Prediction of an AI boom in the Middle East, contributing $320 billion to the region’s economy by 2030.

“Bahrain readies for $320bn Mideast AI boom.” abc-bahrain.com 6 Nov, 2019

The World Economic Forum’s Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Network has hosted a workshop in Manama to discuss the future of public Artificial Intelligence (AI) procurement, in partnership with the Bahrain Economic Development board and Bahrain’s Information & eGovernment Authority (iGA). 

The workshop follows closely on from the WEF Annual Meeting of the New Champions in Dalian, China.  During the major global event, the WEF had announced that Bahrain would pilot new guidelines for the procurement of AI in the public sector, produced by WEF’s Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The three-day workshop which concludes tomorrow (November 7) brought together Bahrain government stakeholders, entrepreneurs and experts to identify key opportunities and challenges for the high-tech industry.  

The sessions also helped to gather evidence and feedback on the guidelines for AI procurement in the public sector and developed a roadmap to advance this goal among the government of Bahrain, said a top official. PwC predicted an AI boom in the Middle East, with the sector contributing $320 billion to the region’s economy by 2030 – positioning Bahrain and neighbouring nations as a strategic development “springboard.” Eddan Katz, the project lead, AI and Machine Learning of Wef C4IR, said: “The readiness of Bahrain’s public sector for the social and economic development anticipated by the dawn of artificial intelligence is impressive.” “Visionary leadership enabling multidisciplinary coordination across sectors demonstrates how a commitment to responsible innovation can transform how government works and help improve people’s lives,” stated Katz. 

Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) Chief Executive Khalid Humaidan said: “Bahrain is a world leader when it comes to the testing, governance and regulation of emerging technologies, making it the ideal partner for this World Economic Forum project.” The EDB is an investment promotion agency with overall responsibility for attracting investment into the kingdom and supporting initiatives that enhance the investment climate. The EDB works with the government and both current and prospective investors, in order to ensure that Bahrain’s investment climate is attractive, to communicate the key strengths, and to identify where opportunities exist for further economic growth through investment. “Governments around the world may be hesitant to adopt AI systems when faced with complex procurement processes, but by working together we can create a model that truly powers the public sector into the next generation of technology,” stated Humaidan. 

Mohammed Ali Al Qaed, Chief Executive of the iGA said: “Government of Bahrain recognizes the importance of possessing the necessary know-how supported by rules and guidelines for the procurement of AI solutions. The guidelines for public procurement of AI, as determined by the WEF, present us an opportunity to learn and utilize how we should acquire and deploy AI based solutions.  They put in place an innovative and reliable method for the procurement process, drawing from the input of experts in the field, and maximizing the benefits of science and technology for our society.”