Oman joined the Digital Cooperation Organization as a founding member in 2021.
The Sultanate of Oman’s ambitions to develop a thriving digital and social economy, are a key component of its Vision 2040 plan which aims to propel the Sultanate into the group of the world’s most developed countries.
The technological components of this plan are being delivered through the National Digital Economy Programme, which is built around three mutually supportive pillars: the accelerated roll-out of the government’s digital transformation, the strengthening of the country’s digital society, and increasing support for the digitization of businesses in key strategic sectors.
- In 2002, Oman’s ‘E-Oman’ strategy is approved, paving the way for the development of the Sultanate of Oman’s digital society.
- From 2003 onwards, the government has launched several infrastructure projects including ePayment gateway, G-cloud, donations portal, Oman Government Network, Digital Certification, Data Center, National Integration Platform and others.
- In 2012, the Sultanate’s 1st digital transformation plan received the approval of the Council of Ministers.
- In 2016, the Omani government announced the launch of the Oman Technology Fund. A $200m fund for technology start-ups.
- In 2018, the United Nations ranked Oman ‘very high’ for its level of online services index.
- In 2020, the Sultan of Oman, His Majesty Sultan Haitham Bin Tarik, issued Royal Decree No. 64 of 2020, establishing the Cyber Defense Centre.
- In 2020, the International Cybersecurity Readiness Index ranked Oman 16th in the world.
- In 2021 Saudi Arabia and Oman signed two MoUs, one concerning cooperation in the digital economy and the other agreement to jointly launch a digital skills training initiative.
- In 2021, Omani company Omantel launched an innovation hub in Muscat (Omantel Innovation Labs), to support startups and entrepreneurs in the tech sector.
- In 2021, the Ministry of Transportation, Communications and ICT announced the National Digital Economy Program.
- In 2021, the Council of Ministers approved the roadmap and executive plan for the Government Digital Transformation Program to be executed for 5 years.
- In 2022, Microsoft and Phaze Ventures announced a deepening of their partnership to support Omani entrepreneurs through the provision of advisory and technical services.
- In 2022, Oman approved the new Personal Data Protection Law, ensuring greater control and protections for citizens and residents.
- In 2022, multiple initiatives have so far been delivered by the government and private sector partners, leading to a flourishing tech sector. And with the value of the domestic ICT market expected to reach $5.6 billion by 2024, industries such as data center, cloud, and cybersecurity services are set to grow even further.
This growth has been possible thanks to several factors.
Firstly, digital literacy and skills are essential to Oman’s vision. All residents are offered free ICT training through the Community IT Training initiative (CITT) to help them access and benefit from the e-services offered by the government. Furthermore, Oman has one of the highest percentages of women studying STEM subjects, ensuring the next generation of tech talent can pursue their ambitions when reaching the workplace.
Secondly, network connectivity is high across the Sultanate thanks to the National Broadband Strategy, which boosted the quality and speed of broadband connections, allowing telecom majors to implement new technologies such as smart city installations and cloud services.
Thirdly, support for start-ups and inward investment is high. Many emerging businesses have been helped by the Oman Technology Fund (OTF), which since its launch in 2016 has worked alongside a variety of start-ups and entrepreneurs, providing seed investment and networking support. A small but growing ecosystem of digital firms are now operating in Oman, and the manufacture of digital hardware is ramping up with international firms including Siemens establishing production centers in the country.
Finally, the country is also well versed in enacting laws to support the digital economy. Early regulation such as the Electronic Transactions Law from 2008 and the Law on Combating IT crimes in 2009 laid the groundwork for a modern regulatory ecosystem and consumer protections such as the recently launched Personal Data Protection Law.
Together, these efforts are helping the Sultanate to achieve its ambition of making Oman the preferred destination for emerging tech companies in the region, and an attractive and stimulating destination for venture capital.
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