Riyadh Abdul Aziz March 06, 2018 OTaxi, a local app for ordering taxis, announced at the beginning of March that it has resumed its services after it was shut down by the government in August last year. OTaxi was shut down by the government last year because it was operating without a licence. The shutdown of OTaxi was controversial because OTaxi offered rides using actual licensed orange taxis only, and did not allow private car owners to participate in the app. The request of the government to shut down OTaxi was also strange because the executive regulations of land transportation law, which set the rules for acquiring a licence, were not issued yet in 2017, so even if OTaxi wanted to apply for a licence, it could not have done so at that time. The Ministry of Transport and Communications made a statement at the time of the shutdown saying that it will consider serious applications made to acquire a licence to operate a transportation app once the executive regulations are issued, and it seems that the ministry lived up to its words. The land transportation regulations were issued late in January 2018, and OTaxi announced that it resumed its services in March 2018. The executive regulations of the Land Transportation Law are the first piece of Omani law that uses the ‘app’ terminology. These executive regulations dedicate an entire chapter to smart apps and require the licence applicant to be registered in Oman, to submit the technical specs of the app, and to submit financial and technical studies proving the viability of the project. The regulations also impose some technical requirements such as making sure that the app is operated from within Oman and that the data of the users of the app is physically stored here, too. The regulations also require the app to use only licensed cars and drivers in offering its services. These requirements would be extremely difficult to be fulfilled by major apps such as Uber, since it will be unlikely for these apps to have the incentive to come register in Oman or open a dedicated office in such a small market. It will also be impossible for the developers of such apps to agree to store their user data in Oman simply because Oman does not have data centres capable of providing the standard of service required by such major apps. However, for a small app such as OTaxi, these conditions are easy to fulfil. OTaxi has always only used licensed taxis and drivers. It does not accept online payments and does not collect any sensitive information about their users, except phone numbers, which must be verified in order to use the app. Phone numbers are still personal data, and accordingly, OTaxi will be required to make sure that this data is stored physically in Oman and not transferred outside the country. OTaxi appeals to consumers in Oman because its fares appear to be much lower than the fares charged by Marhaba or Mwasalat taxis. The fact that OTaxi has come back from the dead might be a sign that the requirements of the executive regulations of the Land Transportation Law are not as stringent as they appear. The government should continue to encourage and support Omani developers who come up with local products, such as OTaxi, that provide more choices to consumers and contribute in finding solutions to the challenges facing society.