Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Origin Oman's 150 Kilometre Meal Initiative

“When the average Oman based citizen sits down to eat, each ingredient has typically travelled at least 1,500 kilometres” says Ibtisam Al Faruji of PEIE and the woman spearheading the recently-launched Origin Oman campaign ( “Our local products are excellent and we want to get people putting them on their plates on a more regular basis. Our goal is simple, we want to raise public awareness of locally produced food as well as highlight the environmental impact of transporting food long distances. It just makes sense,” she adds.

To get this idea into practice and show exactly how good local produce is, on the evening of 25 and 26 May, the Oman Tourism College in partnership with the Origin Oman campaign will host the ‘150 Kilometre Meal’. “The goal is to stick to ingredients grown or made within 150 kilometres of the College,” says Dietrich Repolusk (pictured), lecturer in Nutrition and International Cuisine at the college and the man responsible for planning the dinner menu along with his Omani students. ”We fully expect a sell out crowd of 60 diners each night who will feast on a meal featuring locally sourced ingredients,” says confident Repolusk.

Repolusk, an Austrian national who has been in the food and travel business for over 30 years and is an accomplished chef said: “I’m passionate about locally grown food. Eating closer to home is both safer and healthier. Food is a living, breathing entity and the fresher the food, the better it is for you. If people made the effort to make even 10% of their diet local, it would have a huge impact on the environment, the domestic economy and our communities," says Repolusk.

“Eating local isn't just about health,” he continues. “It’s also about quality. I recently had the greatest local tomatoes. They were so unbelievably sweet and delicious. Better still they didn't sit on a truck for three weeks, frozen. And as for Omani honey and the fruit from Jebel Akhdar, well, they’re exceptional.”

Origin Oman’s Ibtisam agrees. “Speaking of honey, I always like to use the honey analogy when I talk about the taste of local food," she says. “The bees visit the local flora. We smell the air and our senses and our taste buds are attuned, so when we buy local honey, it tastes better because we’re smelling and tasting something familiar. They also say eating honey from where you live helps combat allergies.”

But isn’t eating locally sourced produce more expensive? Repolusk thinks not. “Most of us pay a premium for out-of-season foods like cherries in winter or prepared foods like spaghetti sauce, usually with a long list of ingredients we might prefer not to have in our bodies. Eating locally, you can buy fresh ingredients in season direct from the market or the farmer – and to save money you can buy in bulk. Freeze the food you don’t need straight away. In my opinion, most people eating a typical diet could save money by eating locally.” Ibtisam agrees, “There are places where it's easier and places where it's harder, but with a little planning, local eating is never impossible. And if you’re looking to save money don’t forget that a lot of products made in Oman are the same quality as imported stuff and often cheaper. It’s worth reconsidering the brands you buy.”

The ‘150 Kilometre Meal’ is one of the many initiatives that make up this year’s Origin Oman campaign. Look out also for: the Origin Oman Exhibition 25 - 29 May at Lulu Hypermarket and check out the Origin Oman website for more information on the campaign and its initiatives.

Blog contents copyright © 2006 PEIE

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Origin Oman Makes Front Cover Story

The Origin Oman campaign made front cover news in the most recent edition of The Week. Ceri Edwards' story is pasted below.

When sitting down on a Friday afternoon for a hearty family meal, do you ever stop to think about where your food might have come from? For most of us, the answer is no, but a new campaign called Origin Oman, run by Public Establishment for Industrial Estates (PEIE) wants to encourage more people in the sultanate to consider just this. Dave Pender, Advisor, PEIE, explained that in recent years, the distance food travels from producer to the dining table has increased by around 50 per cent. This means that, for example, the ingredients of your next meal could have potentially travelled as much as 40,000km to reach a plate in front of you. If this distance was to be reduced, there would be potential for numerous social, environmental and economic benefits, including the reduction of carbon emissions, job creation, increased community spirit and financial gain.

