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Bahrain, Karnataka sign pact on cooperation in fintech, AI, cyber security


PTI, Jan 24, 2020, 9:57 AM IST

Davos: The Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) and Karnataka government on Thursday, January 23 signed a pact to promote cooperation in AI, fintech and other emerging technologies.

The Kingdom’s investment promotion agency signed the memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Department of Information Technology; Biotechnology; and Science & Technology of the state government on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum annual meeting here.

The agreement aims to build robust fintech, artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT) and cybersecurity ecosystems where startups and technology firms engage in external partnerships with corporates, universities, research institutions, technology experts and government agencies.

Besides, it is looking to develop education programmes and curricula relating to fintech, AI, IoT and cybersecurity to benefit the sectors in their respective jurisdiction. This may include facilitating and enhancing cooperation between relevant authorities such as universities/research institutions, technology experts, and government agencies.

They will also nurture fintech, AI and cybersecurity startups and centres and collaborate to facilitate their growth through development and support.

Bahrain is one of the oldest and most established financial centres in the Gulf region and it has capitalised on its banking expertise to grow one of the most concentrated and advanced fintech ecosystems in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

Karnataka is also known as a leading technology hub in India and has also emerged as the leading R&D and innovation ecosystem for startups. It is home to over 1.2 million software professionals and a large number of Fortune 500 companies.

EDB said Bahrain will benefit from Karnataka’s expertise in emerging technologies such as AI and cybersecurity, while Karnataka will have access to the Kingdom’s renowned fintech prowess.

Authorities from both sides will also collaborate on facilitating SMEs, including startups, through incubation and ecosystem exposure visits.

Economic and trading relationships between India and Bahrain has been shifting increasingly towards service exports, fintech and ICT. Bilateral trade between the two nations currently stands at some USD 1.3 billion.

Khalid Humaidan, Chief Executive of Bahrain Economic Development Board, said: “Bahrain and India share historic ties dating back 5,000 years to the Dilmun era, generating hundreds of millions of dollars in annual bilateral trade. With today’s MoU signing at Davos, we look forward to further strengthening those links and welcoming innovative Indian firms seeking to access and scale across the growing $1.5 trillion GCC market.

“Bahrain not only offers competitive costs and easy set-up, but the government has implemented a programme of ambitious reforms to encourage investment in a range of sectors. India is an emerging power in fields such as FinTech and ICT, with a great experience we can learn from – and as the de facto testbed of the Gulf, Bahrain has positioned itself as the ideal destination of choice for turning knowledge into opportunity.”

E V Ramana Reddy, Additional Chief Secretary at the Department of IT, BT and S&T, Government of Karnataka, said: “For the first time, Government of Karnataka is keenly participating in the WEF Annual Meeting with a delegation headed by Chief Minister.

“The Annual Meeting is a fitting venue for the signing of this MoU as global leaders have converged here to discuss sustainability. Disruptive technologies such as AI and IoT have the potential to solve this challenge.

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