Wednesday, December 12, 2007

ITA Journey Across the Sultanate

Tuesday, December 11, 2007 1:23:29 AM Oman Time

MUSCAT — The noted IT expert, Tariq Hilal Al Barwani, yesterday announced the first of its kind initiative in the Sultanate branded as “ITA Journey Across the Sultanate”.

This Information Technology Awareness journey across the country is a move set to digitise and promote the use, benefit and career of technology in the community.

In a statement here, Tariq said: “The Information and Communication Technology medium is a potential engine to empower everyone from poor to rich, student to professional, and private to government sector as well as to increase their access to quality education. Everybody should know what this rich medium holds in store”.

The main objective of the “ITA Journey Across the Sultanate” initiative is to educate the public, nourish the innovation to the community and promote digital literacy across the country.

The project will be carried out in two phases, starting from Muscat and then the next in Salalah. The initiative is being sponsored and supported by Tariq’s father who has been coaching and guiding him since childhood.

Tariq will be travelling with his father’s 4WD throughout the Sultanate during his annual leave at work in Nawras. Initially, he will be visiting Nizwa College of Technology to conduct a presentation on IT Security, Careers and the Future on December 16.

He is also scheduled to visit Musannah College of Technology and Sohar Unversity in January to discuss about the several aspects of software development and innovation, Oman German University of Technology in February and the Middle East College of Technology in Rusayl.

Tariq was invited by several schools, colleges and companies several times to conduct presentations and seminars at Deslie Training Institute, Oman Training Institute, Indian School Al Ghubra, Muscat Private School, Muscat College and Shatti Qurum School for Girls, on different topics under the umbrella of ICT. His last presentation on IT careers and technologies at the Sultan Qaboos University two weeks ago had received tremendous response from the audience which triggered the idea of “ITA Journey Across Oman”.

The ITA initiative that I am set to embark on this week is from the northern most region to the southernmost region of the Sultanate, ensuring that I solidify His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said’s Progressive Vision to transform the Sultanate into a Knowledge Society and build a knowledge-based economy,” said Tariq.

Oman has all the root stocks to become the Gulf ICT (information and communication technology) hub, Tariq said.

Apart from this initiative, Tariq has also introduced, along with the Ministry of Information, the first and only information technology programme called ‘CyberTalk’ for the Oman Radio FM 90.4. The programme is aired live every Thursday from 4-6pm where it presents the latest local and international IT news, best of breed topics, quizzes and question and answers session. A similar programme called ‘Raqmyaat’ for the Oman TV Channel 2 was also introduced for the local TV.

Tariq is currently pursuing his doctorate of management of organisation with specialisation in Information Technology.


Anonymous said...

WOW. Finally ITA is doing something now. When are they introducing e-government portal?

Blue Chi said...

The ITA we have in Oman is the Information Technology Authority, an independent body responsible for regulating and promoting the IT industry in Oman. Tariq chose to use the same acronym for his latest campaign, which is a bit confusing as you have noted.

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Anonymous said...

Another story about KOM, ITA and Tarek

source : Oxford Business Group

Oman strives to become ME digital hub

Oman has taken on the challenge to become one of the major players in the information and communications technology (ICT) industry, aiming for the top in the Middle East and beyond.

Along with working to boost the development of such sectors as manufacturing, tourism and construction, the sultanate is also investing heavily in information technology as one of the planks of its platform to diversify the economy.

At the heart of this drive is the Knowledge Oasis Muscat (KOM), a sector-specific technology park established in September 2003 as one of the initiatives of Oman's Public Establishment for Industrial Estates. Located 30 km from the capital, the 68-hectare park is adjacent to the Rusayl Industrial Estate and Sultan Qaboos University.

KOM offers tenants an advanced technological infrastructure, including a fibre optic backbone and a broad mix of office and workspaces. Another incentive is the park operates as a free trade zone, meaning that firms can be 100% foreign owned, rather than requiring an Omani partner. That also means there is no personal income tax levied or controls over foreign exchange movements in the zone.

