14 Nov 2019
OMAN: New Ministry of Technology Established
Oman has established a new Ministry of Technology and Communications, responsible for information technology (IT) and telecommunication.
The move was revealed in a 15 October release, part of a series of royal decrees by Sultan Qaboos bin Said, the sultan of Oman, setting up the new ministry, along with the Ministry of Arts Affairs. The sultan has also appointed Azza Al Ismaili as the new Minister of Technology and Communications. Ismailia is a member of Oman Vision 2040, where she holds the position of Secretariat General of the Supreme Council for Planning. The new decrees will come into force upon publication in the Official Gazette.
The new ministry assumes the responsibilities of the now-defunct Information Technology Authority (ITA), which was tasked with implementing national IT infrastructure and supervising projects relating to the Digital Oman Strategy and other eGovernment activities. As a result, all ITA powers, prerogatives, allocations, and assets have now been transferred to the new Ministry of Technology and Communications. Employees of the ITA have also been transferred to the new ministry.
The new ministry will also assume all responsibilities for telecom policies and related legislation at the Ministry of Transport and Communications. To reflect the change, the name of this ministry has now been shortened to the Ministry of Transport.
The restructuring reflects the importance that Oman has placed on developing its ICT sector. Although the sector currently accounts for only 2.1% of the country’s GDP, the government believes it has considerable growth potential. The Sultanate enjoys strong connectivity, with majority of the submarine cables that pass through the region, giving it a competitive advantage over other countries. In a 2017 listing, it was also ranked first in the Arab region and fourth globally in its cybersecurity readiness.
In August, the government outlined an OMR100 million (US$260 million) investment plan to help boost growth in the sector. The plan features 11 initiatives targeting three main areas: hardware and software; services; and enablers. Specific areas identified with potential for investment are the manufacturing of ICT related devices, including smart meters, IoT devices, cybersecurity and disaster recovery services, ICT shared solutions, and AI medical equipment, among others.