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Forum highlights avenues for Free, Open Source Software
Source: http://main.omanobserver.om/node/152043
Source Date: Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Focus: Institution and HR Management
Country: Oman (Sultanate of)
Created: Mar 04, 2013

MUSCAT — The activities of the Free and Open Source Software Conference (FOSSC-Oman’ 2013), jointly organised by the Communication and Information Research Centre (CIRC) at Sultan Qaboos University (SQU), and Information Technology Authority (ITA), kicked off at SQU Conference Hall yesterday, under the patronage of Dr Ahmed bin Mohammed al Futaisi, Minister of Transport and Communications.
A number of Information & Communications Technology (ICT) professional, academics, students and broader FOSS community from Oman and abroad are attending the two-day conference in order to share their experiences and discuss potential implementations of FOSS. Speaking on the occasion, Dr Al Futaisi underscored the need to promote awareness on open source software in the current era pointing out that most of the modern communication devices including smart phones are using open source software.
Popular social networking platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are also based on FOSS. He lauded the efforts of ITA and SQU in promoting awareness on the use and development of FOSS in the Sultanate. Prof Amer bin Ali al Rawas, SQU Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Postgraduate Studies & Research, in his address said that Oman can do a lot with regard to the use of FOSS in the country and the region through capacity building initiatives.
“SQU is keen to spread the culture of FOSS in the region and is supporting the national free and open source software initiative launched in the Sultanate between CIRC an ITA. SQU has signed an agreement with ITA to promote the use of FOSS in the country and a lot of joint activities and training have been implemented since the signing of a MoU in the Spring of 2010. This conference is a culmination of the co-operation between ITA and CIRC at SQU. The need of the hour is to spread more awareness among students and computer users at large to use open source software in the Sultanate. SQU is keen to associate with more local, regional and international organisations in this regard,” added Prof Al Rawas.
Dr Salim Sultan al Ruzaiqi, CEO of ITA said that FOSSC-Oman’ 2013 is the first edition of this event which will be held in every two years in the Sultanate. “ITA has been involved in raising awareness on the importance of open source software, which is an effective and free alternative to the proprietary software. This area has the potential to create avenues for several small and medium enterprises and related job opportunities in the Sultanate. This conference is part of ITA’s efforts towards capacity building to transform the Sultanate into a knowledge-based society.
ITA has signed four MoUs with different educational institutions to spread the free & open source culture in the Sultanate and we are glad to announce today the launch of two main projects.
The first project is FOSS laboratories in three main educational institutions that are: Higher College of Technology, Nizwa University, and SQU. The labs are equipped with the latest instruments to help students and researchers who use the services. The second project is FOSS portal; hosted by SQU to facilitate access to open source software,” Dr Al Ruzaiqi added.
As a keynote speaker in the FOSSC-Oman’2013, Jim Lacey, CEO of Linux Professional Institute (LPI), in his speech, discussed his institute’s focus on open source careers.
“Big dagta and cloud computing are central themes in today’s IT environment, and connection to Open Source and those who certify on LPI is critically important for the future of innovation and growth. LPI continues to bring value to certification holders through strategic initiative”, Lacey said.
Emphasising the importance of acquiring FOSS skills, Lacey stated “Last year 1.5 million cloud computing jobs went unfilled because people lack the skills in FOSS.”
During the opening ceremony, the winners of the Oman Open Source Challenge were announced and honoured.
The first place winners were Ahmed al Jafari, Bishr al Busaidi and Kinana al Hinai. Hamed al Harmaly from Ministry of Tourism won the second place and the third place went to Khalid al Tamimi. Additionally, the winners of the Intel Middle East Challenge, comprising Haifa al Hasni, Shaima al Hasni, and Asma al Dhakri, will compete internationally.
Dr Al Futaisi later opened the exhibition featuring companies and organisations.

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