13 June 2011
Dr. Salim Sultan Al Ruzaiqi, Chief Executive Officer of the Information Technology Authority (ITA) has been named ‘IT Man of the Year’ by the Pan Arab Web Awards Academy, at the recent 7th Pan Arab Web Awards, held on 7 June 2011, in Beirut, Lebanon.
Considered as one of the top awards program, the Pan Arab Web Awards event was created to recognize excellence in web design, development and showcase the creativity in a competition organized in different Arab countries for the best website in the Pan Arab Region. Pierre Moukarzel, Chairman of the Academy, stated that Honorary Awards are conferred upon Arab personalities in recognition of the accomplishments and initiatives made by them in such areas which serve Arab peoples and develop individuals’ abilities in different fields. Dr. Salim Al Ruzaiqi was singularly selected for the ‘IT Man of the Year 2011’ for his outstanding achievements promoting the Arab digital world and for his unwavering commitment to the Digital Oman Strategy, or e.oman Strategy, and to developing the IT industry in Oman.
The Information Technology Authority, which was established by Royal Decree No. 52/2006 issued on 31st May 2006 as a national authority with financial and administrative independence. Appointed Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Information Technology Authority (ITA), Dr. Salim Al Ruzaiqi is responsible for the Authority’s implementation of national IT infrastructure projects and supervision of projects related to the execution of the Digital Oman Strategy, or e.oman strategy.
The Information Technology Authority, in its implementation of the e.oman Strategy, has received a number of awards and recognition. The most recent international recognition was a first-place finish at the 2011 United Nations Public Service Awards (UNPSA) for its ‘Transforming the Society through the e.oman Communication Strategy’ in the category of ‘Advancing Knowledge Management in Government’. Additionally, the Sultan Qaboos Award for Excellence in eGovernment Sultan Qaboos Award for Excellence in eGovernment, which aspires to make qualitative transformation in the field of eGovernment Services is another key award that has too been established. Creating challenging awards and competitions are key ways to recognize best practices and models; stimulate knowledge-sharing; and, acknowledge and reward excellence and innovation.
Receiving international recognition and awards is paramount to progress and recognizing Oman’s standing in the global arena is important. Every year the World Economic Forum evaluates countries’ performances in IT and related issues an annual report called the Global Information Technology Report. In the latest Report for 2010-2011, released in April, Oman has witnessed great improvement in results compared to previous years, having been ranked in the 41st position in the Networked Readiness Index (NRI), among 138 countries. Contributing to the rise of the Networked Readiness Index ranking is the overall improvement in the Government Readiness Index which has jumped six points, from the rank of 19th in 2009 to a rank of 13th in 2010. Within the Government Readiness Index, it has been the importance given to ICTs by the Omani government in its vision of the future.
Access to ICTs is seen as an essential factor for the development and the improvement of the well-being of society. This has been witnessed and can be understood by looking at the sultanate’s IT landscape prior to the inception of ITA. In 2005, the year before the Authority was established there was less than 17% internet penetration and less than 17% PC penetration. There was virtually no knowledge about e.oman, with a limited national IT infrastructure and minimal e-services.
In 2006, with the implementation of the Digital Oman projects and initiatives under the leadership of the ITA, with CEO Dr. Salim Al Ruzaiqi at the helm, the successful and exciting journey of e.oman began. The focus then was on building infrastructure & e-services; providing governance & advisory services; creating awareness & capacity building; and, fostering innovation & support of further development of the ICT sector.
The ITA has executed a number of key infrastructure projects related to e.oman. Some of these include: National Data Center, Oman Government Network, ePayment Gateway, the Official eGovernment Services Portal, the Innovation and Support Center, the Oman National CERT and the Information Security Management Framework, to name but a few. These infrastructure projects form the backbone upon which to base the development of other e.oman projects and initiatives.
