Saturday, March 28, 2009

Serious eGames Conference Starts Monday

With KOM's annual Serious eGames Conference set to start on Monday 30 March at the Middle East College of Information Technology, if you thought video games were only for fun then you had better think again. Today, we’re seeing increased interest in serious gaming. In simple terms, that means the use of interactive video games to make learning more engaging. In response to this demand, video game developers are creating a broad repertoire of educational and training games that can be used in the health, education, tourism and culture sectors – to name just a few.

“Some of today’s more popular video games – such as SimCity, Civilization and Hidden Agenda – are already being used in schools and universities across the world. Indeed, industry research clearly suggests that the demand for serious games will only increase. One reason could be that far more adults – rather than teens or children – are playing video games today,” says Mohammed Al Maskari, KOM’s Director General.

In this sense, video games are much like movies, people don't just stop watching movies after they outgrow Disney. They just switch to different types of movies. It's the same in the gaming industry – adults still want to play games, they're just choosing different types of games.

“The video gaming industry isn’t just about the youth market – far from it,” remarks KOM’s Marketing Director, Ibtisam Al Faruji, adding: “recent IBM and Sony Computer Entertainment figures paint a very different picture, several of these statistics are particularly relevant to the use of ‘games’ for learning and development and help us overcome the perception that ‘games are just for teens, especially as the average game player is now 33 years old and has been playing games for 12 years.”
Other figures show that 38% of all game players are women. In fact, women over the age of 18 represent a significantly greater portion of the game-playing population
(31%) than boys age 17 or younger (20%). Moreover, 49% of game players say they play games online one or more hours per week.

According to the Entertainment Software Association 70% of major employers utilize interactive software and games to train employees. The study data also showed that more than 75% of businesses already offering serious game-based training plan to expand their usage in the next three to five years. In brief, serious games has multiple applications that are relevant to Oman’s health, education, training, tourism, culture and civil defence sectors and it’s a market that is growing rapidly.

The PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Global Entertainment and Media Outlook: 2007 - 11 report predicts the global gaming market - measured by consumer spending on games played on all platforms, including online and wireless games - will expand at a compound annual rate of 9.1% over the next five years.

In hard cold cash, PwC estimates that the video game market will increase from US$31.6 billion in 2006 to US$48.9 billion in 2011. This makes video games the third-fastest-growing segment of the entertainment and media market after TV distribution and Internet advertising.

The takeaway is clear: Spurred by the new generation of consoles and handhelds, and by increased penetration of broadband and wireless technologies, the serious games industry both globally and domestically is ripe with opportunity. “It’s apparent that there’s a lot of unlocked commercial potential. As a result, it’s predicted that over the next 10 – 15 years serious games will become ubiquitous. "Gamers" as a separate group will no longer exist, because everyone will be a gamer, as everyone now listens to music, watches TV, surfs the Net or reads a newspaper,” says KOM’s Director General.

Blog contents copyright © 2006 PEIE

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Serious Games Not Child's Play

It may sound like a contradiction in terms. But serious games are now a very grown-up business and both corporations and governments around the world are using gaming technology to get their messages heard.

From helping to train armies to increasing sales of cheeseburgers, the serious games industry has taken off as an innovative way of truly engaging and educating today’s technologically-sophisticated audience.

“Using virtual worlds, simulation and social networking platforms, games deliver real training, education and marketing benefits,” says David Wortley, Director, Serious Games Institute (SGI), Coventry University and presenter at Knowledge Oasis Muscat’s annual Serious eGames Conference – scheduled to be held 30 March at the Middle East College of Information Technology.

Wortley cites SGI research in which two groups of emergency workers were taught how to cope with a city centre explosion. One underwent traditional training, the other used simulation game Triage Trainer. “Those using Triage Trainer absorbed more information and were better equipped. I think this is because the simulation created a greater degree of realism than could ever have been possible with more conventional scenario training,” he explains.

Similarly, the fast food chain Burger King increased sales – and reinforced its brand message amongst its target audience - when it created an electronic game for sale in US restaurants.

