By Midhun Raj
Nation-building has always been a multi-dimensional process. Essentially a creative process with mutual weightage given to historical and geographical perspectives of the country while taking into account the peculiarities and diversity of its cultural ethos. A holistic process that essentially draws positive change and the innovative development of these structures or institutions.
Social media has become an essential part of a healthy society, an incredibly powerful tool that has redefined the way society communicates among its members and beyond. Social media platforms across the globe have been playing a key role in nation-building by forming public opinion, an instrument of social change.
Over the past 50 years of the blessed Renaissance, as a result of the emphasis given by the late His Majesty the Sultan Qaboos, the digital society in Oman has evolved and attained an inevitable stature in the nation-building process.
The eOman strategy envisioned by the late HM has ensured voice to those who have never had any access to the mainstream media due to geographical barriers in the country. Today, Omanis from all walks of life have been actively using social media to communicate within society and with those in power.
A recent study by the National Center for Statistics and Information (NCSI) showed 94 per cent of Omanis have social media accounts and most of them are active at least on one platform. Leaders, including ministers and administrative heads, are constantly seeking public feedback on social media for inclusive implementation of projects and developmental activities.
Social media has continually eliminated the barriers between leaders and the society and helped the leaders to connect directly with people, creating an opportunity for every citizen to participating in nation-building process.
New media has revived the spirit of nationalism by bringing the people of the Sultanate together. These platforms have become a billboard of cohesion, unity, affinity, and connectivity in Oman.
Local communities through various platforms are actively assisting to construct a national identity which is the first and foremost step in nation-building.
As part of His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik’s grand vision of transforming Oman into a sustainable knowledge-based economy, the Sultanate has come a long way in streamlining access to information and communication technologies, achieving a higher level of digital penetration and readiness.
The Sultanate has been empowering its people, through the eOman initiative to bolster the digital society in the country. The initial goals included a significant improvement in the quality of services the government provides to its citizens and by now, we have successfully achieved most of it.
The Digital Transformation Program is still a key pillar that supports the strategic and vital sectors in the Sultanate and has a great impact on the national economy.
One important aspect of nation-building is identifying major hurdles and other barriers in the development process and making efforts to stamp them out. The groups and forums on social media give a platform to its users concerned about a common issue to come together, raise awareness, and work towards eliminating it.
We have so many brilliant examples to show how actively the Omani community participates in the nation-building process by enthusiastically involving to highlight developmental needs through social media.
The continued renaissance by the HM Sultan Haitham bin Tarik is promised to transform the Sultanate into a significant digital hub in the world.