Highlights of the Second International Meeting on Frankincense and Medicinal Plants at Dhofar University

Highlights of the Second International Meeting on Frankincense and Medicinal Plants at Dhofar University

Professor Luay Rashan:

The meeting is a breakthrough in the field of frankincense research and medicinal plants and there are new researches for the first time Economic and industrial transformations, cultural and civilizational dimension of Omani frankincense are within the meeting tracks.

Frankincense is closely linked to the history of Oman, where the Dhofar Governorate, the origin of frankincense tree, was known as the “Land of Frankincense”. Plenty of historical and contemporary evidence supports its designations. Every aspect of ancient life was associated with frankincense. Thus, it is not surprising that frankincense is present in every Omani house to the present day. It is the fragrance which is known in many parts of the world but its potential medicinal benefits have not been fully exploited. Dhofar Governorate is located in the south of the Sultanate of Oman, surrounded by the Indian Ocean on its southern side and the Qara mountain range at the north coast. Dhofar located at the Southern Arabian coast makes it unique, as it has seasonal rainfall for three months annually in a season known as Khareef. Salalah is the capital of Dhofar Governorate that is surrounded by an arc of scenic Dhofar Mountains, including the rugged Samhan Mountain, Jabal Al-Qamar and other geological features. In terms of tourism, Dhofar is a wonderful destination all year round as it is characterized by sunny and warm winters and pleasant monsoons in addition to many areas that attract visitors.

Dhofar Governorate is an important region rich in plant, animal and marine biodiversity. The land of frankincense includes more than 58% of the known plants in the Sultanate, which are represented by more than 800 species. Most of the cultivated, medicinal and wild plant species are found in the highlands of Dhofar Governorate. Historically, natural products (secondary metabolites) have been used since ancient times and in folklore to treat many diseases, and they have been the most successful source of potential drugs. The area is rich in plants and trees such as Commiphora, Boswellia, Acacia, Anogessius dhofarica, Aloe dhofarensis, Aloe vera and many other interesting plants waiting to be explored as it is believed that these plants may play a role in curing some of the present and future diseases all over the world.

The unique aromatic gum resin is extracted from many species of frankincense tree, which includes about 23 scientific species, which are spread in many countries, including India, Ethiopia, Somalia and Eritrea of the genus Boswellia, including the Omani frankincense tree type Boswellia sacra (from the southern Arabian Peninsula).

Dhofar University is organizing the Second International Meeting on Frankincense and Medicinal Plants from 3-4 September 2023 at Dhofar University. In the presence of researchers and experts from Western, Asian, Arab and local universities, institutes and companies, and more than 45 speakers for innovative scientific papers and research, and the Meeting will include two simultaneous tracks, the first track entitled “Biology, Pharmacology, Frankincense Tree (Past, Present and Future)” and the second track entitled “Chemistry, Synthesis and Formulation of Food Supplements and Cosmetics”. The Meeting will be mainly in-person and online for some of the speakers. The Meeting includes presentations by keynote speakers, senior academic scientists, and research scientists related to medicinal plants, nutrition, botanical medicine, natural chemistry, and industries. The Meeting will also include plenary sessions and presentation of scientific posters and frankincense products.

The main objective of the meeting is to focus on research and development in the frankincense and medicinal plants industry by transferring knowledge to the industry sectors. This will help connect scientific and innovative activities in the fields of biological, chemical, biotechnology, medical science, industry and health to provide a platform for international exchange and collaboration with focus on traditional herbal medicine and biomedicine. In addition, the meeting will help promote frankincense and other medicinal plants as an important part of the Omani and international cultural heritage.

The Second International Meeting on Frankincense and Medicinal Plants, with the slogan “Towards a Breakthrough for the Development of Phytotherapy”, presents novel experimental studies with great scientific importance about the effectiveness of Omani frankincense gum and oil. There will also be a talk about the development of many products of frankincense gum as food supplements and pharmaceuticals of various forms.

In botany, newly developed studies will be presented at the Meeting for the first time that are qualitative and distinctive. These studies have been conducted on extracts of one of the well-known plants and their effectiveness at the molecular level in vitro and in vivo, as well as its human and genetic toxicity. In addition, studies on fungi, algae, seaweed, and other plants using novel methods for extracting medically effective substances.

The Meeting will also include some distinguished chemical studies and manufacturing some of the important compounds at laboratory level for the purpose of benefiting from them in many pharmaceutical and industrial fields.

The Second International Frankincense Meeting on Frankincense and Medicinal Plants, with that active international and local participation, represents a circle of research and scientific development for Dhofar University and the Research Center at the university. It is a quantum leap in the field of developing and exploring scientific and research studies in the field of frankincense and medicinal plants, which have an important role in scientific achievements and contribute to the features of economic and industrial transformation in the Sultanate of Oman.