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Knowledge Economy in Bahrain

13 October 2016

Over the past ten years, GCC countries have made it an explicit aim to transform their economies into Knowledge Economies as the ‘knowledge economy’ concept has become an essential part of the Gulf states’ strategic vision and plans for economic diversification.

In Bahrain we aspire to shift from an economy built on oil wealth to a productive, globally competitive economy, shaped by government and driven by a pioneering private sector – an economy that raises a broad class of Bahrainis who enjoy the good living standards from increased productivity and high-wage jobs. Our society and government will embrace the principles of sustainability, competitiveness and fairness to ensure that every Bahraini has the means to live a secure and fulfilled life and reach his or her full potential.

“Bahrain Economic Vision 2030” states that the country is transforming the economy in the longer-term by capturing emerging opportunities. The economy in Bahrain will attain increasing levels of sophistication and innovation, enabling the country to claim an attractive position in the global value chain. As a result, Bahrain will capture emerging opportunities, particularly by expanding to knowledge-based sectors and by increasing our output of high-value-added goods and services. This will mean greater wealth for companies, employees and society.

The creation of the eGovernment Authority played a central role in strengthening the Kingdom’s status and pushing its economic growth forward in accordance with the Bahrain Vision 2030. In addition, the eGovernment was tasked with overseeing the coordination and execution of the eGovernment program put forth by the SCICT which aims to build Bahrain’s capabilities and make the transition to a pioneering knowledge economy that is immune to the ever-changing landscape of an increasingly globalized world.

The Knowledge Economy Index (KEI) which represents of what the World Bank has singled out as the four pillars of the Knowledge Economy (Economic Incentive and Institutional Regime, Innovation and Technological Adoption, Education and Training, and Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Infrastructure), shows that Bahrain has remarkably high scores on the ICT pillar (Information and Communication Technologies) Bahrain scores even higher than Sweden, the highest ranked country in the index. And according to the Arab Knowledge Economy Report 2014, Bahrain has ranked first among Arab countries in ICT-use Index. Based on six key indicators, Bahrain is the first among Arab countries in the use of the Internet. It has mobile telephone subscriptions with a penetration rate of 173%, a wide range of broadband subscriptions of 128% and fixed-line penetration of 20%. The Telecommunications sector contributes to 4% of total GDP.

Moreover, on the Education pillar of (KEI) and of the six Gulf countries, Bahrain (6.78) is ranked the highest, nearly a full point higher than the UAE (5.8). That reflects Bahrain’s Higher Educational Council’s 2014-24 strategy which states: “The vision is to position Bahrain as a regional hub for quality higher education, producing graduates with the skills, knowledge and behaviors required to succeed in the global knowledge economy, while contributing to the sustainable and competitive growth of Bahrain”.

The Bahraini youths enter a competitive job market in an economy that strives to become independent from oil resources. It is not surprising that within the Bahraini Vision 2030, education was targeted as the area of primary importance. The program sets a number of goals within the field. It emphasizes the need for “Education and training to be relevant to the requirements of Bahrain and its economy”, emphasizing the teaching of applied sciences. It stresses the importance of “accessibility” of education, while meeting the need for “highest possible quality standards (by setting) standards for quality across the education sector, regularly review the performance of educational and training institutions”. Finally, it aims at encouraging research as the basis for the development of knowledge-based economy.

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