02.11.2009 -

Launching the Arab Regional Center for Open Source Software in Lebanon

©UNESCO/F. Al-Khateebfree open source software for Arab region

Under the patronage of Lebanese Minister of Education, Bahia Hariri the Arab Regional Center for Free & Open Source Software was launched in Beirut in a ceremony at UNESCO Beirut on Thursday 5th of November 2009.

Ma3bar is the Arab Support Center for Free and Open Source Software. Since its inception byUNESCO, UNDP-ICTDAR, , and the University of Balamand, the center strives to disseminate free and open source software as a philosophy and culture in academia and Arab societies. Ma3bar is committed to contributing to social and economic development in the Arab region by promoting the use and development of free and open source software, and by developing and conducting training programs on such software, to ensure that more Arab communities have affordable access to information technologies.

As part of the action plan of Ma3bar and the recommendations of the “kickoff coordination workshop” held at the University Of Balamand on the 4th and the 5th of February 2009, Ma3bar held its first “Train the Trainers Workshop” under the title: “Open Source Training for the Arab Region”. The workshop was held at the University of Balamand, El-Kurah, Lebanon, on 3 and 4 November 2009.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization  (UNESCO), and the United Nations Development Program – Information and Communication Technology for Development in the Arab Region  (UNDP–ICTDAR) have come together to initiate MA3BAR, the Arab Support Center for Free and Open Source Software. The objectives of MA3BAR are three-fold:

1.       Capacity building by providing the necessary training and assistance in developing the necessary skills and competences in the public and the private sectors, as well as in non-government organizations, and encouraging the inclusion of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) courses as part of the standard course offerings in universities as well as networking the various FOSS communities that exist in the Arab Region.

2.       Support the creation of applications (or toolkits) that will meet the needs of the local market and lead to the strengthening of local and regional expertise.

3.       Raise awareness at the government and business levels on the potential and viability of open source solutions and applications as solid alternatives to proprietary software.

The University of Balamand (UOB), with existing initiatives and active FOSS development, has joined the consortium as a first partner. The University of Balamand (UOB) participated actively by supporting and hosting the center. This effort was conducted in cooperation with a wider possible set of partners comprising of other leading academic institutions throughout the Arab region.

Purpose of the workshop
This training workshop aimed to create a network of trainers of Free & Open Source Software (FOSS) in the Arab region. Attendees received the necessary training programs and material that will enable them to organize and deliver training courses in their institutions. Subjects discussed included:
•   Open Source Concepts (Legal, copyright, economical model)
•    The Linux operating systems
•    Office productivity tools
•    Software development tools
•    Scientific & Engineering applications
•    Content Management systems & e-learning
•    Database management systems
•    Business applications

Faculty members of computer science and engineering schools, software trainers, and computer professionals from leading Arab and regional institutions gathered in this two-day event to receive the training, share experiences, and devise a strategy of delivery of the FOSS training throughout the Arab region. Regional and renown international speakers conducted the various training sessions of the workshop in an interactive environment of discussions.

Contact: George Awad

Link: www.Ma3bar.org

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