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Forms of Emerging Technologies in Bahrain

The Kingdom of Bahrain is emerging as a regional leader in digital transformation. The Kingdom has well-recognized the importance of technology to reinforce its economic growth, jobs creation, and human development to provide a better life for all. Bahrain has been an early adopter of implementing reforms to support technology-driven businesses and empower them to drive the economy while the government takes a regulatory role and governance. Bahrain was the first country in the Arab Gulf region to liberalize its telecom sector. Today, Bahrain is leading the region with its well-established information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure. Bahrain ranks 1st in the Arab region in information and communications technology (ICT) Development Index (IDI) as per International Telecommunication Union (ITU) report and ranks 4th globally in Telecommunication Infrastructure Index (TII) as per United Nation eGovernment Development Index by United Nation eGovernment Report. The country is ready for adopting new and emerging technologies as the percentage of individuals using the internet in Bahrain has reached 98%.

All of this information and communications technology (ICT) achievements have made Bahrain be in the lead in information and communications technology (ICT) development and a fresh-ground for innovations and technologies. The National Digital Strategy of the Kingdom of Bahrain, which will be released soon, will set the directions on how to take advantage of the emerging technologies to streamline service delivery in Bahrain and take the Kingdom towards a better life for all. 

Bahraini Ecosystem for Innovation Through Emerging Technologies

Bahrain has pioneered the region for the past two decades in introducing digital technologies in its operations. Bahrain has also paved the way to innovative approaches utilizing matured and emerging technologies in public service delivery and creating new opportunities that improve the quality of life for its people.

Emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, biotechnology, material sciences, and robotics hold incredible promises for the advancement of Bahraini society and spur economic growth in the Kingdom. As Bahrain witnessed rapid advancement in the technologies, the focus has been shifted to create the right ecosystem for fostering innovation through emerging technologies within and across the Bahraini society. Bahrain has been encouraging those involved in designing, developing, and deploying new technologies to ensure that they are consistent with the Kingdom's values as well as in adherence to the existing international norms and standards.

The use of these technologies has contributed to achieving the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 and supporting the implementation of Government Action Plan 2019-2022. The Information and eGovernment Authority (iGA), Economic Development Board (EDB), Tamkeen, The Central Bank Of Bahrain (CBB) and other governmental agencies have paved the way and facilitated the ecosystem to absorb the latest innovations and technologies. 

Financial Technology "Fintech"

For more than 40 years, the Kingdom of Bahrain has remained the most established financial centre in the Middle East region due to its advanced regulatory system and educated workforce. The island nation is currently home to 403 institutions, including 104 licensed banks boasting assets of USD 189 billion. Additionally, Bahrain hosts 59 investment firms, 144 insurance firms, 53 specialized licensees, and 16 capital market firms. The Kingdom is also home to the world’s highest concentration of Islamic finance institutions with more than 25 institutions covering almost every aspect of Islamic banking. The Banking & Finance sector alone continues to be the largest non-oil contributor to Bahrain’s real GDP.

The Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) is widely regarded as one of the region’s most advanced supervisors. It continuously enhances a tried-and-trusted regulatory framework that meets international best practice and plays a leading role in achieving regional standardization

Driven by the visionary and forward-thinking of the government, Bahrain leads the region in nurturing and encouraging the growth of digital banking & financial services. Bahrain has taken steps forward to embrace the FinTech industry with the development of a wide range of financial innovations and initiatives.

The CBB has provided a regulatory framework to facilitate innovations in financial technology and has set up the Fintech & Innovation Unit within the CBB structure to ensure the best regulatory and implementation of the financial services in Bahrain.

A core component of the success of Bahrain as the Middle East’s leading FinTech hub has been the pro-innovation stance adopted by the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB). Who has been at the forefront of developing a flexible and forward-looking regulation system that supports FinTech innovation. Examples of such FinTech initiatives regulated by CBB are: Bahrain FinTech Bay - the region’s largest FinTech hub, Regulatory Sandbox - the only onshore sandbox in the region that will allow startups, FinTech firms, and licensees to provide innovation in banking and financial solutions, in addition to the issuance of Crowdfunding regulations for both conventional and Islamic Banking services and other initiatives that take Bahrain Financial sector to new heights.

