Government of Bahrain’s Digital Transformation Journey Listen to this page using ReadSpeaker

facebook twitter linkedin mail share
Go

The Government of Bahrain is a pioneer in the deployment of advanced technologies for the benefit of citizens, residents, and businesses. The Kingdom’s leadership, like in the past, is actively pursuing steps to promote digital transformation in the public sector, focusing on service-oriented and citizen-centric operating models.

Following the direction of the Kingdom’s leadership, the last decade has seen an incredible uptake in the Government of Bahrain’s understanding and usage of new digital technologies.

Government’s Digital Transformation Journey is being spearheaded by the Supreme Council for Information & Communication Technology (SCICT), chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister, H.H. Shaikh Mohammed bin Mubarak Al Khalifa and supported by the National ICT Governance Committee (ICTGC), which monitors the coordination and implementation of strategic digital initiatives across the Kingdom.

The Covid-19 pandemic has further augmented the use of the Kingdom’s existing and emerging technologies, allowing the country to broaden the reach of its national digital transformation initiatives and electronic services, as well as demonstrating its readiness to face conventional disasters and pandemics.

The below sections depicts the Kingdom’s digital government journey over the past two to three decades with a specific focus on the upcoming digital government directions that foster a paradigm shift in the way the government interacts and communicates with citizens and businesses.

1.1 Prior to constituting the Supreme Council for Information & Communication Technology (SCICT)

Initially, Bahrain had few electronic services and electronic payment offerings for its stakeholders, which resulted in:

  • Limited transparency in government transactions
  • Limited customer satisfaction
  • Limited citizen participation
  • Limited IT literacy amongst the public
  • High cost for establishing and maintaining physical service facilities and document archives.

With the rapid advancements in the ICT field, the Government was quick to recognise the benefits of technology in improving access and delivery of information and services to the public. This led to the establishment of a fully equipped National Data Center, followed by the creation of a secure National Data Network and the introduction of Smart ID Cards for citizens and residents.

A growing realisation of the importance of a coordinated, well-governed eGovernment  programme across the Kingdom resulted in the establishment of the Supreme Committee for Information and Communication Technology (SCICT), under the chairmanship of the Deputy Prime Minister, H.H. Shaikh Mohammed bin Mubarak Al Khalifa, as per a 2005 Cabinet decision. The SCICT implemented Cabinet directives in line with eGovernment initiatives, devising comprehensive strategies and plans to develop the ICT sector across the Kingdom.

Consequently, the eGovernment Authority was formed in 2007 to cater to the needs of citizens and help improve the quality of their lives by making their interactions with government as easy as possible.

1.2 eGov Strategy 2010

Bahrain’s National eGovernment Strategy 2007-2010 ensures the effective delivery of eServices to all constituents – citizens, residents and businesses – under the motto “Delivering customer value through a collabourative government”. The eGovernment Strategy steered and empowered government entities to enhance their public services, and implemented Business Process Reengineering practices that led to the launch of 200 electronic services and four main service delivery channels, an eGovernment National Portal (www.bahrain.bh), a Mobile Gateway, a Government Services Contact Centre (80008001), and eService Centres.

The success of the 2007-2010 National eGovernment Strategy was the result of a clear vision mandated by the Kingdom’s political and administrative leadership and supported by a highly qualified team of professionals. 

Numerous strategic projects and initiatives were conceptualised and implemented from 2007 to 2010 to achieve a range of objectives. These include, but are not limited to, National eGovernment Interconnectivity projects such as the National Enterprise Architecture Framework , the Integrated Workflow Management System, ‘Zajel’ , National Gateway Infrastructure, a National Authentication Framework, and eInvestor.

Among the most important re-engineering initiatives launched during this time were a Government Procedures & Operations Re-engineering Project, an eGovernment Portal Infrastructure Project, an eKiosk Enhancement Project, a National Payment Platform, Implemention of ISO 27001for Information Security, and Implementation of ISO 27001 for Quality Assurance Standards. Security Level Assessment of eGovernment Services & Websites to minimise vulnerability to security was also launched during this period.

Moreover, attention was given to awareness and marketing  programmes while the strategy was being implemented. Awareness of the eGovernment activities and services increased from 25% to over 77% amongst individuals, 96% amongst businesses, and 100% across government sectors. Meanwhile, usage of eServices grew from

7% to 47% amongst individuals, 85% across businesses, and 92% among government organisations. The growth was attributed to a mix of traditional and non-conventional campaigns designed to collect end-user feedback.

Further information can be viewed in the 2007-2010 eGovernment Strategy’s Objectives & Achievements Booklet.

1.3 eGov Strategy 2016

To maintain the momentum, carry its achievements forward, and take its eGovernment programme to new heights, the Kingdom conceptualised a National eGovernment Strategy for 2011-2014 with a motto to ‘ADVANCE’.

The strategy focuses on service delivery to citizens and residents, and optimally utilising and improving eGovernment infrastructure. It aims to achieve next generation government excellence by delivering high-quality services effectively, valuing efficiency, advocating proactive customer engagement, nurturing entrepreneurship, collaborating with all stakeholders, and encouraging innovation.

The eGovernment’s mission is to “to realise the Kingdom of Bahrain’s eGovernment vision by defining and managing the implementation of relevant strategies, setting and monitoring compliance to policies and standards, facilitating transformation of services, and advocating incubation of next generation concepts, all in close collaboration with government entities and effective partnership with the private sector.”

The 2016 strategy is comprised of several eGovernment initiatives which include, but are not limited to:

  • Establishing necessary legislations and regulations to maintain a secure electronic environment
  • Developing advanced infrastructure and technology capabilities for all government entities
  • Enhancing service delivery through one-stop-shops
  • Launching new communication channels such as social media networks to communicate with citizens
  • Creating open data platforms to promote innovation and entrepreneurship
  • Developing several new applications and services, fulfilling the needs and wants of citizens, residents, and business

Some of the key achievements during this period include:

  • Implementation of Tawasul , the National Suggestions and Complaints System
  • Enhancement of national electronic service delivery channels, especially the eGovernment National Portal (bahrain.bh) and the eGovernment App Store 
  • Development of various mobile apps  based on an open data platform
  • Encouraging 80% of government entities to engage in electronic participation and social media interactions with constituents
  • Augmenting Digital Capacity Building by providing ICT training to 5,000+ citizens to encourage them to use eGovernment services
  • Support the strengthening of international and regional interactions between public, private and educational institutions to propagate eGovernment through study tours, workshops and an eGovernment forum .

Further information can be viewed in the 2016 eGovernment Strategy’s Objectives & Achievements  (PDF, 6.9MB, 20 pages).