“Games can offer companies a real competitive edge, building relationships with their consumers,” says the SGI Director.

Man has always used games to develop skills and understanding. But the serious games revolution emerged only in the last 10 years when technology previously restricted to the likes of the aviation industry became widely accessible. The dawn of Web 2.0 has taken it onto a new level entirely.
One of the first to seize the initiative was the US army, attracting new recruits, training soldiers and even educating the public through simulation game America’s Army.

“We’re now seeing games that were originally designed for entertainment being put to serious use, for example, Nintendo Wii Fit. Even the best-selling PC game series, MYST, is used in the classroom to switch pupils onto English, with fantastic results,” says Mohammed Al Maskari (pictured) and organizer of the Serious eGames Conference.

On the education front, a recent report commissioned by the games giant Electronic Arts (EA) and carried out by FutureLab surveyed almost 1,000 teachers and more than 2,300 primary and secondary school students in the UK. The survey found 59% of teachers would consider using off-the-shelf games in the classroom while 62% of students wanted to use games at school.

While we might find a “generation divide between teachers and students in respect of playing computer games. For example, the UK study found more than 70% of teachers never play games outside school while 82% of children said they played video games on a regular basis. This tells me that serious games have a role in today’s more tech savvy learning environment.”

Ibtisam Al Faruji, KOM’s Marketing Director said: “Now more than ever people are starting to wake up to the importance of video games; culturally, artistically and economically. Whether you’re in tourism, finance, education, marketing or managing historic buildings, serious games have a role to play.”

Blog contents copyright © 2006 PEIE

Sunday, March 15, 2009

KOM Doubles Office Capacity

The foundation stone for the new multi-purpose, 30,000 square metre ICT and business development facility on Knowledge Oasis Muscat (KOM) was laid on Sunday 15 March by the Under Secretary for Commerce & Industry, Ministry of Commerce & Industry, HE Ahmed bin Hassan Al Dheeb (seated right) and HE Mohammed bin Nasser Al Rasbi, Under Secretary, Ministry of Defence(seated left).

In addition to the foundation stone laying ceremony, the two Under Secretaries signed a series of agreements related to the expansion of the Rusayl-based technology park.

Since its launch in 2003, KOM has gone from strength to strength, attracting multinationals such as Microsoft, NCR, Huawei, Motorola and Hewlett Packard to take up residency. Hi-tech SMEs from the Middle East, Asia and Europe have also opened operations on KOM. In addition to this, the Park’s business incubator program, The Knowledge Mine, continues to thrive, now home to over 15 start-ups working in areas that include e-Security, web design, precision engineering and environmental services.

Alongside the business benefits, the new KOM building is expected have a major impact on the domestic economy attracting upwards of 2,000 jobs and substantial inward investment into Oman over the next 5-10 years of its opening.

The new building will comprise of eight floors and take KOM’s existing office accommodation on from 22,000m2 to over 50,000m2. Externally, it will compliment the existing green glassed domed buildings on the park. Upper floors will have superb panoramic views over the tech park and the surrounding countryside.

The large development is the result of a partnership between KOM and the Ministry of Defence Pension Fund. As well as creating a centre for ICT excellence, the new building will also provide a base for firms working in areas such as the creative industries, education and environmental technologies.

Hilal Al Ahsani, CEO, Public Establishment for Industrial Estates (PEIE) the government organization responsible for KOM said: “The global market for environmental products and services is an area KOM is keen to explore and one that is projected to double from US$1,370 billion (1.37 trillion) per year at present to US$2,740 billion (2.74 trillion) by 2020.”

According to Al Ahsani, in countries such as Germany, environmental technology is expected to grow fourfold to 16 per cent of industrial output by 2030, with employment in this sector surpassing that in the country's big machine tool and automotive industries. “Given the growth in environment technology, the new facility we’re building will certainly be looking to attract companies working in this important sector.”

The PEIE CEO went on to add: “KOM’s new development will bring huge long-term benefits to the Omani economy by fostering closer ties between ICT, business and education, building on the spirit of innovation for which KOM is renowned. PEIE is committed to developing our knowledge economy which is why we are partnering with the Ministry of Defence Pension Fund in this state-of-the-art facility.”

