Under the theme of “FOSS as Driver for Technology Transfer, Innovation & Entrepreneurship“, the fourth edition of the Free and Open Source Conference FOSSC was launched on 11 February at SQU Conference Hall under the patronage of H.E. Abdulmounim Alhasani, Minister of Information and with the presence of academics, researchers and students along with international guests. The 2-day conference, the first of its kind in the Mena region, is jointly organized by the Communication and Information Research center (CIRC) at sultan Qaboos University (SQU) and the Information Technology Authority (ITA), represented by the Digital Society Development Division to support the Free and Open Source Initiative (FOSS).
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 organization 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, Mr. Hassan Fida 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 localization 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 Organizing Committee in his speech stated that 12 keynote speakers were invited to the conference to talk about the themes of the conference. In addition, ten workshops will be held in various fields to meet the needs of FOSS enthusiasts. These workshops will be given by a group of experts in the development of this software from both the public and private sectors. “There will be 4 panel discussions to enrich discussion and enhance the benefit of the two-day conference. The conference also includes side discussions with the official speakers to share their knowledge on the best practices in FOSS. This is why we have invited many interested parties from the government and the private sector to participate in these discussions,” he added.
The conference is also accompanied by an exhibition of various software applications and solutions from inside and outside the Sultanate. The Free and open source software conference (FOSSC’2019-Oman) is scheduled for two days and aims at disseminating the use and development of free and open source software for professionals, staff, students, and the community in Oman. The conference happens every two years; the first edition was on February 2013 under the theme “Successful Deployment Experiences”, the second edition was on February 2015 with the theme “FOSS Opportunities & Communities”, and the third edition was on February 2017 under the theme “Deployment Strategies & Practices”. FOSSC 2019-Oman is held on 11th and 12th February 2019. The conference targets ICT companies and professionals, researchers, faculties, staff, students and the broader FOSS community.
A number of well-known international and local experts in FOSS field are invited to enrich the conference with topics, such as: open source in the fourth industrial revolution, FOSS with new digital technologies, open Source in critical industries, role and opportunities of FOSS in public administrations, open source as a bridge for technology transfer, open source for innovation and entrepreneurship.