Sunday, December 30, 2007

Live flight information at the click of a mouse

MUSCAT — Oman Airports Management Company (OAMC) SAOC has relaunched its website with a new look and feel. The main features of the new website include a live flight information menu and a flight timetable (plan your trip).

The live flight information product features an updated interface, with the airport flight information system which incorporates real time flight status that displays live arrival and departure details for all domestic and international flights operated from/to Muscat International Airport. (more)

UAE launches electronic immigration link with Oman

In order to ease immigration process between UAE & Oman, on 26 of December 2007. UAE has launched electronic immigration link with Oman IN Order to reduce process delay and ease commute as Thousands of passengers cross the border between the two countries daily.

The electronic immigration link is now on trial base in border checkpoints between Ras Al Khaimah and Oman and after a while it will be lunched in the other border checkpoints between UAE & Oman.

Community IT Training

IT skills is almost like a normal reading and writijng skill these days. Soon we will be digitally illiterate if we do not know the following:
- How to prepare a word doucment
- How to use spread sheets like Excel to make basic number calculations
- How to browse the websites and of course blogs
- Have and email account: receive and send emails

Is there a way to measure what part of the society is digitally literate? Just postin to invite useful and practical suggestions.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Road deaths, injuries up despite safety measures

Despite the wave of new security masures like speed cameras etc, injuries and road deaths in Oman have been going up, according to an article published in Times of Oman...

"data released by the Directorate-General of Traffic, the Royal Oman Police (ROP), show 635 deaths on Oman roads in the first 10 months of 2007 compared to 566 in October last year, an increase of 12.2 per cent."

The report also added:

"During the period (January-October 2007) under review, the number of Omanis died on roads stood 9.8 per cent higher at 471 (382 men and 89 women), and the number of expatriates died stood at 19.7 per cent higher at 164 (148 men and 16 women).

Further, the number of people injured rose by 16.4 per cent to 6,742 in October 2007 compared to 5,792 in October in 2006. The number of Omanis injured increased by 18.1 per cent to 5,663 comprising 4,079 men and 1,584 women. The number of expatriates injured increased by 8.4 per cent to 1,079 comprising 925 men and 154 women."

However, the net number of road accidents has gone down:

"Statistics, however, show a 7.5 per cent fall in road accidents at 7,124 compared to 7,705 in October last year, thanks to the stringent government measures. "

The full article can be accessed by clicking on the title of this blog entry.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Expat forum added on Oman Forum

We've added a new forum called Oman Expat Info forum on Oman Forum. This new forum was added to accommodate the recent increase in posts from expats who are either newly arrived in Oman and need information or advice on schools, clinics, where to buy stuff, etc; or people outside who get job offers in Oman and are looking for advice on whether the offers are competitive and so on.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Admin Note

Dear OCB members,

We kindly request you when copying news items or press releases to keep the copied material to a minimum. Please try to quote only the most relevant lines or paragraph from the item and add a link to the full article for those who want to read it. There's no need to copy the full article unless the source is not accessible by the members (i.e. subscription only).

Oman Community Blog is a place for your thoughts, comments and ideas. Let's keep the cut and paste stuff to a minimum.


Sunday, December 16, 2007

Oman Mobile launches BlackBerry in Oman

From the press release:

On the occasion, Dr Amer Al Rawas, managing director of Oman Mobile said: “BlackBerry is a unique and powerful tool that provides seamless connectivity for our customers, even while they are travelling. Business users can readily appreciate the importance of staying in touch while on the go anywhere in Oman. Oman Mobile customers can also use their BlackBerry internationally for data roaming with 37 operators in 20 countries such as the AGCC, the UK, India, Malaysia, Pakistan and many more as well as the normal roaming facilities for voice in 142 countries with 325 operators. This reinforces the fact that BlackBerry is the must-have business tool for mobile email and communications. BlackBerry can help businesses outperform their competition by increasing user productivity and efficiency, and enhancing customer service. We are delighted to be the first to offer this brilliant service to our customers.”

Designed for corporate customers, BlackBerry® Enterprise Server tightly integrates with Microsoft® Exchange, IBM Lotus® Domino® and Novell® GroupWise® and works with existing enterprise systems to enable secure, push-based wireless access to e-mail and other corporate data.


Oman Mobile will be offering various solutions for the corporate users including the BlackBerry® Enterprise Solution which is a complete wireless platform to extend the benefits of a company’s messaging and collaboration environment and other tools to mobile professionals. The BlackBerry Enterprise Solution provides push-based access to e-mail; calendar, contacts, tasks and notes; instant messaging; web-based applications and services and enterprise applications.

The BlackBerry® Enterprise Solution is also built with corporate data security in mind. It features an end-to-end security model designed to seamlessly protect your corporate information from attack as users send and receive email and access data wirelessly. It safeguards the integrity, confidentiality and authenticity of your corporate data with a strong encryption scheme that keeps data encrypted while it is in transit between the BlackBerry® Enterprise Server and BlackBerry® smartphones.

Additional features of the BlackBerry® Enterprise Server include:

Ability to download a variety of image formats (JPEG, GIF, BMP, TIFF and PNG) and store them on the handheld

Image manipulation controls (pan, zoom and rotate)

Ability to search the address book, calendar, memo pad, tasks and messages applications simultaneously

Support for additional fields and categories within the address book, memo pad and task applications

Cradle-free wireless sent items synchronization between a user’s BlackBerry handheld and desktop PC

Ability to tentatively accept calendar appointments on the BlackBerry handheld with or without comments and be notified of meeting conflicts

Oman Mobile also offers BlackBerry® Internet Service for individuals and smaller businesses. The BlackBerry® Internet Service is activated with an Oman Mobile subscription tariff. With this solution, you can be up and running in just a few steps, regardless of e-mail account type — and without IT support. It’s the easiest way for individuals and small businesses to start using BlackBerry smartphones.

