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Bahrain's Digital Transformation: Digitization of Economy in lieu with Vision 2030

Created: Sep 20, 2023

Updated: September 29, 2023

In this digital age, countries around the world are striving to embrace technological advancements to transform their economies, and Bahrain is no exception. The Kingdom of Bahrain has embarked on an ambitious journey of digital transformation in alignment with its Vision 2030, a comprehensive development plan aimed at diversifying the economy and ensuring sustainable growth. This article explores how Bahrain is harnessing the power of technology to digitize its economy, enhance competitiveness, and achieve the goals set forth in Vision 2030.

Introduction

Bahrain, a small island nation in the Arabian Gulf, has set ambitious goals through its Vision 2030 program. This visionary roadmap aims to shift the country's economic reliance from oil to a diversified and knowledge-based economy. Digitization of Bahrain's Economy in lieu with Vision 2030 is not just a buzzword; it's a strategic vision that's reshaping the nation.
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Infographics by GO-Globe Bahrain

Understanding Bahrain's Vision 2030

Vision 2030 is the cornerstone of Bahrain's ambitions. Launched in 2008, Vision 2030 outlines the key strategies to transform Bahrain into a regional hub for finance, tourism, technology, and entrepreneurship. It envisions a thriving, sustainable, and inclusive economy that benefits all citizens. This subheading explores the basics of this visionary plan, emphasizing its goals and objectives.

The Digital Revolution in Bahrain and Government's Initiatives

Digitalization serves as the backbone of Vision 2030, driving innovation and efficiency across all sectors. It accelerates economic growth by streamlining processes, reducing costs, and improving accessibility to services. To support its digital ambitions, Bahrain has invested heavily in building a robust IT infrastructure, including high-speed internet connectivity and data centers. This infrastructure forms the foundation for a digital economy. A pivotal role has been played by the Bahraini government in driving digital transformation and fostering a conducive environment for innovation. Bahrain's government is committed to delivering seamless public services through digital channels. Initiatives such as the National Portal and mobile apps enhance citizen engagement and simplify bureaucratic processes.

Investment in Technology Infrastructure

Bahrain has invested heavily in building robust technology infrastructure, enabling a seamless transition into the digital age. A digitally skilled workforce is crucial for sustaining the digital transformation. Bahrain has established numerous training programs and partnerships with educational institutions to nurture tech talents. Ranked first in MENA for ICT by the World Economic Forum, Bahrain offers the most competitive, affordable, and user-friendly environment for technological and innovative businesses throughout the region. The growth of Cloud Traffic in Bahrain has been unprecedented. Bahrain is the MENA region’s first country to adopt a “Cloud first” policy. The location of the country offers a plethora of opportunities in areas such as cyber security, digital entertainment, e-commerce and business outsourcing.
AI has also significantly altered many aspects of our life, and Bahrainis view it as a key factor in attaining sustainable growth in the country. Through the digital transformation of courts and the application of AI, Bahrain seeks to increase the effectiveness of courtrooms and the judicial system. In order to assist research into the potential uses of AI in courtrooms, the Supreme Judicial Council has organized the first international conference on artificial intelligence in the judiciary to be held in the nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

Healthcare Transformation

Bahrain's healthcare system has adopted digital solutions, improving patient care, and enabling telemedicine. Electronic health records ensure efficient and secure data management. Electronic Health Records (EHR) have become the backbone of healthcare in Bahrain. EHR systems store patient information digitally, ensuring that healthcare providers have quick and secure access to a patient's medical history. Telemedicine services have also gained prominence, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Bahrain has embraced telemedicine, allowing patients to consult with healthcare professionals remotely. Remote patient monitoring devices are also utilized to track vital signs and provide timely interventions. E-Prescription systems have also streamlined the prescription process, reducing errors and ensuring patients receive the correct medications. Pharmacy automation technologies have also improved the efficiency of medication dispensing. Data Analytics and artificial intelligence also play a significant role in healthcare decision-making. Bahrain utilizes these technologies to analyze healthcare data and predict disease outbreaks, enabling proactive healthcare measures.

Education in the Digital Age

Bahrain's education sector is embracing e-learning and digital resources to enhance the learning experience. The pandemic accelerated the adoption of online education, making it more accessible. Bahrain has invested in high-speed internet connectivity and equipped schools with the necessary technology to ensure that every student can access digital resources. To facilitate remote learning and enhance classroom experiences, Bahrain has adopted various e-learning platforms. These platforms provide a repository of digital resources, interactive lessons, and opportunities for collaborative learning. Furthermore, digital textbooks, multimedia resources, and online libraries are becoming increasingly prevalent in Bahraini classrooms. These resources make learning more engaging and accessible.

