Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Omani Internet Forums - Part 1

There are tens of active internet forums in Oman today, thousands more in the Arab world and hundreds of thousands around the world. Most of these forums use the same vBulletin technology, the most successful forum application that can be purchased fairly cheaply.

Obviously, all internet forums are global in that they are accessible over the global network, i.e. internet, but I describe them as Omani or otherwise based on the origin of members and the orientation of topics discussed. Here, I will only briefly compare and analyze some of the Omani forums that are in English language (to go with the theme of my blog and because honestly, there are too many Arabic language forums to analyze).

I will do this briefly but very objectively using all my knowledge and many years of experience in the IT industry and in academic research:

AVERAGE SCORE: 4.4 OUT OF 5 This forum has been running successfully for about 8 years. Initially, it was the English version of a famous Arabic language Omani forum. In April 2002, the website started functioning independently. This forum is well regulated and very diverse.

Diversity & Reach: Moderators and members originate from different countries from around the world. This forum has good international presence as about 30% of its visitors come from United States. For this, it gets 5 out of 5.

Sections & Activity: A wide range of well structured and moderated categories are available. Rules and regulations provide guidelines for all discussions and all sections are highly active. In January 2009, this forum crossed the 4 million visitors in a month for the first time, earlier, and more recently, it crossed the 5 million visitors mark! As per Compete, EnglishSabla had about 4,000 unique visitors in March 2009, the best among all English language forums in Oman. The average number of members online during peak hours is about 28. For variety, control and activity, it gets 5 out of 5.

Members: This forum has over 6,000 members, of which over 700 are active. The members are truly diverse in terms of age, profession, religion and country. Above 200 members have more than 1,000 posts and new members continuously join from around the world. For this, EnglishSabla gets 5 out of 5.

Technology: Latest version of vBulletin software is used and supplemented with highly creative and unique graphics. The look and feel of this forum is without doubt the best. In this criterion, it gets 4 out of 5.

Unique Features: EnglishSabla has a unique theme, highly active sections, variety in topics, diverse members, comprehensive rules and guidelines, and good ambience. For these key differentiators it gets 3 out of 5.

This blog post will be done in parts. In my next post, I will introduce and discuss one of the most active English language forums in Oman.

To be continued..

Friday, 1 May 2009

RCA Project Wins The WSA

The Recruitment Solution through SMS Applications from the Royal Court Affairs (RCA) has won the prestigious World Summit Award (WSA) in the e-government category this year.

Oman has won the coveted award among over 700 projects from 168 countries across the globe in the World Summit Award 2009. This innovative solution has also won the best e-content in the Arab region in the e-government category at the Bahrain International eGovernment Forum 2009 under the WSA program.

This novel solution uses mobile technology and an integrated system between two the RCA and the Ministry of Manpower to enable Omani citizens to apply for job advertisements by sending an SMS and get the first response within seconds.

HE.Sultan Mohammed Al Namani, Secretary General, Royal Court Affairs expressed his delight by stating that, 'The Royal Court Affairs winning the World Summit Award in the e-government category is in line with His majesty's vision for excellence in using technology to deliver public service. This award is also a big recognition for the hard work put in by our team of staff in cooperation with the Ministry of Manpower. We express our sincere thanks to ministry of manpower and the staff of RCA, and we look forward to many more such international honours for their efforts.'

The new system has reduced the process cycle time to 5-10seconds and brought down the cost of processing to only 10Baiza through automated sorting of applications. In addition the solution also helps the Ministry of Manpower to maintain information accuracy and promote transparency in the recruitment process ensuring equal opportunity for all.

Nasser Al Badri, Head of Recruitment and Omanisation Office at the Royal Court Affairs, described the award winning solution as follows, 'The solution is to perform first short listing operation of the job applicant by integrating the RCA application program, the Ministry of Manpower (MoMP) registration system and Mobile Phone technology. Applicants can apply for RCA vacancies by sending an SMS with the MoMP registration code and their preferred Job Code. A mediator system will fetch the applicant details from the MoMP and the job requirements from office of recruitment in RCA. Next, it matches the codes between the registrant and the job and if successful, then the candidate is shortlisted.'

'The system will also check any further requirements like Area, Driving License, Qualification, Specialisation, Experience, occupational experience, Training requirements of the candidates with details of the applied candidate. If the candidate does not satisfy any of the above conditions then the candidate's application will be rejected and an SMS will be sent to the candidate with valid reason as to why the candidate is rejected,' Al Badri said.

'Once the candidate satisfies all the requirement of the applied job then the candidate is validated and a registration number is generated. A message will be sent with this registration number along with a congratulatory message. Through this project Omani citizens have been greatly benefitted because now they can seek jobs that befit their qualifications and can edit their applications and reapply with the same registered details from anywhere through an SMS without having to travel to ministry office,' he added.

E-Government & Institutions, e-Health & Environment, e-Learning & Education, e-Entertainment & Games, e-Culture & Heritage, e-Science & Technology, e-Business & Commerce and e-Inclusion & Participation are the 8 official categories for nominations.

The Sultanate of Oman has made yet another mark in the international arena by winning in this year's World Summit Award and the earlier honour came from the Higher Education Admission System winning a similar award in the e-content category in theWSA2008. It is evident that the progress made by Oman in offering effective e-government solution through a strategic vision has been recognised at global level.


A proud day for Oman and congratulations to all the men and women who worked in this project. Also, a great encouragement for us all working in the ICT industry in Oman.