Saturday, March 22, 2008

ITA Joins Forces with KOM for eGames

Knowledge Oasis Muscat (KOM) and the Information Technology Authority (ITA) in conjunction with Nawras, Huawei, UMS, Infocomm, Ericsson, Coventry University and the UK’s Advantage West Midlands Regional Development Agency have come together to organize Oman’s annual Serious Games conference scheduled to be held on KOM 31 March – 1 April 2008.

“To be working alongside ITA and partnering with top class organizations like Nawras, Huawei, UMS, Infocomm, Coventry University, Ericsson and Advantage West Midlands is a real privilege and it’s partnerships like this that takes the eGames Conference to a higher level,” comments KOM’s Director General, Mohammed Al Maskari. ITA’s Tufool Al Dhahab endorses this view and says: “Public-private sector alliances like this one will certainly help all parties take ICT awareness in the sultanate to a broader audience. This is something that we at ITA are very excited about.”

Held under the patronage of Maqbool bin Ali Sultan, Minister of Commerce & Industry this year’s eGames conference will consider the applications of serious gaming to tourism, heritage, culture, education and health.

According to Al Maskari: “Leading experts from Europe and the US in a range of digital media and communications technologies will be showcasing the use of advanced and innovative technologies to enrich Oman’s culture, heritage, tourism and education experience and make it globally accessible to the widest audience. If you’re involved in any of these sectors then eGames is a must attend event and what’s more, it’s free of charge.”

Where does Al Maskari see serious games taking off? “One very important market sector is in public education and professional training. The information society is changing the nature of the way Omani society works, and I think the way that we’ve educated kids in the past is no longer particularly relevant for the future. If you look at the world that kids are coming into now with console games, smart mobile phones, blogs, P2P Internet networks and digital media, their lives are completely saturated by gaming technologies, and it is such an integral part of their daily life.”

Al Maskari adds: “We need to look at the generation of youngsters that’s coming through. We need to look at the needs of Omani society and the way we learn and look at it in terms of a lifelong learning process, rather than training for skills. This, I believe, will influence the way we use serious games technologies.”

Today, there’s a greater emphasis on learning by discovery rather than learning by being told something. Learners are exploring and discovering. Al Maskari believes that technologies like GIS, Google Earth, and Microsoft Virtual Earth are going to be influential in the way that Oman-based students learn in the future. “I think what’s happening is that the balance of the way we learn is shifting away from the hierarchical model of absorbing knowledge into much more of a collaborative discovery-based type of peer‑to‑peer learning. Indeed, serious games technology has applications for training surgeons, entrepreneurs, nurses, oil rig engineers through to military personnel. There are no learning limits to serious gaming.”

From a university point of view, Al Maskari argues that those universities who are able to meet the expectations and aspirations of Generation Y will be the universities that will succeed in the future, certainly, in attracting students to be part of it and also being able to deliver on the expectations of both the students and Omani society as well.

Further information on the eGames Conference can be viewed at:

Blog contents copyright © 2006 PEIE

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Origin Oman Launched

PEIE launched its Origin Oman campaign and portal ( on Tuesday 18 March at the Muscat Inter-Continental Hotel.

According to Hamida Al Balushi, an Origin Oman Co-ordinator at PEIE: “Supporting the local economy is the number one reason for people buying local products and services. Freshness and lower prices are the next biggest influences.” Indeed, research indicates that a staggering 75% are prepared to pay a bit more for products which help conserve the environment and help build a stronger national economy.

The Origin Oman campaign is designed to drive the market for local products and services and demonstrate to consumers how their buying power can benefit Oman’s economy. “Our aim is very simple, we want to dramatically increase the public’s awareness and take-up of Omani products and services,” comments Al Balushi.

"The public care passionately about the future of Oman’s manufacturing sector and the goods they produce," says Ibtisam Al Faruji, Head of PEIE’s Marketing and the person leading the Origin Oman marketing campaign. "Government can do much to support local producers and service providers but consumers and institutional buyers have a vital role to play too," suggests Al Faruji.

Tuesday’s launch also showcased the new Origin Oman portal which will facilitate the online business matching of local and foreign enterprises by allowing them to create and view company profiles, trade leads and product information spanning a wide range of industry sectors. Omani enterprises will also be alerted by SMS of appropriate matches, allowing local and foreign businesses to make those first connections with each other. “The portal will also alert people via SMS whenever public tenders are released. Keeping Oman’s business community updated via SMS is both quick and convenient. Indeed, we’re delighted with the feedback we’ve received from business, government and the public to the Origin Oman campaign,” says PEIE’s Head of Marketing.

