Central Bank of Bahrain launches a first of its kind fintech platform to drive innovation in the region

  • FinHub 973 launched in cooperation with the Bahrain Economic Development Board, Bank ABC, ila Bank, BENEFIT, National Bank of Bahrain and Bahrain Islamic Bank
  • FinHub 973 will be powered by Fintech Galaxy’s FinX22 Innovation platform
  • The platform aims to stimulate innovation opportunities, connect financial institutions in Bahrain to fintech startups from across the globe, and highlight Bahrain’s position as a regional financial center for innovation
  • The platform will create a collaborative environment in the fintech sector and establish a gateway to financial services markets in the region
  • Offers an open API sandbox, a global fintech marketplace and an innovation crowdsourcing platform

Manama, Bahrain – 20 October 2020: The Central Bank of Bahrain, in cooperation with the Bahrain Economic Development Board, Bank ABC, ila Bank, BENEFIT, National Bank of Bahrain (NBB) and Bahrain Islamic Bank (BisB), announced today the launch of FinHub 973, the first comprehensive digital fintech lab in the region, regulated by the Central Bank of Bahrain. The new platform will aim to create a collaborative ecosystem in the fintech sector by establishing a gateway for investment opportunities in the region, while fostering innovation and supporting integration between financial institutions and fintech startups.

FinHub 973 will be powered by Fintech Galaxy’s FinX22 platform, which is a cloud-based open innovation platform that complies with the best international technical standards. The FinX22 platform will offer an open banking API sandbox that enables fintech startups to develop, test and deploy fintech solutions.

Through an AI-powered global fintech marketplace, FinHub 973 will aim to connect financial institutions in Bahrain and the region to fintechs from around the world. The digital lab will also offer matchmaking and crowdsourcing capabilities, which will help contribute to the design of effective fintech solutions, ultimately spurring disruptive and transformative innovation across the financial services industry.

Speaking on the launch of FinHub 973, Mr. Rasheed Al Maraj, Governor of the Central Bank of Bahrain, said: “We are pleased to launch the FinHub 973 digital fintech lab that will support a seamless transition into digital banking operations, while accelerating the transformation towards an AI-powered digital economy.”

H.E. Al Maraj added: “The Covid-19 repercussions have proven the great importance of expanding digital banking and providing appropriate solutions for electronic payment systems. The Central Bank has early realized the importance of continuously developing the banking sector infrastructure, putting itself at the forefront of regulatory bodies that support innovation in order to establish Bahrain’s position as a top financial center. The launch of FinHub 973 reaffirms the vision of the Central Bank of Bahrain to expand infrastructure in financial technology, unlock innovation opportunities, and introduce new and innovative financial products to the market.”

The launch of FinHub 973 follows the Central Bank’s recent initiatives to promote innovation in the Bahrain financial sector, including the launch of the Regulatory Sandbox in 2017, establishment of a dedicated Fintech and Innovation Unit at the bank, and issuing regulations for Open Banking, Crypto-asset Platform Operators, Digital Financial Advice (“robo-advisory”), Cloud Computing and Insurance Aggregators.

Mirna Sleiman, Founder & CEO, Fintech Galaxy, said: “The launch of this platform comes at a pivotal time, when governments and financial institutions from all around the world are increasingly focusing on accelerating their implementation of digital transformation strategies in order to drive business growth.

We are proud to take part in launching and powering The Central Bank of Bahrain’s FinHub 973 digital fintech lab, and we are confident that it will succeed in creating a common digital space that enhances communication between all stakeholders within the financial sector in Bahrain, the region and across the globe.”

FinHub 973 will enable financial institutions to organize virtual hackathons and challenges to accelerate innovation and business growth. The platform will also provide content on the fintech sector financial and the relevant laws and regulations in the Kingdom of Bahrain, through an interactive chatbot.