Also based at the park are the Middle East College of Technology and the Waljat Colleges of Applied Sciences, the two facilities having a combined student body of some 3000 students, training to be the ICT experts of tomorrow.

Among KOM's main objectives are to help develop a knowledge-driven economy, attract investment, especially in the fields of research and development, and to serve as an incubator for local start-up companies in the sector.

Sixty firms have already moved into KOM, with the number set to rise. On March 21, the Information Technology Authority (ITA), the state body responsible for implementing national IT infrastructure projects and overseeing the implementation of Oman's digital strategy, announced it was moving to the technology park.

Salim al-Ruzaiqi, the ITA's CEO, said the relocation will allow the authority to work more closely with the increasing number of information technology companies basing themselves at the park.

"The move to KOM will enable us to accommodate more staff and really move forward with our remit," he said.

Mohammed al-Maskari, the director general of KOM, believes that a "critical mass" of information and communications technology firms is forming at the park, one that will help drive Oman into the future.

"We've found that our tenants are looking for an area they believe will experience significant economic development 10 to 15 years into the future," he said in a recent interview.

One of the most pleasing trends, according to al-Maskari, is the increasing interest by local entrepreneurs in KOM.

"We're seeing young Omanis with education and work experience investing in KOM and starting new firms. This is a very important development," he said.

In an interview with the local press, al-Maskari said that KOM aimed to attract domestic as well as international creative talent in order to further develop the all critical mass needed to boost the Omani ICT sector.

"To achieve this, we need management, capital, a dynamic educational base and a supportive public sector environment," he said. "These are all areas in which we're making substantial progress."

Another to tout Oman's potential in the sector is Tariq Hilal al-Barwani, one of the country's leading IT experts. According to al-Barwani, the sultanate is well placed to become the sector's regional hub, though it will have to work hard to achieve its goal.

"Innovation is the way forward for the development of digital economy," al-Barwani recently told the local media. "Oman should strive hard to promote technology to become competitive - locally and globally. The sultanate should lay emphasis on technology as this can surely be an additional source of revenue for the country, apart from oil which the Gulf region largely depends on."

However, if Oman is to turn itself into an ICT hub, it will have to fight off some stiff competition from its neighbours. The Dubai Technology E-commerce and Media Free Zone, which includes the Dubai Internet City, Dubai Media City and the Dubai Knowledge Village, has already established itself as a major centre for the sector.

That said, the new kid on the Middle East's information technology block is making steady progress, wooing new investors, seeing a rise in the number of home grown start ups and an increasing level of interest among Omanis in taking a trip down the information highway.

Anonymous said...

Well, as if Oman has only Tariq as the IT HERO. It is more publicity than anything else. The country has a lot of very talented IT minds doing great things for the country more than him, it is just that his name is stuck everywhere that magnifies the view on him and what he is doing. He is of course doing good work too, but that doesn't nullify that there are many many people who are really working hard for the country exist. I blame the media more than anything because it is sad the those people aren't recognized as they should be, while others are made stars.

Al Nims Media said...

By my experience, I can tell you 9 out of 10 times Omanis shy away from media glare and Tariq is a rare breed in that respect. He takes effort to visit media houses, and to explain his side of the story, and hence he gets coverage, which in turn translates to publicity for him. Media provides the platform for all talented IT folks to highlight their achievement in their respective fields. It is up to the people to use this channel to spread information about their achievements. If they are not keen on that, then who is to be blamed?

Anonymous said...

I am not sure if I should agree if tareq is an IT Hero. He has not reached what Bill Gates of Microsoft has done for the world and as I came to know he is only a small officer in a big company (oman mobile).

I met him personally at seminars and presentation and must say he knows stuff quite well. The evidence you can make is all the places he is called for presentations. You would only know the true tareq if you go to his presentatio and if u meet him in person. He is kind. He is generous and willing to share anything. He is ambition. He is down to earth but he is AGGRESIVE in business as i heard from the companies that compete him.

I came across the following interview by Be In Oman Blog at .

Here is part of interview about tareq from the author of the blog.