1.4 eGov Strategy 2018

Due to macro-economic factors prevailing during 2015 and 2016, the eGovernment Strategy was refreshed to aligned with the 2015-2018 Government Plan. The eGovernment strategy refresh had the following objectives:

  1. Nurturing active participation and engagement with constituents
  2. Providing high-quality, personalized services to deliver a seamless user experience, with a focus on mobility
  3. Cultivating service innovation by better leveraging government data
  4. Ensuring security and privacy of citizens’ information
  5. Focusing on G2C (individual-centric) services and enabling foundational elements

Supporting national priorities and supporting decision making by government leadership

The strategy refresh helped to raise awareness of the role of eGovernment among citizens, while optimising ICT investment in the public sector, establishing advanced ICT infrastructure (especially Cloud-based systems) to help attract further foreign investment, and strengthening communications between the private and public sectors.

With a focus on cost optimisation, eGovernment initiatives were able to reduce government expenditures by 30% by the end of 2017.  Cloud computing technologies were introduced at a national level, ably supported by the Cloud First policy and government sponsored training for professionals. A sustained focus on eGovernment saw an incredible 43% year-on-year leap in the usage of electronic payment services. A national cyber security strategy was developed and implemented, backed by the training of 3,500 employees. By the end of this period, 95% of the government entities were interacting with their constituents through social media.

Further information can be viewed in the 2018 eGovernment Strategy’s Objectives & Achievements.

1.5 Digital Government Strategy 2022

Digital Government Strategy 2022 highlights the Government’s commitment to proactively transforming its services through digital technologies, while enhancing the digital environment, advancing digital readiness, and encouraging digital usage.

Through Digital Government Strategy 2022, the Government of Bahrain, as stipulated in its Government Action Plan, is advancing the use of both emerging and mature technologies to enable a more open, responsive, and efficient government. The Government aspires to develop services designed around the needs and behaviors of citizens, and deliver them in real time on devices of their choice.

The strategy is being supervised by the Supreme Council for Information & Communication Technology (SCICT) and supported by the National ICT Governance Committee (ICTGC), which monitors the coordination and implementation of strategic digital initiatives across the Kingdom.

Digital Government Strategy 2022 stipulates that Government entities will, where possible:

  1. Develop an inclusive approach that provides digital services for everyone (Leave No One Behind), with an emphasis on strategies that cater to specific needs.
  2. Encourage government interactions with a greater number of constituents via the digital channels of their choice. For those who cannot access online services, an Assisted Digital approach is available .
  3. Design public services based on a ‘Digital First principle’, with a focus on digitising the entire chain of activities so that they provide the most benefit to constituents.
  4. Consider rebuilding certain public services with digital delivery at their foundation.
  5. Design procedures so that citizens and businesses have to supply certain types of data only once to a Government entity.
  6. Utilise advanced technologies to make more accurate predictions and smarter decisions through the analysis of vast amounts of data.
  7. Consolidate government data and make them accessible to the public, creating greater transparency and civic engagement.

Government has ambitious plans to use digital technologies extensively to strengthen its services, processes, and decision making, as well as its ability to share data with constituents. There is specific emphasis on improving the individual organisational capabilities of Government entities by aligning their digital strategies with the national Digital Government Strategy, strengthening the governance mechanisms, enabling a digital workforce, reinforcing agile development and analytical platforms while deploying robust cyber security measures and controls.

With a strong focus on the above principles, the Government has also accelerated the creation of an enabling environment to develop a digital economy through stronger digital infrastructure, policies, regulations and technology platforms, while supporting public sector entities in their individual digital transformation plans.

By the end of 2020, Government now provides 504 eServices — 391 via the National Portal, bahrain.bh, 16 via self-service ekiosks, and 97 via smartphone applications that can be downloaded from the eGovernment app store, bahrain.bh/apps . The eServices have helped the government reduce operational costs by 82%, allowing users to complete their transactions online 76% faster and more 69% more efficiently than traditional methods, all without needing to visit service centres. 

In 2020, 82 eServices covering six sectors and 15 government entities were reengineered to become more advanced and efficient. Work is ongoing to study, restructure, and develop 26 new eServices, most notably ones relating to good conduct, donations via the Islamiyat app, payment of customs fees and taxes, and ID card services.

Three government revenue-related eServices were also launched, including requests for promotional campaigns and discounts by the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism; VAT bill payments to the National Bureau for Revenue (NBR), and insurance fee payments to the Electricity and Water Authority (EWA).

 

Four new social services were introduced, including a financial support request service from the Royal Humanitarian Foundation  for people affected by COVID-19, and three services by the Ministry of Labour and Social Development  relating to job seeker registrations, viewing of personal profiles, and government financial support status requests.

Moreover, 44 health sector eServices were launched to support the efforts of the National Taskforce for Combating the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Three housing and real estate services were also launched to support the Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) , and a further two, offered by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs , cater to citizens abroad.

In 2020, financial transactions increased 38% compared to 2019 with more than 2.2 million recorded across all governmental entities. Total revenues collected from various digital channels increased by 48%, reaching a record of BD230 million.

The National Portal received over 11 million visitors while new self-service kiosks were introduced at various locations throughout the Kingdom to support growing demand.

A continued focus on modern technologies and Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the development of government services has supported business continuity across the public sector, including the judicial sector, by helping to streamline procedures. Judicial services now include the ability to file civil and commercial lawsuits online. Modern technologies also enabled the education sector to offer remote learning by migrating the Educational Gateway, EDUNET , to the Cloud.

These technologies have also supported national efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19 through the development of the BeAware Bahrain app , a comprehensive government system that has proven instrumental in helping authorities identify and monitor cases, and minimising the potential for virus transmission. The app is a success story that was launched in record time, realising the vision of HRH the Crown Prince and Prime Minister.

1.6 Digital Government Strategy Principles

In line with directives by its senior leadership, Bahrain’s digital Government strategy is committed to the following principles:

  1. Provision of digital services for everyone (Leaving No One Behind) with specific emphasis on strategies to tailor service offerings to the needs of citizens.
  2. Encouraging more constituents to interact with the Government via the digital channels of their choice.
  3. Designing new public services based on a Digital First principle and concentrating on digitising the entire chain of activities.
  4. Rebuilding identified public services with digital delivery at the foundation.
  5. Enabling citizens and businesses to supply certain types of data only once to a Government entity.
  6. Utilise advanced technologies to make more accurate predictions and smarter decisions through the analysis of vast amounts of data.
  7. Consolidate government data and make them available to the public to enable greater transparency and civic engagement.

