Oman mulls Smart Media City project

MUSCAT, April 29 – The publication of print media has decreased by 10 per cent in 2017, compared to the previous year, whereas the use of electronic media channels stood at 61 per cent compared to only 39 per cent, according to a statement by the Ministry of Information. Delivering a statement at the Majlis Ash’shura, Dr Abdulmunim bin Mansour al Hasani, Minister of Information, said that the ministry is dealing with the challenges in the sector by activating strategic partnership between media and various sectors of the society and institutions based on the general policy of media.

He said that as the Omani media still faces challenges, there must be other considerations to think such as smart cities. “The Smart Media City project was launched in 2015. Then, a feasibility study was conducted and some staff were sent to abroad to gain knowledge. Currently, we are studying, in coordination with a number of government and private sector bodies, a proposal to establish smart media city.” Emphasising the significance of focusing on investments in media, the minister stressed that they are studying opportunities in the field as this is a prerequisite for the next stage of the media process in the Sultanate. He said four media channels are coming soon in the Sultanate.

The minister also said: “We are also looking at launching a business channel, which is one of the recommendations made at Seih Al Shamikhat symposium, and a study is under way. “In addition to this, there is a plan for children channel, which we feel is an important one, although it is expensive in the current situation.” In reply to the members’ questions on the reason behind the delay in bringing press and publication law, Dr Al Hasani said that he is fully aware that modern changes must be accommodated in the laws, but laws related to information and public opinion need to be studied in depth.
“We are keen on taking advantage of the expertise while making the law, so that the law is in line with changes in the coming years,” he said.
Regarding training of journalists, the minister said that the ministry is committed to training and qualifying national cadre in media studies, mentioning that there is a monthly meeting with various media departments in the country and all these issues are discussed during such gatherings. “We need to have a specialised and analytical media in coordination with the authorities concerned and to create a generation of specialists in all fields,” he said.

In response to member’s inquiries regarding appointment of official spokespersons for different institutions, the minister said that some units have announced their spokespersons after a 2-year training programme in media skills. Dr Al Hasani spoke about social media which he described as “media of today”, saying that the ministry has ‘the Community Media Centre’ affiliated to the Directorate-General of Electronic Media, as a part of the new structure of the directorate. “We know that mobile journalism is important and nowadays many global channels are based on them, for this we have conducted training programmes in this field. At the same time, we are working in partnership with other bodies in stopping the abuse of accounts, and the role of the ministry is to educate the public on proper use of these channels.”

Zainab al Nassri