A delegation from the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB), led by Chief Executive Shaikh Mohammed bin Essa Al Khalifa, visited Cisco and Google headquarters in San Jose, California.
During the visit, the EDB delegation – which included Shaikh Mohammed and Kamal Ahmed, Chief Operating Officer of the EDB – met with Ron Ricci, Vice President of Country Positioning at Cisco and later that day visited Eric Schmidt, Chief Executive Officer of Google at their headquarters.
Working closely with the EDB, Cisco is providing advanced strategic ICT initiatives for Bahrain as the Kingdom seeks to leverage its advantage as the most diversified economy in the Gulf with the most liberal and advanced ICT infrastructure and policies.
In March this year, Cisco opened an office and Internet Data Centre at the Bahrain Financial Habour. Cisco's technology expertise has supported the Kingdom as it pushes ahead with its Vision 2030 and National Economic Strategy to maintain the optimum business environment to attract foreign investment and ultimately elevate national living standards by creating greater opportunities for Bahrainis.
Shaikh Mohammed said of the visit, "Bahrain is the first country in the GCC to have ratified a Free Trade Agreement with the United States which facilitates the exchange of technology expertise. This offers a wealth of possibilities for long-term opportunities for technology companies such as Cisco and Google who wish to access the Gulf's trillion dollar market. Cisco is a very important partner for Bahrain. We are working together on a range on ICT initiatives which are integral to Bahrain's strategic objectives for economic growth. We are delighted to visit Cisco and Google's headquarters, to see their operations firsthand and progress our discussions."
The Bahrain ICT market is estimated to be worth $375 billion with high demand for both products and services from both the private and public sectors. In addition, Bahrain's strategic location with close proximity to Saudi Arabia and unparalleled access to the GCC and wider region, means Cisco can provide immediate support to its growing customer base in the region.
In March earlier this year Cisco held the first Middle East Cisco Networkers event in Bahrain which attracted more than 2,000 ICT professionals from across the Middle East, Africa, Europe and Asia. The industry-accredited event, which was developed in collaboration with the government of Bahrain and with the support of His Royal Highness Prince Salman Bin Hamad Al Khalifa, The Crown Prince, reflected the strong links between Bahrain and Cisco, and Bahrain's strategic importance to the ICT sector in the GCC.
Bahrain has been internationally recognised for its long-term commitment to ICT both as a sector and an infrastructure to enable further business growth. The World Economic Forum Global Information Technology Report 2009-2010 ranked Bahrain in the top 30 economies, a climb of eight places, putting the Kingdom 29 of 133 economies worldwide. Bahrain was also ranked first in the Middle East and 13th out of 192 countries worldwide in the 2010 United Nations Global e-Government Readiness Survey.