 

Bahrain Announces Largest Financial Technology Center in the Middle East

 

Startup Accelerator

Bahrain Economic Development Board has taken serious steps to support and boost the FinTech industry in Bahrain through attracting foreign direct investments and setting the direction of the industry. Flat6Labs Bahrain is a new startup accelerator supported by Tamkeen to accelerate and launch both local and international Startups in the Kingdom of Bahrain. The target is to support over 40 local and international tech-focused startups in the next three years.

 

Open Banking

The advent of Open Banking, mandated last year, and came into force in June 2019, is the latest step in Bahrain’s leadership role in the FinTech sector.

Bahrain is the first country in the Middle East to adopt Open Banking, replicating the efforts of global finance hubs such as the UK, which is itself in the early throes of its own Open Banking revolution. Bahrain’s new system will debut with the adoption by the National Bank of Bahrain (NBB) of the FinTech Tarabut Gateway’s Open Banking infrastructure. Tarabut Gateway is a trailblazer in its own right, having been the first company to graduate from the CBB’s Regulatory Sandbox.

Internet of Things (IoT)

Kingdom of Bahrain was the first in the GCC to issue standards for IoT connectivity. Bahrain supports the use of the frequency band for IoT (NB-IoT) systems within the international mobile communications systems. Bahrain is among a few Middle East countries to contribute to International Telecommunication Union to propose a new working document to harmonize the use of IMT spectrum for the narrowband Internet of things applications.

Information & eGovernment Authority has provided government entities with the required frequency bands that will contribute to the Kingdom’s Digital Transformation journey and support achieving 2030 Kingdom’s vision for smart cities, IoT & M2M communication.

Cellular networks, technologies, and platforms play a vital role in the Internet of Things (IoT) and Machine-to-Machine (M2M) communications, network infrastructure foundation in Bahrain.  Bahrain has ensured that its Wireless and Fiber were arranged to support the Fifth-Generation network (5G) and reformed its frequency bands to accommodate the 5G networks.

Bahrain is expected to offer commercial services for the 5G network in 2019 that is needed for the transmission speed & device connectivity to support the massive Machine Type Communication (mMTC).

Several continuous IoT projects contribute to the economic development of the country in Bahrain. Examples are:

The Kingdom of Bahrain has established the National Space Science Agency (NSSA) in 2018 and announced the launch of Bahrain’s ‘Space Team’ program, the first initiative of its kind in the Kingdom, which aims to support Bahrainis working across a wide range of areas related to space, science, and technology. Bahrain is setting up a highly-qualified team so it could contribute to launching the first artificial satellite in 2020. The satellite will be used in implementing projects related to IoT (Monitoring of gas emissions from factories), utilizing AI technologies and their applications in the remote sensing field. The NSSA is working to build its employees capabilities to deal with data and space pictures (Big data). It also organizes specialized workshops in space, smart cities, and IoT fields.

 

The Ministry of Transportation and Telecommunication has several initiatives utilizing the internet to streamline business process. Such as:

Lift Portal is the new online platform at APM Terminals Bahrain, Khalifa Bin Salman Port Operating Company Licensed and managed under Ports & Maritime Authority. Offering real-time visibility of container status within the terminal, lift helps drive increased efficiency in container operations. Lift minimum viable product allows customers to avail all the needed services online.  

Marasi Portal is a fully automated portal established to facilitate easy access to different port services to customers, which include licensing, handling charges, ship movements, etc. Also, to automate notifications system, this notifies PMA (Ports & Maritime Affairs) customers via e-mails or SMS. All procedures and applications can be completed electronically, with an integrated financial system. The Portal can be accessed over the internet from anywhere in the world through the convenience of the desktop 24 X 7 throughout the year.

The Ministry of Works, Municipalities Affairs, and Urban Planning in Bahrain are utilizing IoT for the irrigation system automation, which will the irrigation process more efficient.

Electricity & Water Authority adopt IoT for Distribution Automation in which the collection, analysis, and execution of data are automated.

Economic Development Board (EDB) and Batelco launched the “Brinc Centre” - Batelco Internet of Things HUB - which supports and contributes to the Bahrain ecosystem by fostering the growth of IoT (the Internet of Things) and entrepreneurship in the region.

Bahrain Airport  Company utilizes the latest Information and communications technology (ICT) solutions for the communication system in the new Airport, such as cloud-based unified communications, video cloud, IoT, and big data platforms to cover an entire airport. It will deliver global data sharing, and analysis capabilities help build an Airport Collaborative Decision-Making (A-CDM) system and Airport Operation Database (AODB) and facilitate visualized operational processes, safety, and services.