In order to raise awareness about the need to reduce food travel distance, an initiative under the umbrella of Origin Oman, the 150km meal has been organised as part of Origin Oman Week, between May 25-29, in tandem with key hotels in the country and the Oman Tourism College, where dishes will be created using ingredients that have travelled no more than 150km. “The idea behind the 150km meal is to present information regarding the benefits of locally sourced produce in a novel way, which in turn gets people thinking and raises awareness,” said Ibtisam Al Faruji, Head of Marketing, PEIE.

However, this initiative is just the icing on the cake. Origin Oman is a rolling campaign, which began in January 2008 and its goal is to promote, not only locally sourced food stuffs, but also technology, manpower as well as many other products and services. Without detracting from the quality of importing products and services from abroad, utilising talent and resources from within the country can help to reduce our carbon footprints, thus helping the environment, as well as simultaneously helping to make Oman a more sustainable place.Moreover, the multi-faceted campaign is not solely concentrated on ‘Joe Consumer’, but also on organisations that could become more socially responsible as a result of sourcing locally. “People sometimes just need to be made aware of what is available,” Ibtisam explained.

As well as the 150km meal concept, Origin Oman has a calendar of initiatives that will be implemented to help raise consumer consciousness. For example, a debate will be held later this month between several colleges and universities in the sultanate to discuss the importance of ‘Made in Oman’ products and services as well as what contributions students can make to the future success of the country.“Oman’s future is its youth and if we can get the message across to them, that is a positive step,” she added. In addition, Origin Oman will be launching a competition for students, enrolled in Oman-based tertiary colleges, to design a logo for the campaign. “By encapsulating the idea of locally-made goods and services in a logo, we are promoting national pride in contestants as well as giving consumers the opportunity to choose products that could help their country and the environment,” Dave added.

Other initiatives in the pipeline include the Origin Oman Week exhibition, which will be held at the car park of Lulu hypermarket, Bausher. At the event, companies and organisations from a number of industries, including fashion, travel, technology and education, will be showcasing their wares and services, providing free samples and giving informative demonstrations. With these initiatives and more planned to help consumers realise that buying locally could be beneficial at a number of levels, it is hoped that people will now shop with more awareness of the quality of products and services Oman has to offer.

Origin Oman logo competition The Origin Oman logo competition was officially launched at PEIE’s head office at Knowledge Oasis Muscat on April 20 to design a logo for the campaign. The competition is open to Oman-based college students of all nationalities. As a guideline, logo entries should take into account the various places it will be used. The closing date for entries is May 20. The winning entry will receive RO500. For more information, go to or email Entries can also be dropped off at the Knowledge Oasis Muscat at KOM Building 1 reception. For more details about Origin Oman, go to

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

KOM to Showcase Start-ups at COMEX

Knowledge Oasis Muscat (KOM) will for the third year running sponsor COMEX (, Oman’s annual flagship ICT exhibition. A KOM Pavilion will be staged at the Oman International Exhibition Centre from 28 April to 2 May 2008.

If you’re looking for ways on how to collaborate with firms on KOM; or to find out about advergaming; web design and web based services; m-Commerce; software design in logistics or WiFi services for the petroleum business then perhaps you should visit the companies exhibiting on the KOM Pavilion. As a sponsor of the event and with a growing modern hi-tech community of over 60 tenants, KOM is gaining momentum as it consolidates its position as one of the Gulf’s leading technology parks.

“We’re totally committed to enhancing KOM’s position and we’re actively seeking opportunities to raise the national and international profile of our tenant community,” commented Mohammed Al Maskari, KOM’s Director General. Al Maskari announced that KOM tenants will present a series of technology briefings from their respective stands. “The briefings are intended to showcase products, services and applications and provide trade visitors with an opportunity to hear about developing technologies and their applications,” says the Park’s Director General.

