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Bahrain, UK to pilot AI procurement guidelines

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Bahrain has announced it will pilot new guidelines for the procurement of artificial intelligence (AI) in the public sector.

The announcement was made by WEF and the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) – the public agency tasked with attracting investment to the Kingdom – at the WEF Annual Meeting of the New Champions in Dalian, China.

AI has huge potential to streamline and transform service delivery for governments. However, due to lack of understanding and concerns over complexity, public institutions are often wary of adopting AI and lack the knowledge needed to successfully implement the technology, WEF said in a statement.

According to WEF, this has spurred the Centre 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.”

Over the recent years, Bahrain has become a testbed for the governance and regulation of emerging technologies in the Middle East. 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. Bahrain is also one of first countries in the world with a fully operational commercial 5G network.

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 – in February 2019 the Central Bank of Bahrain introduced ground-breaking new rules on Crypto-asset services and Crypto-asset exchanges.

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