Saleh Al Habsi, Director General, MoD Pension Fund said: “KOM and the new 30,000 square metre office facility is about investing in Oman’s future by providing our people and businesses with the opportunities, skills and facilities they need to prosper.”

The foundation stone laying ceremony marks the start of the building’s construction. The project’s consultants are locally-based National Engineering Office and the contractor is Al Adrak Trading and Contracting LLC. The building is fully expected to be a landmark feature and will be equipped with the latest technology in broadband information and communication.

Long-term tenant of KOM and MD of Infocomm, Karim Rahemtulla said: “This is a major investment in Oman’s future and will bring immense benefits to the sultanate’s ICT and creative industries sectors, particularly in terms of the recruitment and retention of staff, as well as being a catalyst to the economic development of Oman."

Blog contents copyright © 2006 PEIE

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Major KOM Expansion

The foundation stone for the new multi-purpose, 30,000 square metre ICT and business development facility on Knowledge Oasis Muscat (KOM) will be laid 15th March by the Under Secretary for Commerce & Industry, Ministry of Commerce & Industry, HE Ahmed bin Hassan Al Dheeb.

In addition to the foundation stone laying ceremony, HE Al Dheeb will also sign an MoU with HE Mohammed bin Nasser Al Rasbi, Under Secretary, Ministry of Defense and Vice Chairman, Ministry of Defence Pension Fund with regard investing in KOM’s new facility.

Since its launch in 2003, KOM has gone from strength to strength, attracting multinationals such as Microsoft, NCR, Huawei, Motorola and Hewlett Packard to take up residency. Hi-tech SMEs from the Middle East, Asia and Europe have also opened operations on KOM. In addition to this, the Park’s business incubator program, The Knowledge Mine, continues to thrive, now home to over 15 start-ups working in areas that include e-Security, web design, precision engineering and environmental services.

According to Mohammed Al Maskari, KOM’s Director General: “The new building will comprise of eight floors and take KOM’s existing office accommodation on from 22,000m2 to over 50,000m2. Externally, it will compliment the existing green glassed domed buildings on the Rusayl-based technology park. Upper floors will have superb panoramic views over the tech park and the striking surrounding countryside.“

The large development is the result of a partnership between KOM and the Ministry of Defence Pension Fund. As well as creating a centre for ICT excellence, the new building will also provide a base for firms working in areas such as the creative industries; education; and environmental technologies.

The foundation stone laying ceremony marks the start of the building’s construction. The project’s consultants are locally-based National Engineering Office and the contractor is Al Adrak Trading and Contracting LLC. The building is fully expected to be a landmark feature and will be equipped with the latest technology in broadband information and communication. The building is due for completion by summer 2010.

Blog contents copyright © 2006 PEIE

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Packaging Origin Oman

In today’s congested business world, packaging has become a critical factor; it can often make or break a product. If the packaging is right, people will buy a product without even trying it because most associate superior packaging with quality. “It’s generally accepted that 70 - 80% of a consumer's purchasing decision is made at the point of sale. In supermarkets, for example, research shows shoppers spend an average of less than 10 seconds in any single product category, so decisions are made quickly and often based on what a product looks like,” says Hamida Al Balushi, Origin Oman Co-ordinator and organizer of Origin Oman’s 18 April Product Design and Packaging Workshop scheduled to be held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel Muscat.

The look and feel of the product, design, colour, labelling, price and the name of the product itself are all things that trigger us to stop and look at items on shelves. “Most of these triggers either are, or can be influenced by packaging,” suggests Al Balushi. Indeed, potential consumers will touch, rate and even smell a product simply based on its packaging. With so much at stake, having a product packaged creatively will increase the likelihood of it being bought and re-bought if it lives up to its name.