GCC small business ‘boom’ to drive post-COVID economy as commercial registrations soar

Commercial registrations increase 109 percent in Bahrain amid new wave of entrepreneurs

99 percent of businesses in Saudi Arabia are SMEs making 64% of employment

The sector contributes 52 percent of non-oil GDP in the UAE and is set to rise to 60 percent

Manama, September 13 2020: Experts are predicting a GCC “SME boom” as a new wave of regional entrepreneurs emerge out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Commercial registrations have seen triple-digit increases in recent months with tender boards across the region awarding tens of millions of dollars in contracts to these enterprises.

Now analysts are hailing the post-Coronavirus economy as an “era of startup growth” as governments focus on rebuilding their economies following months of reduced activity during the pandemic.

Pakiza Abdulrahman, Manager of Business Development – Startup at Bahrain’s Economic Development Board, said: “Across the region, governments are putting startups and SMEs front and centre as they seek to regrow and diversify their economies, and this new era of startup growth is only set to increase post-COVID.

“Unprecedented, targeted support packages are indicative of governments prioritising small business as being the engine of the Gulf’s post-lockdown recovery, and we are already seeing the results of this SME boom.”

“In Bahrain, SMEs have proven to be a key pillar in the economic diversification strategy, and also play a major role in job creation and have emerged as an increasingly significant contributor to national GDP.”

The comments come as the Bahrain government announced plans to subsidise electricity bills for SMEs to the tune of BHD24 million (USD$63.7 million) to help bolster national economic growth.

In August, the Bahrain Tender Board announced that in the first half of the year, it had awarded 47 public tenders worth a combined USD$21.8 million to SMEs in the Kingdom, following a Cabinet decision to boost public spending in the sector.

This comes against a backdrop of already soaring numbers of individual commercial registrations in Bahrain – up by a staggering 109 percent in June alone.

The Bahrain boom is closely reflected across the region, with 99 percent of businesses in Saudi Arabia a part of the SME segment providing 64 percent of total employment in the Kingdom.

Under Saudi Vision 2030, the Kingdom plans to raise the contribution of SMEs from the current 20 percent of GDP to 35 percent by facilitating their access to funding and encouraging financial institutions to allocate up to 20 percent of overall loans to them.

As of last year, the UAE’s Ministry of Economy estimated that the SME sector represents more than 98 percent of the total number of companies operating in the UAE and contributes towards 52 percent of non-oil GDP – a figure the ministry wants to increase to 60 percent by 2021.

Areije Al Shakar, Fund Director at Al Waha Fund of Funds, the government fund established in Bahrain to catalyse the growth of a VC community across the region, added: “In light of the global pandemic, governments are doubling down on their support for what was already a priority segment for most major GCC economies – and for a good reason.

“Despite startup funding globally dropping to an all-time low in the first half of this year, the MENA region saw a record breaking US $659 million raised during that period – already at 95 percent of total venture investments in 2019, itself a record-breaking year. A renewed government focus on the sector will drive growth even further.”

Bahrain grants UK FinTech Fasset first-of-its-kind authorisation to test blockchain-based solution for addressing US$ 15 trillion sustainable infrastructure funding gap

Manama, Kingdom of Bahrain —  UK-headquartered FinTech Fasset, a provider of blockchain-powered platforms for the financing of sustainable infrastructure, has received authorisation to test its solutions for the tokenisation of hard assets in Kingdom of Bahrain’s FinTech Regulatory Sandbox. The authorisation, issued by the Central Bank of Bahrain, is the first of its kind in the world. The company has raised some US$4.7 million in pre-seed investment from strategic backers in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Singapore.

Fasset aims to address climate change acceleration by bridging the sustainable infrastructure funding gap estimated by the World Economic Forum to reach US$15 trillion by 2040. Through its two flagship products – Fasset Enterprise Platform (FEP) and Fasset Exchange (FEX) – Fasset aims to increase investor exposure to assets that were previously illiquid, inaccessible, or had high barriers to entry. Simultaneously, asset owners can bypass costly middlemen to directly list their assets on an exchange, gain faster access to liquidity and court a wider base of like-minded investors. FEP provides a tokenisation service for sustainable infrastructure assets – ‘fractionalising’ or breaking down large assets into smaller “pieces” or tokens using blockchain technology. FEX is a platform to where these tokens can be traded.