In 2008, the Digital Oman Strategy received a boost of support from His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said. In his address to the Council of Oman on 11th November 2008, His Majesty stated, “Information Technology and communications have now become the main elements that move forward the development process in this third millennium. Therefore we have accorded our attention to finding a national strategy to develop the skills and abilities of citizens in this domain with the aim of further developing eGovernment services. We are closely following the important steps that we have made in this regard. We call upon all government institutions to speedily enhance their performance, and to facilitate their services, by applying digital technology in order to usher the Sultanate into the constantly evolving spheres for applying knowledge.”
Fundamental to His Majesty’s address is the emphasis on developing the skills and abilities of citizens so that they can effectively utilize the emerging eGovernment services. This has led to one of the most important of ITA’s initiatives, the National IT Training & Awareness (NITTA) Initiative, which comprises the Community IT Training program and the Government IT Training & Certification (GITTC) project. The GITTC project aims to provide internationally recognized digital literacy certification to all civil service employees.
The Community IT Training project, which has given rise to the creation of Community Knowledge Centers (CKCs), aims to deliver digital literacy training programs to the citizens of Oman, to prepare them to fully participate in a digital knowledge-based economy. To date, nineteen CKCs have been established across the sultanate, with five more to be opened this year. As well, specific target segments in the community such as women and disabled members of society are also benefiting from available information communication technology (ICT) training. Nine Women CKCs have been launched to date and web accessibility workshops have been organized in support of disabled users of technology.
Transforming Oman into a sustainable knowledge-based economy is the ultimate goal of the e.oman Strategy. Therefore, it is imperative that we encourage and motivate individuals and institutions to interact by using government e-services and to utilize information communication technologies (ICT) that are available. To accomplish this task, targeted promotion and awareness campaigns are continually being organized to increase the awareness among the public about e.oman. To this end, the ITA has conducted roadshows to a number of wilayats throughout the sultanate and has hosted seminars at local festivals and exhibitions such as the Salalah Festival, Muscat Festival and COMEX Exhibitions. Developing a strong e-culture in the community is crucial to building the wealth of a nation.
One of the key ways to develop a strong e-culture in the community and build a healthy and robust knowledge society is to increase the number of users of the global information network (Internet) among all levels of Omani Society. This will encourage users to communicate with the outside world, access knowledge, and keep pace with innovation. Realizing the importance of increasing the internet penetration rate throughout the sultanate and ensuring all strata of Omani society can participate equally in building Oman’s Digital Society, His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said – may God protect him – issued a Royal Grant in Support of e.oman, in late November 2010. To date, 34,000 laptops have been distributed, along with free internet and free training on how to make the most of ICTs.
Dr. Salim Al Ruzaiqi’s career in IT has been firmly established having devoted 20 years to the IT field. Dr. Salim received a Doctorate of Science degree in Information Systems and Communications from Robert Morris University of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, a Master of Science in Information Systems Technology from George Washington University of Washington DC and, a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Mathematics from Lindenwood University of St. Charles Missouri. With a solid educational background, he joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in March 1987 and led the IT initiatives in the ministry, at that time. Over the years, Dr. Salim has held different technical and managerial roles in the Sultanate of Oman. Adding to this, Dr. Salim joined the Sultanate's Diplomatic Corp as the First Secretary at the Embassy of the Sultanate of Oman in Washington DC from 1998 to 2003.
The success of the Information Technology Authority (ITA) has been in large part due to the wise leadership of its CEO, Dr. Salim Al Ruzaiqi. On the occasion of accepting the ‘IT Man of the Year’ award, Dr. Salim indicated he was both honored and humbled to receive such a prestigious award. Though proud of his achievements, he was modest, for he gratefully acknowledges that it is the phenomenal success of the entire ITA organization which has, in turn, contributed to his success.
For more information or media clarification, please contact:
Media & Communication Specialist
Information & Awareness Division
Telephone: +968 2416 6842
Fax: +968 2416 6604