1.6.1 Provision of digital services for everyone (Leaving No One Behind) with specific emphasis on strategies to tailor service offerings to the needs of citizens

The Government of Bahrain considers access to digital government services a public right and requires government entities to ensure digital inclusion. Factors to be taken into consideration include, but are not limited to, access, affordability, age, bandwidth, content, disability, education, gender, migration, location, mobile, speed, and service usage.

The Government of Bahrain is focused on eradicating the digital divide by providing constituents the necessary ICT training, access to computer hardware, software, affordable Internet access, and user support.

Digital Inclusion initiatives in Kingdom of Bahrain are based on three components:

  1. Augmenting Digital Infrastructure Deployment initiatives which includes but not limited to free access to internet (Wi-fi in public places) and access to hardware and software (distribution of laptops to students of needy family) 
  2. Accessibility and Availability of Content and Services initiative which includes but not limited to:
    1. Affordable and high quality fixed and mobile networks & Enhancing the 5 G network infrastructure & related services (Please refer to the Fifth National Telecommunication Plan ) (PDF, 265KB, 16 pages)
    2. Improving participative governance services for women by increasing visibility and awareness of Government initiatives among young women, and encouraging to discuss their matters through eParticipation Platform “Tawasul”
    3. Involving people with special needs through various tools such as ReadSpeaker tool to support their access and usage of eServices
    4. Electronic services for migrants and labourers are available in multiple languages facilitating the spread of awareness about laws and procedures related to Labour Market Regulatory Authority, protect workers from human trafficking and salary payment deferrals, enabling them to submit application for flexible work permits, and a job portal to connect with job providers.
    5. Digital Aptitude initiatives which includes digital literacy initiatives, advanced digital education and raise the awareness about electronic services of Government.

1.6.2 Encouraging more constituents to interact with the Government via the digital channels of their choice

Encouraging more constituents to interact with the Government via the digital channels of their choice

Since 2007, Bahrain has successfully raised awareness of eGovernment services among its constituents through a well laid out, clear and targeted communication strategy. Its campaigns have employed a mix of traditional and non-conventional media, including features to collect end-user feedback. Moreover, each Government entity engages with its constituents to identify who can and cannot use its digital services, and the factors that limit the service uptake. Appropriate solutions are then designed to overcome these challenges.

Initiatives undertaken during the 2018-2022 strategy period include:

  1. Awareness & marketing of eGovernment services

Marketing campaigns vary based on the nature of the services being promoted and their audiences. A range of mediums and methodologies ensure that users are aware of the services offered by the Information & eGovernment Authority. Depending on the marketing strategy, tactics may include digital marketing (social media posts, paid social media advertisements, paid online ads placed on local news agencies and international websites), targeted email and SMS marketing, booklets, flyers, roadshows, and more.

  1. Making eGovernment services more relevant

Analyzing more than 400 electronic services, we identified the top 25 that witnessed spikes in service utilization and usage. More information can be found in Channel Statistics.

  1. Improving digital channels and introducing advanced electronic kiosks at more locations

At present, the Government delivers its services through the National Portal as well as through entity portals, mobile apps, electronic service centres, the National Contact Center and next generation eGovernment kiosks. Click here to view usage statistics of eGovernment channels.

The Government is revamping its National Portal to make the portal more secure, user friendly, enable personalized experience and responsive. State of the Art self-service eGovernment kiosks are installed in major locations with finger print biometric system to verify user’s identity, touch screens, security cameras, credit and debit card readers and a printer for receipts. 

1.6.3 Designing new public services based on a Digital First principle and concentrating on digitising the entire chain of activities

Designing new public services based on a Digital First principle and concentrating on digitising the entire chain of activities.

The Government is continually redesigning its service delivery along a Digital First principle which streamlines the user journey through the effective use of digital technologies. 

Some of these initiatives are listed below:

  • Sijilat (Commercial Registration Portal)

The Sijilat System (www.sijilat.bh)   has transformed the way business is done in Bahrain, allowing investors to apply for, modify, and renew their Commercial Registrations (trade licenses) electronically. The portal also allows businesses to making inquiries and follow up on procedures concerning other entities without the need to physically visit them, saving time and energy. Anyone requiring assistance with Sijilat may visit a physical service centres for guidance.

  • National Taxation System:
  • The Information & eGovernment Authority,  together with key constituent government agencies, National Bureau of Revenue (NBR)  and Bahrain Customs Affairs (CA),  engaged Amazon Web Services (AWS) to design, build and operate a national taxation system utilising Cloud technology. It was the first of its kind in the region, setting a trend for others to follow.
  • This system provides a full range of taxation services including mainstream services such as VAT payer registration, filing, payments, refunds, and audit/risk assessments, as well as ancillary services like VAT lookup, newsletters, public awareness campaigns, and more.
  • The system contains two main components, a gateway portal for the public, and a backend TRM system by SAP. The system was set up and activated in record time using AWS Cloud products, whose features include on-demand computing, elasticity, high availability/fault tolerance, quick time to market, and more.
  • National Social Health Insurance  programme (Sehati)
    • Endorsed by the Cabinet, the National Health Plan (2016-2025)  (PDF, 17.5MB, 62 pages) lays out the future of the Kingdom’s health industry, providing the building blocks for high-quality health services, healthcare and sustainability, and securing the workforce and infrastructure necessary to achieve the goals of Economic Vision 2030.
    • One of the National Health Plan’s main objectives is the adoption of a Social Health Insurance  programme  (Sehati) to ensure greater sustainability of the health system. Sehati is building a patient-centred system with high-quality standards covering both locals and expatriates. It is revolutionising the sector through better utilisation of resources while overcoming pressing challenges, mainly the result of a rapidly increasing population.
  • Financial support System

Individuals requiring financial support from the Ministry of Labour & Social Development  can make and follow up on requests easily through the national portal. The system is integrated with other relevant eGovernment systems for greater efficiency and quicker service delivery. 

1.6.4 Rebuilding identified public services with digital delivery at the foundation

Rebuilding identified public services with digital delivery at the foundation.

In line with the 'Digital First principle,' the Government of Bahrain is revamping several core public services from the ground up to ensure digital delivery.

These include, but are not limited to:

  • Enhancing service excellence through service centres
    • Government service centres are being evaluated and rewarded with higher grades based on their ability to deliver digital services. Digital infrastructure and solutions enable customers to access the Government’s online services even if they do not own a device at home and/or are unable to access the Internet due to lack of skill or an Internet disruption. Government service centres are encouraged to reduce the amount of time customers spend at their branches and are recognised for providing end-to-end digital services. Among the innovations introduced are procedures that do not require customers to carry records already provided to the government during their first visit. In view of the pandemic, the centres also provide contactless services.