Dalal Buhejji, Director of Business Development, Financial Services at Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) Said: “As disruptive technologies transform industries around the world, investment in innovation is a key enabler and driver of economic growth. Bahrain’s forward -thinking regulatory approach provides an attractive environment for FinTech companies to reap the benefits of our agile economy, availability of the most skilled and diverse workforces and the best value operating costs in the region. We are delighted to welcome Fasset to Bahrain and we look forward to welcoming many more FinTech companies.”

“We thank the Central Bank of Bahrain and Bahrain Economic Development Board for their continued support” says Aziz Zainuddin, Fasset Chief Product Officer. “The CBB has fostered a unique and supportive setting for startups in the region to flourish and to build impactful companies of the future. The CBB granting us this authorisation is proof of the progress the Ethereum developer community has made to earn the trust of regulators worldwide. Moreover, it is testament to the pioneering and pro-innovation spirit of Bahrain, where ideas for tackling the world’s most pressing issues based on even the most cutting edge technologies are given the opportunity to take flight.”

About Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB)

The Bahrain Economic Development Board (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.

The EDB focuses on several economic sectors that capitalise on Bahrain’s competitive advantages and provide significant investment opportunities. These sectors include financial services, manufacturing, ICT, tourism, logistics and transport.

For more information on the Bahrain EDB visit www.bahrainedb.com; for information about Bahrain visit www.bahrain.com.

 About Fasset

Fasset is the operating system for financing sustainable infrastructure built on the Ethereum blockchain. Fasset offers a platform for the ethical financing of sustainable infrastructure, creating a new class of assets for investors built on blockchain and rooted in real-world, physical investments. This allows for a never-before-possible level of portfolio diversification that enhances people’s lives.

To learn more about Fasset, please visit https://www.fasset.com/

World Bank ranks Bahrain and UAE top Arab nations for human capital

  • Bahrain ranks first among GCC countries for academic achievement in Human Capital Index 2020

Manama, September 28 2020: The World Bank has ranked the UAE and Bahrain as the top destinations in the Arab world to invest in human capital, according to a new report.

The Human Capital Index 2020 measures potential productivity in the health and education sectors across 98% of the world’s population – with a focus on the knowledge, skills and health that a child born today is expected to accumulate by their 18th birthday.

The UAE ranked 44th against a global benchmark and first in the Arab world in the index, followed by Bahrain at 46th, Oman at 64th, Saudi Arabia at 84th and Kuwait at 88th. Worldwide, Singapore took the first-place spot, with Japan ranking second and Korea coming third.

Bahrain scored 0.65 points, up more than 8 percent from its 0.60 ranking based on the same factors 2010 – four times the global average. During the period, Oman increased to 0.61 from 0.55, Saudi Arabia to 0.58 from 0.55, while the UAE recorded a score of 0.67 compared to a previous ranking of 0.62.

According to the report, Bahrain performed particularly well in the field of education, ranking first among the GCC countries for academic achievement, and among the top five countries globally for the performance of girls over boys in education.

World Bank researchers noted: “More human capital is associated with higher earnings for people, higher income for countries, and stronger cohesion in societies. It is a central driver of sustainable growth and poverty reduction.”

Tala Fakhro, Chief Project Officer – Strategic Research, Market Studies & Project Implementation at Bahrain Economic Development Board, commented: “Bahrain’s ranking in the Human Capital Index 2020 is testament to our wide-ranging economic reforms as well as years of investment in education and healthcare, ensuring that children born today are fully empowered to achieve their potential.

“Bahrain has a long history of promoting gender equality and was the first Gulf state to allow women into education, so we are particularly proud to rank in the top five globally for the educational performance of girls.

“The Kingdom offers a highly skilled local and global workforce, with diverse demographics providing an ideal mix of qualities for businesses looking to hire top talent and sustain long-term growth.”

With a rapidly growing population driving demand for new medical services and technologies, healthcare is a critical policy focus area for the Bahrain government. In line with its Vision 2030, the Kingdom is focused on becoming a leading centre for modern medicine, offering high-quality and financially sustainable care for patients throughout the GCC region.

