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In an exclusive interview with Telecom Review, Abdulaziz Qambar, CEO, BTECH highlighted the role BTECH is currently playing in Bahrain and the region and emphasized the importance of women empowerment in the ICT industry and how the “WomenTech” event reflects the role women are playing in shaping the digital economy.

What role does BTECH play in promoting the digital economy in Bahrain and in the region in general?

Bahrain Technology Companies Society – BTECH (www.btech.bh) has been established with one of its clear goals to uplift the ICT sector in Bahrain by leasing between the private sector and governments on legislation, promoting Bahrain based ICT companies and tech-startups in the region and supporting the regional and international expansion plans of the ICT sector.

BTECH also has a major role in Bahrain and the region to share knowledge and expertise in the field of ICT so its members and overall ICT community receive up to date knowledge and intelligence of the sector.

We also organize local and regional events as well as participate in regional events for the Bahrain ICT companies and tech-startups to promote and contribute to the creation of digital economy.

We have been focusing more on sharing knowledge and experience with the young entrepreneurs in recent years and empowering them locally, regionally and internationally to establish a successful tech-startup ecosystem in collaboration with government entities and private sector partners.

How do you see women’s role evolving in the ICT industry? Have you launched any initiatives or projects to empower women in the field?

The ICT sector has been continuously evolving in the last few years and we see more women taking leading positions to contribute to the ICT and digital economy development.

Women are now contributing to edging technologies in the Arab region such as AI, fintech, mobile apps industry, digital healthcare, e-commerce echo system, cybersecurity and edtech streams.  

A larger percentage of tech-startup is now created and led by women entrepreneurs.

BTECH is a high believer in the power of women who are contributing to driving the creation of the digital economy locally and internationally, and with this strong belief, we are leading some key initiatives for women empowering the digital economy.

One of our key initiatives is launching an international event under the title WomenTech in collaboration with one of our partners GFB Group and Thinksmart (www.gulffuturebusiness.com). This is the first of its kind event in the Arab region where we are having over 50 prominent women speakers from over 19 Arab countries discussing and sharing their views, experience, values and strategies on how they are contributing in the development of the digital economy in the Arab countries. This is a first of its kind platform for the entire Arab region where we focus on women’s role and leadership in developing the digital economy, shifting government to a more digitally-focused government.

The WomenTech event is a virtual event, and we would like to invite all citizens from the Arab region to be part of it and attend it from 25 and 26 January 2022.

This is the start of our series of initiatives on women empowering the digital economy and more to be launched within 2022.

In your opinion, what are the challenges that ICT companies face in Bahrain? And how do you help in overcoming them?

The ICT sector in Bahrain presents many challenges, however one of the major challenges for ICT companies in Bahrain is their regional and international expansion plan. We have many successful ICT companies and tech-startups in Bahrain, and we understand that their big value will be in providing their unique products and services in the regional markets such as Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and later to the rest of the international market.

We at BTECH have a good understanding and collective experience with our partners to overcome this challenge. Hence, we are pleased that we start year 2022, with the inception of our first ICT focused business center in Saudi Arabia in collaboration with our partners at GFB Group.

We are also in the process of launching similar concepts in different markets in year 2022 in collaboration with other partners to contribute to exporting Bahrain ICT companies to the regional market.

The government of Bahrain is very keen to see Bahraini ICT companies exporting their products and services and themselves to regional and international markets. In this context, we have been in close collaboration with “Export Bahrain”, a government entity, to deliver some key initiatives for the ICT sector in Bahrain.

Some of the other challenges that ICT companies are facing are on marketing intelligence, regional and international networking and partnerships, acceleration of digital growth and tech-startup regional expansion challenges.

We are launching strategic key initiatives in collaboration with the Arab ICT Union (www.arabictunion.org), Bahrain Chamber (www.bahrainchamber.bh), Tamkeen (www.tamkeen.bh) and other governments, NGOs, and private sector partners to overcome the above mentioned challenges.

How do you define “tech disruptors”? And how are they influencing the ICT industry?

The tech disruptors are a company who created major shift and disruptions in certain verticals using technologies, such as using mobile application to disrupt the transportation ecosystem (e.g. uber), or using the technology platform to revamp the accommodation and hotel industry (e.g. Airbnb).

We are seeing tech disruptors as the next big thing enabling the creation of digital economy. We have seen in recent years the birth of unique tech disruptors in the Arab regions such as Talabat mobile application for food ordering and delivery services, and other.

The ICT industry will be positively disrupted as we see how many non-banking entities such as telecommunication companies are establishing themselves as digital banks to provide unique products and services in the banking sector hence disrupting the traditional banking sector. A similar trend will continue especially with more focus on AI and IoT based deployment.

What are the requirements for a smart government? How do you see the progress achieved in this area so far in the Arab region?

Most of our government entities in Bahrain have been adopting digital transformation and platforms as part of their strategies on annual deployment. Moving forward, we see smart government moving toward more adaptation of digital platform strategies, government products and services will be disrupted, a business mindset approach toward citizen will emerge, increased adoption of artificial intelligence, IoT adoption and adaptation on the cloud-based environment in closer collaboration with technology-based NGOs and affiliates to drive the next steps.

While the Covid19 situation had a negative impact, the ICT and digital sectors, among others, saw the pandemic as an accelerator. Consequently, it allowed the Arab government to tremendously accelerate the deployment and adoption of unique digital transformation models such as having government employees servicing citizens from homes, public schools organizing virtual classes, distance learning and the usage of new techniques and technology to deliver and infuse knowledge.

Launching smart government depends on the collaboration between all Arab governments. Covid19 unleashed virtual meeting and remote working opportunities where we see more governmental collaboration among the Arab countries.

The WomenTech event is hosting a special panel for Arab government affiliated women to discuss, collaborate, and share their smart government views.

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