Oman’s Ministry of Housing and Urban Planning ( MoHUP) has announced its roadmap for 2024 which will encompass 130 initiatives of which blockchain technology will play a part.  The Oman Ministry of Housing intends to launch a unified portal with one of its main components being blockchain.

The plan hinges on four key pillars: empowering people, embracing a digital leap, strengthening foundations, and building together. These guiding principles will translate into tangible actions, such as capacity-building programs, streamlined processes through technology, clear regulations, and enhanced public engagement.

Urban planning takes center stage, with initiatives like the implementation of the Greater Muscat City structural plan and the development of comprehensive plans for major centers like Greater Sohar and Salalah. Future cities like Sultan Haitham City and Al Jabal Al Akhdar will see significant progress, while the development of Khasab will gain momentum.

As part of its commitment to ensuring “Housing for All”, the Ministry has outlined a number of programs. The Mandaa Project will provide safe havens in Jabal Shams, while mountain villages will receive 84 new residential units. The Kamzar Housing Project and initiatives in the Al-Halaniyyat Islands address specific needs, and relocation and renewal efforts will bring modern housing to Soqara residents and revitalize Wadi Bani Khalid and Qurayyat.

Beyond these specific initiatives, the plan outlines ambitious goals like distributing 1,000 government residential plots, establishing 1,200 housing units within the housing assistance program, and securing RO 1.9 billion for housing loans with the Oman Housing Bank. The completion of 1,051 housing units in Al-Naseem and the offering of 5,300 units through the Sorouh Program further demonstrate the Ministry’s commitment to tangible outcomes.

All this will include a digital transformation journey with the digitization of all Ministry services and the launch of a unified portal leveraging blockchain technology. Key legislation related to urban planning, real estate, and housing will solidify the legal framework for sustainable development.

Previously, the digital revolution permeated the Ministry’s operations, with 56 services automated on platforms like Tatweer and Amlak. This shift not only streamlined processes but also empowered citizens with convenient online access.

In January 2024, The Oman Development Bank announced as well that it would be digitizing its operations utilizing low code blockchain enabled solutions from NewGen Software. Newgen Software, a global provider of low code digital transformation platform will streamline Oman Development Bank’s banking processes.

In addition, the Ministry of Transport Communications and Information Technology announced earlier in February that it would be piloting Blockchain Land transport eWay Bill.

Even ESCWA in February organized a training workshop in Oman on blockchain technology for trade facilitation. The workshop is part of a project to build the capacities of member countries to use the blockchain technology to enhance trade facilitation and competitiveness.  Participants included Omani officials from various agencies including the Ministry of Transport and Information Technology, Ministry of Trade, Customs authorities and Oman Logistics Center.

The Oman Development Bank will be digitizing its operations utilizing low code blockchain enabled solutions from NewGen Software.

Newgen Software, a global provider of low code digital transformation platform will streamline Oman Development Bank’s banking processes.

Oman Development Bank, the financing arm for the government to support SMEs based in Oman is dedicated to enhancing its banking processes, aiming for a seamless, secure, and omnichannel experience for its customers.

The bank has opted for Newgen’s intelligent process automation (BPM) and contextual content services (ECM) offerings, built on the NewgenONE low code platform. This project would be executed with the help of Newgen’s platinum implementation partner, Ikyam Technologies.

The Newgen Intelligent process automation and contextual content services are built on a low code platform that manages content, processes ad communication. It empowers  employees to easily develop applications, from automating small departmental functions to enterprise wide solutions

The platform helps leverage cutting-edge capabilities such as robotic process automation (RPA), digital sensing, mobility, analytics, and blockchain,

Leveraging Newgen’s solutions, the bank will oversee the entire content lifecycle, from origination to disposition. The solution provides efficient tools for capturing content from diverse sources and facilitates instant document uploads—managed within a secure, centralized repository. The bank can optimize processes and foster collaboration between front- and back-office teams through user-friendly workflow automation. Moreover, the solution will allow DB to mitigate business risks by ensuring compliance and securing business-critical information. The integration with core banking and third-party systems will provide a unified experience.

“With Newgen’s robust solution, we look forward to achieving a paperless work environment that will enhance efficiency, reduce overall costs, and eliminate process bottlenecks. This will help us meet the targeted growing demand and scale operations to handle high-volume transactions efficiently, leading to a better customer experience. With this implementation, we are poised to set new benchmarks in delivering innovative financial services, empowering SMEs financially, and aligning with the country’s economic development goals,” said Mahmood Al-Yafai, Digital Transformation Program Director, Development Bank.

“It brings us great pleasure to partner with DB, supporting and advancing their digital transformation program’s goals. DB’s trust enhances our standing as a robust, adaptable, and scalable platform meeting the diverse spectrum of banking customer needs. We look forward to helping the bank build a strong foundation with digital banking and supporting their future initiatives,” said Vivek Bhatnagar, VP – EMEA Sales, Newgen Software.