“Through participating in COMEX, KOM is offered an opportunity to showcase its achievements in the ICT field, and the Government's determination to develop the Sultanate as a leading regional digital centre,” says Ibtisam Al Faruji, KOM’s Head of Marketing. “The exhibition is also a golden opportunity for us to reach audiences we may not ordinarily have access to,” remarks Al Faruji.Singaporean m-Commerce expert, Karim Rahemtulla (pictured) MD, Infocomm ( and one of KOM’s anchor tenants comments: “Our participation on KOM’s pavilion gives us an unique opportunity to showcase our advergaming and mobile commerce solutions and services to both business and consumers. We will also be promoting our community portal. COMEX is an excellent networking event that in the past has helped us initiate a number of new business relationships.”

Asked about developments in mobile phone applications, Rahemtulla says: “It’s booming. From an international perspective, folk in Slovakia are using mobiles to remotely switch on the heat before they get home. Over 1.5 million Norwegians are sending their tax returns by SMS. British paramedics are using camera phones to send ahead to hospitals pictures of incoming injuries; and Japanese construction workers on-site are using cell phones to send pictures to contractors off-site. The SMS space is developing rapidly, we’re very excited about the opportunities it presents.”

According to Al Maskari KOM has several overlapping target groups, we cater for start-ups, SMEs and blue chip multinationals. This year, five companies from the Park’s incubator program – The Knowledge Mine (TKM) – will participate at on KOM’s Pavilion. “In simple terms,” suggests Al Maskari “TKM’s facilities help stimulate and support start-ups who are upgrading or developing new technologies, products or services. We offer start-ups support through high-quality, low-cost office space and technical, business and administrative mentoring services.” TKM’s mentor program is supported by Ericsson; Ernst & Young; KPMG; Towers & Hamlins; and Intilaaqah. “We’re very excited about the participation of TKM’s Hussam Technology; R&D; Trade Max; IT Scope; and Seeb Systems, these are highly creative start-ups that are making their mark in the domestic and regional ICT market,” commented Al Faruji.

Blog contents copyright © 2006 PEIE

Friday, April 18, 2008

Rules for Origin Oman Logo Competition

The logo must encapsulate the idea of locally-made goods and services and sustainability and the design should take into account the various and varied places it will be used.

Where Will the Origin Oman Logo be Used?
The Origin Oman logo will be used to help consumers and institutional buyers identify Oman-made products and services. It will appear, for example, in retail establishments around Oman as well as on Oman-made merchandise, business cards, headed paper, pop-up displays, exhibition stands, flyers, booklets, brochures as well as in web and print advertising campaigns. Moreover, the logo will also be made available to any Oman-based company or organization that is a member of the Origin Oman portal – – In brief, the logo is intended to enhance awareness of locally made goods and services.

Help the Economy
When companies and organizations use the Origin Oman logo in their marketing and promotional campaigns, they set themselves apart from the competition by conveying their pride in Oman. Identifying products and services with the Origin Oman logo in supermarkets, shops, hotels, restaurants, coffee shops or at trade shows will translate into increased profits.

Use of the Origin Oman logo will help increase sales of Oman-made products and services which in turn will result in increased employment opportunities and a stronger Omani economy. It’s a win-win scenario.

The Competition Prize
The prize for the winning logo will be RO500 (US$1,358) - and the pride of seeing your logo help promote Oman-made goods and services.