1.6.5 Enabling citizens and businesses to supply certain types of data only once to a Government entity

Enabling citizens and businesses to supply certain types of data only once to a Government entity.

In line with Government Plan 2019-2022 , the Government of Bahrain is promoting the use of digital technologies to enhance its service delivery and internal operations. Government is actively considering the use of nation-wide digital identity schemes that enable the development of new products and services, while reducing operational costs.

As the Kingdom digitally empowers its government and economy, it has shifted its focus towards advanced nation-wide digital identity and management initiatives with a greater emphasis on people, process, technology and governance.  Among these initiatives are:

  • National Enterprise Architecture Framework (NEAF) 
    • The NEAF  is an aggregation of models and meta-models, governance and compliance mechanisms, technology standards, and guidelines put together to implement Enterprise Architecture (EA) across several government entities.
  • Sijilat (Commercial Portal) 
    • Sijilat  is a virtual one-stop solution, available through multiple channels. It offers an integrated 'Whole of Government' service where users, citizens, investors, and Commercial Registration (trade license) applicants and holders, as well as professional bodies, can apply, update, renew, and terminate multiple licenses concurrently through a single streamlined form. Sijilat represents a transformational change in mindset, delivering innovative, pro-enterprise, and customer-centric licensing solutions. This is done through extensive collaboration between government organisations, fostering a pro-enterprise environment with high quality customer service.
  • National Gateway Infrastructure
    • The National Gateway Infrastructure offers a unified electronic platform that integrates government systems based on consistent standards and policies. This improves eServices delivery by allowing each government entity to utilise any service offered by another entity. The National Gateway Infrastructure ensures quality and efficiency by better integrating and managing services, allowing for smoother correspondence, while also minimising the need for upgrades and maintenance.
  • Fingerprint Authentication for Pre-Employment Health Check up for Expat employees

Fingerprint (biometric) authentication allows employers to book medical check-ups online, reschedule and/or view appointment statuses, and obtain the results. The system also enables private health care institutions to view and confirm the attendance of individuals undergoing pre-employment check-ups and to enter the results of expatriates.

NotifyMe allows citizens, residents, and GCC citizens to register or update their contact details to receive the latest government notifications. This brings the Government closer to its constituents, keeping them securely and privately informed of their transactions. The service significantly reduces delivery times, eliminates associated paperwork and logistics, and lowers expenses and administrative work.

  • Enhanced National Digital Identity 
    • The enhanced National Digital Identity initiative allows Bahraini citizens, residents, and businesses to transact digitally with the public and private sectors in a convenient and secure manner. The Government is considering the use of a nationwide digital identity that enables the development of new products and services, while reducing operational costs. This will consolidate government services so that users only need to input their information once.
    • Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) has launched eKYC in the Kingdom as part of its initiatives to digitally transform the financial sector. The national eKYC platform, the first of its kind in the region targeting retail banks, financial services providers, and money exchange networks, is operated by electronic financial transactions network, BENEFIT, in collaboration with the iGA and under the supervision of the CBB. It provides a national database for financial institutions to securely verify the identities of their customers, validate their information, and share data digitally before providing products and services. It allows for the retrieval of customer data from governmental entities, including the iGA.

1.6.6 Utilising advanced technologies to make more accurate predictions and smarter decisions through the analysis of vast amounts of data

Utilising advanced technologies to make more accurate predictions and smarter decisions through the analysis of vast amounts of data.

The Government of Bahrain is pioneering the use of business intelligence and technology to better serve citizens. It signed an agreement with global Cloud computing leader, Amazon Web Services (AWS), to establish data centres that will transform the Kingdom into a regional 'Big Data' hub.  The agreement’s initiatives include:

  • Utilisation of Big Data in the Census project, which incorporates the Geographic Information Systems Data as well as Land Use Data.
  • Utilising Big Data in current statistics projects, including Tourism statistics and the Consumer Price Index
  • Creating a government data warehouse which analyses vast quantities of data to measure the performance of Key Government Indicators within various domains/sectors (banking, economy, commercial licensing, exports & imports, labour market, telecommunications, logistics and transportation). The findings are made available to decision makers via the mobile platform.
  • Tamkeen is using AI to enable the digital onboarding of customers. Among these initiatives is blockchain-powered e-visit technology; smart queuing machines at branches; full payment transfers integrated with AUB “Robotic Process Automation”, and B2B payment integrated with BENEFIT Pay.

1.6.7 Consolidating government data and making it available to the public to enable greater transparency and civic engagement

Consolidating government data and making it available to the public to enable greater transparency and civic engagement.

The Government recognises the importance of making data accessible and usable by the public, to offer greater insights and support more informed decision-making. While respecting privacy requirements, the Government of Bahrain will ensure that this data is available to drive citizen legislation, policies, and processes. The Bahrain Open Data Portal aims to promo te transparency and help the business community create innovative services and business models.

  • Bahrain possesses a robust National Enterprise Architecture Framework , consisting of a set of standards, procedures and operating protocols which guide and direct decisions related to the adoption, use, reporting, and retirement of information technology. These include guiding principles, methods, procedures, metrics, best practices, and reference models. It is an aggregation of models and meta-models, governance and compliance mechanism, and technology standards and guidelines, put together to help government entities develop and implement Enterprise Architecture.

1.7 Digital Government Strategy 2022 revisited against the backdrop of COVID-19 pandemic

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the Government has been confronted with various social and economic challenges in addition to the challenges related to ramping up of digital infrastructure and the building of institutional capacities to manage national disasters and pandemics.

To overcome these challenges, a Whole of Government approach, was adopted supported by integrated pandemic planning, surveillance, testing, contact tracing, quarantine, and healthcare technologies.

Realising the potential, the Prime Minister & Crown Prince, HRH Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa directed government entities to strengthen digital empowerment initiatives to create a more robust and progressive economy, able to better serve the public. The Government’s organisational and operational resources were restructured to strengthen conventional disaster and pandemic management capabilities, while ensuring business continuity.

One of the immediate consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic were restrictions on movement of people and selective closures of business and government offices. This resulted in a sudden surge in the demand for online services. The Government’s priority was to ensure the continuity of services, and ramp up its infrastructure and security to enable Work From Home, e-Banking, e-Learning and e-Health initiatives.

