Arab FOSS Centre launched in Lebanon
Under the patronage of Lebanese Minister of Education, the Arab Support Centre for Free and Open Source Software, Ma3bar, was officially launched in Beirut on 5 November 2009. The new Centre is the result of cooperation between UNESCO, UNDP-ICTDAR and the University of Balamand. Other leading academic institutions in the region are expected to join the partnership.
Hosted by the University of Balamand, which is very active in FOSS development, Ma3bar aims to contribute to social and economic development in the Arab region through the promotion and dissemination of free and open source software (FOSS). The Centre will also conduct training programmes on FOSS to ensure that more Arab communities have affordable access to information technologies. The objective of Ma3bar is, therefore, three-fold:
- building capacities of public institutions, private companies and non-governmental organizations in order to encourage the inclusion of FOSS courses into standard university curricula and to connect various FOSS communities that already exist in the Arab region;
- supporting the creation of applications and toolkits that will meet the needs of the local market and strengthen local and regional expertise;
- raising awareness at governmental and business levels about the potential of open source solutions as solid alternatives to proprietary software.
Ma3bar already held its first train-the-trainers workshop, Open Source Training in the Arab Region, on 3 and 4 November at the University of Balamand. Renowned regional and international speakers conducted the training sessions, in an interactive manner, on the various subjects, such as open source concepts, Linux operating systems, office productivity and software development tools, scientific, engineering and business applications, content management systems, etc.
The purpose of the workshop was to create a network of FOSS trainers able to organize and deliver courses in their respective institutions. Faculty members from computer-science and engineering schools, software trainers and computer professionals from leading national and regional institutions gathered for this two-day event to receive training, to share experiences and to design a strategy of delivering FOSS training throughout the Arab region.