Competition Terms
The deadline for submissions is 20 May 2008

Rules of the Competition
1. The logo must be original work of the submitter. By submitting a logo for entry in the competition, the designer acknowledges that he/she is the person that made the logo and is its rightful owner. Copies will be rejected. No work will be returned. Be sure to keep a copy.
2. The design must have an Arabic and English version. The Arabic version must include the word ‘Omani’ in Arabic and the English version should carry the words ‘Origin Oman’ in English. We will also accept a single version that contains the two elements.
3. The competition is open to Oman-based students only.
4. The logo should be vector graphics in Illustrator ai format.
5. Do not send Word documents, Powerpoint Presentations or PaintShop Pro files. They will not be accepted.
6. We will only accept digital submissions. 7. Digital submissions must be a minimum of 300 dpi.
8. The logo should be usable in monochrome and colour media, including limited colours (2 or 3
9. The logo must not exploit or offend anyone’s sex, race, religion, morality, culture, nor be salacious, or pornographic. Artwork considered by the committee to be violent, provocative, pornographic, discriminatory or inappropriate will be disqualified.
10. The logo should be simple. Remember it will be used on merchandise.
11. The deadline for submission is 20 May 2008.
12. Results will be announced in 25 May 2008.
13. By participating, you agree to give the copyright for your design to PEIE and the winning designer will disclaim any trademarks and without limitation all other rights related to the design. The designer also certifies that the logo does not infringe upon the rights of any third party and that it does not violate any copyright.
14. PEIE declines any responsibility of misuse of the image. 15. All personal information enclosed in the submission form will remain confidential. This information will be used to check the validity of a submission and to contact the winners.
16. Imitation or insertion of copyrighted images are not allowed: comics, movies, TV characters, etc.
17. When submitting please include your full name, age, place of study, postal address, telephone number and e-mail address. Without this information the submission will be rejected.

All entries must be submitted to: or on CD to PEIE’s Head Office on Knowledge Oasis Muscat on or before 20 May 2008

Blog contents copyright © 2006 PEIE

Origin Oman Logo Competition Hots Up

College students from around Oman are being invited to submit entries for the Origin Oman Student Logo Design Competition. Launched by the Public Establishment for Industrial Estates (PEIE) the competition invites students to design a logo that will be used in its forthcoming advertising and direct marketing campaign to promote Oman made goods and services.

Origin Oman is a domestic campaign designed to promote local products and services and is intended to engender national pride and encourage consumers and companies to choose locally made products and services bearing the Origin Oman logo. “We’re particularly excited about the competition as it encapsulates the ethos of the Origin Oman campaign,” says Ibtisam Al Faruji (pictured), PEIE’s Head of Marketing.

The competition will be officially launched at PEIE’s Head Office on Knowledge Oasis Muscat on Sunday 20 April at 11:00am. “We fully expect the standard of entries to be very high. It's important to run competitions like this because it gives college students the chance to work on something real rather than just theoretical. I'm sure the winner will be proud when they see their design on all the Origin Oman publicity material as well as on Oman-made products and services.”

Hilal Al Ahsani, CEO, PEIE said: “Being involved in live projects is an invaluable experience for college students. It simulates the working situation and helps them develop the ability to articulate their concepts and practice their people skills. Competing in the business arena will be a real challenge and I fully expect them to respond positively and enthusiastically.”

According to Ibtisam the logo should take into account the various and varied places it will be used. Open to Oman-based college-registered students of all nationalities. The closing date for entries is 20 May 2008. The winning student will receive RO500. Further information on the competition can be viewed at:

Blog contents copyright © 2006 PEIE

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Origin Oman Student Logo Competition Launched

A national student design competition has been launched by the Public Establishment for Industrial Estates (PEIE) to find the visual brand that will reflect the uniqueness of Oman-made goods and services, with a RO500 cash prize for the winner.

Oman-based students of all nationalities are being invited to enter the competition, which will provide the Origin Oman campaign with a distinctive logo that will be used on letterheads, signage and advertising as well as on the Internet.

Judges for the competition have been drawn from the media and design sectors and represent those working at the forefront of Oman’s creative industries.

Origin Oman is a new think, buy and eat local business initiative spearheaded by PEIE. “In simple terms, the campaign aims to preserve and enhance the economic, human and natural vitality of Oman’s communities by promoting the importance of purchasing locally made products and services,” says Nasser Al Rahbi, PEIE’s Media Co-ordinator.

“Origin Oman certainly isn’t a militant 'buy only Oman' initiative,” says Al Rahbi, “it’s a balanced and rational campaign that is more about educating consumers and institutional buyers as to the availability of Oman-made products and services and the internal success stories many of our manufacturers are enjoying in the international markets.”