“We recognize,” says Al Faruji “that acquiring international contacts and business partners are challenges faced by Omani enterprises in their bid to expand overseas. With the launch of the Origin Oman portal, PEIE aims to address and facilitate these needs by providing a ready and user-friendly online platform for businesses to profile their products and services worldwide.”

Blog contents copyright © 2006 PEIE

Monday, March 10, 2008

Omania E-commerce Backs Digital Nation

Omania E-Commerce LLC (OEC), the sultanate's premier e-commerce company has renewed its MoU with Knowledge Oasis Muscat (KOM) to support the Tech Park's quarterly Digital Nation seminar series ( which starts 11 March at the Muscat Inter-Continental Hotel with a seminar entitled Bridging the Digital Divide

Commenting on their involvement in the Digital Nation series and today's fast moving global economy, Sheikh Mohammed Al Harthy OEC’s Managing Director said: "Governments across the Gulf are responding to citizen demands for greater and faster electronic access to information and services. It’s events like Digital Nation that bring together a broad audience to discuss such issues and take community ICT awareness to a higher level. Indeed, OEC is delighted to be supporting this initiative and sharing our passion for communication.”

“Technology provides the opportunity for people to broaden their horizons and realise their potential. It’s essential that everyone has access to the Internet and that we avoid a digital divide. I’m delighted to see that the first Digital Nation seminar of the 2008 season is focusing on bridging the digital divide. It’s critical that we encourage businesses, government departments as well as private individuals to get involved and find out how the Internet can contribute to their everyday lives. I’m confident that the upcoming seminar will a go a long way to addressing that,” remarked Al Harthy.

OEC is expected to bring substantial value to an initiative that's already attracted support from Nawras, Ericsson, Infocomm and Oman Economic Review. "The OEC team will show Digital Nation attendees how efficiency and costs can be improved, and how both regional and international market access can be expanded through e-commerce. We're excited about their participation in this important set of quarterly seminars," said Hilal Al Ahsani, CEO, PEIE (pictured).

KOM has launched a variety of outreach ICT initiatives in recent years. “These programs are intended to market KOM and its tenants as well as help drive the long-term development of the sultanate's ICT industry and the economy. Our initiatives also help foster greater co-operation between government, business, industry and academia on the domestic and international stage," remarked Mohammed Al Maskari, KOM's Director General.

OEC was established in 2005 with a vision to become the leading e-solutions provider in Oman, as well as an active and major contributor to Oman’s drive towards a digital society. Indeed, OEC’s mission is to provide clients with quality value-added solutions that maximize client’s efficiencies, benefits and competitive edge.

Blog contents copyright © 2006 PEIE

Thursday, March 06, 2008

eGames Conference Under Minister Maqbool

Knowledge Oasis Muscat’s annual eGames ( has officially launched today with an impressive line-up of leading international experts and developers of serious and mobile games. Held under the patronage of HE Maqbool bin Ali Sultan, Minister of Comerce & Industry, eGames is scheduled to be held on the Rusayl-based technology park 31 March – 1 April and is the Gulf’s only annual serious gaming conference.

David Wortley (pictured), Director of the Serious Games Institute at Conference University and a presenter at eGames said: “The existence of KOM’s eGames event illustrates the Omani government’s interest in the serious games market and its applications to important sectors such as tourism, heritage and culture, health, defence and education.”

The serious games movement has opened up a hitherto-untapped pool of expertise to the global interactive 3D community as a whole, enabling the industry to exploit multidisciplinary skills in arts, science and technology, heritage, human factors. “Indeed, if we take on board the lessons learned from the highs and lows of the Virtual Reality experiences of the 1990s, then serious gaming is set to revolutionise the way in which Oman attracts tourists, promotes its cultural assets, teaches its medical students and trains its military personnel. The applications are astounding,” comments Wortley.

Meanwhile, Susie Houh of Ericsson endorsed serious games in corporate learning, by saying: “Serious Games represents the next evolutionary step in the field of technology-enabled learning, bringing new levels of engagement, motivation and context to the learning process. However, Serious Games isn’t just about advancing learning through technology, its also about unlocking business advantage through creating effective training programmes that can be deployed faster and enable staff to perform better. Ericsson is thrilled to be involved with eGames and given the international line-up of European and US speakers I fully expect this year’s event to be a tremendous success.”

