December 15, 2018
- With the support of Google, and the participation of more than 100 technology experts from the Sultanate and the world
- As part of Al Shabab Scheme of the National Youth Program for Skills Development, more than 600 Omani youth are engaging in a unique experience to develop their ideas into technology startups
Under the patronage of His Excellency Sayyid Khalid bin Hilal bin Saud al-Busaidi, Minister of the Diwan of Royal Court, the largest gathering for technology startup ideas in the Sultanate “Omani Youth Tech Ideathon” organized for Al Shabab Scheme of the National Youth Program for Skills Development, was concluded today, Saturday, December 15, 2018.
During the closing ceremony, the top 100 ideas were announced. 600 Omani youth had competed over two days to reach this important stage of the National Youth Program for Skills Development organized by the Diwan of Royal Court. The program had the blessing of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said who always emphasizes the importance of taking care of the youth and equipping them with the latest knowledge and technologies, as well as placing them on top of national priorities.
The ceremony included a presentation summarizing the most important events and activities in the Omani Youth Tech Ideathon. This was followed by a speech on behalf of the National Youth Program for Skills Development delivered by Qais Rashid Al-Toubi, the program supervisor, who welcomed the guests and gave a brief summary of the Ideathon and the first stage of Al Shabab Scheme, as well as an overview of stage two. Hilal Mudhafar Al Riyami, part of the program’s Advisory Committee, reviewed some of the participants’ experiences representing success stories in which Omani youth show that they are capable of compete on a global level.
The most important part of the ceremony was the announcement of the top 100 technology startup ideas and their innovators who will qualify for stage two of Al Shabab Scheme.
The 100 participants were then invited to take a commemorative photo on the podium with His Excellency the Minister of the Diwan, the patron of the ceremony.
The Omani Youth Tech Ideathon is a world-class local event organized with the support of Google who engaged more than 100 experts from the Sultanate and the world to be mentors and jury members at this important event. The two-day Tech Ideathon kicked off on the morning of Friday December 14 2018, and included intensive boot camp sessions given by international experts and speakers provided by Google for the event.
The first day was a long day of training and preparatory sessions for the participants, starting with a session presented by Google’s Salim Abid who talked about participation mechanisms, the most important admission criteria, and submission methods. It was followed by sessions aimed at helping participants develop their ideas, and introducing them to effective ways to transform their proposed ideas from initial concepts to successful projects and companies that are viable and able to face challenges.
One of the most important sessions was about analyzing the problems facing users, focusing on user experience and placing it at the center of idea generation and development, then transferring the idea to the stage of devising technical solutions to facilitate the user experience.
Some of the sessions covered the economic viability of emerging technological ideas and how to make them profitable as business ventures, whereas other sessions focused on the product itself through the development of a prototype by which the participant can explain his idea better before the panel of judges or investors at a later stage. The sessions focused not only on the executive level but also on strategic topics such as those related to business models, which address strategies, operations management and other issues of interest to any business owner aspiring to succeed. On the other hand, sessions were held focusing on developing the participants' personal skills, which will enable them to better present their ideas before the panel of judges.
As for the second day, Saturday December 15, 2018, it started with evaluation sessions, as more than 600 participants presented their ideas in front of a specialized panel of judges. The evaluation was characterized with fairness and objectivity. The first round included evaluation of all 600 participants’ ideas and selecting the top 200 ideas. The second round concluded with the selection of the top 100 technology startup ideas, whose innovators will qualify for stage two of the National Youth Program for Skills Development.
In addition to the evaluation sessions, several training sessions were held to enrich the experience of the second day, through which a number of international experts and speakers offered valuable knowledge to the participants. The first session on day two was about the major technological trends in the world and their role in the lives of people and communities. It was followed by a session on work processes and implementation mechanisms. Since the issue of leadership is of great importance for the next generation of technological entrepreneurs, one of the sessions was devoted to leadership and its impact on team management in startups.
And to showcase models from the market, sessions were held in collaboration with a number of Omani entrepreneurs running technological startups, giving a realistic experience of the success of Omani youth in establishing their own startups.
Over the course of two days, His Excellency Dr. Ali Qassim Jawad Al-Lawati, Advisor for Studies and Research to the Diwan of Royal Court and Chairman of the National Youth Program for Skills Development, was briefed about the experiences and ideas by visiting the young participants and interacting with them. In an interview, he highlighted that the participants of the Omani Youth Tech Ideathon are a source of pride for the Sultanate with great responsibilities in the future of the 4th Industrial Revolution and they have reached an important stage in the program where they have to adapt its applications to the Omani market and contextualize these modern technologies.
His Excellency also advised the participants: “learn all that is useful from this technology boom, and work hard, but do not let global technological openness take you away from your national identity and authentic values. There is no contradiction between the two, and know that all the successful international experiences have retained their national and cultural characteristics, and you must hold on to the values, principles and legacies of this authentic society, recognized worldwide for its pure values and ethics.”
On a related note, following the announcement of the 100 winning ideas, stage two of Al Shabab Scheme commences and the innovators will receive an excellent training opportunity in the Sultanate and abroad by experts from prestigious institutions. The training will begin with intensive workshops and a boot camp in Oman, then the future entrepreneurs will travel to Singapore and Switzerland where they will join a training program in institutions specialized in the development of technology-based project ideas, to learn how to introduce these projects to the market, offer their services to the people and support the national economy, in addition to contextualizing many of the 4IR technologies.