“We need this type of nudge,” suggests Hamida, “I guess that once the average Oman-based consumer realizes they already buy local to some degree, whether that’s washing powder, fruit and vegetables, baby nappies, sweets, car batteries, or cooking oil - the blocks you build your house with, they will perhaps engage in the idea a lot more. In fact, the overall economic impact of buying local is actually phenomenal,” comments The PEIE Media Co-ordinator.

The creation of a visual identity for the Origin Oman campaign offers a challenging opportunity to those students involved in media and design. "We're inviting submissions for this challenging brief from across Oman – we hope that as many colleges as possible will participate in this important initiative. Indeed, the competition is another way for us to help promote the importance of buying locally-made goods and services. Along with the other judges I am delighted to be involved with this project, and I am sure the competition will attract the highest calibre of entry," remarks Hamida Al Balushi the competition’s co-ordinator.

Those interested in entering the Origin Oman student logo competition should log on to to review the competition’s guidelines. The closing date for entries is Tuesday 20 May 2008.

Blog contents copyright © 2006 PEIE

Thursday, April 03, 2008

One-on-one with David Wortley

Here's an interview with David Wortley, Director, Serious Games Institute, Coventry University and presenter at KOM's 2008 Serious eGames Conference held in Muscat, Oman 31 March - 1 April.

What are the focus areas – both short-term and long-term - of SGI (Serious Games Institute)?

DW: The Serious Games Institute (SGI) has 2 principal and related focus areas - serious games and virtual worlds. Both of these areas involve immersive environments that are engaging and have potential to develop, inform and influence users. In the short term our aim is to raise awareness of the potential of these applications and to develop a reputation for the West Midlands of the UK as a centre of excellence. By doing this, we aspire to attracting inward investment, creating jobs, attracting the best talent and retaining graduates. In the longer term, our aim is to build a model of best practice for a commercially sustainable partnership between industry and education that combines business incubation with advanced demonstration/showcasing facilities and excellent applied research.

Please explain games based simulation and immersive 3D virtual environments?

DW: Simulation is an activity which gives people an opportunity to practice skills without the risks or consequences of associated with doing it for real. Role playing exercises are a good examples of simulations. Flight simulators are one of the best known types of simulation. They provide pilots with a chance to practice flying a plane without killing themselves or other people. Games are activities which involve challenge, competition, rewards and enjoyment. Games also create a low-risk environment that encourages enterprise and innovation. Putting games and simulations together creates an environment where people can not only practice skills in a low-risk way but where they also experience enjoyment, challenge, competition and rewards.

Immersive 3D virtual environments are computer generated virtual worlds which the user can explore and navigate. Increasingly, technology is enabling us to create realistic 3D immersive environments that many users can share simultaneously on standard computer hardware.

Clearly, simulations, games and 3D immersive environments are closely related and each can support the effectiveness of the other e.g. a games based simulation in an immersive 3D virtual environment could be the most effective way to engage and develop people because it combines the best of all worlds but there are many examples of simulations that are not games e.g. commercial flight simulators and games which are not simulations e.g. professional football

Examples which combine both games and simulation include Microsoft Flight simulator and the Football Manager electronic games. Microsoft Flight simulator uses an immersive 3D virtual environment and Football Manager is just 2D.

What could be the negatives, if any, of pursuing serious games?

DW: Like any emerging technology, there is always the danger of inflated expectations and misuse. Serious games have great potential if used appropriately. If people pursue serious games with the expectation that they can replace all other forms of training and learning, they will be disappointed and potentially waste a lot of money. Once people understand how and when to uses serious games, and once the tools and technologies are fully mature, these negatives will disappear.

The most serious long-term negative of pursuing serious games could be that users of serious games are protected from the risks and consequences of the real world and that this protection could lead people to take inappropriate risks once they move from the serious games to the real world. A pilot who crashes his flight simulator many times and walks away unharmed may be less careful when flying a real plane and a soldier killed many times in a "shoot em up" simulation can always restart the game but in real life he might not get a second chance.

In the cultural context of the Gulf countries, especially Oman, how do you see the growth of serious games applications?

