The Business Year

Maqbool Al Wahaibi

OMAN - Telecoms & IT

Maqbool Al Wahaibi

CEO, Oman Data Park (ODP)

Bio

Eng. Maqbool Al Wahaibi is the Chief Executive Officer of Oman Data Park (ODP), the first Managed & Cloud Service Provider in Oman. He is part of the Executive Management and the founding team member to establish ODP. Eng. Maqbool has more than 20 years of diversified experience in ICT Engineering, Software Development, Business Startups and Leadership. Holds a Master’s Degree in Computer Software Engineering from the University of York, and an MBA from Strathclyde University, UK. He was named as Technology Person of the Year at the Annual AIWA Awards in 2018, which also gave Oman Data Park the Excellence for Global Cloud-Based Services in 2019.

 

Maqbool Al Wahaibi, CEO of Oman Data Park (ODP), on ten years of operations, Oman’s digital agenda, and goals for the coming year.

ODP celebrates its 10-year anniversary in 2022. How has the company evolved since its establishment a decade ago?

ODP started in 2012, and since then we have developed and provided different services. The first was called colocation, which is bringing a company’s IT infrastructure into our data center. Then, in 2014, we introduced cloud services. Since then, we also have introduced security services, as well as cybersecurity by forming a cybersecurity team at ODP dedicated to provide security for clients and ODP data centers. Oman has a strategy to make use of that place from a logistic and industrial perspective. Recently, we also launched our Nebula AI, which aims to provide GPU processing power to those with AI-based applications that want to process them locally. In terms of the value we provide, ODP has basically localized many hosting services that were before provided outside the country. There were no options to host applications within the country before ODP, and we took on many of these data and localizing in-house. Second, the value we have added has to do with providing best-in-class services in the most economical way. These two points are extremely important, namely preserving the country’s data sovereignty and helping clients lower their costs.

What are the main challenges in bringing Oman’s digital agenda forward?

Now, our challenges are varied. One of the main challenges is to find good talent. The workforce has always been a challenge because we are always at the forefront. There are many certifications required to maintain and configure many of these clouds. On that side, Oman is not exactly where we want it be, and we need to push the education sector forward in order to match the speed of the technology revolution. The second challenge is that Oman needs to relax many of the unnecessary processes within the government sector. We need quicker decisions around digital transformation. Time is not in our favor from a technological transformation perspective, and with COVID-19 there has been a further acceleration of this transformation. The third challenge that we normally face and we need to do something about is receiving more international exposure from a business entity perspective. We cannot continue to shy away from the world and need to expose ourselves more. My dream is to have ODP become a global player. The internet is giving us a leverage that we would never have received a decade ago. We can serve Spain through Oman, for example, and we need to take advantage of all these opportunities.

What are the main goals for the company for the coming year?

For 2023, we will bring forward some additional products and services to our clients in order to further enhance our operations. We are a customer-centric company and remain close to our customers. We have the means to serve them better, which has provided us with solid leverage around the products and services they want more for us to serve them better. There will be some new products and services on the table. AI will be our prime focus, and we need to demonstrate the capabilities of Nebula AI to different sectors and help them grow closer to their customers. We are targeting financial services, logistics, and oil and gas, for example, in order to promote Nebula AI. The second element will be mostly looking at regional markets in order to expand our footprint. We also welcome talks with international partners in order to see how we can work together and serve our markets. The third element will be mostly around how we can assist the education ecosystem uplift our talents by working together. This will indirectly boost start-ups in Oman as well. We need to do something there with the educational sector and the financial sector because many of these venture capital companies also have to work with us in this context.

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