The Ministry of Transport Communications and Information Technology in Oman will be piloting Blockchain Land transport eWay Bill on February 4th 2024.

The land transport eway bill is a blockchain enabled digital document used to authenticate and secure the process involved in land freight transportation. It includes crucial information such as quantities weights, origin, and destination of goods

As per the statement on X, the key objectives of the eWaybill include simplifying logistical operations and streamlining procedures for efficient and smooth tracking and documentation of shipments.

It will ensure service quality and enhance transportation operations; preserve and protect the interests of all parties involved, and elevate the overall quality of logistic services.

NAFITH a company that develops and operates technology-driven services that increase the productivity of trade processes and shared freight transportation infrastructure to benefit the public and advance commerce will be implementing the solution for Oman.

Nafith operates in Oman, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

In 2023 Oman also announced that Oman’s telecom operator Omantel, and Indonesian Telkomsel signed up to GSMA’s ebusiness network accelerator program to trial next gen telco blockchain network for roaming. The new network would speed up roaming processes, support roaming agreement negotiations and expedite billing and settlement. The trials  went live in June 2023.

While Oman blockchain ID tech startup, Nashid was selected by Swiss Tech4trust accelerator to participate in their program out of Trust Valley of Lausanne, Switzerland.

Oman continues to grow its crypto mining business amidst a crypto bull market and possible Bitcoin ETF approvals in early January across the United States. Oman based Green Data City and Italy based Alps Blockchain, through its subsidiary Alps MiddleEast SPC, have agreed to develop a blockchain data center in Oman. The crypto mining farm will be installed in the Green Data City’s hub with a first phase of 6.5MW.

Alps Blockchain will start to deploy the containerized units in January 2024, and use the latest S21 machines released by Bitmain. Alps Blockchain has long been in partnership with Bitmain, the largest manufacturer of mining equipment in the global market.

The new S21 mining ASIC reaches an efficiency rating of 16 to 17 joules per terahash (J/TH), an unprecedented performance in the market. This performance reduces the energy needed to mine and to secure the Bitcoin network.

The location of the Blockchain Bitcoin mining datacenter is energy efficient given it is located in Southern Oman where the summer temperature stays below 29 degrees celsius, naturally decreasing the cooling requirements compared to the rest of the region. In addition, the presence of cold deep ocean water will bring natural cooling in the next phases of the development and further reduce the energy needed to operate the facility to a minimum.

In addition to the geographical advantages of the location, the partners have chosen Oman because of the long-term security provided by the Green Data City mining license, the stability of the Oman Government energy policies, and the large renewable energy development plans in the Country.

This announcement follows a previous agreement in October 2023 between China’s Bitcoin crypto mining and Blockchain hardware manufacturer, Canaan and Oman’s Green Data city to pilot phase of a new crypto mining operation in Oman. The new site would also be installed in the facility of Green Data City, and under the agreement, Canaan has the option to expand the total capacity to up to 100MW.

As part of the Oman’s strategy to build  crypto mining datacentres in Oman, the first phase of Asyad Group crypto mining center was launched in August 2023 in the Free zone in Salalah.

Built and managed by Exahertz, a subsidiary of Afaq Advance Technologies firm, the first phase was inaugurated during a ceremony attended by top Omani governmental officials. The ceremony was held under the auspices of Eng. Said Hamoud Al Ma’awali, Minister of Transport, Communications and Information Technology. It was attended by HH Sayyid Marwan Turki Al Said, Governor of Dhofar.

In the same month, Oman’s Green Data City and Abu Dhabi’s Phoenix Group signed an agreement to develop a 150MW crypto-mining farm in Oman. The new farm will be set up in Green Data City was noted that it will be operational by Q2 2024, becoming one of the largest crypto-mining data centers in the region.

The first Bitcoin was mined in Oman back in December 2022.

UAE and Singapore based Triterras, a fintech company focused on digital trade and supply chain finance, using Blockchain enabled trade finance platform Kratos, has partnered with Oman based Mamun, fintech infrastructure provider to bolster trade finance in Oman.

This collaboration harnesses Triterras’ technological expertise and leverages Mamun’s experience in Oman’s financial services sector. The duo will initially target the Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprise (MSME) finance sector in Oman, with a specific emphasis on the food and beverage industry. The collaboration will also enable Triterras to offer the blockchain enabled KRATOSTM financing platform to banks in Oman on a white-label basis.

As part of the alliance, Triterras will introduce eDirect Debit, a direct debit payment technology developed by Mamun, in the UAE. eDirect Debit is designed to offer businesses a seamless and highly efficient payment solution, with the aim of enhancing the ease of handling transactions within the region.

