Startup MGZN

Why Bahrain needs Hack Arabia

In line with our esteemed government’s vision to position Bahrain as an IT hub in the region, I’ve been talking and writing about Bahrain going digital for a while now. As our natural resources dwindle and national budget balloons, we must transfer to a service-based economy quickly. We have the infrastructure, educated population, and bilingual talent that many countries around us do not; and our low cost of living is also an aspect that can make us more competitive than those around us. However, we can’t rely upon the government for everything, and there has to be a solid relationship between the private sector and the government if we’re going to have a chance to succeed.

And that’s why I decided to establish “Hack Arabia”, an app training academy and product development company in partnership with a NY based giant academy TurnToTech. Let me begin with the training academy: If we want to have a shot at becoming a regional IT powerhouse we need our young generations to be fluent in code. That empowerment will give them the tools to create technological goods and services to cater our local market, and eventually export that technology to the Mena region and beyond. I want to replicate India’s success, where countries from all around the world depend on us to create software, establish support centers, and even customer service centers, and we have the strength to cater in Arabic, which nobody else can do.

President Obama focused on introducing code to all schools beginning with elementary, and that way the children of the future are fluent in a very overlooked language: Code. So in Bahrain I envision the same thing: We teach all children in all schools Arabic, English, and Python/Java. That way it is a natural progression for them to write software for apps and hardware. Basically they should have the power to even create robots with today’s readily-available platforms and tools. And that is also what we are teaching; robotics.

We are also teaching adults in collaboration with Tamkeen the fundamentals of app creation in IOS and Android starting mid March. I’m spreading the culture of app development to all ages and I hope many more training academies and app developers follow in my footsteps. For any ecosystem to succeed there must be a lot of healthy competition, and many players big and small otherwise we won’t make it.

As for creating apps, although we have a few small players in the market, and sadly nobody has the expertise to launch huge projects with the quality of Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook yet. How can we be leaders if we don’t have true quality user interface and amazing billing systems? Well, this is why I forged a relationship with the best, and we have programmers who worked at Marvel, Starwood, and other conglomerates that focus on skill and innovation, and I want that excellence to be reflected and integrated into our fledgling ecosystem.

It’s my vision to see all governments and large companies providing their own apps, and gorgeous apps built locally. We are already very advanced with our governmental services, but are still missing the mark. Web-based systems are old, and the future is in applications: So we should have an app to pay our electricity and water bills, renew our company fees, and even pay our traffic offenses. It’s the next step, and I am positioned to make that happen today.

Furthermore, if a company doesn’t have an app today (like banks, malls, restaurants etc.) then it’s way behind the curve. It’s not their fault really, it’s simply because we don’t have quality app makers that inspire confidence in Bahrain. I have now solved that problem and we can start churning out quality international-standard apps in locally.

Finally, if people have ideas for apps (inventions or copycat as well), they don’t have anyone to transform that dream into reality, and it’s very costly traveling to Dubai or the USA to meet with companies that can create them. Today, they have the option to meet someone face-to-face in Bahrain to create their dream for them. If Talabat didn’t know how to code his idea could have died in the water.

I’ve been getting tremendous support from Government agencies as well private firms which proves that a private/public partnership can succeed: Tamkeen is funding an app-making class for adults in ios and android (total of 40 students to begin with). In fact, it is the only way we can really utilize our strengths and talents to forge Bahrain as the IT hub of the region. The future begins today, and it begins with Hack Arabia. For more information visit www.hackarabia.net or follow them on @hackarabia_net on Instagram or call 17171696

Hamed Fakhro

Hamed is a contributor, writer, inventor, and speaker. He is also the founder of Fakhro Properties, Seef Business Center, A’Ali Views Compound, Hack Arabia, and Wudu. Follow him at @fakhro1