-ENDS-

For more information, please contact:

Communications and Media Department

Economic Development Board

Phone: +973-17-589966

E-mail: internationalmedia@bahrainedb.com

About Bahrain Economic Development Board

The Bahrain Economic Development Board (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.

The EDB focuses on several economic sectors that capitalise on Bahrain’s competitive advantages and provide significant investment opportunities. These sectors include financial services, manufacturing, ICT, tourism, logistics and transport.

For more information on the Bahrain EDB visit www.bahrainedb.com; for information about Bahrain visit www.bahrain.com.

Why digitalisation has helped Bahraini banks escape the brunt of Covid-19

By: David Ndichy

Source: Gulf Business © 2020 MOTIVATE MEDIA GROUP. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

A relatively advanced digital infrastructure has done well to cushion Bahraini banks from the impact of Covid-19.

Bahrain is home to the region’s first hyper-scale data centre, was one of the first countries in the world to roll out nationwide commercial 5G, and is shifting its entire government to the cloud.

What the pandemic did was catalyse a digital evolution that was already underway, says Dalal Buhejji, director of Business Development, Financial Services, Bahrain Economic Development Board.

“Before Covid-19, the oldest banking sector in the GCC was already adapting to a more digital world, with initiatives such as Ila Bank, the kingdom’s first fully digital bank launched last year, becoming increasingly common,” explains Buhejji.

Other lenders also took initiatives – Al Salam-Bank Bahrain rolled out virtual branches and a digital onboarding app; National Bank of Bahrain was the first in the region to launch open banking services; BISB launched Bahrain’s first fully digital bank branch; and Meem became the region’s first shari’a-compliant digital banking service.

As Covid-enforced social distancing measures became commonplace, Bahrainis turned increasingly online to conduct financial services. Electronic fund transfer systems such as Fawri and Fawri+ saw unprecedented surge in usage – up 935.7 per cent year-on-year in May.

“Thanks to the kingdom’s strong digital infrastructure, disruption was kept to a minimum. Indeed, while challenging, Bahrain considers Covid-19 a catalyst for change and greater digital transformation across a range of sectors – particularly financial services,” Buhejji says.

Fintechs

The Central Bank of Bahrain, which regulates the industry, has put in place a regulatory framework that encourages collaboration between traditional banks and challenger fintechs.

Bahraini open banking startup Tarabut Gateway is helping the country’s banks roll out open banking services for example, while Eazy partnered with Ithmaar Bank to launch the region’s first biometric ATM network.

“There is a growing appetite within the financial sector, which is undergoing a seismic transformation, to explore collaboration with challenger fintechs to adopt new, innovative solutions in this way,” says Buhejji.

The ongoing digital transformation of Bahrain’s financial services industry is commendable, but more will be needed going forward as the widespread use of cash clings stubbornly on.

“The rising appetite for digital services has not matched the speed in the shift in consumer behaviour. It should be possible for a Bahraini citizen to make every conceivable financial transaction without the need for physical interaction, but that still feels a long way off,” says Buhejji.

The financial services industry is a major contributor to Bahrain’s economy – the largest, in fact, after oil, at 17 per cent of non-oil GDP.

“Digital solutions such as fintech and e-commerce are a significant part of that and will play a crucial role in our kingdom’s economy in the coming year and beyond,” Buhejji concludes.

Central Bank of Bahrain Launches Tokenization Service for Contactless Payment

The Central Bank of Bahrain, in cooperation with the Benefit Company, retail banks and Bahrain Facilities Company, announced the launch of a coding service for operating the encryption feature for contactless payment for smartphones running the Android system. This feature allows payments to be made digitally via POS devices using a smartphone.

This service is characterized by the ease of completing payment transactions, as it is done through the use of the Benefit B app by placing the customer’s smart mobile device close to the point of sale device and completing the transaction without the need to use a plastic bank card, which strengthens the preventive measures and precautionary measures taken by the Central Bank of Bahrain. For ease and speed of payment completion, as well as to contain and prevent the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19).

