Muscat: The Ministry of Economy, in cooperation with the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Information Technology organised in Muscat on Sunday the “Artificial Intelligence Economics Initiative 2024” forum. It brought together Omani companies specialised in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) and all government agencies.

The forum aimed at maximising in-country value (ICV) and providing a platform for companies to display their innovative solutions in various sectors, in an effort to complete cooperation between the government and private sectors and to enhance ICV from national projects, benefit from the expertise of the private sector, and inform various government agencies of the latest technologies and innovations in the AI field.

The forum was held under the patronage of HH Sayyid Dr. Kamil bin Fahd bin Mahmoud Al Said, Secretary General at the Secretariat General of the Council of Ministers.

Dr. Said bin Mohammed Al Saqri, Minister of Economy, revealed that the ministry’s approval of the development budget allocated for AI projects for 2025 will be about OMR15 million, of which OMR10 million allocated for government agencies and OMR5 million for the governorates.

In his speech, the minister said, “This forum comes out of the belief in the necessity of urging national efforts to keep pace with this global rapid development in technologies and to prepare the economy to be more flexible, responsive to changes, and more capable of investing in opportunities, which pushes the Sultanate of Oman to be a leader in AI and future technologies.

Al Saqri explained that the 10th five-year development plan (2021-2025) has attached an importance to AI for its role in economic growth. The same plan has also underlined in its goal related to stimulating economic activity the need to encourage the contribution of small and medium enterprises in innovation activities, the knowledge economy, AI, and specialized markets.

The plan also approved the priority of information and communications technology by amplifying the contribution of the digital economy to the gross domestic product (GDP) by 2040 to about 10 percent. This was translated into the form of a national program for the digital economy, driven by the strategic approach towards building a prosperous digital economy that contributes effectively to the GDP.

The minister pointed out that the Ministry of Economy launched in June 2023 the “National Initiative to Empower the National Economy Enhanced with Artificial Intelligence”. The step aims to integrate AI applications and technologies into development projects and programs in the diversification sectors specified in the 10th five-year development plan. The move aims to enable government agencies and institutions to use AI applications and technologies in development projects. The ministry has approved RO 10 million allocated to the initiative’s projects for 2024.

The forum also included a review of the projects approved within the Artificial Intelligence Economics Initiative, with a focus on their social, developmental and economic impacts, and highlighting the capabilities of Omani companies in the AI field. A discussion session was held between government agencies and companies to explore the possibilities of cooperation and utilize local expertise in improving government projects and initiatives related to AI.

During the forum, the winning projects of the initiative were announced, which are: the “Smart Management” project for the Ministry of Labour, the “Smart Electronic Portals” project for Dhofar Municipality, the “Environmental Information Bank with Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain Technology” project of the Environment Authority, the “Supporting Promising Omani Start-ups in the field of AI Applications and Technologies,” the “National Center for Virtual Health” project of the Ministry of Health, the “Ayn” platform of the Ministry of Information, the “Linguistic Model for Omani Content” and “Artificial Intelligence Studio” projects of the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Information Technology, and the “Simulation Laboratory and Media Center based on smart solutions” for Oman Authority for Academic Accreditation and Quality Assurance of Education, the “Investment Dashboard” project of the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion, and the “Analysis of Geological Data in Energy and Minerals” project of the Ministry of Energy and Minerals.

The economic impact of these projects represented in augmenting the efficiency of service provision. This enhances the efficiency of government spending, reduces costs, stimulates innovation, opens up vistas for innovation and research, and improves the efficiency of exploring natural resources, leading to improving the national economy and attracting investments in various sectors.

The social impact of these projects represented in improving access to medical services, sustainable management of resources that preserves the environment and the local community, stimulates interaction between innovators and companies, and enhances communication between government levels, leading to improved coordination and user experience to enhance digital communication and social interaction and improve awareness of Omani content, including strengthening the national identity.

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