FOSSC focuses on opportunities and communities

MUSCAT: The second edition of the Free and Open Source Software Conference (FOSSC Oman), jointly organised by the Communication and Information Research Centre (CIRC) at Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) and the Information Technology Authority (ITA), in support of the National Initiative on Free and Open Source Software, commenced under the patronage of Dr Abdullah bin Nasser Al Harrasi, Chairman of the Public Authority for Radio and Television (PART), at SQU on Wednesday.
The two-day conference aims at promoting awareness on the use and development of free and open source software for professionals, staff, students and the community in Oman.

A number of well-known international and local experts are participating in the conference with topics such as sustainability of open source communities, role and opportunities of FOSS in public administrations, open source for the public sector, scaling applications for global communities and others.

Amer bin Ali Al RawasIn his speech at the conference opening, Prof Amer bin Ali Al Rawas, Deputy Vice Chancellor for Post Graduate Studies and Research, said: “The Sultan Qaboos University places great importance for the field of scientific research in various vital sectors, to ensure the advancement of scientific and cultural levels and to meet the needs of the community.

“The university is keen to develop the telecommunications and information technology field, in terms of research and educational programmes, and the organisation of scientific and applied activities that enhance the reality and effectiveness in teaching and research. In order to carry out its leading role in the field of adoption and dissemination of culture in general and a free and open source software in particular, the University is keen to contribute to the national initiative to support free and open source software, in cooperation with the ITA.”

Omar bin Salim Al Shanfari, Deputy ITA CEO for Operations, delivered ITA’s speech at the opening, stating: “The key objective of the FOSS National Initiative is to support free and open source software and the deployment of technical awareness of the existence of free software, as a technical option to meet growing needs of individuals and institutions. In terms of capacity building, 1,200 people have been trained in FOSS application and more than 70 workshops have been presented in this field.”

Omar bin Salim Al ShanfariAl Shanfari also spoke about the importance of having a genuine partnership between ITA and academic institutions, noting: “In order to achieve the objectives of the initiative, ITA sought to establish a partnership with academic institutions, through which four Memorandums of Understanding (MoU), with the Sultan Qaboos University and the University of Nizwa, the Ministry of Education and Middle East College, have been signed.

Through this initiative, we seek to increase awareness and spread the culture of free software between academic staff and students, provide specialised training opportunities for them, and encourage research and development, using free software to produce technical solutions that meet the needs of telecommunications and information technology sector in the Sultanate.”

Patrick Sinz, Managing Director of Ethiqa SAS, and Board Member of AFUL, gave the first talk on ‘FOSS as a motor for entrepreneurship and job creation’. He said that open source solutions enable the creation of innovative and agile IT companies, but over and above this it enables any company to experiment, innovate and accelerate its development, while reducing vendor lock-in and motivating internal teams.


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