided crucial support, exemplifying the UAE government's commitment to fostering innovation.He insists that patents offer more than legal protection; they bridge the gap between ideas and real-world impact. "Patents aren't just for show; they're a commitment to making a difference.” 

In this saga of creativity and change, Dr. Omar Chaalal doesn't just talk about innovation; he lives it, manifests it, and most importantly, patents it. 

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