During the initial phase of the pandemic, a decision was made to reprioritise Bahrain’s digital projects and plan for the ‘new normal’. Each initiative on the Strategy Roadmap was revisited in 2020, with a

range of scenarios developed to map the possible impact on each entity in the context of the pandemic. This helped to ensure that individual government entities focused their efforts on promoting inter-entity and government wide collaborations and outcomes, while ensuring alignment with the Government Action Plan, Economic Vision 2030, and UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Approximately Four  Million Dinars were granted for various digital interventions which includes but not limited to building a COVID-19 portal, the BeAware Bahrain application, distributing wristbands to monitor quarantined individuals, enhancing network infrastructure, establishing a platform for e-commerce, allocating more Cloud storage for EDUNET and e-Health initiatives, strengthening cybersecurity, introducing new eServices, revamping existing ones, and bringing physical interactions with government entities to almost zero.

Advanced technologies were also harnessed to support Government decision makers, and help health workers stay connected with information and diagnostic services, while analytics assisted in making projections about disease outbreaks, health service usage, patient knowledge, attitudes, personal continuous management of diseases, and health practices. Innovative initiatives such as the National Genome Project (a specialised centre for genetic analysis, which contributes to the prevention of genetic diseases and the development of effective medicines); an interactive dashboard for e-health services providing real time statistics and indicators for e-services and website activities; an interactive participatory survey poll promoting communication between the Ministry of Health and its constituents; the establishment of a dedicated health alerts portal (healthalert.gov.bh) and a COVID-19 platform facilitating the delivery of prescribed medicines, online doctor consultations, telemedicine services, a Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) fitness tracking dashboard, and the BeAware  Bahrain application which supports contact tracing and delivers Coronavirus Test Results, Coronavirus PCR Test Certificates, Coronavirus Vaccination Certificates, and COVID statistics and news.

1.8 Digital Government Strategy 2022 Focus Areas

The Supreme Council for Information & Communication Technology (SCICT), headed by the Deputy Prime Minister, H.H. Shaikh Mohammed bin Mubarak Al Khalifa, reviewed Bahrain’s strategic priorities during the pandemic, reprioritizing its digital agenda and implementation efforts across the whole Government.

The Kingdom’s digital government initiatives during 2020, 2021, and 2022 are focused on responding to, recovering, and adopting to the ‘new normal’ which resulted from the pandemic. The Government prioritises digital initiatives to stabilise, secure and scale existing digital government investments by assessing their ability to deliver value and improve decision-making, with an emphasis on data centric transformation.

The Government’s 2021 and 2022 initiatives are categorised as follows:

  1. Strengthening digital infrastructure, data, and artificial intelligence to foster a digital economy
  2. Accelerating the transformation and collaboration efforts of various public sector entities
  3. Ensuring the enforcement of policies, regulations and standards safeguarding constituents’ basic rights and protecting them against cyber risks
  4. Strengthening accountability, transparency & civic engagement through open data and e-Participation
  5. Encouraging innovation & nurturing entrepreneurship

1.8.1 Strengthening digital infrastructure, data and artificial intelligence to foster a digital economy

Emerging technologies and recent global developments such as the COVID-19 pandemic have created opportunities for new industries, jobs, products/services, and behavior patterns. Bahrain has an opportunity to align with these trends through stronger capacities and ecosystems (skilled labor, regulatory and tech infrastructure, innovation/investment ecosystem etc.) to adapt (manage risk, cope with challenges) and reap benefits under the current circumstances. 

The Government, through its Digital Economy Strategy, aims to further diversify the national economy by generating value added services and products that cater to local, regional, and international markets.

A detailed study was conducted, in cooperation with UNDP Bahrain, which has identified the following themes as  critical for the development of the country’s digital capabilities:

  1. Strategy & responsibility
  2. Digital government
  3. Digital skills
  4. Data & Artificial Intelligence
  5. The private sector
  6. Culture of cross government collaboration

Backed by a comprehensive plan and roadmap, the Government is working towards the development of a strong and sustainable Digital Economy by 2025.

1.8.2 Accelerating the transformation and collaboration efforts of various public sector entities

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of data sharing between entities. Bahrain’s leadership is breaking down silos between entities and driving cross government change.

A Government-wide organisation performance initiative, “Takamul”, is underway to help entities define their strategic objectives, set performance indicators, and ensure all Government initiatives are aligned with the Kingdom’s Economic Vision 2030 and the Government Action Plan. The initiative includes digital interventions to support business entities’ strategic objectives, including but not limited to, the introduction of digital services, enhancement of their digital infrastructure while adhering to Bahrain’s Cloud First policy, and  strengthening the ICT capacity building efforts of each entity to improve the efficiency of services and projects.

1.8.3 Ensuring the enforcement of policies, regulations and standards safeguarding constituents’ basic rights and protecting them against cyber risks

Government has constituted National ICT Governance Committee (ICTGC) to set high eGovernance standards for the employment and utilization of ICT projects in Government entities. Besides this, recently Government has also established National Center for Cyber Security to strengthen the cyber space of the Kingdom.

The ICTGC is responsible for reviewing strategies, monitoring the financial costs of ICT investments, and reporting to the Supreme Committee for Information and Communication Technology (SCICT) for necessary actions. The ICTGC also specifies policies and standards, such as the Cloud First Policy, Printing Policy, Government PC specifications, eGov Mobile App Standards, Website Development Standards, and more to all government entities. This helps create a unified set of standards that are aligned with current usage across the government and the latest technology trends, while supporting the Government Strategy 2022.

The Government has established a single codified data protection law, the  Personal Data Protection Law (PDPL)  (PDF, 304KB, 40 pages, Arabic only), which is applicable both within Bahrain and extraterritorially. The law resulted in the establishment of the Personal Data Protection Authority (PDPA), which has the power to carry out inspections and investigations into possible violations of the PDPL, issue orders to stop violations, fine violators, and award compensation to data owners who have incurred damage because of PDPL violations.

The Government remains focused on cyber security, and has established the National Centre for Cyber Security, which is responsible for strengthening the national response and cyber protection, conducting research and development in the cyber security domain, monitoring the implementation of the Kingdom’s national cyber security strategy, promoting nation-wide adoption of cyber security policies, and enhancing Bahrain’s national competitiveness in the field of cyber security.

1.8.4 Strengthening accountability, transparency & civic engagement through open data and e-Participation

The Government is strengthening its Open Data Portal (www.data.gov.bh ) and the e-Participation tool (Tawasul) to improve communication between citizens and various government entities.

The Open Data Portal reinforces Bahrain’s business friendly reputation and highlights its competitive advantages for those wishing to establish a business in the region. It will also have a strong impact on local entrepreneurship by spurring innovation, creating value from data, and bolstering the chances of success for startups.

