Muscat - The Ministry of Economy's roadmap revealed in a press conference on Monday it seeks to encourage the national initiative to boost investment and integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications and technologies into development projects and programs in the economic diversification sectors specified in the tenth five-year development plan.

During the meeting, Dr. Salem Al Sheikh, Director General of Research and Development Studies at the Ministry of Economy, said that there is a national initiative that aims to enable and encourage investment and integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications and technologies into development projects and programs in the economic diversification sectors specified in the tenth five-year development plan

RO10 million has been allocated for implementing Artificial Intelligence for the first time in ministries and government agencies. The total number of AI-related projects is 18, while the entities that have submitted AI are 11, and work is currently underway to evaluate and approve these projects later.

Such projects will help the country to emerge as a soft power and it may be noted that the Sultanate of Oman has achieved progress in the economic freedom index, in which it was ranked 95 out of 184 in 2023, the soft power index (ranked 46 out of 121), and the food security index (35 out of 113 ).

There was a slight decline in the Economic Complexity Index which dropped by 4 places to 69 (out of 134 countries) in 2022 from 73 in 2021. It also recorded a decline in the global innovation index, where it dropped to 79 out of 132 countries in 2022.

The National Program for AI & Advanced Technologies was established in 2020 in the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Information Technology.

The program works on supervising the preparation and implementation of an integrated national action plan for AI and advanced technologies that includes capacity-building, research, innovation, industrialization, investment, and support for the establishment of emerging companies in addition to the formulation of policies and legislation.

Coordinate and cooperate with partners from the public, private, and academic sectors, and facilitate the integration of AI and advanced technologies projects and initiatives.

Communicate and coordinate with international organizations and bodies on related issues.

The first part of the program is enhancing the productivity of the sectors targeted for economic diversification by adopting AI in sectors contributing to economic growth and social impact through the cohesive application of smart technologies in fisheries, agriculture, transport, logistics, energy, mining, industry, health, and tourism.

Localizing and technology transfer of AI technologies by supporting R&D in building algorithms, libraries, and software tools, in addition to building and adopting open-source software that enables AI and its applications.

Accelerating the transfer of modern communication technologies that will accommodate the requirements of artificial intelligence applications and advanced technologies.

Enhancing the application of AI technologies in cybersecurity

Supporting the upgrading of the local cloud computing infrastructure to process AI applications.

The second part follows cooperating with educational institutions to encourage research and development and prepare academic specialized programs.

Launching joint practical training programs with leading technology companies in the field of AI and advanced technologies.

Spreading awareness of on the importance of AI technologies by organizing specialized workshops, events, and conferences.

Attracting international talent and companies specializing in AI and advanced technologies.

The Third part follows applying artificial intelligence in public services such as health, education, and smart government applications that deal directly with citizens, residents, and investors, in addition to enhancing the role of the government as a primary supporter of adopting these technologies and aligning with existing plans for digital transformation.

Encouraging innovation in the field of AI and entrepreneurship through partnerships between the government and private sectors to fund startups.

Facilitating access to national data by creating a platform for national data management, making open data available, and enhancing the integration of government data systems.

The Fourth part follows encouraging the ethical, fair, and safe use of AI applications by reviewing and updating laws and policies to stimulate the adoption of AI and advanced technologies and managing ethical issues by laying the foundations that take into account human aspects, community privacy, governance of data collection processes, and the development of safe AI algorithms.

The Smart Cities project launched recently focuses on the use of information and communication technology (ICT) to improve operational efficiency, share information with the public, and provide a better quality of government service and citizen welfare.

Smart cities are the geographical areas (where people live and work, whether urban or rural) designed with instant data access (economy, environment, transportation, education... etc.).

This Geographical Area uses smart sensors, smartphones, medical devices, cameras, drones, step calculation, traffic congestion detection, smart meters, kiosks, internet, personal devices, enterprise control systems, surveillance devices, etc., to understand, explain, predict, and improve the following areas.

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