Blog Interviews LifeStory World

The Wealth of Oman

Firdouz Hameed

A man with 27 local and international awards that include honors like 50 World Leaders in Technology, and Most Inspiring Omani, Tariq Al Bawani, the founder of Knowledge Oman is the pride of the nation. 

Creating things that could add value to the lives of people is something relishes. This has been his trait from a very young age of five when his parents got him a computer. Soon, he learned to create games, programs and later on in life creating events, radio programs, and also sessions that all link to helping people prosper. “Before Knowledge Oman, I have been doing everything myself. With Knowledge Oman, I influenced more people who would do the same thing but even better. The love of sharing is what led me in creating Knowledge Oman,” says Tariq. 

Thousands of industries and students have been benefited from knowledge Oman. How much of an impact has the brand’s contribution brought to the progress of the country through the years? 

Since 2008, Knowledge Oman has managed to solidify the late Majesty the Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said’s vision of transforming Oman into a knowledge-based society by impacting hundreds of thousands of people with 74 initiatives in the form of projects, workshops, and seminars that positively impacted students, women, entrepreneurs and professionals from various industries. The impact was in terms of attaining new knowledge, learning new skills, which led to some starting their own business, and others joining organizations.

Projects were supported by over 35 partners locally and internationally, attracting over 80,000 registrations and 700 volunteers across the years. As a consequence, Knowledge Oman received 4 awards that include the Outstanding Contribution to the cause of education from the World Human Resource Development (HRD) Congress. Members of the platform consist of a multinational group of both locals and expatriates living in the country with the passion of creating, sharing, and exchanging knowledge.

Optimistic about the year ahead and working under the leadership of His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tariq Al Said, Knowledge Oman will continue to build local and international partnerships and work towards providing people in Oman with the necessary knowledge and skills to meet the Oman Vision 2040. Knowledge Oman currently focuses on three key areas to support the nation, which is to be rich in human, economic and natural resources.

You have had hundreds of motivational speaking sessions around the world on technology, leadership, and media engagement. You have shared the dice with so many delegates from around the globe. Considering how hectic your involvement with Knowledge Oman is, what motivates this motivational speaker to make so much of an effort to deliver a message of inspiration? 

Helping to see things, people, and situations prosper has always been something I like to do since an early age. As a consequence, this attribute has grown up with me and led me to focus on doing initiatives (speaking included) that help people and organizations around me. Giving without asking anything in return is a medication for a good and healthy life. In fact, in Islam, it’s known as Sadaqa (charity) where if you give from the right hand, the left hand shouldn’t know about it. Allah, the Almighty, promises to give ten times the blessings for such a noble act.  

Over the past 25 years, your 11 projects have said to impact three million. Can you give us an idea of how all it helped these people? 

The projects have one way or another supported people with new knowledge, new skillset, attaining a job or starting a business as an entrepreneur.

I remember you saying that the technology in Oman is no longer a black box. Compared to the other countries in the GCC, how do you rate present Oman in terms of the IT setup? What can we expect soon? 

It has progressed dramatically indeed, for example, IT requirements on a fast network (4G and soon 5G), thanks to various local Cloud services within and in different Data Center providers in the country, that work hand in hand with telecom providers. We have vastly improved and are currently providing better access to public services around the clock, thanks to e-government technologies. Also, you are no longer required to travel to get specialized emerging technical training due to various certified local centers that partner with international agencies. Furthermore, special entities with processes focus to share (as awareness) programs, to combat external cyber threats.

We also have hubs and platforms specifically created to provide space and/or funds for technology projects to start, grow and flourish. Many schools incorporate and use this technology to educate students, which, as a consequence, build future-ready technology experts.

Truth be told, whether it’s a kid, parent or even a granny, technology is no longer a black box. Everyone is influenced to some extent and uses technology to work, communicate and collaborate.

40 percent of the country’s population is under the age of 25. It looks like more youngsters are willing to be entrepreneurs these days. But is there a lack of incubators and accelerators to help them? What is the ease of doing business there like right now? 

We are increasing the number of incubators, which also helps the ease of setup. The incubation industry, however, is at an early stage compared to other countries but is growing. We currently have three government-owned incubators: the National Business Centre, Public Establishment for Industrial Estates (PEIE) and the incubator based in Riyadh, and the SAS Entrepreneurship Centre. These incubators help create job opportunities and encourage self-employment and entrepreneurship as well. The incubated companies are provided with various services and facilities including an office, although funding issues remain a challenge.

What’s next for Tariq Al Barwani?

This is the most common question I get. Sky has always NOT been the limit, and every day is a new day (All praise to Allah). I have been avoiding to share exactly what I intend to do to keep the positive surprises on par with the value I keep bringing for everything. I try to keep giving the best for my nation.

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