However, according to Al Balushi, attention to packaging is a crucial step that’s often neglected in business. “Ask yourself this question, would you buy a plain looking item or something excitingly packaged that makes everyone drool?” smiles Hamida.“Everyone knows that packaging attracts attention, provokes and communicates volumes about the product it contains and the brand. Think about a box of chocolates, would you buy one with ‘Cheap Chocs' printed on the box if you were taking it as a gift - even if the contents were just as good as those at twice the price?” asks the Origin Oman Co-ordinator.

So packaging is important but many Omani companies make the same mistake - they only ever think about packaging when they launch a new product. If packaging is so important as to influence 70 - 80% of a consumer's purchasing decision then it must be continually reviewed and tested. “This is the type of message we aim to get out at the 18 April Workshop. In this regard, we’ll be bringing in key experts to lead the discussions. This will include, Peter Ford, Reader in Design Innovation at Leicester’s De Montfort University. Peter is a major player in his field, having worked on product design and packaging initiaties with companies like Adidas; British Nucleur Fuels; Black & Decker; The Post Office; and Lucas Automotive. He will be joined by Rawan Darwish, Shaun Loftman and Stuart Jeal from Landor Associates – a firm with a long-standing, top-clas international reputation for bringing innovative design solutions.”

“Packaging is an important marketing strategy and one that Oman-based manufacturers shouldn’t neglect,” says Ford, adding: “Most consumers judge a product by its packaging before buying. So it’s logical to say attractive packaging is crucial in order to get the first time buyer to choose your product. Without good packaging, who would buy it in order to try it? Your first step to enter the market is crushed if the packaging is ugly.”

Having eye-catching packaging doesn’t mean you should neglect quality either. Repeat sales depend on high quality products. “Converting first time buyers into loyal customers should be the main goal of your business and packaging is the door to it,” adds Ford

Incorporating new package design into the re-branding process isn’t something to rush into blindly, it’s important to get it right according to Landor’s Shaun Loftman (pictured): “Tinkering with packaging is often the first response company’s use to rejuvenate a tired brand. Frequently, this approach results in an early incremental increase in market share which is then quickly lost once consumers realise it's the same old product.”

“If Oman-made products are going to appeal to consumers then we need to re-think our approach to packaging and product design. Indeed, as Oman’s economy develops, consumers are increasingly turning to packaged goods, which offer convenience, quality, aesthetics and lifestyle branding. Economic development has also seen the emergence of a burgeoning Omani middle class, which places a growing importance on matters of taste and appearance. This increasing consumer sophistication is satisfied in part by creatively packaged goods, which offer the promise of higher quality as well as status,” comments Ibtisam Al Faruji, Origin Oman’s Marketing Director.

And a final word from Hamida: “I strongly believe the 18 April Origin Oman Product Design and Packaging Workshop offers an interesting and important opportunity for us to address the design and packaging challenges that face local manufacturers and retailers.”

You’ve 10 seconds to impress. So what makes good packaging?

If your target audience wants to feel they’re saving money then making your product look cheaper using plain packaging and a 'No Frills' message would be right - the reality is that the packaging 'origination costs' will bear little or no impact on the product price but it makes the product feel cheaper.

Most consumers like to try new things and the only way to buy something that is worth their investment is through the depiction of the design or image of the packaging. Be creative in your packaging to help better impress potential consumers to buy your product.

Creative packaging help breaks the consumer’s fear of a bad purchase. It also opens the door for products to be tried at least once from first time users. Packaging is a crucial element that can’t be neglected.

If consumers only spend 10 seconds then they get a lot of information about a product by just looking at the pictures on the packaging than from reading the text. Colour can also convey a message about your product and shortcut communication with consumers. Though be aware, colour has different meanings in different cultures so it needs to be researched. Where text is used, make it easy to read and use language that connects with the target audience.

With only 10 seconds, consumers will generally go with what they’re familiar with. However, in the absence of relevance the consumer will always fall back on price. If a consumer has seen your product in advertising they feel that they already know what it can do for them, they will be more likely to buy your product. If you're going to get the biggest bang for your marketing Rial then everything from the company’s ads, branding and packaging must carry the same and consistent message.

