The Omani government has announced the establishment of the nation’s first blockchain company to drive the adoption of a breakthrough technology billed as key to creating a future digital economy in the Sultanate.
Oman Blockchain Solutions and Applications, currently under formation, will help fuel the uptake of distributed ledger technology that is not only becoming the basis of a new economic system in tech-savvy markets around the world, but is also underpinning transactions in cryptocurrencies.
The landmark announcement came at the opening of the Oman Blockchain Symposium, a high-profile forum that attracted a number of government dignitaries, including members of the Royal Family, Advisors to His Majesty the Sultan, ministers, and high-level officials.
“We have started the process of establishing the first blockchain company in Oman,” said Abdulsalam bin Mohammed al Murshidi (pictured), Executive-President of the State General Reserve Fund (SGRF), a sovereign wealth fund of the Sultanate.
“Oman Blockchain Solutions and Applications is a company that will not undertake projects itself, but will be a vehicle where every person who would like to (test) an application can come on board and probably find the right financing, and the right access to regulators and decision-makers in Oman.”
Later, in remarks to the Observer, Al Murshidi described the new company – Oman’s maiden blockchain development entity — as a state-funded “government initiative” that will be open to anyone looking to get their blockchain related applications and projects off the ground.
“It will be open to the private sector to come on board, or join the company, or to co-invest with any private initiatives, even from the innovative individuals or entrepreneurs,” the official explained.
Significantly, deliberations planned during the latter two days of the 4-day event will help in the identification of blockchain-based applications and initiatives, which will be submitted to the relevant government departments for their consideration, said Al Murshidi. “We are also very optimistic that the business community will see the value of what can be achieved through blockchain. Hopefully, we shall see the first blockchain applications being implemented in 2018,” he stated.
Al Murshidi also announced the establishment of a Blockchain Club designed to bring together tech-minded institutions and individuals under one roof to “compare notes and share knowledge” on Blockchain related topics. Membership is free of charge and will be open to anyone interested in the technology, he said.
An estimated 700 delegates — primarily young Omani tech-geeks and entrepreneurs — filled the ballroom of the Sheraton Oman Hotel yesterday, underscoring the strength of interest in a theme that is touted as ‘game-changing’ elsewhere around the world.
Earlier, in welcome remarks, Sultan bin Salim al Habsi, Deputy Chairman of Board of Governors, Central Bank of Oman, Said the forum will help support the creation of a general framework for the implementation of blockchain technology in the banking and financial sectors, as well as in different government institutions. It will help in preparing the groundwork of an electronic platform for the adoption of blockchain technology in a variety of select government institutions, while also making it conducive for the business community to embrace this technology as well, he said.
“Indeed, the symposium will enable the setting up of a working plan for capacity building and empowerment of fellow colleagues, college graduates and job seekers specialising in this field,” he observed.