The initiative envisages surveying the open data sets made available through the portal and how they are utilised by constituents to develop applications and strengthen citizen and government interactions. Efforts are also being made to analyse the landscape of applications based on the open data and measure the interest of users and developers.

The Government of Bahrain supports the impactful use of its data by pushing for better quality via data standards and data ownership. With effective cross-government collaboration on data sharing; clearer lines of data ownership and authority; and improved data skills and standards, the Government is on track to meet its data and AI ambitions.

The Government is also pushing for quality data, drawing on various sources to facilitate evidence-based decision making; help drive investment; support a flourishing research and innovation space; and build a solid foundation for the use of AI.

The Government considers e-Participation an important tool for strengthening public engagement and enhancing collaboration on areas of focus such as improving information access for citizens and residents, fostering citizen empowerment and participation in public

service improvement, and their involvement in the decision-making process. For more details, please refer to www.bahrain.bh/eparticipation

1.8.5 Encouraging innovation & nurturing entrepreneurship

Data is at the heart of the Government’s digital transformation. It aims to drive innovation through improved management, targeted data sharing, and AI-augmented data analytics. Accordingly, the Government continues to identify and publish certain data types on a single portal in a usable format (e.g. xml), develop APIs and toolkits to enable developers to interact with Government databases more securely (including an authentication protocol, payment platform); and granting excellence awards  in the eGov domain. There is also scope for expanding the  programme in the future.

To drive innovation, nurture entrepreneurship and grow the Kingdom’s digital economy, the Government is considering:

  • Reserving a certain amount of government expenditure for local SMEs in the ICT sector
  • Transitioning parts of Tamkeen to a strategic funding model, for example, shifting from needs-based to performance-based funding
  • Adopting a ‘digital marketplace’ approach to government procurement, where Bahrain- or GCC-based companies can list their services to be procured by the Government
  • Developing and implementing measures to retain talents
  • Developing graduate  programmes and apprenticeships to attract highly skilled local talent, which will support Bahrain’s National Higher Education Strategy 2024.  (PDF, 1,423KB, 40 pages)

Bahrain remains focused on broadening its local talent pool through university development programmes (funded by Tamkeen) to equip young Bahrainis with the skills required to work with emerging technologies.

Moreover, the Kingdom pays close attention to the needs of early-stage businesses and startups within the sector, improving access to venture capital funding. Accordingly, Bahrain Development Bank (BDB)   has provided a range of funding  programmes.

The launch of the Al Waha Fund of Funds addresses the nascent Venture Capital community in the MENA region. The government-led initiative is aimed at attracting Venture Capital and strengthening the region’s startup ecosystem.

 The Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) launched a regulatory sandbox aimed at enabling firms to test and develop their products in a virtual space. ( for more details please refer https://www.cbb.gov.bh/fintech/ )

9. Alignment with Bahrain’s Economic Vision 2030 & the Government Action Plan

Vision 2030

The initiatives and subcomponents are aligned to achieve Government Action Plan 2019-2022 and the Kingdom’s Economic Vision 2030 in a cohesive and harmonized manner. Bahrain’s Digital Government Strategy is based on six themes that support the action plan. Digital Government Strategy 2022 enables each entity to work towards a set of common goals by encouraging innovation and avoiding duplication of efforts and investment.

Alignment with Sustainable Development Goals

The Government of Bahrain recognises the importance of ICT in realising the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The ICT sector is crucial to deliver quality goods and services in the areas of healthcare, education, finance, commerce, governance, and agriculture. It is also an important vehicle for creating new jobs, tackling climate change and supporting the development of sustainable cities and communities.

To realise the benefits of ICT in achieving the UN SDGs, Digital Government Strategy 2022 advocates a Whole of Government approach to digital investments. The digital initiatives recommended in the strategy are reviewed against the backdrop of how they impact the constituents of Bahrain, the environment, and the economic growth of the country.

The Digital Strategy 2022 identifies three tracks for utilising digital technologies to achieve SDG targets:

Track 1: Digital Technologies for Sustainable and Equitable Growth

Track 2: Digital Technologies for Energy & Environment

Track 3: Digital Technologies for Quality of Life, Education & Capacity Building

The key initiatives under digital technologies for sustainable & equitable growth are as:

  1. Augmenting connectivity 
  2. Strengthening fintech & e-banking
  3. Encourage remote working
  4. Enhance Smart manufacturing

These initiatives contribute to the following UN SDGs:

  1. Ensuring equal access to economic resources and basic services (1.4)
  2. Ensuring women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership (5.5)
  3. Enhancing the use of enabling technology, in particular ICT (5.b)
  4. Achieving full and productive employment and meaningful work (8.5)
  5. Reducing youth unemployment (8.6)
  6. Strengthening the capacity of domestic financial institutions and expanding access to banking (8.10)
  7. Facilitating sustainable and resilient infrastructure development (9.a)
  8. Increasing access to ICT and providing universal access to the Internet (9.c)
  9. Developing quality, reliable, sustainable, and resilient infrastructure (9.1)
  10. Promoting inclusive and sustainable industrialisation (9.2)
  11. Upgrading infrastructure and retrofitting industries with clean technology (9.4)

The key initiatives under Digital Technologies for Energy & Environment are as:

  1. Smart energy
  2. Smart water management
  3. Smart conservation
  4. Smart building

These initiatives contribute to the following UN SDGs:

  1. Increasing water-use efficiency (6.4)
  2. Increasing the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix (7.2)
  3. Doubling the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency (7.3)
  4. Reducing the adverse per capita environmental impact of cities, including air quality and waste management (11.6)
  5. Achieving sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources (12.2)
  6. Increasing awareness of sustainable development and lifestyles (12.8)

The key initiatives under Digital Technologies for Quality of Life, Education & Capacity Building are as:

  1. Digital government
  2. Real-time disaster warnings
  3. E-health
  4. E-learning
  5. Smart mobility, including smart logistics, traffic control, and optimisation

These initiatives contribute to the following UN SDGs:

  1. Reducing maternal mortality and ending deaths of children (3.1 & 3.2)
  2. Reducing death from non-communicable diseases e.g., diabetes (3.4)
  3. Achieving universal health coverage (3.8)
  4. Improving health workforce training (3.c)
  5. Equal access to quality pre-primary education (4.2)
  6. Equal access to affordable technical, vocational, and higher education (4.3)
  7. Increasing the number of people with relevant skills for financial success (4.4)
  8. Building and upgrading inclusive and safe schools (4.a)
  9. Providing access to safe, affordable, accessible, and sustainable transport systems (11.2)
  10. Developing effective, accountable, and transparent institutions at all levels (16.6)
  11. Ensuring responsive, inclusive, participatory, and representative decision-making at all levels (16.7)
  12. By 2030, providing legal identity for all, including birth registration (16.9)
  13. Ensuring public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements (16.10)
  14. Strengthening relevant national institutions, including through international cooperation, for building capacities at all levels, in developing countries in particular, to prevent violence and combat terrorism and crime (16.a)

Approach to New / Emerging Emerging Technologies

Emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), biotechnology, material sciences, and robotics hold incredible promise for the advancement of Bahraini society and spurring economic growth in the Kingdom.

