The competition was organised under the patronage of Sheikha Aisha bint Khalfan bin Jamayel al Siyabiyah, chairperson of PACI, and in the presence of Dr Salim bin Sultan al Ruzaiqi, CEO of ITA.
Hirfati is an online competition that has followed a number of training programmes conducted earlier in cooperation between ITA and PACI and sponsored by Oman Oil Marketing Company for handicraftsmen and women; it educated them to utilise social networks in order to market their product locally and internationally.
Eighty one handicraftsmen and women from Sohar, Manah, Sinaw and Samail were involved in the training workshops. The competition aimed at enhancing the digital lifestyle of handicrafts by enabling them to use basic technology to improve their socio-economic benefits.
The competition targeted all PACI-registered handicraftsmen and women to encourage them to utilise the power of social media to promote and sell their products and connect with the public locally and regionally.
The participation requirements at the competition were that candidates must be Omani nationals, registered at PACI, have an account on Instagram and have a handicraft product to promote.
The participants at the competition were judged according to certain criteria such that participants’ accounts must reflect the nature of the promoted product through the bio and profile picture.
Contact details should be clear and all content published in the participating account must be developed and created by the participants.
Participants must show creativity in promoting the product during the competition along with good communication and interaction with customers.
The competition consisted of five phases: Registration, launch of online promotional campaigns, evaluation and voting. The initial evaluation was carried out by ITA and PACI to verify the registered handicraftsmen and women and to measure the level of interaction with customers along with making sure that all participating accounts are active and fulfill all the requirements.
The second evaluation phase was completed by a number of social media and digital marketing experts to evaluate the branding and identity of participating accounts and the ways of promotion used by participants to showcase their handicrafts products.
In the final phase, the voting percentage by the public was added to the final score.
It is worth mentioning that this competition and training workshops are part of the eLife Style project and Handicraftsmen support programme organised by ITA and PACI, which seek the better utilisation of ICT in socio/economic development and the promotion of handicrafts with the use of new tools apart from the traditional ways of marketing, thereby increasing the revenues of handicraftsmen.
The effective and creative use of ICT and social media would help in promoting the sultanate and its rich heritage by diversifying the ways of showcasing Omani products on the Internet and social media networks.