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Digital transformation well on track
ENSURING that its information and communications technology capabilities are kept relevant and competitive is key for Oman, and the sultanate is making huge strides towards achieving its 2030 Digital Oman Strategy, known as eOman. The Information Technology Authority (ITA), which is in charge of implementing eOman, has identified six broad strategic pillars to transform Oman into a vibrant, thriving digital nation.
These six pillars focus on advancing digital society; smart government and services; a vibrant digital and ICT industry ecosystem; governance, standards and policies; next-gen infrastructure and, promotion and awareness.
A recent example is the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Oman Airports and Microsoft in June to explore opportunities in digital transformation and innovation within its new airport facility.
Moaman Al Busaidi, chief information officer at Oman Airports, heralded the signing of the MOU as "an interpretation of Oman Airport's vision and a promotion of its role as a leading entity in the digital transformation to make Oman a regional international hub in technology".
Oman's government services have been digitised with a cloud project that aims to create a shared infrastructure network across the whole of government. Research about the impact of big data on the delivery of eGovernment services is also ongoing.
Singaporean company CrimsonLogic is a key partner in creating a smart government.
The company developed the Bayan Integrated Customs Management System and Electronic Single Window for the Royal Oman Police, helping to boost trade activities in Oman and the region.
CrimsonLogic has also worked on a National Integrated Manpower Register System for Oman's Public Authority for Manpower. The new system has streamlined the job-seeking process, giving potential employees a more efficient experience in searching for suitable opportunities for work. It has also helped manpower policy planning at the governmental level.
Eugene Wong, chairman of Crimson Logic, noted that Singaporean firms are well-regarded in Oman, and that the company hopes to help the sultanate achieve its goal in becoming a knowledge-based economy.
"With a strong base in Oman, we can grow our business locally and in the neighbouring regions to explore other areas of collaboration, especially in the areas of eJudiciary, other innovative eCitizen services and with the CALISTA™ global Supply Chain Platform," he said.
In addition to its digital projects, CrimsonLogic is also helping to train future IT leaders in the sultanate.
Its Graduate Technology Associates Programme targets top graduates from Omani universities and gives them the opportunity to undertake a structured training programme, including a stint at CrimsonLogic's Singapore office.
FOCUSING ON EDUCATION
Oman recognises that education is a key driver in its digital transformation process, with the ITA launching several centres specialising in virtual reality and mobile apps development.
Nearly 800 trainees have graduated from the centres since their inception.
The ITA has also set up the Sas Centre for Entrepreneurship to support IT-focused SMEs. In 2017, two companies graduated from the programme, with a further 15 new companies incubated.
Education is also a hallmark of Knowledge Oasis Muscat (KOM), a 20,000 sq m technology park that is home to the Middle East College of Information Technology and the Waljat Colleges of Applied Science.
More than 6,000 IT undergraduates are studying at the colleges. They are in close proximity to the local offices of tech giants such as Microsoft and Huawei.
KOM also boasts the Innovation Factory, where members of the public can access equipment to develop prototypes of their ideas.
The National Business Centre, a burgeoning business incubator programme that offers companies a range of consultancy and support services is also located at the park.
Oman has also taken steps to safeguard its digital interests with a robust cybersecurity policy and it has set up the Omani Computer Emergency Readiness Team (CERT) to ensure that its digital assets remain safe and secure.