The encryption service is also characterized by the highest levels of security, as it blocks the card’s data from the other party’s visibility and prevents any party from accessing it, thus the customer is protected from the risk of misuse of the data available on the card and those stored in it. The service does not require any additional data to be stored on the Benefit B app, and all that is required from the customer to activate the service is to update the Benefit B app and specify the card stored in the Benefit B app to activate the service.

On this occasion, Mr. Khalid Hamad Al-Hamad, Executive Director of Banking Supervision at the Central Bank of Bahrain, said: “We are pleased to announce the launch of a coding service for contactless payment, which coincides with the current developments in the Kingdom of Bahrain.

Al-Hamad expressed his sincere thanks and appreciation to the licensees who are ready for implementation and the companies that have worked hard during the past months to implement this strategic project. Bahrain Commercial Facilities Company, Bahrain National Bank, Kuwait Finance House, National Bank of Kuwait, Al Baraka Islamic Bank, Gulf Commercial Bank, Housing Bank for Trade and Finance, Al Salam Bank and Arab Bank.

Source: Saudi24News

GCC cities dominate top ranks in financial attractiveness index

Manama ranked first in the world

Manama – August 19 2020: Every single GCC member was represented in the top 20 most financially attractive cities in the world, according to AIRINC’s latest Global 150 Cities Index. The index ranks 150 of the top global locations according to financial attractiveness and lifestyle attractiveness. It combines local salary levels, tax rates, living costs, and living conditions to assess how appealing each location is to live in.

Bahrain’s capital Manama was named the most financially attractive city in the world, followed by Riyadh in 4th place, Kuwait City in 6th, Abu Dhabi in 7th, Dubai in 12th, and Muscat in 16th. The data is collected by AIRINC’s own in-house survey team, who continuously research the costs and living conditions of many cities around the world to evaluate international mobility.

GCC economies have invested considerable sums in making themselves more attractive to international businesses in line with ambitious region-wide economic diversification efforts. As the first GCC member to begin diversification, the Kingdom of Bahrain offers one of the easiest and most cost-effective environments to set up and operate a business in the world. Businesses operating in the Kingdom enjoy 0% tax and 100% foreign ownership allowed.

Thanks to its comprehensive programme of reforms, increasingly digital Bahrain was recently named the fourth most improved economy in the world by the World Bank’s latest Ease of Doing Business report. As well as ranking first in the world for financial attractiveness in the AIRINC index, Manama also jumped 15 places for overall attractiveness, to 48th.

–ENDS–

About AIRINC’s methodology

The financial components are aggregated to calculate the net purchasing power of a typical salary in each city, and then converted to a common currency to allow comparison between locations. The Lifestyle metrics are weighted and grouped by category to result in a score out of 100 that allows objective assessment of the living conditions between cities. Both metrics are combined to reflect the importance of each, resulting in an overall score that allows easy city-to-city comparisons and rankings.

For more information, please contact:

Communications and Media Department

Economic Development Board

Phone: +973-17-589966

E-mail: internationalmedia@bahrainedb.com

About Bahrain Economic Development Board

The Bahrain Economic Development Board (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.

The EDB focuses on several economic sectors that capitalise on Bahrain’s competitive advantages and provide significant investment opportunities. These sectors include financial services, manufacturing, ICT, tourism, logistics and transport.

For more information on the Bahrain EDB visit www.bahrainedb.com; for information about Bahrain visit www.bahrain.com.

The Economist x Bahrain EDB | The Region’s Digital Transformation

The GCC is at an inflection point. Recent decades have seen governments and businesses throughout the region increasingly embrace advanced digital technologies as a source of future growth. If successful, their efforts could help drive the region’s ambitious diversification plans.

Key challenges persist. A regional digital skills shortage, a lack of economic integration between GCC member states and increased competition from foreign multinationals with more experience in digital transformation all present hurdles that must be overcome. However, widespread diversification, a fast-evolving technology landscape and socioeconomic developments all point to a vast opportunity ahead for GCC companies that successfully invest in digital technologies.

