Bahrain readies for $320 billion Middle East AI boom with WEF Future Technology Workshop

Published: 7 November 2019 - 4:22 p.m.

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 World Economic Forum 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.

Eddan Katz, 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.”

The workshop, held between November 5th and 7th, 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.

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.

“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. 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,” said Khalid Humaidan, chief executive of the Bahrain EDB.

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