With the rapid advancement in these technologies, the Kingdom has shifted its focus towards creating an ecosystem that fosters innovation through emerging technologies across Bahraini society. Bahrain encourages those involved in designing, developing, and deploying new technologies to ensure that they are consistent with the Kingdom's values and adhere to international norms and standards.

In line with the Kingdom’s Economic Vision 2030 and the Government Plan 2019-2022, Digital Government Strategy 2022 recommends that Government entities explore the potential of emerging technologies that provide a wider positive impact on citizen engagement and public administration.

Government entities are directed to work with public and private sector entities, and academic institutions towards adopting new and emerging technologies. This is based on a framework built on teamwork, mutual benefit, national security, and return on investment. 

To this end, the Government will undertake the following initiatives, which include, but are not limited to:

  1. Encouraging the use of new and emerging technologies within the Government
  2. Building relevant skills within the private and public sectors focusing on talent pipeline and retention
  3. Leveraging the potential of the Cloud and Big Data to encourage economic growth in the Kingdom
  4. Building a strong culture of risk tolerance within public and private sector entities
  5. Promoting innovation through global partnerships and attracting global talent
  6. Reducing complex regulations and bureaucratic policies and processes that prohibit industry growth and innovation
  7. Granting assistance to academic institutions and businesses to develop and adopt innovative solutions using new and emerging technologies
  8. Supporting the private sector and encouraging public-private partnership

The Government’s commitment to promoting technology driven changes has paved way for the adoption of various innovative digital initiatives, which include, but are not limited to:

 

  • Cloud Computing:

The Kingdom of Bahrain has taken significant steps to adopt Cloud technology in the public sector, helping to increase efficiency and effectiveness, develop excellent citizen services, and reduce operational costs.

The Kingdom launched its Cloud-First Policy, which outlines a road map and guidance for adoption of Cloud technology by the public sector. All government entities in Bahrain must evaluate Cloud solutions first when undertaking ICT procurements, taking into account the appropriate ICT delivery model, information security, fitment of purpose, cost-benefit analyses, and achieving value for money over the life of the investment.

To equip Bahraini professionals with the skills and knowledge required to support this transition, the iGA and Tamkeen  created a capacity building and AWS certification  programme, fully funded by Tamkeen, to bridge gaps and create a Cloud-ready workforce.

 

  • Blockchain Initiatives:

The Government recognizes the key role of Blockchain Technology in further developing the Kingdom’s financial services industry. The Government is considering the development of a National Strategy for Blockchain in the Kingdom of Bahrain that will set guidelines and support the adoption of this technology within the public and private sectors. 

One of the public sector initiatives resulting from the strategy is the establishment of an electronic Know-Your-Customer (eKYC)  platform, which allows financial institutions to securely verify the identities of their customers, validate their information, and share data digitally before providing products and services.  

This platform is a collaboration between the Central Bank of Bahrain, the Information & eGovernment Authority, the Bahrain Economic Development Board, andBENEFIT .

The Blockchain Vehicle Registration project at the General Directorate of Traffic (GDT)  will employ the latest technology to enhance efficiency and transparency while regulating the registration of vehicles. The project supports the Kingdom’s plans to employ modern technologies to further develop services and enhance the role of the private sector, in line with Bahrain’s Vision 2030. 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.

The University of Bahrain (UOB)   is one of the first educational institutions in the region to award certificates to its graduates through Blockchain technology. This reflects its adoption of modern technologies in various aspects of its operations and academic  programmes. 

Khalifa Bin Salman Port (KBSP), has been working on the adoption of Blockchain technology in coordination with various stakeholders, including customs authorities and customers. 

Tamkeen’s Business Development  programme is a co-financing  programme that provides financial grants for businesses to purchase machinery and equipment. Previously, each purchase had to be verified in person by an agent. Now, using a Blockchain Video Recorder (BVR Protocol), agents can conduct a virtual visit of the premises to verify the purchases. Customers can also securely sign documents remotely to initiate transactions.

  

  • Data Analytics

The Government is building a national data lake, the region’s first country-level data repository, covering 73 government entities. The platform solves the issue of valuable data sitting in silos, creating a centralised data source for descriptive and predictive analytics that will help government agencies better serve the public.

Big Data is also set to play a key role in the development of existing applications and services, including the Benayat system , which has streamlined the process for issuing building permits in the Kingdom. Benayat demonstrates the Government’s commitment to transforming the

private sector into an engine for economic growth, fostering opportunities for citizens and accelerating sustainable development.

At present, the Bahrain Open Data Portal  provides a wide range of multi-sectorial government data without any restrictions, except for respecting privacy as per the Personal Data Protection law.   (PDF, 304KB, 40 pages, Arabic only) A major initiative is underway to further strengthen the Kingdom’s open data platform, the foundation of government efforts to provide the public with machine-readable data on society. Individuals, businesses, and government entities will be able to utilize government data to research and develop new solutions and make better decisions. 

Bahrain has implemented several major projects that require analysis of large amounts of data such as the population census and other administrative records of state institutions, saving effort, time, and expense. The Monthly Consumer Price Index, which gives real indicators of inflation rates in the Kingdom, is an example of a project that requires information to be collected from several different sources and then calculated and analysed electronically. 

The Tourism sector depends on online government records to provide accurate and timely data, such as in-bound visitor numbers, destinations visited by Bahrainis for vacation, hotels, and restaurants occupancy. The National Space Science Agency (NSSA)  will also generate data on the environment, agriculture, climate, and more through Bahrain's first satellite.

 

  • Artificial Intelligence

The Government of Bahrain’s approach to Artificial Intelligence aims to benefit all segments of society, including citizens, residents, businesses, and tourists. Accordingly, the Government has focused its efforts on strengthening the business ecosystem and driving innovation. These efforts include, but are not limited to:

  1. Augmenting research & development in the field of AI
  2. Developing rules & guidelines for the procurement of AI solutions
  3. Strengthening AI capabilities in areas such as crisis response, healthcare, cybersecurity, social justice, the environment, public services, information verification & validation, education, logistics, transport, and finance

The Government prioritises the social benefits of AI, focusing on sectors where the potential usage is high and a large proportion of the Kingdom’s population can benefit. For example, the BeAware Bahrain  app is helping the Kingdom to mitigate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters and pandemics utilizing AI, the Internet of Things (IoT) and Machine Learning.

