Travel smart in the Sultanate, thanks to smart apps

MUSCAT, JAN 8 – Not long ago, you had to name nearest commercial or popular landmarks when ordering from a restaurant. Not anymore. You just need to share the location on WhatsApp.
“We would lose a lot of time looking for the right address. Customers would struggle to guide us. These days, we ask them to share their location on the mobile,” said Sajid Khan, a burger chain employee.
Well, it’s a reflection of how Muscat has evolved as a smart city in last few years.
A smart city is one that uses information/ communication technologies to increase operational efficiency, share information with public and improve quality of government services and citizen welfare.
And Muscat definitely qualifies as one. Today food is delivered at your doorstep from faraway restaurants, home addresses traced without depending on landmarks and groceries ordered via mobile apps.
The estimated price and time of arrival are provided well in advance.
“A few years ago, riding to an unfamiliar destination at late night was a challenge. Now, Waze and Google Maps can take you anywhere in Muscat, for that matter, through most of Oman,” said Khamis al Balushi, a travel operator.
He said people were earlier wary of taxi drivers as they felt they would be taken for a ride. “Passengers navigate the city with ease through these apps. Life is much easier.”
Haitham Harrasi, a taxi operator, agreed the passengers depended more on apps.
Muscat, as a city, was not known for efficient and reliable mapping, but that has changed.
An IT expert associated with a telecom infrastructure provider said the use of smart applications still has somewhere to go because mobile internet is comparatively expensive and home broadband is still in expansion stages.
“Things are not changing our pace, but certainly more people are watching Netflix and using mobile applications for the smallest of things,” he said.