Muscat: The Ministry of Transport, Communications and Information Technology (MCTIT) is formulating an ‘action plan’ designed to accelerate the adoption of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Advanced Technologies (ATs) in driving economic development in the Sultanate of Oman.
According to a senior official, the proposed National Programme for AI and ATs will be launched “very soon” as part of the government’s ambitious Digital Economy Programme unveiled by the Ministry last week.
“The Ministry is working on an action plan with regard to the adoption of Artificial Intelligence and Advanced Technologies,” said Hassan Fida al Lawati, National Programme Head – AI and ATs, MTCIT. “There are four main pillars in this plan: (i) Enhancing the productivity of the economic diversification sectors via AI, (ii) Developing human capabilities in AI, (iii) Accelerating AI adoption by service sectors such as Defence, Healthcare and Education, and (iv) Governance of AI and ATs to ensure fair and ethical use of these technologies.”
Delivering the keynote address at the opening of a conference on ‘Digital Transformation’, organised by UMS Events on Wednesday, Al Lawati said the action plan on AI & ATs is an integral part of the Ministry’s Digital Economy strategy. The latter is based on eight pillars or initiatives, the implementation of which will enable the use of digital technologies and processes to power the national economy. Besides AI & ATs, the other pillars underpinning the Digital Economy Programme are: e-Government (digital transformation), e-Commerce, Development of Technological Infrastructure, Digital Industry, Cybersecurity, National Space Programme, and Fintech, Al Lawati stated.
Speaking on the theme, ‘AI Status and Future Opportunities in Oman’, the official outlined avenues for AI investment with promising knock-on effects for national development and economic growth.
“For example, there are a number of submarine cable landings in Oman that can qualify the country to have more investments in data centres, cloud services that can contribute in processing AI algorithms, and so on. On the other hand, there is also demand for AI services from sectors that plan to enhance their contribution to the GDP and need some tools to improve their productivity. Furthermore, we have a number of IT graduates, which we can capitalise on to train in specific areas of technology. Also, Oman’s political stability positions it well to attract foreign direct investments in AI and ATs.”
Although AI adoption in the Sultanate of Oman is still in the nascent stages, it is currently being used in a number of sectors, the official pointed out.
For example, AI is being used in the early detection of breast cancer in the healthcare sector, in the detection of oil leaks in the hydrocarbon sector, in pollination and disease detection in the agriculture sector, and in smart metering in the electricity and water sectors, he added.