Decades back when Oman had first embarked on its development journey, heavy trucks loaded with tons of construction materials journeyed around the country to transform the nation into a modern country.
Today, the scene has changed dramatically as the modern world lies beneath the network and cables that transmit data, and the innovative ICT solutions that reshape our lives to become smarter.
As the nation’s first and leading telecom provider, Omantel has long envisioned an entirely connected society, and the company has made great strides in its primary role of connecting people with each other and to the world through a robust nation-wide network and an extensive international submarines network linking different parts of the globe.
To build up on this role, Omantel has been proactive in taking the necessary steps to establish a dedicated ICT unit since 2016 offering digital transforming solutions in ways that serve the country’s vision and its commitments to the global sustainable development agenda.
In September 2015, Oman was among the world's nations at the UN Summit to be recognized for adopting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), becoming one of the member states that agreed upon devoting all efforts to attaining these goals. Accordingly, Omantel has been firmly supporting the government’s efforts through various offerings and partnerships.
Omantel's contributions to United Nations SDG covered eight goals that are directly related to its business and are among the national priorities for Oman such as education, learning, scientific research and national capabilities, wellbeing and social protection, economic diversification and fiscal sustainability, private sector investment and also international cooperation in addition to development of governorates and sustainable cities. Apart from its core role as the telecom partner of choice for key development projects in the country, Omantel carried out initiatives to further its contribution to sustainable development goals and national priorities.
Among these initiatives were the launch of "Virtual Clinics" enabling patients to communicate with their doctors remotely, "Education as a Service" for schools and educational institutions offering a technology platform for collaboration, "OMREN" project with The Research Council to build a research and education network connecting local universities and colleges with main global educational research networks, "Smart Tracking Solutions" for school buses for the Ministry of Education and International School of Choueifat, "Big Data" solutions through Omantel’s first of its kind marketing platform in the region "TASIL" which was also used during an emergency situation when the Mekunu cyclone threatened the lives of thousands of people in Oman, "Smart City initiatives in Al Mouj, KOM, Muscat, Sohar and Duqm in addition to "Office out of the Box" end-to-end solution for small and medium businesses.
Recently and to support the efforts of Government authorities combating the spread of COVID-19 and mitigate its adverse effects, Omantel provided G-Suite for Education to the Ministry of Education during the schools closure time as a result of COVID-19, free educational websites surfing, free video conferencing and use of collaboration applications such as Cisco Webex, Microsoft Teams and Igtimati, a promising digital platform that provides video chat and business services, and "3D Ambulance" initiative using the already available 3D printing capabilities to produce part of the required medical equipment for the Ministry of Health.
The launch of Oman's first 5G network by Omantel in 2019 marked a historic moment for Oman. This network provides ultra-fast access (up to 1 Gigabit) to thousands of customers in different parts of the country and will enable the adoption of new technologies on a wider scale such as big data, artificial intelligence, smart cities, blockchain and fintech solutions.
Omantel recently announced the launch of Omantel Innovation Labs, which will contribute to Oman’s Vision 2040 and promote innovation and entrepreneurship in new and emerging technologies. Under this new initiative, Omantel will leverage its expertise, partnerships, reach, and access to technology to build a tech-based startup ecosystem. The key focus of Omantel Innovation Labs is to cultivate entrepreneurial skills among the youth and accelerate the growth of relevant Oman-based technology startups across five technological verticals: 5G, Internet of Things, Cybersecurity, Customer Experience Technology, and Big Data.
Located in a 1100m2 facility at Omantel headquarters in Muscat, the Innovation Labs will organize, participate in, and host multiple activities to support the Company’s internal innovation agenda by providing systematic spaces, approaches, and activities that can accelerate product conceptualization, prototyping, testing and deployment of solutions to Oman and Omantel-centric challenges.