Blockchain Technology

Many industry leaders have already achieved significant benefits by adopting Blockchain technology in their business operations. They have achieved greater transparency, enhanced security, improved traceability, increased efficiency and speed of transactions, and reduced costs. Therefore, the Economic Development Board, in cooperation with the Information and eGovernment Authority, is developing a National Strategy for Blockchain in the Kingdom of Bahrain. The strategy will set the general directions and support the adoption of Blockchain technology within the public and private sectors in Bahrain. Examples of Blockchain application in the public sector in Bahrain:  

  • The Blockchain Vehicle Registration project at the General Directorate of Traffic (GDT) is part of the Government of Bahrain's drive to achieve the objectives of Bahrain Economic Vision 2030, achieve sustainable development goals for sustainable infrastructure, and catalyze comprehensive and sustainable manufacturing by providing high-quality services and employing the latest technology in the management of vehicle registration. The project is a new addition within Bahrain's plans to employ modern technologies to further develop services and enhance the role of the private sector. The new registration system significantly reduces the cost of maintaining basic vehicle data and enables vehicle registrars to obtain accurate and up-to-date vehicle information while achieving greater information management efficiency and greater transparency.

Bahrain to utilise Blockchain technology for vehicles registration

 

  • The University of Bahrain (UOB) has adopted Blockchain technology to become one of the 1st educational institutions to award certificates to its graduates through this technology in the region, which reinforces the University's leadership and reflects its adoption of all modern technologies in various aspects of its operations and academic programs. With the application of the Blockchain technology, it is possible to achieve greater security and to verify the credibility of the academic certificates granted by the University of Bahrain via the Internet in an easy and accessible way from anywhere in the world without having to go back to the university or any other entity to verify its credibility. This technology ensures the issuance of certified digital certificates that cannot be falsified and can be sent and shared with employers, employment and universities with ease. Which gives organizations and individuals lifetime ownership of their certificates, without the need for a program from the supplier requires registration and verification.

  • APM Terminals, Operators of Khalifa Bin Salman Port has been working on the adoption of Blockchain technology in coordination with various other stakeholders, including customs authorities and customers. The systems at KBSP has been configured, and once the Customs Authority has configured their part of the chain, Bahrain will be on the map of Blockchain technology in the supply chain which is expected to happen in the near future.
  • The smart lighting system is based on IoT. Modern technology, such as the internet of things, provides a variety of opportunities in many industries, to reformulate the contemporary workplace and simplify its operations. Crossfire Technology wants to create intelligent ways to manage lighting facilities based on scheduling (for example, lights can be turned on or off at a specified time or day). Colors can also be changed by remote control, by scheduling or changing colors automatically. The office can be made safe by programming the lights to turn off when the staff is far away from the office.

A case study (available only in Arabic) to highlight the technology of the blockchain in the Gulf countries (GCC) by analyzing the trends of the application of the systems of blockchain compared to the current trends in other countries in order to identify the extent to which the institutions keep abreast of the recent developments and changes resulting from the adoption of the technology and use it to develop mechanisms and provide services in various economic and government sectors in the world.

Data Analytics

Open Data is the foundation for the government to provide machine-readable data to society as a whole. Individuals, businesses, and government entities will be able to utilize government data to research and develop new solutions and make better decisions.

Bahrain Open Data Portal provides a wide range of multi-sectorial government data without any restrictions to be reused, analyzed, or shared while respecting all personal data privacy rules under the Personal Data Protection law

Dealing with Big data has enabled Bahrain to implement several projects that require analysis of large amounts of data such as the population census and other administrative records of the state institutions, saving effort, time and expenses.

The Monthly Consumer price index report is one of those examples that embody the process of collecting information from several different sources and then calculating and analyzing information electronically, which gives real indicators of inflation rates in the Kingdom.

The Tourism sector in Bahrain depends on online government records to provide accurate and timely tourism data to the public. These data include in-bound visitors, destinations visited by Bahrainis for vacation, hotels and restaurants occupancy, etc.

The National Space Science Agency (NSSA) will generate data through Bahrain's first Satellite related to the environment, agriculture, climate, etc., which will enable the Kingdom to best-utilized data and take steps forward in dealing with the big data provided.

 

Suggest a Data Set

The Information & eGovernment Authority is producing a large amount of data that can be used to help develop the Kingdom's infrastructure and develop the sectors of the economy, health and education. It also ensures that all actors are able to access this large number of official data sets available through the Bahrain Open Data Platform.