“As the established leader in creative gaming and arts education, we are very excited to play an integral role in the conference this year,” said Professor Lizbeth Goodman, Founder and Director of the SMARTlab Digital Media Institute and the MAGIC Multimedia and Games Innovation Centre, Gamelab and PLAYroom at the University of East London. “This is an international event delivered exclusively by serious games experts who are targetting people in the tourism, heritage, culture, health, defence and education sectors. This event offers Oman’s public sector an exciting opportunity to learn about serious gaming and understand how it can help promote Oman’s rich heritage and tourism offer as well as educate children in schools.”
Blog contents copyright © 2006 PEIE

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Origin Oman and Winning Public Sector Business

“You never get a second chance to make a first impression,” stated Abeer Al Jasim of Knowledge Horizon speaking on presentation skills at the second of Origin Oman’s free workshops on winning public sector business held at the Muscat Inter-Continental Hotel. “Everyone has the ability to deliver successful presentations. All it takes is a little effort and practice. And of course you have to put in the work. It’s essential that you research, plan and prepare,” Al Jasim went on to explain.

Today’s workshop was the second in a pair of free workshops aimed at demystifying how the public sector buys goods and services. “We really want to get small businesses pitching for public sector contracts. We want them more active in the tender process. Developing small local business is a key part of the Origin Oman campaign,” said Hamida Al Balushi, Origin Oman Co-ordinator. “If we can help local manufacturers and service providers find opportunities for contracts with the public sector and show them how to respond to them correctly – how really to play to their strengths, then we’re well on our way to achieving our aim,” added Ibtisam Al Faruji Head of Marketing, Public Establishment for Industrial Estates.

“Today’s workshop was very well attended and attracted a range of local manufacturers and suppliers. If anyone missed it and wants to find out about the Origin Oman campaign or about manufacturing in the sultanate then they should visit the Origin Oman portal,” commented Karim Rahemtulla, MD, Infocomm, the KOM-based company responsible for hosting and designing the Origin Oman portal.

The next event in the Origin Oman calendar is the Origin Oman Reception on 18 March at the Muscat Inter-Continental Hotel. For further details view

Blog contents copyright © 2006 PEIE

Saturday, March 01, 2008

KOM Bridges the Digital Divide

The convergence of information technology, telecommunications, broadcasting and the delivery of Internet services at increasing bandwidths has the potential to revolutionize society economically, socially and culturally. Indeed, the Internet has ushered in the greatest period of wealth creation in history and has radically altered the way we deliver and receive information and the way we do business. However, it is estimated that more than 80 per cent of the world’s population has never even heard a dial tone, let alone surfed the Web and the gap between the information haves and have-nots is widening.

Announcing Knowledge Oasis Muscat’s (KOM) new season of Digital Nation seminars ( which are scheduled to start 7:30pm Tuesday 11 March at the Muscat Inter-Continental Hotel with a session on Bridging the Digital Divide, KOM’s Director General, Mohammed Al Maskari (pictured) warned of the danger of excluding people from the information revolution: "Across the globe, people lack jobs, food, health care and drinkable water. However, today, being cut off from basic telecommunications services is a hardship almost as acute as these other deprivations, and may indeed reduce the chances of finding remedies to them," he said.

The divide will grow as those with access to computers gain the skills to maximize the benefits of the Internet and those without become increasingly marginalized. This will impact on educational achievement, access to goods and services, participation in community life and employment. As Al Maskari, argues: “Increasingly, in the future, what we earn will be based on what we learn. We need to make sure that those opportunities are open to all.”

Lack of access to information technology and the Internet is seen as one of the measures of social exclusion. “Look at what’s happening in Europe and the US,” comments KOM’s Director General, “communities are finding that banks are developing online services but closing local branches. Supermarkets are moving to out of town sites and launching online delivery services. Those who don’t have transport or Internet access are reliant on more expensive local shops or no provision at all. We should be aware of these trends.”

Several solutions to the digital divide have been proposed including local training centres, cyber-cafes, telecottages and digital 'champions' to develop ICT projects in Oman’s rural areas. “The 11 March panel will discuss these issues as well as matters related to telecommunication infrastructure and competition and the urgent need to develop local web content,” says Al Maskari.

Karim Rahemtulla, MD, Infocomm and sponsor of Digital Nation remarks: “If you look at what broadband or ICT in general can bring they are better education, better health care and greater economic development. However, if we’re to reap the benefits of broadband and ICT then we need to look at how we get more people online and I believe initiatives like KOM’s Digital Nation series go a long way to helping us tackle these difficult matters.”

The Digital Nation series is sponsored by Ericsson, Infocomm, Nawras, Omania e-Commerce and United Media Service. Digital Nation seminars are open to all and free of charge. Further details on the quarterly program can be viewed at:

Blog contents copyright © 2006 PEIE