Refugees in Europe suffer from prejudice and xenophobia despite being grateful for the safety, financial support, education, and opportunities offered in the host countries. They are ordinary people, with the same hopes, fears, and ambitions as Europeans. “They also yearn to live in peace and security, to develop their abilities and to reach their full potential,” said Dr Daud Abdullah, of MEMO. “Were it not for the violent wars, conflicts, and persecution they have faced in their country, they would probably not have chosen to leave their homes, family, and homeland.”
One Syrian refugee living in Denmark, Ahmad Mansour, has managed to overcome the many challenges he has faced in his new country and now excels in the development of robotics. Mansour was born in Damascus in 1986 and lives in the Danish city of Odense. He is a computer engineer and web science specialist, having gained a master’s degree in web technology at the Syrian Virtual University. He is married and has two children, a boy, and a girl.
Moving to Denmark in 2015, Mansour works at Blue Ocean Robotics, founded in 2013, which manufactures robots from scratch. “From the initial idea to the user-ready product,” he explained, “including marketing and sales.” In Syria, he worked in the Information Technology Department and was a professor of programming and design at the Hadara International Centre in Damascus, and then moved to the branch in Libya, where he worked for two years as director of the IT department and a professor in information technology.
In his new country, one of the main difficulties was learning the language, which is very different from Arabic. “The Danish language is difficult because reading and writing is one thing, but pronunciation is something else,” he told me. “What helped me in this was my experience in teaching, because I have to read a lot of books for educational purposes and talk to students and teachers every day.”
At Blue Ocean Robotics he is a robot designer and developer. “My job is to develop the front-end of four robots with a new modern and attractive design, close to the user and in line with modern technology and techniques so that it is easier for the user to communicate and handle the robot, even if he doesn’t have much experience and training in this field.”
He adds that he got into the world of robots because of his need to get out of the routine and excel in a different area. “Robots have become the future, and Denmark is one of the leading countries for robotics. I wanted to take the opportunity to be in the second-best European city for robotics and work in this field, in one of the most powerful global companies in the field of robot manufacturing and development.”
Mansour’s background is in graphic design and web development, as well as data and communications. This, he believes, sets him apart from the competition. “I hold several international certifications as a trainer, the most important being Microsoft, Cisco and Adobe. For the same reason, I worked at Hansenberg University in the Danish city of Kolding as a lecturer in these specialties for two years, 2018 and 2019, and was selected among 15 people who applied for this job due to my experience in these different fields and the ability to combine them.”
Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the spotlight has been thrown onto the UVD robot; its main function is sterilisation and disinfection. “Inside it is a tablet control device used by the employee or nurse, through which the disinfection process is performed. It is an app that guides and directs the user. At first, it was only used in hospitals, but since the start of the pandemic, sales have increased significantly and it started to be used everywhere, even in the periodic cleaning of malls, stores, and companies. It is currently used by international companies such as Facebook and Apple. It can work in hotels, gyms, schools, etc. Hotels can use it for cleaning after each visitor. This is a feature that can attract even more visitors.”
It is also used for sterilisation and disinfection at Hamad International Airport in Qatar. “And now the European Union has closed a big deal to buy a batch of robots. Last year, they were also sold to some Arab countries, such as Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates,” he added.
Ahmad Mansour’s ambition is “to be one of the leading names in this field and, in the future, to open a company in the development and manufacturing of robots that help people make their lives easier.”