But I had to ask him about what he has in store for the future. This was what he said:

1) Technology community

I'm on the process of creating a technology community in Oman where people could meet, share their experience, educate, learn and promote technology. The community will have forums, blogs, learning centers and stations for people to use and socialize. The aim and objective of the community is to educate and ensure every kid that completes school has basic understanding of computers & technology, every professional has a place to meet and discuss about information and communication technologies, and every person to have a place to socialize and learn what IT has in store for their personal and professional (at work or business) use. Of course I will invite you when I conduct the session sometime after Ramadhan inshallah:)

2) Young Talented Club

A plan to create 'Club' specifically for the talented to meet point & motivate the youth of Oman to learn, learn and learn in order to benefit the soceity. Currently, steps towards setting the foundation for a Young Achievers Club program is undergoing.

3) Online School

During my free-time I used to conduct sessions and educate people on IT (Security, Programming, Database, Networking, Support issues, etc) - I was also teaching back when I was in Canada and Australia (whom a number of students till today send me emails :) I'm now on the verge of creating an online school where I could educate people about different aspects of computing & technology via the web, so people could attend my sessions wherever they are, at anytime, provided they have internet access.

4) Presentations & Seminars

I'm not sure if you're aware, but I conduct training sessions and seminars here in Oman (school, colleges, companies, etc) Laith (programming section of your blog) has attended one of them :) Anyways, I'm now planning to have regular sessions and schedules published for others to know the whereabouts of my sessions whenever I'm invited. All will be publised on my personal website at

5) New stuff...

As you are aware, I have tied up with the Ministry of Information to setup a TV program called "Raqmyaat" so we could use to spread knowledge and promote technology awareness in Oman. When the program Raqmyaat was setup and doing well, I decided to also request the ministry to setup another FM programme called "CyberTalk" to educate & promote IT to the society.

Four months later, I decided to leave "Raqmyaat" as I had found no time to rest. However, I assisted the management & team to employ more Omanies to look after it and further develop the programme. I'm currently with "CyberTalk" and will sooner or later get other people to look after the programme where I could find more time to concentrate on developing other projects for the community here in Oman.

As you could see, the idea is I'm building projects and then giving/training other people to drive itm because I'm confident that we have many talented people in Oman who could do it even better. They only need that little "push" which I'm working on every project.

I must say, these are very impressive ideas. And for this reason, I am not going to make a blog in technology since Tariq has plans for it. I will definitely participate with Tariq and help in whatever needs helps.

as u could see he always on the move and stretches his boundaries. as one of my classmates in our MBA class in Middle East College of Technology said that this man has a mission to transform the country into an IT hub. I doubt he will be able to do it alone. I think what he does is supposed to be done by the government and authorites.

Lets wish him best and lets wait for more surprises to come.

Shula B said...

I believe there are IT genius in Oman but some work for the government and high profile positions that's why they keep low profile, I personally know few of them and they never brag or show off their talents to people but they are vary helpful.

Tariq has his own support from his family and he is been exposed to the media since he was a kid and he enjoys the media, I agree that he is talented, it his own life.

Anonymous said...

this guy never paid his rental when he was studied in australia...

o was his housemate at that time...

this is 100 % true...

he studied in hawthorn campus and stay at hwathorn house...

hawthorn house management could proved it..

Anonymous said...

How on earth is he going to spread IT across Oman? I am sick and fed up with the Muscat elite being completely out of touch with the rest of Oman. Unofficially there is an estimated figure of maybe 50-60% of Omani males that are illiterate (from my sources in the local schooling system) the government turns a blind eye to this!, let alone trying to get them to be IT literate and use it for business! I think there are far too many underlying problems in the interior, there is no business base here, no entrepreneurship, no manufacturing industry and certainly no educational competence ! I think these Muscati people are dreaming when they use talk like this. It will take generations to make Oman an ICT hub, what kind of wishful thinking is he talking about again this is just empty rhetoric, there is no accountability here the mentality will have to change here and this will take generations. e-government
portals?, e-learning? what a load of hash, get back to basics with the real people of Oman, not the dreams of the Muscat elite who run everything!

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