Businesses, Exports and Embracing the Startup Culture

Numerous efforts are being made to enhance digital literacy among Bahraini citizens, empowering them to actively participate in the digital economy. Businesses in Bahrain are reaping the benefits of digitalization, from increased productivity to global market access. Start-ups and entrepreneurs are thriving in an ecosystem conducive to innovation. Bahrain's geographical proximity to major markets in the Middle East, Asia, and Europe gives it a competitive advantage. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the United States, and Oman are some of the key destinations for Bahraini exports. Establishing strong trade relationships with these countries has been crucial to sustaining export growth.

Banking and FinTech Sector

The financial industry in Bahrain is at the forefront of digitalization. The rise of fintech companies and regulatory support has positioned Bahrain as a fintech hub in the Middle East. The widespread adoption of smartphones has driven the mobile banking revolution in Bahrain. Customers now have seamless access to a wide range of financial services at their fingertips, from checking account balances to making investments. Innovative digital payment solutions have gained significant traction in Bahrain. Mobile wallets, QR code payments, and contactless transactions have transformed the way people conduct their day-to-day financial activities. Technology has empowered financial institutions to offer personalized and seamless customer experiences. Chatbots, AI-driven advisory services, and user-friendly apps are just some of the ways Bahrain's financial sector is enhancing customer satisfaction.

Cybersecurity and Protecting its Infrastructure

As digitalization expands, so does the threat landscape. Bahrain is investing in cybersecurity measures to protect critical infrastructure and sensitive data. The number of security firms in Bahrain is growing to provide essential protection in response to these threats. Services for cyber security are required on a worldwide scale by enterprises, the government, and other organizations. Market trust is rising as cybersecurity businesses fight to safeguard assets, information, and data from attackers. In turn, this increases Bahrain's appeal to investors and the security industry. Bahrain has made significant innovations in this sector ranging from artificial intelligence-powered threat detection systems to blockchain-based security solutions. Implementing cutting-edge technologies is essential to stay ahead of cyber threats and protect sensitive information.

