From Gulf Times:
Bid to create a digitally open society
By Noimot Olayiwola
It will also promote the creation of original digital content in the Arab world while protecting the rights of the content creators.
Speaking yesterday at a one-day event titled “Digitally Open: Innovation and Open Access Forum” the ictQATAR secretary general Dr Hessa al-Jaber said getting licensed by a body such as Creative Commons was an important step in efforts to create a digitally open society, which is key for the country’s development – a thriving knowledge economy.
“Openness means collaboration, it means transparency, sharing and innovation. To this end, I believe digital openness across all sectors is essential to being a global leader of the future,” she said.
“The Arab world has a strong and important voice that must be heard. Embracing a digitally open world will put us at the forefront of innovation and help propel us towards being a knowledge-based economy,” she noted.
Dr al-Jaber mentioned that a stakeholders’ meeting comprising representatives from the intellectual Property Centre, the Ministry of Business and Trade, the Qatar Museum Authority, Qatar Foundation, Qatar Science and Technology Park and numerous law firms will kick off the process of bringing Creative Commons content rights licences to Qatar.
“Bringing these flexible licences to Qatar will help us achieve our goal of increasing the amount of Arabic digital content. People will have confidence that the work they create and share will be credited and shared in an appropriate manner,” she explained.
Dr al-Jaber disclosed that the Internet Society, which will soon open a chapter in Qatar, was committed to shaping Internet standards and policies that promotes openness and collaboration, benefiting everyone.
“Bringing an Internet Society’s chapter here sends a clear message that we support a free and open Internet,” she noted.
Apart from the major collaborations, the ictQATAR chief mentioned that the council was committed to the open source software movement, saying: “We are in the process of moving our website to an open source solutions and have mandated that all future ictQATAR Web projects utilise open source solutions.”
“Our goal is to work with approximately 30 companies through our incubation centre by 2015. Each will be required to work using open standards and principles as they grow their business, thus providing a competitive advantage and allow the content to be shared more widely,” she observed.
The official also disclosed that ictQATAR was working on policies that will encourage greater adoption of inter-operability open source solutions across government.
“Government is one of the biggest consumers of IT and too often during the procurement process, open source options are not even considered. We would like to make it a requirement for open source solutions to be considered for every government IT project in this country and decisions must be technology-neutral and vendor-neutral,” she said citing Al Jazeera as the prominent example of company already taking advantage of open practices.
Dr al-Jaber said that ictQATAR was also in the process of developing a national digitisation plan to preserve Qatar’s national heritage and share it with the world.
“There is a wealth of information on Qatar’s rich history in print, photo and film format that should be digitised. There are also an abundance of valuable documents in Arabic that need to be brought to wider audiences. Digitising these materials will allow them to reach a whole new generation and they should be made open to the public without restrictions,” she pointed out.
ictQATAR will work through Mada - Qatar’s Assistive Technology Centre - with World Wide Web Consortium to develop comprehensive accessibility standards in Arabic, she said.
Other speakers at the forum included Mozilla Foundation chairperson Mitchell Baker, Creative Commons chief executive officer Joichi Ito, Google open source and public sector programme manager Chris Dibona and Georgetown University’s visiting professor of Internet Studies Michael Nelson.
Some 12 notable personalities from different parts of the world also took part in panel discussions and break out sessions.