The best examples of this are squeezy ketchup bottles and plastic toothpaste tubes - the physical and practical packaging is as important as the aesthetics. It must add to the positive experience of using the product. At the end of the day, it has to be easy to open and easy to use.

Blog contents copyright © 2006 PEIE

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Origin Oman's Product Design & Packaging Workshop

The Origin Oman Team will run a Product Design and Packaging Workshop on 18 April at the Grand Hyatt Hotel. This is a free-of-charge event and open to the general public. However, we will be limiting the number of attendees to 125. Should you wish to attend, please e-mail your name and contact co-ordinates to Hamida Al Balushi on:

Event Summary
The Origin Oman campaign proposes to conduct two one-day product design and packaging workshops in Muscat. The proposed workshops will provide an insight into the specialist design expertise available to Oman’s manufacturing industry; the importance of product design, development and innovation to manufacturing –illustrated with examples and expert guidance; and advice on how to avoid product development failures.

Event detail and schedule:

9.00am – 9.30am: Networking + coffee

Session 1: 9:30am -10:15am
Peter Ford, Reader in Design Innovation - De Montfort (pictured) University

Approximately 50% of all new product development projects are failures. Session 1 will illustrate with examples, how to avoid the pitfalls and justify why new product development is important to Omani manufacturers. In addition, Session 1 will highlight the key drivers for a successful customer driven implementation strategy.

10:15am – 10.3am: Questions

10:30am – 10:45am: Networking + coffee

Session 2: 10:45am – 11:30am
Rawan Darwish, Shaun Loftman & Stuart Jeal - Landor Associates

Session 2 will outline the why’s, how's and wherefores of design, development and innovation in product design and packaging.

11:30am – 11:45am: Questions

11:45am – 12:00: Networking + coffee

12:00 – 12:45pm: Group Focus - Opportunity to have your say

A breakout session for small groups
What are the main barriers to product design, packaging and innovation in your sector?
What have been the most important product, packaging and design innovations within your organization/sector in the past 10 years?

Each group to present findings to the Workshop

Session 3: 12:45pm – 1:15pm
Post group findings: feedback, advice, further probing and suggestions.

1:15pm – 2:30pm: Lunch + networking

Blog contents copyright © 2006 PEIE

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

The Real Value of Buying Local

A one-on-one with Ibtisam Al Faruji - the woman heading up the Origin Oman, Buy Local campaign.

What’s Origin Oman all about?
Origin Oman is a think, buy and eat local business initiative spearheaded by the Public Establishment for Industrial Estates (PEIE). In simple terms, it 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.

Origin Oman certainly isn’t a militant 'buy only Oman' program. It’s a balanced and rational campaign that’s more about educating consumers and institutional buyers as to the availability of Oman-made products and services and the internal success stories many of Oman’s businesses are enjoying in the international markets. For example, Reem Batteries power London’s iconic red double decker buses.

We want to encourage people to think, buy and eat local. Indeed, we want to make sure consumers, businesses and institutional buyers ask the right questions before spending their money in a way that will hurt Oman’s economy. We want them to look around and see if there’s a reasonably priced quality local alternative available.

Isn’t Origin Oman protectionist?
Not at all. The Origin Oman campaign is entirely about the free choices of consumers, businesses and institutional buyers. No one is being forced to buy local, and no tariffs or other burdens are being placed on non-local goods.

Some economists believe - incorrectly - that initiatives such as Origin Oman must mean putting up trade barriers or inducing consumers to buy more expensive locally-made goods and services. They also forget that economic models assume all consumers have perfect information. One way of looking at the Origin Oman campaign is that it gives consumers better information - about the availability of attractive local goods and services, and about the significant economic, social and environmental benefits of buying local.

Shouldn't we leave the market alone?
A healthy market requires, as Origin Oman insists, that consumers fully gather information about available local alternatives before they make purchasing decisions, in full awareness that every Rial spent locally will have two to four times more benefit than a Rial spent non-locally. In fact, Origin Oman-style campaigns often turn out to be the best way to develop prosperous links to the global economy.