Bahrain Polytechnic launched an Artificial Intelligence Academy, in collaboration with Tamkeen and Microsoft. The first of its kind in the Middle East, the educational platform offers an integrated and specialised  programme aimed at enhancing AI-related innovation and creativity.

The University of Bahrain’s Cloud Innovation Centre (CIC) provides a platform for public sector organisations to collaborate on their most pressing challenges, test new ideas through Amazon’s innovation process, and access the technology expertise of AWS. Organizations contribute their expertise to solving real and simulated problems and publish their lessons learned to further drive public sector innovation.

Tamkeen’s Digital Onboarding is a web-based application where customers do not need to download any mobile applications. After registering online and verifying their email addresses, they will receive an SMS with a link to take a photo of their IDs and themselves. After capturing these images, the AI will extract the CPR information and match photos on record with the selfies, verifying customers’ details in less than 30 seconds. Once the verification process is completed, customers can log onto the portal to benefit from Tamkeen's services.

His Highness Sheikh Khalid bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, First Deputy President of the Supreme Council for Youth and Sports, launched an AI innovation competition for students under the slogan #Let_Us_Innovate_Future.

The Kingdom of Bahrain is one of the first countries in the world to pilot the AI procurement guidelines for the public sector. 

 

  • Robotics

The Kingdom of Bahrain has implemented Robotics technology projects to support customer service delivery.

The Ministry of Health uses medical robots to reduce the exposure of healthcare staff to COVID-19. The machines come in three models, the Robot Net 20, the Robot Net 21, and the Robot Infirmiere Nurse Robot. These machines were deployed to the Ebrahim Khalil Kanoo Health Centre isolation facility in Manama. 

A plan is underway to use robots to provide nursing care at health centres, a pioneering experiment in the Gulf region. They will help to reduce the transmission of disease and protect sanitation workers from constant exposure to chemicals. The robots will also reduce the time and effort spent on routine tasks, allowing medical teams to focus on more important matters.

Robotics and AI technology is also being used in the FinTech industry. In 2019, the Arab Banking Corporation in Bahrain   (ABC) unveiled ‘Fatema’, the region’s first emotionally-intelligent digital employee. Bahrain Islamic Bank (BISB) also launched its first digital employee, ‘Dana’, as part of its efforts to transform banking services through emerging technologies.   

Kuwaiti Financial House (KFH)  has used the first robotic assistant for loan applications in Bahrain. The ‘Baitak Assistant’ handles loan applications autonomously, creating credit reports for applicants.

Tamkeen’s payment transfer is integrated with Ahli United Bank (AUB)’s  Robotic Process Automation. Clubbing all invoices together with a single payment for customers helps both parties keep track of payments and cuts transaction costs. 

The Ministry of Labour and Social Development (MLSD ) launched a training  programme at the Children's and Young People's Clubs, to install and  programme robots to inspire young people to become future leaders in science and technology. 

The Ministry of Finance is automating financial operations in various departments by using Robotics Process Automation to increase productivity and minimise human errors and costs.

 

  • Internet of Things (IoT) initiatives: 

Bahrain led the GCC in issuing standards for IoT connectivity, supporting the use of frequency bands for IoT (NB-IoT) systems within international mobile communications systems. It is among a small number of Middle East countries that contributed to the International Telecommunication Union’s  new working document, aimed at harmonising the use of the IMT spectrum for narrowband IoT applications.

The Information & eGovernment Authority   has provided government entities with frequency bands that will contribute to the Kingdom’s digital transformation journey and support its Vision 2030 objectives for smart cities, IoT, and machine-to-machine (M2M) communication.

Cellular networks, technologies, and platforms play a vital role in IoT and M2M communications, and network infrastructure.  Bahrain has ensured that its wireless and fiber infrastructure can support the Fifth-Generation network (5G) and reformed its frequency bands to accommodate this. It has also launched commercial services to enhance the 5G network’s transmission speed and device connectivity to better support Machine Type Communication (mMTC).

Several ongoing IoT projects contribute to the economic development of the Kingdom, such as:

  1. The National Space Science Agency (NSSA ) was established in 2018 and will support the launch of Bahrain’s ‘Space Team’  programme, which aims to support Bahrainis working across a wide range of fields related to space, science, and technology. The Kingdom is setting up a highly qualified team to help it launch its first artificial satellite, which will be used to implement projects related to IoT (monitoring of gas emissions from factories), and AI technologies and their applications in the remote sensing field. NSSA also organises specialised space, smart cities, and IoT workshops.
  1. The Ministry of Transportation and Telecommunication  has several initiatives aimed at streamlining business process, such as Marasi Portal, Automated Notification System for Ports & Maritime Affairs etc.
  2. The Ministry of Works, Municipalities Affairs, and Urban Planning  utilises IoT for irrigation system automation, increasing efficiency.
  3. The Electricity & Water Authority  use IoT for smart lighting, Distribution Automation etc., in which the collection, analysis, and execution of data are automated.
  4. Economic Development Board  (EDB)  and Batelco   launched the “Brinc Centre  ” – the Batelco Internet of Things HUB – which fosters the growth of IoT and entrepreneurship in the region.
  5. Bahrain Airport   Company  utilises an advanced communication system at Bahrain International Airport. This includes Cloud-based unified communications, video Cloud, IoT, and Big Data platforms. 

 

  • Smart Cities:

Bahrain has initiated a movement towards Smart Cities whereby urban areas are to become more efficient, livable, and sustainable in both the short and long-terms. This will be achieved with active participation from public administrations, citizens, and businesses. Accordingly, the Ministry of Works, Municipalities Affairs & Urban Planning and the Ministry of Electricity & Water Affairs are implementing a range of modern development and infrastructure projects. Investment in renewable energy is being encouraged, with goals set to increase renewable energy usage to 5% by 2025 and 10% by 2030.

  • The Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (TRA)   has applied many Smart City initiatives, including Smart Traffic Lights. These vehicle traffic control systems combine traditional traffic lights with an array of sensors and AI technologies to intelligently route vehicle and pedestrian traffic.
  • The University of Bahrain  conducted the 2nd Smart Cities Symposium in 2019, covering topics related to Smart City adoption and applications.


Page Last Updated: 18 Jul, 2021