With the Covid-19 pandemic highlighting the importance of digital accessibility, as well as business skills and education, Bahrain is capitalising on previous gains in digital literacy and online training. The kingdom has also accelerated professional development programmes, keeping pace with the recent uptick in digitalisation across its economy.

Systemic Shift

Bahrain’s long-term education goals have consistently included developing a technology-oriented education system. In August 2004 the Ministry of Education launched the BD2.6m ($6.9m) School of the Future project, which introduced electronic systems, platforms and teaching methods to enable sector stakeholders to keep up with technological innovations. That project was complemented by the introduction of e-government portals and applications ensuring access to remote education, along with the 2009 launch of the Qudurat training programme under the Information and eGovernment Authority’s National Strategy, offering free courses to improve computer literacy.

Universities and vocational institutes have also expanded their specialised ICT programmes, and internships with local and international employers, to develop on-the-job knowledge. Under the Telecommunications, ICT and Digital Economy Sector Strategy 2022-26, the kingdom expects to increase national employment in ICT by 35% and train at least 20,000 citizens in cybersecurity. To provide further support, in 2022 Bahrain’s labour fund Tamkeen launched Skills Bahrain, the first comprehensive national initiative aimed at establishing standards for vocations and professions.


To develop local talent and strengthen digital skills, government efforts have been supported by strategic partnerships with local and global players in the private sector. For instance, in December 2020 the Bahrain Institute of Banking and Finance, and the Bank of Bahrain and Kuwait deployed a digital skills training programme for Bahraini women to use e-government services to access e-payments and online educational services. While the first edition benefitted 102 Bahraini women, the second edition, launched in 2022, was expanded to include both men and women. Similarly, a partnership between the Ministry of Education and Microsoft signed in 2015 and renewed in 2022, aims to develop students’ and teachers’ ICT skills. The agreement grew from 14 schools in 2015 to 33 schools in 2022, enabling 3000 teachers to receive expert training and 165 students to obtain professional certificates.

Bahrain’s progress in improving digital skills has been recognised by the private sector, with US-based Citibank launching its Global Technology Hub in the kingdom in September 2021. The initiative is the result of the bank’s long-term strategic partnership with Tamkeen and the Bahrain Economic Development Board. The facility supports global businesses and clients, helping accelerate the growth of in-house digital solutions. As of January 2023 the facility employed 110 Bahrainis, 22% of which were women, with the goal being to hire 1000 coders over 10 years. The centre’s percentage of female employees is above the average seen in other Citi tech facilities in other parts of the world.

Public-private efforts in Bahrain are paying off, with the kingdom achieving the highest score in terms of digital skills training, and science, technology, engineering and maths education, according to the 2022 Internet Inclusive Index commissioned by Meta and developed by the Economist Impact. According to the index, Bahrain stands out in diversity in tech, with females representing one-third of the ICT workforce and one-in-five start-up founders. Likewise, the kingdom ranked first in the GCC for the availability of advanced computer programming, according to the International Telecommunication Union’s 2020 information and computer technology report. The high level of internet accessibility and affordability in the kingdom, along with a wide range of public and private digital training programmes, has not only enabled social and economic mobility, but also an internationally competitive labour market.