Why the recent interest in local products?
The notion of local products is not a new principle. Most products start their life produced for local sale. The revival of interest in buying goods, food and services from closer to home is stimulated by desire for quality, originality, a concern for the environment and a will to invest in our local communities.

There has been a recent resurgence in interest in buying locally for a number of reasons. We have seen growing concern for the environment, for example, the transport required to bring products and produce to market. This is coupled with nostalgia for the kind of relationship that goes hand-in-hand with the selling of local products. Also, links to tourism have meant that people exploring new cultures take an interest in locally made products and fare, whether they are visitors from other countries or other parts of Oman.

The principle behind local products is that they should give that distinctive difference, offering the consumer a product which reflects their understanding of being locally provided. While there are differing definitions of what ‘local’ means, we should allow the consumer to make that decision. The key in much of this is the authenticity of the product and the trust generated by forming a relationship between manufacturer, grower and consumer.

When considering local products, it is important to note the effect that key trends and influences have over consumer choice. Consumers have varying levels of concern and desire about issues such as health and the environment. In terms of health, consumers increasingly seek out fresh, quality produce, in which they can invest a level of trust. The trust relationship in local foods is often reinforced by the direct selling relationship between producer and consumer. Additionally, consumers are becoming increasingly aware of a need to reduce food kilometres - the distance which goods and produce must travel to reach the market. There are also connected concerns over levels of energy use, and for this reason products which have low levels of energy use, or involving sustainable sources of energy have extra appeal to Oman-based consumers.

Are you asking people just to buy Omani?
No, that’s not what the campaign is about. Of course local manufacturers, farmers and service providers keep more money in the local economy - but less obvious is just how much difference buying locally made products, produce and services can make. Research indicates that for every RO36 local retailers bring in through sales, businesses return RO25 to the local economy through salaries and benefits, purchase of goods and services like office supplies, marketing, PR, IT, advertising and accounting, profits to local owners and charitable contributions.

Indeed, research from San Francisco found that even the smallest shift in consumer spending can have a tremendous impact on the local economy. If 10% of residential spending were redirected toward local businesses, the study found, it would give San Francisco an RO75 million economic boost and generate nearly 1,300 new jobs.

Perhaps not coincidentally, we’re beginning with the goal of convincing consumers, businesses and institutional buyers to redirect just 10% of their spending toward locally made goods, produce and services - that would have a significant economic impact. In these turbulent economic times, it can make the difference between life and death for a local firm.

I guess that once the average Oman-based consumer, business and institutional buyer realizes they already buy local to some degree, whether that’s washing powder, confectionary, car batteries, cooking oil, ceramic tiles, vegetables or building materials, they will perhaps engage in the idea a lot more.

But does the local angle really matter?
Yes, but perhaps not in immediate sales. Rather the local approach humanizes the interaction, and helps the consumer see that they may have more in common with a local company or brand than they had imagined - shared values or environmental views, for example. And that common ground can only get stronger over time. In my opinion, the overall economic, environmental and social impact of buying local is actually pretty astounding.

Blog contents copyright © 2006 PEIE

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

KOM Says Play Seriously

Knowledge Oasis Muscat’s (KOM) annual eGames: Serious Play Conference was officially launched yesterday with an impressive line-up of leading international experts and developers of serious games.

Supported by the Information Technology Authority (ITA); Nawras; the Middle East College for Information Technology; and Oman Economic Review the conference is scheduled to be held 30 March at the Shagri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort and Spa.

David Wortley, Director of the Serious Games Institute at Coventry University and the event’s moderator said: “KOM’s annual Serious Games Conference illustrates clearly the Omani government’s interest in serious games appications and their importance to tourism, heritage and culture, marketing, nation branding and education.”

According to Mohammed Al Maskari, KOM’s Director General, the term Serious Games is no longer a technical term but part of everyday language. We see serious games being built for healthcare applications, designed to help people learn about managing money, preparing emergency services to deal with natural disasters, training air force pilots, guiding geologists on digging oil wells, as well as promoting tourism resorts and promoting national cultural assets.

