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Omani youth at the forefront of innovation

22 Jun 2020

Omani youth comprise over 45 per cent of the total population of the sultanate and so the focus is on them for brainstorming on the challenges that face the country due to the coronavirus pandemic and finding information and communications technology (ICT) solutions.  

The Ministry of Technology and Communications’ (MTC) Main Technological Innovation Committee for Combating COVID-19, in cooperation with the youth development sector of the 10th Five-year plan implemented by the Supreme Council for Planning, organised a two-day Youth ICT Lab aimed at involving the Omani youth in identifying the challenges that face some of the economic sectors with the focus on finding ICT solutions to tackle the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.

The youth working groups communicated through the online communication apps and were divided into three main sectors – education, services and health. The working groups presented several cases and solutions; for example, supporting the health sector with IT solutions to ensure business continuity during crises and digital creative ideas to enhance community participation.

Eng Zaid bin Abdullah al Salmani, head of the youth sector development group at the 10th Five-year plan, welcomed the participants and spoke about the importance of this lab and introduced the 10th Five-year plan as it is the first implementation plan for Oman 2040 Vision. 

Dr Salim bin Sultan al Ruzaiqi, CEO, MTC, stated, “We believe that youth have a great role in the development of various sectors, including the information and communications technology sector, and this cannot be realised without the youth’s active involvement. Hence, we, at MTC, welcome the innovators and their initiatives through many projects, such as Sas Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, Sas Centre for Mobile Apps Development and Sas Centre for Entrepreneurship.” 

Ruzaiqi urged the youth participants to present their ICT initiatives which will be evaluated by the committee and implemented if applicable and feasible, thus, expand their role in addressing the coronavirus pandemic. 

Thuraiya bint Muhammad al Harthi, a member of the Main Technological Innovation Committee for Combating COVID-19 and representative of the youth sector, gave a presentation introducing the Technological Innovation Committee’s importance and its areas of focus. 

She said,“The committee organises and directs the specialised national capabilities to provide innovative ICT solutions to address the novel coronavirus pandemic in the field of rapid diagnostic and epidemiological investigation, provision of medicine, and remote health care in addition to providing health and medication supplies and prevention solutions, and will work to strengthen quarantine procedures, social distancing, and finding a unified mechanism to enhance social solidarity.”

Alia Bint Saeed al Shanfari, member of the youth sector development group and director of the youth lab, stated that “the lab will go through a number of stages including, identifying challenges, developing solutions, and pitching and aligning proposed initiatives.” 

She explained that groups will discuss the main issues facing each sector, conduct a brainstorming session to highlight the common challenges, present the challenges in a clear manner, define no more than nine carefully selected challenges, and rank them according to priority. 

“Then, the solutions development stage will begin through which the participants will have another brainstorming session to identify potential solutions to the challenges, and it is expected that at this stage the participants will present at least seven selected solutions arranged in priority.” In the pitching stage, the participants will make comparison with relevant international and regional initiatives and come up with a proposed list of initiatives. Towards the final stage, the initiatives will be sorted, arranged and integrated with similar initiatives, and measured with a ‘smart’ model to produce seven initiatives for each pillar.




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