OMAN: VOTERS across the Sultanate of Oman electronically cast their votes on Sunday to elect their representatives for the 10th term of the Consultative Council, also known as Majlis Al-Shura.
A total of 843 candidates, including 32 women, took part in the race, competing for 90 available seats.
For the first time in the Arab world, Oman conducted app-based polls, with Omanis electing their representatives for the Shura Council through the AI-enabled Antakhib mobile application.
Antakhib is a mobile application developed by the Ministry of Interior to enable Omani citizens to vote for members of Shura Council electronically using smartphones equipped with a near-field communication feature (NFC).
The app was first successfully used during Oman’s 2022 Municipal Council elections.
It has since been updated with new features, including sign language and audio options to make it more accessible for visually and hearing-impaired individuals.
These newly introduced services made available by Antakhib represent a quantum leap in the election history of the Sultanate of Oman.
On Sunday, the Ministry of Interior emphasised that the electoral process for the 10th term is characterised by accuracy and transparency, particularly due to the complete digital transformation of all electoral services.
Digitising the voting exercise
The Ministry of Interior has digitised all services and programmes as part of its digital transformation plan. It has utilised the latest artificial intelligence products to facilitate the electoral process for both voters and candidates.
The Ministry of Interior said that the procedures had been simplified after the provision of 12 electronic electoral services that included a number of electoral services such as the availability of the initial and final candidate lists, the availability of the initial and final voter lists, checking registration at the electoral register and following up the automated counting of votes.
A member of the media team from the Ministry of Interior, Ms Sumaiya Albalushi said the application is characterised by an easy and simple user interface and a high level of security using the latest encryption, which makes polling secure and transparent.
“The Antikhab application also provides numerical statistics showing the percentage of voting in each wilayat and other e-services,” the official said.
The Antikhab application has been well received and utilised by voters, with the number of new voters registered through the application amounting to 91 per cent compared with 9 per cent of voters who registered via the election website.
Thanks to the application, 13,843 Omanis living abroad cast their vote last Sunday. They reportedly expressed their satisfaction with the e-voting process and the ease of using the application which saved their effort and time. The voters praised the Sultanate of Oman’s leadership in utilising the technology in the electoral process.
How the Antikhab application works
Through the Antikhab application, the voter’s data is verified in three basic steps, which are photographing the original ID card, reading the personal card data via the NFC feature, and taking a personal photo of the voter.
Voting takes place in easy and simple steps, where the voter takes a photo of the ID card from both sides and then places the original chip of the card next to the phone to read the data.
Then the voter takes a personal photo of himself, after which a list of photos of the candidates will appear to vote for their favourite candidate, followed by a confirmation button.
Hope for a brighter future
With the results due today, the tenth term of Shura Council is envisioned to expedite the goals of Oman Vision 2040 and the Tenth Five-Year Development Plan by promoting investment and socio-economic growth.
The Shura Council consists of 90 members elected by direct, secret vote to represent all the Wilayats (provinces) of the Sultanate.
The membership of the Council is determined so that each Wilayat (province) is represented by one member if its population is less than 30,000 and two members when the state’s population is more than 30,000.