In a ranking that shows the strength of Bahrain's information and communications technology (ICT) sector, The World Economic Forum and the international business school INSEAD last week placed the kingdom 1st in the Arab world, and 27th among 142 countries worldwide, in its influential annual global information technology report.
According to the report, Bahrain has an environment conducive to entrepreneurship and innovation (it is ranked 11th globally) and has demonstrated high ICT readiness (25th place), meaning it has the infrastructure, affordability of service and availability of skills needed to take advantage of ICT.
In the Arab world, Qatar came in second after Bahrain and is ranked 28th internationally. The UAE came in third and ranked 30th in the world. Saudi Arabia is ranked fourth in the Arab world and 34th globally, and Oman is ranked fifth among Arab countries and 40th internationally.
"Bahrain's ranking yet again underscores its electronic excellence on all levels and its leadership in initiatives that support ICT, which serves in advancing its knowledge-based economy," said Mohammed al-Amer, the chairman of Bahrain's Telecommunications Regulatory Authority.
"For many years, Bahrain has sought excellence in providing government services electronically. Bahrain realised early on the importance of ICT as a promising and vital sector for the kingdom and its economy," he said.
The ICT sector has been a major revenue stream for the national economy due to its rapid development, al-Amer said.
"Bahrain has made great strides developing its knowledge-based economy that relies on ICT. Proof of this is government sponsorship of all innovation in the fields of IT and electronic services and its sponsorship of the e-Government Excellence Award," he said.
The INSEAD ranking "represents a great achievement that is worthy of recognition, which would not have happened were it not for the government's interest in improving ICT", said Talal Abu-Ghazaleh, president of the Talal Abu-Ghazaleh Organisation and the chairman of the United Nations Global Alliance for ICT and Development.
Bahrain is now following the path of sustainable development with the quickening pace of its economic development, despite the difficult circumstances that it went through last year, said Nawaf Abdulrahman, the president of Bahrain Internet Society.
Abdulrahman said he hoped that all sectors of Bahraini society will work side-by-side to safeguard these international achievements.
"The Bahrain Internet Society is keen to take part in national efforts to advance the information technology sector by adopting outstanding initiatives such as the Bahrain e-Content Award. [It is also important] to take advantage of international expertise in electronic applications, which are of benefit to citizens," he said.
The goal of the Bahrain e-Content Award, which gives its winners global recognition, is to encourage innovation in ICT in Bahrain. It rewards distinguished electronic projects in ten different categories.
Abdulrahman also urged civil society organisations to consider the importance of changing their traditional operating methods and integrating innovative electronic services like smart mobile phone applications into their different projects and activities.