BETTER TOGETHER

Oman 2019 | TELECOMS & IT | INTERVIEW

The rapid spread of high-speed broadband offers new ways to live, work, and play, challenging government departments and businesses to better adapt the way they serve citizens and customers.

Dr. Salim Sultan Al Ruzaiqi
BIOGRAPHY
Dr. Salim Sultan Al Ruzaiqi has held a number of technical, diplomatic, and leadership roles in the Sultanate of Oman over his 20-year career. In addition to his CEO responsibilities, he is a current member of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) and was a Member of the Board of Omantel and Oman Mobile for four years. He is a member of the Executive Committee of Oman University, Science Technology City, and a Board Member of the Public Authority of Manpower Register. Al Ruzaiqi holds a PhD in information systems and communications from Robert Morris University of Pittsburgh, a master’s degree in information systems technology from George Washington University, and a degree in computer science and mathematics from Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri.

What incentives is ITA creating for international and domestic investment in Oman's IT industry?

ITA aims to encourage and support entrepreneurship in ICT, particularly young Omanis. To ensure sustainable growth of the ICT sector, we focus on the development of SMEs and creating an environment of competition and coordination among them. ITA has made great steps in this field, and one of the important projects is the establishment of Sas centers for virtual reality and mobile apps development to provide the infrastructure needed for developing mobile applications, virtual reality, and augmented-reality content and related services. These centers work to feed the local and regional market with people specialized in the field by providing specialized training to Omani talent and encouraging them to be entrepreneurs in order to achieve economically valuable outcomes. The Sas Center for Entrepreneurship was established in 2014, and strategically aims to build the IT industry in Oman by nurturing and supporting start-ups in ICT. We provide technical and business-related training to incubate companies to prepare them for the real world and assist them in getting their first assignments while enabling them to coordinate amongst each other and create synergies. This in turn creates the industry clusters we are looking for, an attraction point for further investments in the ICT sector by local and foreign companies. Indeed, the stronger the local ecosystem of ICT companies, the better the Sultanate's opportunities for attracting serious foreign investment in the sector.
How does ITA integrate other utilities' infrastructure into its development of Oman's digital infrastructure?
The rollout of smart city infrastructure will be the strongest link, as these monitor and control utilities through digital technologies. Oman has greenfield initiatives such as Duqm, the planned Errfan city, and the trial we are conducting at Knowledge Oasis Muscat. However, this will be much expanded as we roll out e.oman 2030 Vision, a major drive for this infrastructure.

How will the development of Oman's fiber-optic network provide future growth in the IT industry?

One of the ultimate goals of the smart nation initiative in Oman is to reduce costs for all the stakeholders and increase the efficiency in delivery of services, utilizing and leveraging the information output effectively to enhance services and build on value-added services. Having high-speed connectivity in homes and businesses will allow consumer and business services that are currently limited by connection speed to enhance their productivity. Virtual reality and augmented reality applications will require high connection speeds when these access servers located outside the home and business. Cloud hosting and services offered on the cloud will get a boost as more data and services can be hosted on the cloud and accessed remotely. The more bandwidth we have, the more positively it will affect the number of e-services, supply, jobs created in IT, and growth of the overall sector in the Sultanate.

What initiatives is ITA working on to further Oman's robust cyber security system?

ITA provides a secure environment for users of electronic devices by offering high-quality security services and raising their awareness about information security. Two main divisions expend ITA efforts in this field: Information Security Division, which is responsible for the government entities security, and Oman National CERT, which is responsible for the security of the cyber space in Oman and public awareness in this field. The key services offered by ITA include networks and portals protection, internet access security, end-point security, information security operations, security assessment and IT security consultancies. In 2012, ITA launched the Arab Regional Cyber Security Center to create a safer and cooperative cybersecurity environment in the Arab world and strengthen the role of ITU in building confidence and security in the use of information and communication technologies in the region.