Partnership announced to test impact of artificial intelligence on streamlining and transforming service delivery for governments
Khalid Al Rumaihi, chief executive of the EDB.
Bahrain has announced it will partner with the UK government to pilot new guidelines for the procurement of artificial intelligence in the public sector.
The announcement was made by the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB), the public agency tasked with attracting investment to the kingdom, at the WEF annual meeting in Dalian, China.
A statement said AI has huge potential to streamline and transform service delivery for governments but due to lack of understanding and concerns over complexity, public institutions are often wary of adopting it.
This spurred the World Economic Forum (WEF) Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution to announce in 2017 that it would bring governments, businesses, start-ups and civil society together to co-design guidelines to empower governments to responsibly and sustainably deploy AI technology.
It partnered with the UK government to help design the guidelines and assess them in real-world conditions. Bahrain will join the UK in piloting the framework and providing feedback.
Khalid Al Rumaihi, chief executive of the EDB said: “When it comes to the governance and regulation of emerging technologies, Bahrain has earned a reputation as the Middle East’s testbed thanks to its innovative regulatory framework, strong technology ecosystem and rapid shift to eGovernment.
"AI can deliver huge benefits to citizens, but it needs a robust framework for successful implementation, and this project with WEF will build a global knowledge-base that can be used by other governments to sustainably and responsibly introduce AI across their public sector institutions.”
The announcement comes as Bahrain is gaining a reputation as the Middle East’s testbed for the governance and regulation of emerging technologies. Bahrain’s government has recently moved to the cloud, and the kingdom is a pioneer in providing eGovernment services.
In 2017 Bahrain launched the region’s first regulatory sandbox allowing FinTechs to test and scale new technology products and services, and in 2018 launched FinTech Bay, one of the leading FinTech hubs in the Middle East.
The kingdom was one of the first to mandate open banking, which came into force last month, and is also a leader in the regulation of cryptocurrencies.