Oman operator Omantel has launched its Innovation Labs and inaugurated a 5G center, the Omantel Innovation Oasis, and E-Dukkan, the Middle East’s first unstaffed convenience store. The innovation laboratories use Omantel’s expertise, partnerships, reach and access to technology to contribute to Oman’s Vision 2040.
Omantel aims to create a network of partners to catalyze the growth of technology start-ups in Oman, develop a platform to identify and support innovations to maintain Omantel’s prominent position as a leader in technology, and identify and invest in a portfolio of startups that are strategically aligned with Omantel’s growth plan. Participants benefit from a 1,100-square-meter space for knowledge-sharing and co-working among themselves and with Omantel teams.
The space has nine meeting rooms, a community square, a hardware laboratory, co-working space and individual offices. The space will host startups and be a venue for different ecosystem activities to link them with corporate partners, academia, investors and government entities.
The Omantel Innovation Oasis will showcase uses of 5G technology and other frontier developments. It complements the Omantel Innovation Labs as a place where incubated start-ups can potentially demonstrate their innovations. The labs will organize activities to support Omantel’s internal innovation with spaces and activities.
Omantel, which is partly owned by Oman’s government, clearly wants to play a major part in promoting the overall development of the country’s economy. The Innovation Oasis certainly could have a positive effect in terms of providing support and infrastructure for corporate and other partners to create new technologies and applications of technology. At the same time, it would showcase Omantel’s 5G network, as well as its generosity, and strengthen the operator’s brand while also driving more customers to its ecosystem.
The E-Dukkan element is particularly noteworthy. The “unstaffed convenience store” would use 5G and presumably the IoT to enable retail business to be transacted much less expensively. In the near term, it would position the mobile operator in the retail sector—yet another diversification in an era when MNOs in general are diversifying their businesses. In the longer term, Omantel could profit by selling its unstaffed-store technology to retailers of all sizes.