By: Dr. Mazen Mohamed Ali, Director & Associate Professor, Media Center, University of Bahrain
Spending in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector in Bahrain is poised to reach US$2.1bn by 2024, according to Global Data. This growth is backed by the Kingdom’s new regulations, business policies, and adoption of advanced infrastructure. With the change in the foreign ownership laws, Bahrain is also welcoming international tech companies and providing them with limitless opportunities to tap into their investment prospects. In short, Bahrain continues to propel itself forward as a strategic ICT hub in the region and even internationally.
Without a doubt, the ICT sector represents a strategic and vital part of Bahrain’s plans for building a more prosperous society. Technology drives the growth of smarter and more innovative companies and industries. It enables the robust and sustainable socio-economic development of the country. The Kingdom’s government has already stated that the ICT sector’s continuous growth is a priority for Bahrain and is a crucial enabler of the Economic Vision 2030. Advanced technologies such as 5G, cloud, and artificial intelligence will play an integral role in building a knowledge-based digital economy.
One of the critical components that will herald the success of the burgeoning ICT sector in Bahrain is skilled talent. Bahrain already boasts a proud history of education, being the oldest public education system in the Gulf. The Kingdom also prides itself on the increased sophistication of its offerings in higher education. The ICT sector’s increased demand will, however, create a much stronger need for a much larger and more qualified professional ecosystem.
To achieve that, the government has set high expectations for strengthening relations between private industry and academic institutions, which will enable Bahraini youth to join the local and global labor market with confidence. The University of Bahrain aims to contribute directly to this. We are actively cultivating the future ICT talent pool of Bahrain through our partnership with international companies. For instance, our partnership with global innovators Huawei is now helping our students to develop their creativity and skills at the highest international level. Such open cooperation allows us to bridge the gap between classroom theory and real-world practical skills. That in turn contributes directly to the national vision for digital transformation.
I strongly believe that more such collaborations are vital in developing the talent required to fulfill Bahrain’s aim to be one of the most competitive ICT hubs in the world. Partnerships between academia and other public and private-sector entities will help promote innovation at an unprecedented scale. This is the need of the hour for a brighter and more economically prosperous future of Bahrain.