“One of the key challenges for startups and micro businesses is a lack of capital and financing, which hinders growth and accessibility to markets. Our primary aim is to enable MSMEs with access to immediate and workable financial solutions to maintain business continuity and foster growth opportunities,” said Ashish Srivastava, Chief Commercial Officer at Triterras. “This collaboration strengthens our commitment to deliver cutting-edge finance solutions that meet the evolving needs of businesses in Oman, and the wider Middle East region. This 2-way agreement facilitates Triterras’ expansion in the MENA region.”

With Oman’s vibrant market in mind, this collaboration potentially makes a substantial impact on businesses looking for finance by simplifying access to financial resources. As with Triterras’ global mission, the collaboration will support MSMEs, enhancing financial inclusivity for businesses in Oman.

“We are excited to witness the expansion of our eDirect Debit technology into the UAE through our collaboration with Triterras,” said Mohammed Al Tamami, Co-Founder and Chief Commercial Officer, at Mamun.

R3 Blockchain is establishing itself more in the GCC and MENA region, with Bryan D’Souza announcing his move to Abu Dhabi as Business Development and Partnerships Manager in the Middle East.

As D’Souza noted on Linkedin, “I’m delighted to finally announce my move to Abu Dhabi with R3, where I will lead Business Development and Partnerships in the Middle East. After extensive travel between London and the GCC, the prospect of making Abu Dhabi my home is thrilling as I embark on this exciting new chapter.

He adds that he is excited to collaborate with GCC’s thriving financial services ecosystem. According to D’Souza, the GCC stands out as a forward-thinking hub of progress due to its dynamic blend of tradition and innovation, as well as a remarkable ability to execute on transformation.

He will be working to flourish digital economies and align with national visions of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Jordan, helping these countries to realize their financial sector developments including banking and capital markets transformation.

R3 will be working with Central banks, FMIs, commercial banks, FinTech, providing practical groundbreaking solutions for digital assets tokenization and regulated digital currencies, including CBDCs.

Last month Bryan D’Souza discussed his fruitful visit to Kuwait.

R3 has been a strong proponent in the Middle East and GCC region working with governments and enterprise on several projects, most prominently the CBDC projects in Saudi Arabia and UAE.

In addition the Qatar Financial Centre Authority and R3 signed an MOU to develop and grow Qatar’s fintech industry using technologies such as DLT (Distributed Ledger Technology) back in April 2023.

D’Souza stated after his visit to Kuwait, “I am thrilled to have experienced my first trip to Kuwait over the last couple of days as part of a mini GCC tour. I am grateful for the warm welcome from our great partners and potential clients. The hospitality of the Kuwaiti people left a lasting impression; warm, friendly, and eager to collaborate.”

He added, “Exciting opportunities ahead and looking forward to returning back to Kuwait soon!”

China’s Bitcoin crypto mining and Blockchain hardware manufacturer, Canaan, has signed a crypto mining agreement with Oman’s Green Data city to pilot phase of a new crypto mining operation in Oman.

The new site will be installed in the facility of Green Data City, and under the agreement, Canaan has the option to expand the total capacity to up to 100MW.

The crypto mining operations in Oman will start in Q4 of 2023.

In August 2023 Oman’s Green Data City and Abu Dhabi’s Phoenix Group signed an agreement to develop a 150MW crypto-mining farm in Oman. The new farm will be set up in Green Data City was noted that it will be operational by Q2 2024, becoming one of the largest crypto-mining data centers in the region.

Phoenix Group is experienced in the development, operation, and management of crypto data centers. It is also the exclusive distributor of industry-leading mining equipment, MicroBT.

Oman was chosen as a location due to the long-term security provided by the Green Data City mining license, the entities’ common vision to develop cryptocurrencies mining and AI applications with the Ministry of Transport, Communication and IT (MTCIT), and the cooler weather in Oman, in particular in the region of Dhofar, which reduces the cooling energy consumption to a minimum, making the sultanate a sustainable destination for mining in the region.

The deployment will start with the new Avalon Box mining container featuring immersion cooling. The project also has the potential to deploy Canaan’s other advanced products, including the latest series A14 Avalon miners with a record efficiency of 20J/T, later in

Green Data City LLC is the company that operates the first license for sustainable crypto-mining in Oman since 2022. International mining companies can register and operate in Green Data City with long term agreements. The first phase of development consists of 200MW of mining capacity, the second phase will reach 400MW hyperscale data center capacity with natural cooling, renewable energies and downstream applications.

The Oman blockchain ID tech startup, Nashid has been selected by Swiss Tech4trust accelerator to participate in their program out of Trust Valley of Lausanne, Switzerland.