These are the findings of the latest report from the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), supported by the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB): Innovating through Tech in the GCC. The report examines how both local and international companies in the GCC are integrating advanced technologies to offer innovative products and services to the market, especially in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

To download the full EIU report for free and gain new insight into the region, fill out the form below:

To mark the launch of this timely report the EIU and the EDB jointly hosted a webinar titled: In Conversation: The Region’s Digital Transformation. Leading figures from the Middle East ecosystems  addressed the key questions surrounding the future of the data economy in the GCC, including:

  • As COVID-19 speeds up tech adoption, is this a chance for GCC tech hubs to compete globally?
  • Will tech progress be held back without wider economic integration throughout the GCC?
  • Are we building a skills-base for the future and are we set up to attract the world’s top talent?
  • Can the GCC states really become drivers of innovation rather than consumers of innovation, or will foreign companies continue to dominate?
  • Is the growth in available funding for promising ideas matching the rapid pace of infrastructure development?

The speakers are experts and leaders in their fields:

  • Abdulla Almoayed, a serial entrepreneur and Founder & CEO of Tarabut Gateway, the region’s first and largest Open Banking infrastructure provider.
  • Mohammed Jaffar, Chairman & CEO of Faith Capital, formerly CEO of leading MENA online food delivery service, Talabat.
  • Melanie Noronha, Senior Editor, Thought Leadership, The Economist Group.

The Webinar was moderated by the EDB’s own Tala Fakhro, Chief Project Officer for Market Strategy and Intelligence.

Bahrain and Sharjah among world’s top 5 start-up hubs – New Report

Bahrain’s response to COVID-19 praised in study

Bahrain now in top 10 Africa and MENA countries for early-stage funding, according to study

Manama, July 5, 2020: The GCC’s Bahrain and Sharjah are among the world’s top five fastest-growing ecosystems with fewer than 1,000 start-ups, according to The Global Start-up Ecosystem Report 2020.

The major study, titled ‘The New Normal for the Global Start-up Economy and the Impact of COVID-19’, assesses not only the progress of ecosystems over the last year but also how markets have responded to the ongoing global Coronavirus outbreak. In the wider region, Cairo was also in the top five, with Dubai making it into the Top 20 emerging ecosystems.

The report ranked Bahrain as one of the ecosystems in the ‘activation’ phase – describing locations with fewer than 1,000 active start-ups. It also found a dramatic improvement in funding availability in Bahrain, awarding the country nine out of 10 (up 8 places of one last year) – an achievement which puts Bahrain in the Top 10 Africa & MENA countries for early-stage funding.

The report – which tracks performance, funding, experience & talent, market research, connectedness and knowledge – also praised Bahrain’s strength in FinTech and noted the success of its stimulus programme in response to COVID-19.

Dr. Ebrahim Janahi, the Chief Executive of Labour Fund ‘Tamkeen’ commented on the report’s finding stating: “Building on its track record as a successful financial centre, Bahrain has quickly established itself as an innovative FinTech hub, home to regulations designed to enable and encourage entrepreneurship. In addition, during the current COVID-19 crisis, Bahrain has acted quickly to support adversely affected enterprises from the economic repercussions caused by the global spread of the pandemic. This is evident with the launch of the Business Continuity Support Program from Tamkeen, which comes as part of the Government’s economic and financial stimulus package announced to support both citizens and businesses in the Kingdom. With a budget of USD $  106 million allocated, the program has already helped support small and micro enterprises, providing them with financial grants ranging between USD $ 5,438 and USD 31,830 depending on the size of the enterprise, which have been disbursed over a period of three months.”

Bahrain’s Labour Fund, Tamkeen, has long been a part of GSER’s Global Network and remains a major source of government funding, including financial grants and subsidies. Tamkeen is part of a Bahrain-wide support structure for start-ups that includes Startup Bahrain, a community-led initiative, local angel networks like Tenmou, accelerators like Flat6Labs and BRINC, VCs like Middle East Venture Partners and 500 Start-ups, and local $100m Fund of Funds Al Waha.