The open data platform provides all interested parties with easy access to a wealth of official data from other government agencies based on their functions and responsibilities and placing them on the open data platform in multiple electronic formats, including raw data and graphical representations.

In order to facilitate the dissemination of data in line with the strategy of the Government of the Kingdom of Bahrain, the TRA allows the public to propose data to be added to the open data portal by filling out the relevant form or sending the proposal through Tawasul.

Cloud Computing

After implementing thorough feasibility studies, the Kingdom of Bahrain has taken serious steps to adopt Cloud technology in the public sector in Bahrain to increase efficiency and effectiveness, and dramatically reduce operational cost at the same time especially in the light of the government directions towards fiscal-balance and IT expenditure optimization.

The Kingdom of Bahrain has launched its unique policy “Cloud-First” that gives a clear road map and guidance for adopting cloud technology at the public sector levels to maintain all measures, including information security. Under the policy, government and public agencies will be obliged to consider and study the adoption of Cloud Computing solutions as an integral part of their IT plans and processes.

All government entities in Bahrain need to evaluate cloud solutions first when undertaking ICT procurements takes all measures such as the appropriate ICT delivery model, information security, fitment of purpose, cost-benefit analysis and achieving value for money over the life of the investment.

The Kingdom of Bahrain has partnered with Amazon Web Services (AWS) in 2017 to be the official Cloud infrastructure provider for the public sector in Bahrain. To date, more than 40 government systems and services have been successfully migrated to the cloud on, AWS data centres.

In regards to equipping the workforce with the skills and knowledge needed during the transformation to cloud, iGA and Tamkeen have put together a full capacity building and AWS certification program fully funded by Tamkeen to bridge the gaps and support building cloud-ready workforce.

In 2017, the Economic Development Board (EDB) succeeded in attracting Amazon Web Services (AWS), which in turn announced plans to open an "infrastructure area" in the Middle East. Cloud computing is the next major direction in IT operations for all.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) estimates that 10,000 data solution architects will be needed across the region in the next five years, with over 2,300 young Bahrainis signing up for Amazon Web Services (AWS) Educate program.

eWallet Payment Solutions

 In order to facilitate the e-Payment solutions in Bahrain, many entities and financial institutions have introduced eWallet technology for on-spot payment as well as online payment. The eWallet solutions in Bahrain include b-wallet by Batelco and AFS,  Viva Cash by VIVA Telecom, Benefit Pay by Benefit Co., and Max Wallet by Credimax.

The Kingdom of Bahrain is in the process of implementing the eWallet solution as one of the official payment methods on the national eGovernment channels to facilitate the payment process provided to the public users.     

Electronic Know You Customer (eKYC)

Electronic Know-Your-Customer (e-KYC) employs the latest technology to streamline customer authentication in many service providers such as Telecom companies, Banks, and Financial Institutions.

Information & eGovernment Authority has taken serious steps with the service providers to provide secure and valid authentication through the unique biometric factor, which is the customer’s fingerprint that is registered in iGA’s database. The process is undertaken in coordination with concerned authorities such as the Telecommunication Regulatory Authority and the Central Bank of Bahrain.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Bahrain recognizes the importance of Artificial Intelligence in streamlining the business process and has taken a few steps in the study and application of AI in different fields. Tamkeen, in cooperation with Bahrain Polytechnic and Microsoft Corporation, has announced the Artificial Intelligence Academy at Bahrain Polytechnic which aims to provide a platform for the youth to boost their innovation and creativity capabilities in the field of artificial intelligence. 

Bahrain Polytechnic has signed an MoU with Microsoft Corporation to enhance cooperation in using artificial intelligence at the University and provide a platform for students to develop their projects and ideas using AI.

His Highness Sheikh Khalid bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, First Deputy President of the Supreme Council for Youth and Sports, has launched a tournament for students about innovation in Artificial Intelligence under the slogan #Let_Us_Innovate_Future.

The Kingdom of Bahrain has been selected to be the world leader in applying the artificial intelligence applications guidelines for the public sector, approved by the World Economic Forum's Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The Center will work closely with the Economic Development Board and the Information & eGovernment Authority  to design a guidelines to enable governments to use artificial intelligence technologies responsibly and sustainably.

Robotics

The Kingdom of Bahrain has witnessed several initiatives that reflect the Kingdom’s direction towards adopting robotic technologies in facilitating customer service delivery.

