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OM24_IT_OmanDataPark_Maqbool Al-Wahaibi

OMAN - Telecoms & IT

Maqbool Al-Wahaibi

CEO, Oman Data Park

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 in 2012 and has been instrumental in developing solutions tailored to address the banks, financial institutions, oil and gas sector, healthcare, government, education, and professional services sectors. He has more than 25 years of diversified experience in ICT engineering, Software Development, Business Start-ups, and Leadership. He 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. Eng. Al Wahaibi was also named as one of the world’s most inspiring CEOs for 2023 published by the renowned international magazine World’s Leaders. ODP is currently serving more than 800 corporates ranging from large to mid-sized and small companies.

"Cybersecurity has sat at the core of Oman Data Park from the beginning, given our responsibility for safeguarding customer data in our data centers. Just as customers entrust their money to banks, they rely on us to protect their data."
How will Oman Data Park’s new partnerships will contribute to the rapidly growing ICT ecosystem in the country?

The main purpose behind establishing Oman Data Park is to contribute to the digital economy of the country and support the digital transformation strategy set forth in Vision 2040. Oman Data Park has been on this journey for over a decade now, and we have dedicated a significant amount of effort to enabling as many Omani businesses and entities as possible to migrate to the cloud securely. Oman Data Park currently owns four data centers, and our primary areas of focus have been cloudification and cybersecurity, both of which we have implemented within our data centers in Oman. This mission has positioned Oman Data Park at the forefront of the ICT ecosystem and ICT infrastructure in the Sultanate, working closely with telecommunications providers and other essential utilities in the country. Our main contribution to companies’ profitability is to reduce both CAPEX and OPEX expenses, which aligns with the broader goal of enhancing digital economies, as cloud adoption aims to optimize expenses and free up teams to focus on innovation rather than infrastructure management. For example, OQ, the country’s second-largest oil and gas company, has undergone a major digital transformation strategy wherein Oman Data Park plays a pivotal role as a cloud service provider.

Can you provide insights into recent trends within the digital ecosystem and outline how Oman Data Park differentiates itself in this highly competitive sector?

Oman took a unique approach in establishing its own cloud service provider, Oman Data Park, as an independent and 100% local entity, distinct from other regional models. This decision marked a crucial turning point, fostering the development of local expertise, particularly in cloudification and cybersecurity, among Omani graduates. This achievement has paved the way for us to create competitive products and services. One example is Nebula Stacks, an ODP product that offers cloud solutions for corporations, backed by our own SLAs. We have expanded our partnerships with multinational companies such as Microsoft, enabling us to host Microsoft Azure within Oman Data Park, thereby diversifying our cloud infrastructure offering. Our commitment to diversification extends to our collaboration with Amazon AWS, where we provide the Amazon AWS Outpost stack to organizations that require it. Furthermore, we have entered into an agreement with Oracle, co-investing with the country to host Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) here in Oman Data Park. We currently host OCI hyperscaler, one of the largest in the region. This diversification in Infrastructure as a Service has given us a competitive edge. Oman Data Park has expanded its ecosystem partnerships into PaaS, offering various SaaS applications, including Oracle ERPs and Microsoft Dynamics, among others.

Can you elaborate on your service offerings that align with the growing demand for enhanced data protection and privacy?

Cyber security has sat at the core of Oman Data Park from the beginning, given our responsibility for safeguarding customer data in our data centers. Just as customers entrust their money to banks, they rely on us to protect their data. Without robust cybersecurity, we are unable to maintain the level of trust and resilience we aim for. We established our own cybersecurity park to meet this critical need. Originally, the Cybersecurity Park was established to enhance the security of our own clients and data centers. Over time, we recognized a growing demand from our customers for these capabilities, allowing us to transform it from a cost center into a profit center by offering cybersecurity services to our clients. We provide four segments within our cybersecurity offerings. The first segment is offensive security, which involves penetration testing for organizations. The second segment deals with security operations where we monitor and manage cybersecurity on behalf of organizations to ensure their protection against vulnerabilities and hacking. The third segment focuses on risk and compliance. Our services include certification for organizations through standards like ISO 27001. We also assist organizations in building and strengthening their cybersecurity processes. The fourth segment is operational support where we assist organizations, particularly in the government, utility, and banking sectors in Oman, in managing and operating their cybersecurity if they lack in-house teams. This cybersecurity journey not only enhances security, but also serves as a revenue stream for Oman Data Park alongside our cloud services. Cloud and cybersecurity are two distinct pillars of our offerings, with a third element focusing on integrated systems.

In light of economic diversification efforts and the National Vision 2040, how is Oman Data Park actively contributing to the growth of SMEs and start-ups?

We have made a strategic decision to support SMEs right from their inception. Our flexible business model caters to SMEs by alleviating their financial burdens associated with hosting and meeting localized data residency requirements within Oman Data Park’s infrastructure. For example, consider fintechs, which are innovative SMEs developing solutions for the banking sector. They must adhere to certain security standards, and we assist them in achieving these goals. Additionally, we offer them the benefit of data residency hosting without any initial fees for the first two to three years. Payment only becomes necessary as they grow, providing a substantial window for financial relief and growth. Once they reach a certain level of growth, they transition into a standard customer arrangement.

Oman Data Park has signed an agreement to contribute to the digital transformation of the Dakhiliyah ‍Governorate. How is Oman adopting e-government practices?

The Omani government has adopted a strategy that promotes greater independence and decentralization within its various governorates. Each governorate, including Dakhiliyah, is tasked with implementing its own digital strategy. We are closely collaborating with several governorates, such as Ash Sharqiya, the northern and southern parts of Batinah, and Dhofar to understand their digital strategies and explore how we can contribute. While we focus on our core competence in cloud services, our goal is to assist them in achieving their digital strategies and optimizing their operational costs in the ICT sector, which can be quite expensive. Leveraging Oman Data Park’s economy of scale, we provide them with competitive pricing to support their objectives.

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