DW: Gulf countries like Oman are developing very rapidly as a result of oil. They are moving into the 21st century globalised economy with a new generation of young people being brought up in the Technology Age where games consoles and mobile phones are a very natural and essential part of everyday life. For this coming generation, serious games will be a very natural way to learn and develop. I therefore see a rapid growth in both the use and development of serious games and a potential source of employment in the Oman economy.

How would you relate serious games and environment concerns?

DW: Serious games have the potential to address environmental concerns on different levels. One of the biggest impacts of serious games on the environment could be their use to educate people and influence their behaviour. There are already serious games where players can experience the simulated environmental impact of their decisions and their lifestyles. These games are designed to change behaviour through increased awareness.

However, there are also opportunities to use serious games and immersive environment technologies to produce environmental benefits through their use in such application areas as Smart Buildings and Virtual conferences, both of which should reduce energy consumption and have a positive impact on the environment.

What could be the breakthrough sort of innovation possible through serious games applications?

DW: This is a very difficult question because innovation is by its nature unanticipated and unpredictable. However, if you look at what are emerging possibilities enabled by technological advance, the ability to visualise information in 3 dimensions must be a key area for breakthrough innovation. It is an area that the SGI is deeply involved in through the real time integration of physical and virtual worlds with sensor technologies.

As an example, these technologies enable us to visualise and experience a building before it is constructed and, once constructed, allow us to interact with the building and its occupants in ways never before possible. We can see this as a major area for innovation.

One of the other important breakthrough innovations made possible by electronic games is likely to be the interface with the computer. The mouse and keyboard are likely to be replaced by more natural interfaces including Wii type controllers, brainwave monitors and 3D cameras.

On a global scale, how do you serious games growing?

DW: I foresee substantial growth in the serious games market place both in the commercial and consumer space. In the business to business space, new tools to improve development productivity will reduce costs and growing awareness will stimulate demand, whilst in the consumer space, led by companies like Nintendo, you will see many serious games published of the "Brain trainer" genre.

How can serious games promote regional development?

DW: The West Midlands of the UK has lost many of its traditional manufacturing industries with the migration of car making to the Far East. With the growth potential of this emerging sector, the West Midlands is seeking to promote regional development by building on the success of local electronic games companies such as Blitz Games and Codemasters and investing in building a new brand identity around this.

3D immersive environments (and games) can also be used to promote the region by creating rich virtual worlds that mirror the region and encourage its exploration through gateways like Google Earth and Microsoft Virtual Earth

Any plans to start an SGI learning centre in Oman?

DW: The launch of the Soft Landing Zone in Oman is an importnat first step to the creation of an international network of learning centres to encourage enterprise and innovation through serious games, 3D immersive environments and advanced telecommunications. The Soft Landing Zone will enable us to run joint virtual events and workshops

How can serious games boost creativity?

DW: By their nature, games encourage creativity and experimentation so those involved in the development of serious games must exercise their creativity, imagination and story-telling communication skills. There are also examples of serious games which are specifically designed to encourage enterprise and innovation amongst business people. Pixelearning's business enterprise game is an example of this.

In what way can serious games help people with special needs?

DW: At the Serious Games Institute, we have an excellent example of how someone with special needs has had his life transformed by the virtual world called Second Life. Simon Stevens is a highly intelligent and entrepreneurial young man with cerebral palsy. Second Life enabled him to fulfill hsi potential by creating a level playing field in which his capabilities were not masked by his physical and speech difficulties.

Increasingly, technologies like this and developments in new interfaces will help people with special needs express and exploit their special capabilities.

Is there any monitoring/regulatory agency for the serious games sector?

DW: I guess the serious games sector is still emerging so, as far as I am aware, such an agency is not yet in place. I would not like to predict whether there is a need for such an agancy but I think it is likely that there will be some form of industry standards body to will develop and encourage standard protocols for serious games and virtual worlds that allows inter-operability.

Blog contents copyright © 2006 PEIE