|Research and innovation are among the most essential elements of global economic competitiveness in the 21st century. National commitment to research and innovation helps develop the foundations of globally competitive, knowledge-based societies; societies in which sustainable organizations built upon their employees’ extensive range of 21 st century skills deliver dynamic, information-driven goods and services to meet their customers' diverse needs. It is through engaging in research and innovation that the transition to an efficiency driven, knowledge-based economy characterized by a well-trained, highly skilled, and innovation-focused labor force can be accomplished.
Research and innovation are key factors in the transformation to the knowledge-based societies that stand to gain the greatest benefit from the 4 th industrial revolution. They underpin social and economic development across all areas, and are fundamental to the economic and digital transformation that societies all over the world strive to realize in their quest for global competitiveness and national well-being. They are associated with the adoption of disruptive technologies that have the potential to open up new social and economic avenues, allowing people all over the world to connect, instantly exchange information, build networks, and interact in real time on social and professional levels. The technologies that allow people and societies to function in this way are increasingly diverse, and include high-speed transportation, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, robotics, the internet of things, and social media platforms and so on. As this indicates, successful engagement in economic and digital transformation will increasingly define the world's most competitive and dynamic economies over the coming decades.
The transformation will affect almost every aspect of people's social and economic lives, from how and where we live, work, learn, and communicate with others, to patterns of consumption and expectations of our personal rights and responsibilities. Subsequently, the heightened pace of economic and digital transformation that is increasingly defining societies all over the world has the power to be both personally and professionally liberating – building better-informed citizens actively involved in the advancement of their societies. However, if the transition is not handled effectively, it may be associated with social and economic disruption and the loss of global economic competitiveness.
It is for these reasons that Oman's government has identified the enhancement of research and innovation as one of its core development goals. The commitment to promoting research and development in the sultanate can be witnessed in continuing support extended to national research and innovation initiatives, and in efforts extended to have Oman placed in the top 20 of the Global Innovation Index and the International Innovation Index by 2040. These actions are taken in full support of the economic and digital transformation that the country will engage in as it becomes an increasingly competitive economy in the global marketplace. Given the foundation laid by research and innovation in supporting the continued economic and digital transformation of Omani society, the conference seeks to bring together academics, researchers, thought-leaders, industry representatives, policy makers, and community representatives to examine how research and innovation in Oman can support economic and digital transformation. The conference will offer the opportunity for participants from Oman, the Arab Gulf region, and from around the world to examine some of the many opportunities and challenges associated with the economic and digital transformation of societies, including how research and innovation can most effectively support this transformation in Oman.