David Parker, Co-Chief Investment Officer at Bahrain EDB in charge of ICT, said: “This recognition is a great achievement for Team Bahrain. The massive improvement in Bahrain’s score around funding is testament to the success of Al Waha Fund of Funds which has helped to drive the creation of more VC interest in Bahrain and across the Gulf, and supported the growth in our overall scores.

“But the report also recognises the comprehensive nature of the support for start-ups in Bahrain, and the positive impact of Bahrain’s stimulus programme which has helped SMEs weather the current pandemic.

He also added: “COVID-19 acted as a catalyst to the startups adaption of new technologies in all sectors including Foodtech, Smart logistics, Proptech and Healthtech aiming to improve business continuity and increase efficiencies.”

The report singles out Bahrain for its FinTech expertise, with the Central Bank of Bahrain’s FinTech Sandbox and Bahrain FinTech Bay, the region’s largest FinTech hub, being major factors in Bahrain’s growing reputation. Tarabut Gateway is the first licensed open banking platform and the largest in MENA. The GSER also recognised the Bahrain government’s $11.4bn stimulus package as a major source of support for start-ups.

Local Bahrain start-ups have been very active during the crisis. As well as providing its services for free for Bahraini government agencies, medical centres, and hospitals, Bahraini queue management start-up Skiplino has deployed its technology with Italian hospitals and UK supermarkets to help maintain social distancing during the pandemic. Similarly, GetBaqala and Weyak are both Bahrain-based apps that have been delivering medicine and pharmaceuticals direct to customers, ensuring that Bahrainis can continue to comply with social distancing rules.

-ENDS-

For more information, please contact:

Communications and Media Department

Economic Development Board

Phone: +973-17-589966

E-mail: internationalmedia@bahrainedb.com

About Bahrain Economic Development Board

The Bahrain Economic Development Board (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.

The EDB focuses on several economic sectors that capitalise on Bahrain’s competitive advantages and provide significant investment opportunities. These sectors include financial services, manufacturing, ICT, tourism, logistics and transport.

For more information on the Bahrain EDB visit www.bahrainedb.com; for information about Bahrain visit www.bahrain.com.

Bahrain Maintains 2nd Place among Arab countries in UN eGovernment Development Index 2020

The Kingdom of Bahrain maintained its second place ranking among Arab countries in the eGovernment Development Index 2020 ranking it among the very high categories, which was formulated based on the results of a 2020 United Nations eGovernment Survey. The index and its accompanying report, launched on Friday, 10th July, 2020 by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), also highly ranked the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Oman.

The report highlighted the Kingdom’s National Suggestions and Complaints System, ‘Tawasul’ as an example of a successful and innovative official government channel of communication. The system enhanced public participation and government service customer experience, contributing to the Kingdom’s high ranking and performance in the E-Participation Index (EPI). The report praised the system’s ability to reach the public through multiple electronic channels, including the National Portal (bahrain.bh) and the Tawasul app, which is available for download on both the iOS and Android systems.
The  report affirmed the significant progress achieved by the Kingdom in the Human Capital Index (HCI), reflecting the longstanding advanced quality of its primary education system and its efforts to raise its education and schooling indicators. Bahrain’s success in keeping pace with the latest technical developments and its readiness in deploying emerging technologies in government services was also highlighted along with the Kingdom’s efforts to achieve the highest levels of service quality and satisfaction.
The role of eGovernments in combating the global Coronavirus pandemic featured prominently in the report. The crisis demonstrated the important role played by eGovernment programs in advancing eServices, health consultations, crisis management, and the deployment of technologies to ensure the continuity of private sector business and day to day life.
Supported by its technical preparedness, the Kingdom was able to make great strides in digital transformation, one of the pillars of the 2020 report, by fully digitizing many government services, including judicial and education services.
The results of the eGoverment Survey, published every 2 years by UNDESA and overseen by more than 200 experts, confirmed an improvement in the eGovernment Index compared to previous reports, recording a rise from 0.8116 in 2018 to 0.8213 this year.
Originally in Information & eGovernment Authority.
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