Abu Ghazaleh: Muscat Declaration calls on Supporting the Development of National and Regional Research and Education Infrastructures

The Omani Research and Education Network (OMREN) conducted its annual OMREN Technology Summit (OTS) on 31 May 2021 under the patronage and support of the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Information Technology and the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation and with the participation of the Arab States Research and Education Network (ASREN).
The event attracted more than 500 participants from 20 countries, featuring 26 speakers. The focus of the discussions was primarily on enhancing research and education through the development of a robust, sustainable and reliable research and education (R&E) infrastructure typically provided by the Research and Education Networks at both regional and national levels.
In this light, the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation, ASREN and OMREN agreed to announce the “Muscat Declaration” as a call for action to recognize and foster the role of National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) across the Arab region and to advocate as follows:
  • The necessity and urgency for developing an NREN in the countries that currently are without. This should be associated with governance and sustainability plans and actions.
  • Supporting existing NRENs in the Arab countries by providing them with the required capacities, capabilities and funding following successful NRENs models in some Arab countries. 
  • The necessity and urgency for supporting the development of a regional Pan-Arab Research and Education Network to facilitate R&E collaborations across Arab countries and beyond by endorsing the ongoing mission of the Arab States Research and Education Network. 
  • NRENs in the Gulf region are called upon to join forces among each other and with ASREN for optimized national/international Internet capacity deployment, for creating an Arab-wide sharing and learning community and for ensuring participation in discussions and activities of the global R&E networking community.
HE Dr. Saif Al-Haddabi, Undersecretary of Scientific Research and Innovation at the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation, asserted on the importance of this declaration: “We are proud of OMREN’s achievements and what it has provided for the development of research and education in the Sultanate and beyond. This confirms how the Sultanate recognizes the importance of supporting and developing the infrastructure for research and education, enhancing its capabilities and providing it with the necessary resources. We call on all Arab countries to work on developing their infrastructure, and we are pleased to put our experience in Oman in their hands to benefit from it.”
HE Dr. Talal Abu-Ghazaleh, Chairman of ASREN, praised the cooperation with OMREN adding: "There are Arab countries that have achievements in the field of research and education infrastructure, and we call on other Arab countries to build research and education networks and strengthen them with the necessary resources and equipment to ensure their sustainability and development, especially in the fields of open science, open access and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals”.
The declaration focuses on addressing the official authorities in the Arab countries, including related ministries and stakeholders, in addition to joint Arab action institutions led by the League of Arab States to work on developing and improving the infrastructure for research and education at the national and regional levels in the Arab region.
The Ministry of Higher Education, Scientific Research and Innovation in the Sultanate of Oman and ASREN recall the role of the late Dr. Abdulmonem Al-Kharusi, Director of OMREN, 2014-2021, with his significant contribution to OMREN and to the Arab NRENs as well.