Robotic technology has been witnessed in the FinTech industry in Bahrain lately. The Arab Banking Corporation in Bahrain (ABC) has unveiled Fatema in 2019, Bank ABC’s and the region’s first emotionally-intelligent digital employee. Bahrain Islamic Bank (BISB) has also launched its first virtual employee Dana as part of BISB’s efforts towards transforming their banking services through emerging technologies.   

Kuwaiti Financial House (KFH) in Bahrain has used the first robotic assistant for loan applications. The robotic named “Baitak Assistant handles customer loan applications and autonomously create credit reports for applicants.

On the educational level, Bahrain hosted in 2018 the 8th World Robotics Olympiad (WRO2018). Student teams from the various primary, intermediate, and secondary governmental and private schools competed in offering their best innovative design and construction of robotics. The winning team qualified for the upcoming International Robotics Olympiad.

Also, Bahrain organized in the 2015 VEX Competition. It is a national qualifying event of Bahrain, where students from elementary, middle and high schools competed in their category for a place in the World VEX robotics championship.

The Ministry of Labor and Social Development (MOLSD) has launched a training program for children at the Children's and Young People's Clubs, to install and program robots which have inspired young people to become future leaders in science and technology. The program connects them to an exciting program built with scientific, technological, and creative skills.

The Ministry of Finance is exerting efforts to automate financial operations in its various departments by using Robotics Process Automation to increase productivity, minimize human errors and costs.

Oil and Gas 4th Industrial Revolution

In light of the 4th industrial revolution, the Oil & Gas 4.0 initiative will adopt emerging technologies to transform the downstream, midstream, and upstream activities into a connected, information-driven environment through AI and IoT solutions. However, both Smart Oil Economy and Industry 4.0 also look at improving manufacturing in the broader context of society and the environment to make the Oil and Gas sector in the Kingdom of Bahrain more efficient, more productive and create greater value. ​

Smart Cities

Bahrain translated their achievements in the field of ICT advancement in the Kingdom to improve sustainability, economic viability, and citizen well-being using innovative services and concepts. As a result, Bahrain has initiated the movement towards smart cities whereby the urban areas in Bahrain can become more efficient, livable, and sustainable in both the short and long term with the active participation from public administration, citizens and businesses. 

 

  • Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (TRA) has applied many smart cities' initiatives, such as smart traffic lights. Smart traffic lights or Intelligent traffic lights are a vehicle traffic control system that combines traditional traffic lights with an array of sensors and artificial intelligence to intelligently route vehicle and pedestrian traffic.

 

 

  • The University of Bahrain has conducted the 2nd Smart Cities Symposium in 2019 covering topics related to Smart Cities adoption and applications.

 

Bahrain has paid keen attention educate its Human Capital and equip them with the skills and knowledge needed for the emerging technologies through the development programs provided by the Universities and funded by Tamkeen in the Kingdom of Bahrain. Moreover, the Kingdom has paid attention to the needs of early-stage businesses and startups within the sector, in particular, improving access to venture capital funding. Therefore, Bahrain Development Bank (BDB) has provided many funding programs. One of the major announcements in the Gulf was the launch of the Al Waha Fund, dedicated venture capital fund aimed at attracting Venture capital - VCs and strengthening the region’s startup ecosystem.

Education in the service of the Fourth Industrial Revolution

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is an important part of the process of curriculum development and education outcomes. To ensure fair and inclusive education for all and to enhance lifelong learning opportunities for all, the Kingdom of Bahrain is working hard to achieve a sustainable, knowledge-based and diversified economy in line with developments in the technology sector in education In order to achieve the objectives of Bahrain Economic Vision 2030.

Development of study programs in universities and educational institutes

in order to achieve the vision of the Kingdom of Bahrain 2030 to keep abreast of the latest technological developments and to ensure a fair and comprehensive education for all and to enhance lifelong learning opportunities for all, the Kingdom of Bahrain has introduced new and pioneering programs in universities and educational institutions such as the Big Data operations program, The Master of Environment and Sustainable Development Program, and the FinTech Financial Technology Master Program, the first of its kind in this area in the context of keeping pace with global developments and market needs. in order to produce a generation provider professional skills to meet the challenges, and to actively participate in the economic and social development, by providing them with the knowledge, expertise and skills required in the labour market.


Page Last Updated: 01 Aug, 2019