The Artificial Intelligence sector in the Middle East alone will contribute $320 Billion to the whole region in 2030 (PwC). The Kingdom of Bahrain is placing itself at the forefront, as a world leader when it comes to the testing, governance and regulation of emerging technologies.
The Kingdom has an enormous potential to be the next hub, and regional center for AI. This is due to several factors. In terms of education; hundreds of technology and computer science students graduate every year presenting innovative final year projects focused on AI that can be used to solve big issues in the region.
In terms of regulation, we have seen a major milestone mid this year. The Kingdom of Bahrain and UK were the first countries in the world to pilot new artificial intelligence procurement guidelines. In simple terms, the UK government and Bahrain would join arms to design the guidelines, assess them in real-world conditions, and create a framework with feedback. This collaboration will help build a global knowledgebase that can be used by other governments to take AI further and utilize it across various public sector organizations.
Furthermore, the leadership in the Kingdom have invested in hosting strategic events to discuss various topics, particularly AI, and Digital Transformation, and its impact on the startup and SME ecosystem.
In December, a delegation from Bahrain headed by the Education Minister Dr. Majid Bin Ali Al-Nuaimi was present at the 17th Conference of Ministers responsible for higher education and scientific research in the Arab World. The conference was titled ‘Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Education: Challenges and bets. Additionally, for AI enthusiasts in the region - Bahrain will host the Smart SMB Summit 2020 on January 29th from 1:00pm - 8:00pm at the Gulf Hotel Bahrain. The focus of the summit will be on the transformation themes that are impacting the Business dynamics in the market.
In 2018, the Artificial Intelligence Society; an independent and voluntary technological society was formed to promote and disseminate Artificial Intelligence technology across the Kingdom. This comes in line with Bahrain’s 2030 vision to implement specific AI applications and technologies and aim at making Bahrain as a regional center of Artificial Intelligence Research & Development. The society is led by the President Dr. Jassim Haji; a technology expert and researcher for more than 30 years.
In terms of upskilling the youth, The Bahrain Polytechnic Academy of Artificial Intelligence was formed in April 2019 a collaboration between by Bahrain Polytechnic, Microsoft and Tamkeen. The academy’s main aim is to upskill and educate Bahraini students on the power of artificial intelligence to accelerate digital transformation and deliver the means to engage citizens and consumers, empower employees, optimize operations and reinvent governance and business models. 60 students were enrolled in the academy for its first batch, and courses will continue until April 2020.