Free and open software drive innovation

Muscat, Feb 11 – The fourth edition of the Free and Open Source Conference (FOSSC) was launched on Monday with the theme “FOSS as driver for technology transfer, innovation and entrepreneurship”. The conference was inaugurated by Dr Abdulmunim bin Mansour al Hasani, Minister of Information, at SQU Conference Hall in the presence of academics, researchers and students. The two-day conference, the first of its kind in the MENA region, is jointly organised by the Communication and Information Research Centre (CIRC) at Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) and the Information Technology Authority (ITA).
Speaking on the occasion, Dr Rahma bint Ibrahim al Mahrooqi, Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Postgraduate Studies and Research at SQU, said that due to its keenness to play a leading role in the adoption and dissemination of software, and especially free and open source software, and to support national efforts in this field, SQU was a pioneer in contributing to the National Initiative for FOSS in partnership with ITA. “One of the most important results of this partnership, and a core aspect of the cooperation agreement, is the organisation of a biennial conference at SQU that brings together specialists and software stakeholders from various sectors within Oman and beyond, to work together and share information, ideas and research experiences related to free and open source software,” she said.
Commenting on the importance of FOSS, Hassan al Lawati, Director-General of the Digital Society Development Division at ITA, said that free and open source software has a vital role in shaping the future of the fourth industrial revolution and the opportunities it offers for promoting IT localisation and innovation and entrepreneurship in the future technologies such as artificial intelligence, cloud and quantum computing, Internet of Things and big data analysis. He also called on all ICT professionals in the Sultanate from public and private entities, entrepreneurs and innovators to adopt free and open source software as a main driver for the transfer of technologies related to the fourth industrial revolution.
“In the current edition of the FOSS Conference in its fourth year, we and our partners at Sultan Qaboos University strove to select leading global experiences in this field to enhance networking and build partnerships between local institutions with free and open source software communities around the world. We have also dedicated space for Omani innovators and entrepreneurs to share experiences and services based on FOSS,” he further said. “The ITA, through its strategic partnership with Sultan Qaboos University, is currently developing an electronic complete platform for training, consulting and technical support for free and open source software in the Sultanate and we will soon celebrate its official launch,” he stated.
Prof Abdulnasir Hossen, Chairman of the Conference Organising Committee, in his speech, stated that 12 keynote speakers were invited to talk about the themes of the conference.