BlackBerry push technology allows receipt of email effortlessly because messages are automatically pushed to a device. Customers can access up to 10 e-mail accounts be these for work or personal use, plus an optional, new BlackBerry e-mail address that comes with your BlackBerry smartphone. Browse websites and instant message on your BlackBerry smartphone just as you would on your desktop browser. Stay organised with access to your latest calendar, address book; task and memo pad information and access contacts from your existing desktop organizer.


Good to see Omantel picking up the pace...(but when will they speed up this net?)

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.

Monday, December 10, 2007

PEIE OMG Seminar on Value Stream Mapping

PEIE will hold the last of its Oman Manufacturing Group seminars next week on Sunday the 16th of December at 7.30pm at the Crowne Plaza. The seminar will discuss value stream mapping and lean manufacturing processes, two techniques used to reduce manufacturing bottlenecks and increase organizational efficiency. Attendance is open to all and dinner will be served.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Domino’s debuts in Muscat

Location: Al Khuwair service road (between Omantel and Al Jadeed stores)

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Digital Nation seminar on Dec 9

The Knowledge Oasis Muscat's forthcoming Digital Nation seminar will be held on December 9, 2007.

Time: 7.30pm

Venue: Knowledge Oasis Muscat, Building 1, first floor, Muscat Hall

Supported by Ericsson, Nawras, Microsoft, HP, Infoline, SAP Arabia, Infocomm and Omania e-Commerce, Digital Nation seminar is entitled “iGeneration: Embracing the Digital World” which will look at “Millennials” - youngsters born between 1980 and 2000 - and their use of the Internet and the communication tools that the public and private sector need to use to reach this tech savvy generation.

The Digital Nation seminar is open to all and free of charge. To register, e-mail your name and contact co-ordinates to:

Two Omanis conquer ‘Roof of Africa — Kilimanjaro’

By Hamdi Essa
Saturday, December 01, 2007 1:19:18 AM Oman Time

MUSCAT — It’s 8am on Sunday, July 22. A special and extraordinary moment of pride for Oman, and of course, for two brave Omanis — Hamad bin Hamoud Al Harthy and Salim bin Humaid Al Mahrooqi.

Exactly at 8am on Sunday, these two gentlemen conquered Kilimanjaro, the peak of Africa, with the Omani flag fluttering. The 5,895-metre above sea level, Kilimanjaro is the tallest mountain in Africa, and the world’s highest freestanding mountain, the Roof of Africa.

Kilimanjaro is located 205 miles south of Equator and stands on the Tanzanian’s northern border with Kenya. Times of Oman and Al Shabiba were the media sponsors for this fabulous story of mountaineering, an unprecedented Omani adventure. Hamad bin Hamoud Al Harthy, aged 46, has four children and works as director of projects department at banking major BankMuscat.

Salim bin Humaid Al Mahrooqi, aged 37, is a member of the board of Al Maha Company. The two adventurers’ relation began since childhood, and they share the love of adventures and challenges.

The idea of climbing to the top of Kilimanjaro began in 2005 in Tanzania while Al Harthy and Al Mahrooqi were on their way from Arusha to Darussalam, where they had an amazing view of the giant mountain.

“To prepare ourselves well for the climb, we practised climbing several mountains in the Sultanate, and attended a sports programme for improving physical fitness,” proud climbers said.

“Our mission to the top of the mountain cost RO12,000, which was borne by us. We made contacts with a company specialised in organising journeys to Kilimanjaro. The company had provided us with a team to accompany us to the Kilimanjaro.”

Speaking on being on the foot of Kilimanjaro prior to the climb, they said, it was a journey to the unknown; “we were full of enthusiasm and encouraged by the well preparations for the climb”.

On the climb, they walked 8-12km every day before they had a break for lunch. “At six in the evening, the team accompanying us prepares the camp and lunch, and we rest and prepare our daily report to Times of Oman and Al Shabiba. The climb to the peak took us seven days.”

Speaking on day seven of the climb, they said it was dark and freezing while approaching the peak. Speaking on their new adventure, they said they were planning to be the first Omanis to reach the peak of Mount Everest. “But this requires finance,” they added. “Now, we present the issue of reaching the peak of Mount Everest to all authorities and companies for possible sponsorship and financing the journey,” Al Harthy and Al Mahrooqi added.

Though mount Kilimanjaro was familiar to the local tribes, it remained undocumented for the rest of the world for many years till the early sightings by Rebman in 1845 to the successful attempt in 1889 by German geographer Hans Meyer and Austrian mountain climber Ludwig Purtscheller who till date are regarded to be the first to climb Kilimanjaro.

Kilimanjaro structure is composed of three volcanoes — Kibo standing at 19,340 feet, Mawenzi at 16,896 feet and Shira standing at 13,000 feet. Till date there has not been any last known recorded volcanic eruption from any of the volcanic peaks. Kilimanjaro supports five major eco-zones including rainforest, heath, moorland, alpine desert and glaciers.


Monday, December 3, 2007

Is UNDP’s ranking system biased?

(Infographic: Kishor Cariappa)

The Human Development Report for 2007-08 has been released by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Oman continues to be dubbed a country at high level of human development. Here are a few surprises.

# Oman’s human development index (HDI) of 0.814 puts it just below Antigua and Barbuda (0.815) and Trinidad and Tobago (0.814).

# Oman’s life expectancy of 75 years is clubbed between Qatar (75) and Argentina (74.8), while South Africa and Lesotho have higher adult literacy than Oman.

Will this kind of ranking give the true picture?