Open Data Catalogues

For data to be truly considered open, the data must be complete in regard to the content of the data itself and in regard to the metadata describing the information that an open data publisher is releasing. Creating a comprehensive open data catalogue is an effective way for ensuring that published open data is accompanied by the minimum required amount of metadata.

Even though many government entities in Oman have published open data in the past, the majority of these government entities do not include a sufficient description of the data they publish, and instead upload a collection of Excel files that do not include any details other than the file name.

This webpage shows an example of a government entity publishing a collection of files without any metadata or other useful information to provide context for the open data it publishes.

It is highly recommended that an entity creates an open data catalogue to ensure that the data is properly identified and easily accessible. Such a catalogue should reasonably be made published on the internet and should be the primary method for enabling users to locate and download the data.

In particular, this open data catalogue should include separate entities for each dataset covering the following elements:


The catalogue should include a short title describing the dataset in question.


The catalogue should include a brief explanation of the contents of the dataset, a description of why this data is significant, and the manner in which it was collected.

Period Covered

If applicable, the catalogue should provide details of the time period covered by the data. For example, if the data relates to COVID-19 deaths, the data should indicate that the data covers the period from March 2020 to January 2021 (as an illustration).

Update Frequency

If the data is expected to be updated, the data catalogue should indicate to the user how often this data would be updated. For example, daily, monthly, yearly, or any other frequency. If the data is supplied in real-time, the catalogue should also indicate this. Certain datasets, such as maps or other reference datasets, might not be updated on a regular basis or at all, and this information should also be indicated to the user.

File Format

In addition to the importance of publishing open data in a machine-readable format, it is equally important to indicate to the end-user what format exactly is available for download. Examples include CSV, XML, and JSON. 

Name and Contact Details of Person or Department

For big organisations, it is important for the end-user to have the contact details of the person or department responsible for the dataset in question. This is useful from a data validity point of view, but can also assist end-user that seek clarifications and those who would like to report errors found in the data.


In addition to the general description details of the dataset, the catalogue should include a description of each field in the dataset explaining the content of that field and the format of the data provided in that field. For example, if the dataset has a name field, the catalogue must indicate if this will be provided in the Arabic or English language, and if the dataset has a date field, the catalogue must indicate the date format in which this will be provided (e.g. YYYY-MM-DD).  


The points explained on page can be used to transform the example shown above to become a more useful listing as follows:

Dataset Description

TitleNumber of hospitals and beds in the Governorate of Dakhiliya
DescriptionThis dataset provides the details of the hospitals in the Governorate of Dakhilya with the details of the number of beds in each hospital.
Period CoveredThis dataset captures the state of hospitals in this region in December 2020.
Update FrequencyYearly at the end of every year.
File FormatXLSX
ContactDirectorate General of Health in the Governorate of Dakhiliya.
Name: XXXX Email: [email protected]


WilayatThe name of the Wiyalat in English.
Hospital Name – ARThe name of the hospital in Arabic.
Hospital Name – ENThe name of the hospital in English.
BedsThe number of beds in the hospital.

Each published dataset requires an individual description that provides the general information on the dataset, as well as an individual metadata table that explains what each field in the dataset refers to.


How to Manage Open Data

Executing an open data initiative in a government entity in Oman in a sustainable manner requires devising a management structure within the entity.

There are three possible options:

Open Data Committee

The open data initiative is managed by a committee of employees from a variety of divisions.

Pros: Easy to setup and does not require any legal formalities besides a ministerial decision to establish the committee.

Cons: The lack of a dedicated employee for open data makes this difficult to sustain. Committee members might not have the time or expertise required for the open data project.

Individual Open Data Officer

The open data initiative is managed by an employee as part of his primary tasks. The employee is placed in a division that has a general mandate not directly related to open data.

Pros: The existence of a dedicated open data officer will contribute directly to ensuring the sustainability of the open data initiative.

Cons: There might be friction between the objectives of the open data initiative of the entity and the direct objectives of the division in which the open data officer is placed.

Dedicated Open Data Division

The open data initiative is managed by a dedicated division made up on multiple team members and this division that reports to a senior executive office in the entity.

Pros: Entire team working towards specific goal. Existence is clear within the organisation.

Cons: Requires a change to the structure of the government entity and approvals from multiple entities.

The approach taken by a government entity to manage its open data program depends on a number of factors such as the size of the organisation, the amount of data that the entity possess and the amount of data it wishes to publish, and the degree of commitment the organisation is willing to make to put work in open data.

An organisation with a small team that holds a small amount of data is unlikely to require a full-fledged open data division and is likely to be able to launch an open data program using a committee or by dedicated one employee to be responsible for open data.

Open Data Committee

Establishing an open data committee is one of the easiest mechanism that can be used to establish some sort of a formal structure for managing open data within the organisation. The committee structure is also useful for collaborating with various stakeholders from around the organisation in a way that can facilitate obtaining the data that all these stakeholders possess. The committee structure also does not require a ministry to obtain any approval from outside the entity and does not require creating new positions or divisions in the organisation.

The appropriate membership for an open data committee largely depends on the nature of the data that the entity wishes to publish and the existing structure of the organisation. However, it is important for this committee to have a senior member of staff as its chair with the authority to take actions regarding whether certain datasets can be published or not and with the authority to request to have the content of the website of the entity, or the portal on which the entity wishes to publish its data, updated. A reasonable structure for such a committee should include the following:

  • The undersecretary of the entity or a director general as the chair of the committee.
  • Senior representatives of the key data owners within the organisation.
  • A representative from the team responsible for the website of the entity.
  • A representative from the team responsible for the social media presence of the entity if different from those responsible for the website.
  • A representative from the team responsible for statistics.

The committee should be responsible for the following functions:

  • Creating the data inventory of the organisation.
  • Creating and publishing the open data catalogue of the entity.
  • Creating a mechanism for ensuring the protection of the privacy of the subjects of the data the entity holds.
  • Creating an open data engagement plan.
  • Respond to requests from the public to publish open data.
  • Monitor international indicators relevant to the data of the entity.
  • Coordinate with the Ministry of Transport, Communications, and IT in matters relating to open data.

The drawbacks of having a committee to manage the open data program of an entity are the usual drawbacks of having a committee responsible for any project within the government such as committee members might not have the time or resources to dedicate to the open data project.

Individual Open Data Officer