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Oman is ready for the fourth industrial revolution the Secretary General of The Research Council (TRC) Hilal Al Hanaei said.
The fourth industrial revolution refers to this era wherein new technological breakthroughs will cause disruptions in a number of industries, and will be marked by robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), block chain, among others technologies. Moreover, it will lead to largescale automation and loss of many jobs.
He said that Oman had the ability to cope with the rapid automation and loss of jobs, adding that innovation, diversification and adaption on part of educational institutions would be key in doing so.
Hanaei remarked that Oman’s well established tradition of research in which TRC plays a key role would ensure Oman was ready for the change. He praised His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said for his role in developing the country, adding that the same would continue when the fourth industrial revolution arrived.
“Before His Majesty, Oman had three elementary schools and no higher educational institutions, but all of that changed. Now, there is no shortage of schools and universities. Establishment of Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) was a huge step."
“Not only schools, but the importance of research was emphasised with the setting up of the TRC. The role of the TRC was to initially engage in capacity building and focus on key research areas relevant to Oman," he added.
“I have to say that we have come very far since the early days of the establishment of the TRC. Oman is now among the top 70 innovators in the world. By 2020, we want to break into the top 40 and the top 20 by 2040. The key is Oman’s position relative to the world. We have to keep moving faster than, or as fast as the rest of the world” Hanaei remarked.
The TRC Secretary Generalsaid that the key was to extract workable solutions from research. “In the past, we have spoken about moving to a knowledge based economy. For this, one needs to take the innovations and research and make them into solutions that can be applied in industries,” he added.
Hanaei also emphasised the importance of economic expansion and diversification (Tanfeedh) in generating jobs for the new economy. “The people who lose jobs to automation can very well be employed by new jobs created by diversification. This is why expanding our economy towards a non-oil and gas future is really important."
“Other needs such as infrastructure are also important. Fast broadband connections, for instance, are essential,” he said.
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