Bahrain to host top regional ICT forum (MENA ICT Week)
Gulf Daily News
MANAMA: Bahrain is to host the largest information and communication technology (ICT) gathering for the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region later this year.
The conference will firmly establish Bahrain's position as the ICT gateway to the region, said Bahrain Internet Society adviser and Gulf Future Business chief executive officer Ahmed Al Hujairy.
"The event, scheduled for November 17 to 19, is being organised by the Bahrain Internet Society and IJMA3," he said in a presentation made at the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) seminar on "Maximising trade with the US" at the Ritz-Carlton Bahrain Hotel and Spa.
"According to Economic Development Board (EDB), the Bahrain ICT market is expected to reach $375 billion by 2010, due to high demand for IT products and services from both public and private sectors.
"The growing need for robust IT solutions is also being driven by massive e-Government and e-Commerce initiatives, which are aimed at achieving economic diversification."
Bahrain's regional leadership in IT has been acknowledged by the World Economic Forum and INSEAD in the organisation's Global Information Technology Report 2007-2008, said Mr Al Hujairy.
"Bahrain is ranked 45th in global information and communications technology readiness index ahead of Jordan 47, Saudi Arabia 48 and Oman 53."
He said Bahrain's e-Government strategy aims to have more than 90 per cent of key services available online.
"For business this includes business and office registration, work permits, banking services, environmental compliance and the e-Tendering of government contracts," he added.
"Residents can pay utility bills, traffic fines and visitors can apply for tourist visas online.
"The government aims to have more than 150 services related to key lifecycle events for both residents and businesses available online in the near future."
Mr Al Hujairy said leading international ICT businesses have chosen to take advantage of Bahrain's business friendly proposition and base their Middle East enterprises in the kingdom.
"Both Microsoft and Hewlett Packard have regional offices in Bahrain, as well as Cisco, Wipro, Satyam, Software AG, Netgear, Atos Origin, and others," he added.
One of the vital ICT projects to be implemented soon is @Bahrain Project.
"Facilities at this $2 billion ambitious development will include the region's first multi-purpose indoor arena, a state-of-the-art exhibition and convention centre, mid-range to luxury hotels, a 'techtainment' centre offering interactive technology entertainment, retail and leisure facilities, as well as a technology park," said Mr Al Hujairy.
"In January this year, a delegation from Bahrain took part in the CES 2009, the largest IT show in the world, in January.
"We encouraged companies like Intel to open their offices in Bahrain. We invite all IT professionals from Bahrain to attend the CES 2010, scheduled to be held in Las Vegas, US, next January." firstname.lastname@example.org