Bahrain's Digital Transformation: Facts, Figures and Latest Statistics

  • As of May 2023, 80% of the country's GDP is generated from non-oil sectors, which is a 50% increase from the past decade, where 40% of the economy's reliance was on oil and gas reserves.
  • In 2022, the country's GDP hit an all-time high, where GDP rose by 4.9% and non-oil real GDP increased by 6.2%.
  • By March 2023, Bahrain had attracted more than US$130 million of investments in the IT Sector, which aims to create more than 900 new jobs in the next year.
  • Bahrain's internet penetration is expected to grow by 99.5% by 2026.
  • A 35% growth is expected in the national employment sector in the IT and technology industry by 2027.
  • Revenue in the eCommerce market is projected to reach US$1,152.00mn by the end of 2023.
  • Revenue is expected to show an annual growth rate (CAGR 2023-2027) of 8.27%, resulting in a projected market volume of US$1,583.00mn by 2027.
  • In the eCommerce market, the number of users is expected to amount to 1.19mn users by 2027.
  • User penetration will be 70.8% in 2023 and is expected to hit 77.3% by 2027.
  • Revenue in the Video Games market is projected to reach US$32.22mn by the end of 2023.
  • Revenue is expected to show an annual growth rate (CAGR 2023-2027) of 8.89%, resulting in a projected market volume of US$45.30mn by 2027.
  • In the Video Games market, the number of users is expected to amount to 736.50 thousand users by 2027.
  • User penetration will be 34.9% in 2023 and is expected to hit 38.2% by 2027.
  • The largest market is Mobile Games with a market volume of US$11.87mn in 2023.
  • Local gamers in Bahrain are expected to generate US$21.33mn in revenue by 2027.
  • Bahrain enjoys an annual direct cost advantage in the ICT sector of up to 28% when compared to the GCC region.
  • The cumulative revenue generation opportunities for the ICT market in Bahrain are estimated at US$27.15bn between 2022 to 2026.
  • In November 2022, Bahrain ranked 84th (Ookla Speedtest Global Index) with a median fixed broadband download speed of 48.32 Mbps and upload speed of 9.37 Mbps.
  • Internet users’ stood around 1.46 million, and internet penetration stood at 99% (by January 2023).
  • A total of 2.10 million cellular mobile connections were active in Bahrain, with this figure equivalent to 142.1% of the total population (by January 2023).
  • 99.7% of Bahrain’s total internet user base (regardless of age) used at least one social media platform (by January 2023).
  • YouTube had 1.46 million users in Bahrain (by January 2023).
  • Instagram had 879.8 thousand users (by January 2023).
  • LinkedIn’s audience in Bahrain was equivalent to 33.1% of the total population (by January 2023).
  • Twitter had 622.9 thousand users in Bahrain (in January 2023)
  • There were 2.10 million cellular mobile connections in Bahrain (by January 2023).
  • The number of mobile connections in Bahrain increased by 236 thousand (+12.7%) between 2022 and 2023.
  • Spending on Enterprise IT is expected to reach US$0.44bn and consumer spending is expected to reach US$0.41bn in 2023.
  • Bahrain has attracted more than US$130 million of investments in the IT Sector, which aims to create more than 900 new jobs in the next year.
  • Telecommunications services spending in Bahrain is expected to increase, with IT spending set to grow from $0.87bn in 2023 to $1bn in 2026.
  • Digital revenue is expected to grow steadily to reach 46% of revenues by 2024.
  • Bahrain's ICT Market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 6.7% from 2023-2028 in the next five years.
  • The cumulative revenue generation opportunities for the ICT market in Bahrain are estimated at US$27.15bn between 2022 to 2026.
  • Retail banking had the highest adoption and/or disruption at 68%, which was followed in second place by telecommunications at 41% and third place at 40% with corporate banking.
  • In the Digital Payments market, the number of users is expected to amount to 1,243.00k users by 2027.
  • By 2027, a 35% growth is expected in the national employment sector in the IT and technology industry.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Bahrain's Digital Transformation: Digitization of Economy in lieu with Vision 2030 is a remarkable journey that reflects the nation's commitment to progress and innovation. With robust infrastructure, digital literacy initiatives, and a vision for the future, Bahrain is poised to achieve its ambitious goals. The integration of digital technologies brings forth a multitude of opportunities for both working professionals, students, teachers and all stakeholders involved in the process. By fostering a culture of digital education and investing in technological advancements, Bahrain is poised to create a more progressive and tech-savvy generation. This article has provided a comprehensive overview of Bahrain's digital transformation, highlighting its significance and impact on various sectors. As Bahrain continues to embrace the digital age, it paves the way for a brighter and more prosperous future.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1: How is Vision 2030 driving Bahrain's digital transformation?

A: Vision 2030 serves as a roadmap, guiding Bahrain towards a digitally transformed economy. It outlines specific goals and strategies to achieve this transformation, such as investing in technology infrastructure, promoting digital literacy, and diversifying the economy through technology-driven sectors.

Q2: What are the key sectors benefiting from digitization in Bahrain?

A: Several sectors are benefiting from digitization in Bahrain, including healthcare, education, finance, and government services. These sectors are experiencing improvements in efficiency, accessibility, and quality of services due to digital transformation.

Q3: How is Bahrain addressing cybersecurity challenges in its digital transformation journey?

A: Bahrain is taking cybersecurity seriously in its digital transformation efforts. It has implemented robust cybersecurity measures, including the establishment of a dedicated agency to protect digital assets and data. Regular audits and assessments are conducted to ensure data privacy and security.

Q4: How is technology being leveraged to bolster cybersecurity in Bahrain?

A4: Bahrain is embracing technological advancements, including AI-powered threat detection systems and blockchain-based security solutions, to stay ahead of cyber threats.

Q5: What are the environmental benefits of Bahrain's digital transformation?

A: Digitization in Bahrain contributes to environmental sustainability by reducing paper usage, minimizing energy consumption through efficient technologies, and promoting eco-friendly practices. These efforts align with global sustainability goals.

Q6: How can startups and entrepreneurs benefit from Bahrain's digital transformation initiatives?

A: Bahrain's digital transformation has created a conducive environment for startups and entrepreneurs. They can access funding, mentorship, and collaborative spaces in innovation hubs, fostering innovation and growth.

Q7: How can individuals enhance their digital literacy in Bahrain?

A: Bahrain offers various programs and resources to enhance digital literacy among its citizens. These include online courses, workshops, and digital skills development initiatives.

Q8: How can educators in Bahrain effectively incorporate digital technologies in teaching?

A4: Educators can effectively incorporate digital technologies through training programs, collaboration, and utilizing interactive digital tools to enhance the learning experience.

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