Under the Patronage of His Excellency the Minister of the Diwan of Royal Court, the National Youth Program for Skills Development Organizes the Oman Youth Tech Ideathon

November 12, 2018

Under the Patronage of His Excellency the Minister of the Diwan of Royal Court, the National Youth Program for Skills Development Organizes the Oman Youth Tech Ideathon

  • The largest gathering for technology startup ideas in the Sultanate, over 600 technology-based project ideas, supported by Google, more than 70 jury members from Oman and the world.
  • 100 technology-based project ideas to qualify for stage 2 of Al Shabab Scheme of the National Youth Program for Skills Development   

His Excellency Sayyid Khalid bin Hilal bin Saud al-Busaidi, Minister of the Diwan of Royal Court, is sponsoring the largest gathering for technology startup ideas in the Sultanate, the Omani Youth Tech Ideathon, to be held on the 14th and 15th of December 2018, at the Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre. This event is a major part of Al Shabab Scheme of the National Youth Program for Skills Development, having received the Royal blessing of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said who is always providing sound guidance towards taking care of the youth and equipping them with the latest knowledge and technologies, as well as placing them on top of the national priorities.

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, stated that: “the National Youth Program for Skills Development reaffirms that the youth are at the top of the priorities of His Majesty the Sultan who granted his royal blessing to the program since its conception, as part of the development cycle sponsored by the Royal Court through the various national programs targeting all sectors of society {government sector / private sector / youth}.”  

After the participation of 1000 Omani youth in a rich virtual learning experience through Udacity’s global platform, this event aims at establishing the skills and knowledge acquired by the participants on the applications of the 4th Industrial Revolution. To maximize the program’s impact, participants were asked to submit ideas for technology-based projects that could be turned into startups or commercial ventures in the technology field. Participants provided more than 600 startup-worthy ideas. Hence the importance of the Omani Youth Tech Ideathon held over the course of two days, during which participants take part in a series of lectures and workshops to develop their ideas, following which they compete by presenting their ideas in front of jury members and assessors, in order for 100 ideas to qualify for stage 2 of the program.              

Dr. Ali stressed the importance of the program, pointing out that “it is not a traditional training program limited to skill development, but rather a national program aimed at building a community of young Omanis using modern and integrated learning tools that work on mindset development, knowledge expansion and the refinement of skills and innovations, in line with the foundations of modern empowerment for the youth upon whom we rely to carry on Oman’s development process, to reach a new world already taking shape under the economy of the 4th Industrial Revolution.”

His excellency the Chairman of the program further said: “I am pleased and proud to announce that the success rate of our youths in obtaining the Nanodegree }stage 1 of the program{ stood at 74%, exceeding the global success rate in such certifications offered by Udacity, which is limited to 60%.”

“This reflects the program participants’ capacity, earnestness and determination to succeed, and I can say confidently that this is the spirit of the Sultanate’s youth. I would also like to point out that the participants represent all the Governorates, a consideration stressed by HE the Minister of the Royal Court during the program design process,” he added.

The Omani Youth Tech Ideathon is a world-class local event organized with the support of Google. It offers the participants an integrated experience in the development of ideas and their competitive introduction to local, regional and even global markets, to support the national economy and social prosperity. The ideas are focused on a number of important fields and sectors such as education, health, tourism, fisheries, oil, mining, communications and others. They also incorporate a number of different technologies such as web and mobile applications, virtual and enhanced reality, 3D printing, artificial intelligence and the internet of things, etc. the Omani Youth Tech Ideathon will begin at 9am on Friday December 14, 2018, with idea development boot camp sessions offered by Google, the first of which will be on Design Thinking, concerned with examining problems, analyzing information and proposing solutions through integrated practical steps. The second session will be about Business Models and will explain enterprise modus operandi and how to find value added in the service or product provided by an institution or company, as well as work strategies, operational processes and other issues needed by the participants at this stage in order to be able to take their ideas to a more mature stage, and turn them into seeds for viable startups. Next on the schedule will be a session about dealing with prototypes, which will help participants present a clearer conception before the evaluation committees.                          

And since all the presented ideas are primarily technological or based on one of the 4IR technologies, a special session will be held on the impact of technological solutions on both society and business. The event, which will bring together over 600 potential entrepreneurs, will also include a session on personal and leadership traits of startup founders, as well as a session on presenting startup ideas before evaluation committees, in which participants will learn the most important and necessary presentation and persuasion skills.       

Commenting on the importance of this event in the transition between stages 1 and 2 of the program, His Excellency said: “Those who completed the current stage of the program represent a valuable treasure and we rely on them greatly for the future. We are going to select a group of them who have met the requirements of stage 1 and presented competitive and innovative technology-based ideas that match the criteria of nomination and competition to participate in the second stage of the program through the Omani Youth Tech Ideathon, which is the largest gathering of technology-based project ideas in the Sultanate. The ideas will be presented to jury panels of Omani and international experts specialized in the fields of technology and entrepreneurship. It should be noted that most of the Omani experts chosen for the jury panels are members of Oman Business Forum, and graduates of the national programs from the government and private sectors, with the aim of enhancing the joint work between both sectors and based on the previous achievements of the national programs, which received the royal blessing of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos, and were supervised by the Diwan of Royal Court in order to maximize their impact and overall output.”

After the intensive boot camp sessions starts the 18-hour competition between the participants, during which each participant will work individually on developing the idea they will present, taking into account the time factor and the quality of the ideas developed. The competition will be a unique experience in which the participants will receive guidance and help from over 70 Omani and international mentors. The event will attract highly qualified international mentors with a long experience in the field of technology startups and 4IR technologies. Many of those assessors and mentors have their own enterprises, or work for prestigious international companies, while others are Omani assessors and mentors having a long-standing experience in the same technology fields and entrepreneurship, and most of them are graduates of national programs and Oman Business Forum members.    

The competition will continue until the next day -Saturday, December 15, 2018, on which participants will present their ideas directly before the appropriate committees who will evaluate them and choose the best ideas through a rigorous and impartial two-stage assessment process. The top 100 ideas will be selected based on a number of criteria, such as originality, creativity and applicability, in addition to other specific criteria of which the participants would be previously informed.   

Following the Omani Youth Tech Ideathon, the top 100 ideas will make it to a new stage in which the participants will receive an intensive training program and benefit from business accelerators within the Sultanate and abroad, in collaboration with academic and educational institutions specialized in the field of technology startups and entrepreneurship.

Commenting on Stage 2 of Al Shabab Scheme, His Excellency Dr. Ali Qassim Jawad, Advisor for Studies and Research to the Diwan of Royal Court and Chairman of the National Youth Program for Skills Development, said: “the 100 candidates will benefit from international experiences to enhance their technological abilities and entrepreneurial skills, in addition to developing their technology-based project ideas and transforming them into products or services serving the community and the national economy. The second stage will be implemented both in the Sultanate and abroad, in Singapore and Switzerland, in collaboration with a number of prestigious educational institutions.”    

The National Youth Program for Skills Development delivers many national goals, most important among which is building a community of Omani entrepreneurs who will contextualize major 4IR technologies for the Sultanate through the products and companies they will present as the output of a world-class learning journey focused on the Omani market and its needs.