“Need is the mother of invention."
This proverb motivated a young Omani man, Sultan Al-Subhi, 22, to create a pioneering robot that one day may become a staple in any Islamic society. Al-Subhi’s innovation, which was inspired by a conversation he had with his mother, earned him second place in the Stars of Science competition for gifted and talented Arabs.
One day, Al-Subhi and his mother made their way to one of Oman’s mosques for prayer, a ritual they often did together. To his surprise, this time his mother refused to pray at that specific mosque. She explained to him that unsanitary conditions in the ablution room stopped her from performing the required ablution [a ritual washing before prayer]. Just like that, an idea crept up on Al-Subhi.
The young Omani’s talent for electronics has not gone unnoticed by his family. At a young age, he has designed a robot -- the Wudu’ Area Robotic Cleaner -- to clean ablution rooms in mosques. The invention has the potential to benefit a large number of people in prayer rooms everywhere, combatting the harm done to ablution rooms by careless individuals who sometimes leave them filthy.
The robot needs no assistance. It relies on special sensors to mop the wet ablution room floors, while a built-in drain collects the excess water.
Al-Subhi’s robot achieves his dream of keeping ablution rooms clean and dry. His project seeks to preserve the purity of ablution rooms, in which Muslims perform one of the necessary rituals of prayer as prescribed by Islam.
The Omani inventor transformed his vision into an award-winning science project in the Stars of Science competition, an initiative sponsored by the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science, and Development that aims to foster Arab youth innovation. Generally, these competitions showcase the work of 16 Arab youth from various countries in the region.
Al-Subhi graduated from the Royal Guard of Oman Technical College and completed his engineering studies at Pennsylvania State University.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost Arabi and was translated into English.