Bahrain is actively exploring the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) into various sectors, laying the foundation for its digital transformation agenda, according to a high-ranking official from the kingdom’s Economic Development Board.
Musab Abdulla, Executive Director of Business Development at the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB), revealed that Bahrain aims to harness the potential of cutting-edge AI technology in critical industries like education, financial services, and logistics.
High-ranking Bahraini officials are strongly advocating for the adoption of AI technology, with a shared vision of the kingdom playing a more prominent role in the global AI landscape. This commitment was expressed during an interview with Mr. Abdulla on the sidelines of the Gitex Global technology conference in Dubai.
The strategy to bolster Bahrain’s AI capabilities hinges on equipping its citizens with the necessary skills to excel in the digital economy. Mr. Abdulla highlighted ongoing efforts to upskill Bahrainis in AI, emphasizing the aim to make them highly effective and valuable assets for employers.
Bahrain’s AI-driven strategy is supported by substantial foreign direct investments (FDI) totaling $295 million in the information and communication technology (ICT) sector within the first nine months of this year, contributing to a record-breaking $1.4 billion in total FDI for the January-to-September period, as reported by Bahrain EDB.
These investments originate from 14 local and international projects and are expected to create over 1,600 jobs within three years.
These achievements underscore Bahrain’s determination to attract more FDI and foster investor confidence, especially in its burgeoning technology ecosystem. Mr. Abdulla emphasized the growing interest and participation of companies investing and establishing their presence in Bahrain, driven by the nation’s strengths in ICT infrastructure, services, and talent.
Bahrain’s public sector is already well-prepared for the adoption of emerging technologies, with 85 percent of its entities already operating in the cloud, Mr. Abdulla noted. Several initiatives within Bahrain’s government have set the stage for a seamless digital transformation, and this technological drive is anticipated to extend to other sectors as well.
Mr. Abdulla stated, “This has garnered regional and global attention regarding Bahrain’s ability to attract and nurture technological excellence. This serves as the blueprint for our ambitions in AI, the Internet of Things, and similar technological domains.”
In 2022, Bahrain’s economy exhibited robust growth, marking its fastest pace in a decade, attributed to sustained fiscal reforms and improved finances, buoyed by higher oil prices, as acknowledged by the International Monetary Fund.
Like its GCC and Middle East counterparts, Bahrain has escalated its investment in technology to prepare for the future economy. The “Economic Vision 2030” program, launched in 2008, had already envisioned innovation as a catalyst for sustaining a vibrant private sector.
A recent study revealed that the Middle East’s digital economy is poised to surge over four-fold, reaching approximately $780 billion by 2030, surpassing the global average growth rate for the same period.
AI has emerged as a crucial revenue driver for enterprises globally, presenting promising opportunities for the Middle East. Abdulrahman Al Thehaiban, Google Cloud’s top executive for the region, emphasized the Middle East’s favorable positioning to benefit from this AI-driven growth.
Investors have responded positively to Bahrain’s tech-focused strategy, with Mr. Abdulla highlighting the keen interest from multiple countries and the exploration of various collaborative avenues.