Muscat: The first Free and Open Source Software Conference (FOSSC-Oman' 2013), jointly organised by the Communication & Information Research Centre (CIRC) at Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) and the Information Technology Authority (ITA), came to a close on Tuesday.
The two-day conference, the first of its kind to be organised in the Sultanate, opened under the patronage of Dr. Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Futaisi, Minister of Transport & Communications.
Dr. Salim Sultan Al Ruzaiqi, ITA's Chief Executive Officer, and Dr. Ali bin Saud Bemani, Vice Chancellor & Chairman of SQU, attended the conference along with a number of information and communications technology (ICT) professionals, academics and students, and members of the larger free and open source software (FOSS) community from Oman and abroad.
The activities of the second day of FOSSC-Oman' 2013 were similar to the first day in which a number of ICT experts and specialists in free and open-source software gave informative presentations.
Key themes during Day 2 of the conference included Open Source & Government, and Cloud & Open Source. Speaking at the conference, Munthar Al Hamdani, a student at the Faculty of Engineering at SQU and Head of the FOSS student group supervised by CIRC, said: "The FOSS group at SQU, with their relentless passion for free and open source software, helped pave the way for the conference. The FOSS group seeks to raise awareness in this area. The directive to host the conference every two years with the support of the Information Technology Authority will spread awareness."
Dr. Abdulrahman Al Alarifi, one of the speakers to the FOSSC-Oman' 2013 conference and the Director of the Saudi National Programme for FOSS Technologies, said: "I have enjoyed participating in this conference. The diversity of speakers who have shared their varied experiences has had a big impact on the audience. I was impressed to see a large turnout of SQU students, which indicates their awareness of free and open source software.
"I believe that holding a conference of this calibre will contribute significantly to the spread of a FOSS culture in the community. Like Oman, we in the Saudi society share the same challenges, with respect to the idea of community acceptance of such systems.
"But, thankfully, the great interest shown here will contribute to the advancement of FOSS and help to raise awareness."
While concluding FOSSC-Oman' 2013, thanks and appreciation were accorded to the organisers, guest speakers and participants, and the professors, students and administrators who attended the conference, without whom the conference would not have been successful. Following this, a list of recommendations was given in an effort to further enhance the use of free and open source software in Oman. Some of the recommendations were:
Work to develop a comprehensive and integrated strategy for the dissemination and use of FOSS in government sectors;
Continue to support the distribution of FOSS publications, including larger segments within the Sultanate, whether academic, industrial or educational;
Promote networking among various segments of society interested in the software, in order to exchange experiences and solutions, helping to organize regular forums for interested groups;
Intensify training programmes for capacity building in the Sultanate in educational and other institutions. Study the possibility of establishing a centre of creativity and excellence which serves Oman's National FOSS Initiative.