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:
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:
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 (PDF, 444KB, 11 pages), 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.
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, and BENEFIT.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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 Social Development 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 and National Economy is automating financial operations in various departments by using Robotics Process Automation to increase productivity and minimise human errors and costs.
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:
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.
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Content Last Updated: 22 Aug, 2023
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