Nashid’s acceptance into Tech4Trust’s latest season underscores their pioneering approach to harnessing blockchain technology for Identity and Verifiable Credentials.

“Being part of Tech4Trust is a significant stride towards our global expansion ambitions,” shared Ahmed Al Marjeby, Co-founder and CEO of Nashid. “We are enthusiastic about collaborating with a global community, extracting invaluable insights, and honing our solutions to meet the demands of the rapidly evolving digital trust sphere.”

In 2020, co-founder Ahmed Al Marjeby found his online identity had been hacked. Al Marjeby found the fact that paper-based identity documents cannot be verified digitally. Motivated by this event and recognizing the urgent need for secure digital identity solutions, Ahmed, together with Mahmood Al Lawati, launched Nashid in 2022.

Tech4Trust will offer Nashid a golden opportunity to liaise with international experts, regulators, and government agencies.  This collaboration will also open doors to the broader Swiss and European markets, presenting unmatched potential for growth.

The startup previously secured an investment from the Oman Technology Fund and won awards in the Entrepreneurship World Cup 2022 and the GISCO Startup Competition.

UAE based Phoenix Group has sold 10% of its company shares to Abu Dhabi conglomerate International Holding Company’s subsidiary.

IHC’s wholly owned unit, International Tech Group, has entered into a definitive agreement to buy 10% stake in Phoenix Group, according to a disclosure on the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX).

The company is currently completing all required procedures and obtaining regulatory approvals to complete the transaction, the disclosure noted.

This announcement comes at the heels of an agreement between Muscat-based Green Data City and Phoenix Group to develop a $300 million crypto-mining farm in Oman. The 150-megawatt farm, which will be one of the largest crypto-mining data centers in the region, will be installed in Green Data City, the entities said in a joint statement. The farm is expected to be fully operational by the second quarter of next year.

Pheonix Group had announced on several occasions that it was seeking to have an IPO ( Initial Public Offering). With the 10% acquisition by IHC this could well put the IPO on hold.

Phoenix provides crypto-mining equipment distribution and hosting services. The company has a portfolio of mining facilities in the Middle East, Europe, the US, and Canada.

In the first half (H1) of 2023, IHC  generated net profits valued at AED 10.39 billion, up from AED 10.35 billion during the same period a year earlier.

This is a reflection of Abu Dhabi’s government interest in crypto mining. Prior to this Marathon Digital a digital asset mining entity announced in January 27th 2022, that it had entered into a shareholder’s agreement with FSI ( FS Innovation), the BTC mining subsidiary of UAE ADQ a sovereign fund,  to form an Abu Dhabi, ( ADGM (Abu Dhabi Global Markets) based company.

Marathong Digital will use fossil fule offset or nuclear to power bitcoin mining operation.

BITMAIN, crypto mining leading ASIC manufacturer enters MENA through a collaboration with Oman’s Blockchain Data center and technology park Exahertz and MoonWalk. This collaboration marks a significant leap forward as Exahertz takes on the role of hosting upwards of 10,000 state-of-the-art BITMAIN machines in the pioneering Exahertz Technology Park, nestled in Salalah, Oman. According to the press release, “This isn’t just any partnership, it’s BITMAIN‘s first-ever hosting venture in the Middle East and a groundbreaking initiative for hydro computers worldwide.

The Exahertz Technology Park, standing tall as the Middle East’s largest private Blockchain Data center, underscores Exahertz’ unwavering commitment to innovation and progress.” Exahertz International, recently kicked off a pilot phase of Exahertz Technology Park in Salalah. In collaboration with their strategic partners Moonwalk Systems, they rigorously testing and optimizing the hydro systems to ensure peak performance in local conditions and challenges. An impressive highlight by Exahertz Team involves using treated grey water to efficiently cool down the data center computers.

This innovative approach maximizes efficiency while staying environmentally responsible. The treated grey water, after being thoroughly cleaned, is returned to the earth responsibly, reflecting the commitment to eco-friendly practices. Jad Fredrick Kharma, CEO of Exahertz, articulate his vision, affirming, “Our mission transcends the introduction and adoption of cutting-edge technology; we are unwavering in our commitment to elevate Oman’s proficiency and prominence within the domains of modular IT infrastructure, the innovative design of hyper-scale data centers, and the cutting-edge landscape of high-performance blockchain technology.

In Sam Ferdows’ words, the CEO of Moonwalk Systems, “We’re excited about this partnership with BITMAIN and look forward to being a key partner for them in the region. Our goal is for Exahertz Technology Park to be the benchmark for all blockchain data centers in the region and the world for hydro solutions.” BITMAIN‘s Director is equally enthusiastic about this strategic partnership. He emphasizes, “This collaboration allows BITMAIN to have a stronger presence in the region, utilizing our advanced technology.”