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09.07.11

Cablegate: Microsoft and Government of Oman Inseparable

Posted in Asia, Microsoft at 6:17 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Cablegate

Summary: Cable from Oman shows how Microsoft is steering the government and making the population Microsoft dependent

We recently looked at Oman and onwards, reaching Ukraine in the north and Vietnam in the south. All across the world we find evidence of government-assisted Microsoft deals which at times reveal misconduct. Many of the same tricks are used everywhere, so it is worth learning these. The following Cablegate cable is also one from Oman.

VZCZCXYZ0004
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMS #0580/01 1601237
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 091237Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY MUSCAT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8362
INFO RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC

UNCLAS MUSCAT 000580 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR NEA/ARP, EEB/CBA 
COMMERCE FOR COBERG 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: ECON, BEXP, ELAB, ENRG, KSEP, AMGT, MU 
SUBJECT: NOMINATION FOR CORPORATE EXCELLENCE AWARD: 
MICROSOFT OMAN 
 
REF: STATE 47222 
 
------- 
Summary 
------- 
 
1. Embassy Muscat is pleased to nominate Microsoft Oman for 
the Secretary's 2007 Award for Corporate Excellence. 
Microsoft Oman's strong commitment to actively supporting 
government efforts to promote greater computer literacy in 
the Sultanate makes this company the right choice for the 
2007 Corporate Excellence Award.  End Summary. 
 
---------------- 
Nascent Industry 
---------------- 
 
2. Oman's information communications technology (ICT) sector 
currently is not well-developed.  According to a Booz Allen 
Hamilton study commissioned by the Department under the 
Middle East Partnership Initiative, the industry overall 
employs only 1300 people, with most positions concentrated in 
a few large corporations.  Compared to the population as a 
whole, the figure represents 0.4 IT employees per 1,000, 
which lags behind the EU-25 average of 5.5 IT employees per 
1,000.  Booz Allen Hamilton further estimated that the number 
of university students graduating from computer science 
disciplines reached only 386 in 2004. 
 
------------------------------------------ 
Background: Government Focus on Raising IT 
------------------------------------------ 
 
3. In an effort to boost public awareness of Oman's need to 
move increasingly toward a knowledge-based economy, the 
government launched its "E-Oman" campaign in 2006.  Under the 
slogan "Transforming Oman, Empowering You," Maqbool bin Ali 
Sultan, Minister of Commerce and Industry, officially 
unveiled the government's plans regarding Oman's e-government 
programs, as well as other initiatives designed to promote 
Oman's transformation to a knowledge-based economy. 
 
4. Under the direction of the recently created Information 
Technology Authority (ITA), the Omani government embarked on 
a pilot project electronically linking four ministries 
through one computer network, a plan that will eventually be 
expanded to include all ministries.  In addition, the 
government is working on developing an electronic national 
registry system, smart ID cards for citizens and residents, 
and a one-stop-shop for business registration. 
 
------------------------- 
The Microsoft Partnership 
------------------------- 
 
5. In 2006, Microsoft concluded a three-year, five million 
USD per year agreement with the Omani government for the use 
of the company's licensed products on over 22,000 terminals. 
The contract, which includes a commitment by Microsoft to 
invest two million USD per year in training programs for 
government employees and the general public, represents the 
beginning of a valued relationship between the two entities 
as they both strive to improve computer literacy in the 
Sultanate. 
 
6. As part of its plan to foster this relationship, Microsoft 
has committed to investing in Oman's IT capabilities. 
According to Microsoft country manager Abdullah al-Lootah, 
this commitment is essential to efforts to raise technology 
usage in government operations, which currently is very low. 
In terms of promoting knowledge transfer opportunities, 
Microsoft will sponsor six-month visits by government 
officials to the company's Dubai office to educate them on 
"best financial practices."  Coupling with the government's 
E-Oman initiative, Microsoft is reaching out to the Omani 
people by installing computer laboratories in 10 schools for 
public use during the evening hours. 
 
----------------------- 
Training for the Future 
----------------------- 
 
7. Microsoft demonstrated its strong, continued commitment to 
building Oman's technical capabilities in March 2007, when 
the company concluded an agreement with the ITA to launch an 
innovation and support center to be housed at Knowledge Oasis 
Muscat (KOM), the government-run technology incubator.  The 
agreement calls for a joint investment of six million USD in 
establishing the center, one million USD of which is to come 
 from Microsoft under its investment partnership accord with 
the Omani government.  The center will host resident 
Microsoft engineers, who will train between 20 to 40 Omanis 
on technology solutions to deliver services to government 
entities under the "E-Oman" initiative.  Graduates would then 
form IT steering committees within their respective 
ministries. 
 
8. This initiative is one of several Microsoft is pursuing to 
"bridge the technology skills gap" in Oman.  In addition to 
the innovation center, Microsoft will partner with Knowledge 
Oasis Muscat and other selected entities in training 300 
Omani government professionals per year.  The trainees will 
work with Microsoft engineers to develop and implement 
solutions to promote efficiency in delivering government 
services electronically.  Salim al-Ruzaiqi, Chief Executive 
Officer of the ITA, praised Microsoft's efforts in the media, 
noting, "This new center will create more quality job 
opportunities for local Omani graduates in the ICT sector." 
 
--------------- 
Assisting Women 
--------------- 
 
9. Microsoft also has been active in supporting efforts to 
raise computer literacy among women through a partnership 
with MEPI's "Women in Technology (WIT)" program.  The company 
is currently working with the Oman Women's Association in 
Muscat to train women throughout the Sultanate on IT skills. 
Under a "train the trainer" initiative, Microsoft donated its 
"Unlimited Potential" curriculum to the organization to allow 
participants to pass along skills taught by Microsoft 
trainers to women residing in the secondary cities of Oman. 
Microsoft further donated over $50,000 worth of software and 
90 refurbished computers to support the continuation of the 
initiative. 
GRAPPO 



In short, Microsoft is indoctrinating government employees so that they come to depend on Microsoft technologies, at taxpayers’ expense. For those who do not know what “Unlimited Potential” is (a euphemism to say the least), see our posts about it [1, 2, 3, 4, 5].

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