“Serious gaming can potentially revolutionise the way in which Oman attracts tourists, promotes and protects its cultural assets, attracts inward investment, teaches school and college students and brands the nation. This conference is the Gulf region’s leading event in serious gaming and it’s being held in Muscat, isn’t that marvellous?” smiles KOM’s Director General.

Meanwhile, Tufool Al Dhahab of ITA and an anchor supporter of the conference endorses serious games in education, 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. ITA is delighted about being involved in the Serious Games Conference and given the line-up of highly-experienced international speakers I fully expect this year’s event to be a tremendous success.”

“As a global leader in creative serious gaming technology, The Serious Games Institute is very excited about its role in this year’s conference,” says Wortley. “We’ve a long-standing relationship with KOM and we’re looking to bring the Institute’s know how and global connections to Oman. This is an international event delivered exclusively by serious games experts who are tourism, heritage, culture, education and branding experts. In particular, the conference offers Oman’s government, business community and education sector a really exciting opportunity to learn more about serious games and understand how it can help promote the sultanate’s rich heritage and tourism offer as well as take education and training to a higher level.”

Blog contents copyright © 2006 PEIE

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Origin Oman & Davis Cup Challenge

Consumer confidence may be at an all-time low and global markets in turmoil, but it seems there is a group of sportsmen that can inspire confidence: Oman’s Davis Cup Tennis Team. Given the squad’s potential and upbeat approach, the Origin Oman Buy Local Campaign felt the time was right to link up with the team, and confirmed today that it will be the headline sponsor at this weekend’s Oman – Pakistan, Davis Cup Asia Oceania Group II tennis tie.

Held at Bausher’s Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex the Davis Cup tie begins at 3:00pm on Friday with the men’s singles. The doubles will be played on Saturday and further matches will be played on Sunday afternoon.

“The Davis Cup is a prestigious and important international tennis tournament. I’m very proud to be representing the sultanate and we’re confident of bringing home a victory. We know the opposition is on good form but we’re very well prepared both mentally and physically. We’re also really buoyed up about playing in front of a home crowd,” says Khalid Al Nabhani, Oman Davis Cup team member.

The Philippines are the top seed in Group II, followed by New Zealand, Kuwait and Pakistan, while Oman, Indonesia, Hong Kong and Malaysia are all unseeded. Last season saw Oman make an excellent impression in the tournament and despite losing to New Zealand at home they later went on to beat Pacific Oceania.

This weekend, Pakistan will be pinning its hopes on Aisam-ul-Haq – the country’s most accomplished international tennis player. A grass court specialist, Aisam led Pakistan to the World Group play-offs in 2005 but since then the national Davis Cup team has struggled to regain its place in Group I. Together with Aqeel Khan - the reigning Pakistani number one - they form a formidable tennis partnership and will test the Omani squad of Khalid Al Nabhani, Mohammed Al Nabhani, Sulaiman Al Rawahi and captain Siddiq Al Hashmi

“The Davis Cup is the biggest and most prestigious team competition in men’s tennis and sees around 130 nations battle it out for top honours. We decided to get behind Khalid, Mohammed, Sulaiman and Siddiq and help them prepare for this weekend’s all important tie. The Origin Oman campaign is all about raising the profile of local goods, services and fare – and we think there’s no better way of doing that than backing Oman’s Davis Cup Team. It’s all about supporting local talent, right?” says Ibtisam Al Faruji, Origin Oman’s Marketing Director.

Al Faruji went on to add that Origin Oman’s sponsorship of this weekend’s Davis Cup tie will hopefully encourage more young people to take up the game and to help them “make an impression on the world stage.”

“Omani Tennis is at a breakthrough stage in its development and it’s a very exciting time for Origin Oman to be involved in the sport,” said Nasser Al Rahbi, Origin Oman’s Media Co-ordinator.

A win at the weekend for Oman would see the sultanate move on to play the winner of the Philippines - Hong Kong tie, scheduled to be held July 10 - 12. In the other half of the draw, Kuwait faces Indonesia while New Zealand plays Malaysia.

Blog contents copyright © 2006 PEIE