“We want to support and tap into new ideas and technologies, stay ahead of the curve and drive local innovation. For this, we need to optimally deploy our resources and create an environment wherein caliber and opportunities match national digital transformation goals. The Omantel Innovations Labs has been conceptualised and designed to fit perfectly into this ecosystem and aim to put the company at the heart of Oman’s emerging culture of entrepreneurial growth, knowledge sharing and collaboration, and driving economic development through digitization,” comments Talal Said Al Mamari, Chief Executive Officer of Omantel.
Omantel has been showcasing innovation possibilities with frontier technologies through numerous recent projects that add efficiency to operations and excitement to everyday activities. Omantel has piloted two major 5G projects in Oman’s transport and logistics sector that showcase the use of 5G infrastructure beyond network speed and efficiency but also bring more detailed accountability and streamlining to port operations.
Omantel is enabling the Middle East’s first Artificial Intelligence and IoT-powered store. Soon, shopping at the Ahlain Store in Oman Oil’s filling station at Omantel’s headquarters in Madinat al Irfan will be a queue-free, cashless, grab and go experience. Omantel has also successfully conducted a 5G test using the mmWave, paving the way for enhanced user experience especially in crowded spaces such as during festivals and events. The trial has demonstrated Omantel’s ability to deliver multi-gigabit speeds with eight cell carrier aggregation functionalities.
Keeping such developments in mind, the aim of the Innovation Labs is to build a platform that can generate use cases for prioritized technologies and an ecosystem that complements Omantel’s differentiating activities. An off-shoot of this initiative is the Omantel Accelerator program, designed in collaboration with the UK Oman Digital Hub. It will be delivered in partnership with Oman-based regional accelerator OTF (Oman Technology Fund) and the global venture accelerator and ecosystem developer; Brinc. The program intends to de-risk innovative startups across multiple stages of their lifecycle. Startups will be guided through the myriad challenges in the highly competitive tech industry through mentorship, networking, and fundraising.
Mohammed Al Rasbi, the managing director at OTF Accelerator, expresses his enthusiasm for the project. "We are very excited about this partnership with Omantel. After accelerating over 100 companies in Oman, the Middle East, and North Arica, we have found that corporate partnerships are vital in increasing the growth rate of our companies".
The program is tailored to meet the needs of each participating startup to ensure that they commercialize, multiply, and scale effectively while providing the technical feasibility, market desirability, and viability of their products and operations.
“We want to support and tap into new ideas and technologies, stay ahead of the curve and drive local innovation. For this, we need to optimally deploy our resources and create an environment wherein caliber and opportunities match national digital transformation goals." - Talal Said Al Mamari, Chief Executive Officer of Omantel.
“The global pandemic has underscored the value of innovation, technology and connectivity to business continuity and economic growth, making collaboration a core requirement to accelerating their pace,” says Yasin Aboudaoud, Managing Partner and CDO at Brinc.
“Wherever we go, there are tech game-changers that require guidance to support their journeys, de-risk their ventures and ensure that they continue to play an active role in solving local, regional and global challenges. Whether students, employees, or early-stage startups, we ensure that they acquire the necessary tools to succeed. We are thrilled to collaborate with Omantel to transform the region into one of the leading tech telecommunication startup hubs.”
The startup companies joining the program will be eligible for perks worth over USD 250,000 in cloud computing, legal services, accounting and other areas and the potential to gain up to USD 50,000 in investment from OTF. The program will also provide the startups with free desk space at the Omantel Innovation Labs, and to access to a network of over 100,000 investors, corporates and mentors.
Omantel is Oman’s leading tele-communications services provider with a mission to provide people, organizations, and businesses with unparalleled communication solutions, promoting efficiency gains and global scalability. Omantel strives to reshape ways of doing business while simultaneously delivering a world of information and entertainment right to its consumers' fingertips.
At the core of Omantel's technological innovation and creative environment is its intrapreneurial culture that enables employees to push the limits of what's possible. Omantel’s commitment to enriching the social and economic fabric of the Sultanate goes beyond its daily operations. With its extensive expertise, global partnerships, and cutting-edge technology, Omantel is committed to promoting digital inclusion, entrepreneurship, and pushing the global innovation frontier.