The UK Oman Digital Hub was launched this month. It aims to enhance collaboration in technology and education between the United Kingdom and the Sultanate of Oman.
The Digital Hub’s objectives include increasing Oman’s digital skills—by encouraging Omanis to consider and prepare for 21st Century careers—and shaping their education opportunities while at university.
The Hub’s first initiative was a hands-on cyber security training programme for staff and students from various Omani higher education establishments at British cyber security company Protection Group International’s (PGI) Cyber Academy in Bristol.
They were taught material from PGI’s UK Government Certified cyber security courses using PGI’s immersive cyber range to help them develop their skills and learn how to apply them in real-world settings, as Penetration Testers.
British Ambassador to Oman, Mr Hamish Cowell is delighted that the British Embassy in Oman has been able to work with Omani partners, including Sultan Qaboos University, to launch the UK Oman Digital Hub.
“The Digital Hub is another important example of the strength of cooperation between the UK and Oman, sharing expertise and skills and enabling knowledge transfer – all of which will help prepare the next generation for the opportunities of the digital future and help keep Oman and its cyberspace secure,” Mr Cowell said.
The students’ supervisor, Dr Mohamed Al Fairuz, Assistant Professor in the Information Systems Department at Sultan Qaboos University thanked the British Embassy and the Omani government for their support.
“The initiative began with the competition we ran in Oman. From there, the British Embassy engaged with us to support that competition and we then developed this training plan which enabled the students to gain practical experience from cyber security experts who work in the field every day. We look forward to continuing to work on such initiatives through the Digital Hub,” Dr Al Fairuz said.
The students enjoyed the hands-on training and valued the opportunity to develop and practice in laboratories, the skills and techniques required to work as operational cyber security consultants securing critical systems in Oman.
Student Ibrahim Al Hattali said the training really helped him and he is looking forward to going home and putting into practice the skills he has learnt.
“I have learned Linux commands and tools that enumerate networks to find vulnerabilities and exploit them. This will help me help me identify similar vulnerabilities and fix them to avoid these exploits when I am working as a penetration tester,” Mr Al Hattali said.
Student Salim Al Badi said he learned a lot about how a highly-skilled penetration testing professional works and what a client needs to achieve their goal of making everything secure in a professional way.
“Because the training includes theory—which explains how everything should work—and, very importantly, the practical where we learn how to solve problems and overcome applied issues, it feels like we have had real-world experience. When I am back in Oman, I look forward to using the skills I developed to secure services and systems there,” Mr Al Badi said.
PGI’s Chief Corporate Development Officer, Mr Sebastian Madden hopes to be part of many more opportunities to support the UK Oman Digital Hub by developing Omani cyber security professionals and Oman’s cyber security education sector.
“It was a pleasure to have played a role in bringing the Digital Hub to realisation as one of its launch projects. PGI’s experience of developing cyber security capability in over 50 countries has proved that the process of developing cyber security professionals to help fill the global skills gap can be accelerated by combining theoretical education with practical role-based training and relevant hands-on experience. We are delighted that the British and Omani Governments and Sultan Qaboos University have adopted this approach as part of the Digital Hub, and are proud to have played our part in this valuable initiative to develop new Omani cyber security professionals,” Mr Madden said.
For more information on the UK-Omani Digital Hub, please visit: ukomandigitalhub.com/