Thursday, May 22, 2008

BPN 106 Away from the hotspot

This morning I returned to the Netherlands after a fortnight in Bahrain. Yesterday it was the last day of the Bahrain International Forum.

And the day started with a kind of a light sensation. Pictures of the press conference were in the papers; Bahrain with a population of 1 million inhabitants has five newspapers in Arabic and in English. There was also a short interview with me in the capacity of chairman of the eGov competition. The question was whether there was room for improvement in the entries. My answer was affirmative and I especially pointed to the category eProposal. The project proposals of the entrants in that category were rather weak and needed a real make over. The journalist in his article mixed up this remark and attributed weak proposals to the Bahrain eTender Board, which the winner of that particular category! He had clearly misunderstood, that the remark concerned project proposals. After all the Bahrain eTender Board was the only one with a quality proposal. I hope that this remark will be corrected by the newspaper.

The event closed with a live televised debate with participants of the Gulf countries. eGovernment is very important to those countries. I will be writing about this debate, when I receive a summary of the debate. I did hear already that the countries had agreed to set up an annual competition for the Gulf countries. It looks like this competition and the Forum have struck serious ground.

From the exhibition it was clear that some Gulf states are very serious about eGovernment. I spoke to a delegation of people from Oman. They told me about their SMS parking system and were eager to hear about the mobile parking system in the Netherlands. I knew that the Omani are working on all kinds of eGovernmental systems. They really made a fair and very efficient system for assigning to students national and international universities as well as scholarships on the basis of their grades. What was a long wait for students after high school graduation when everything was done manually, has become a simple computing exercise, by which the results are sent by traditional and digital channels such as internet and mobile. Also Qatar and Kuwait are seriously busy

At night there was a dinner to celebrate the 25 anniversary of the Bahrain Information Technology Society (BITS). The dinner was held at the poolside of the Gulf Hotel for some 100 people. And of course there was the inevitable ceremony of gifts: the president of the society and the past presidents as well as the vice-presidents all got an Asus EEE which sells in Bahrain for 175 Bahrain dinars or 120 euro. As I am not an official or a former official I had to buy one myself. This is the first blog I typed with this Ultra Mobile PC with OpenOffice on the plane home. (Asus EEE has the operating system Linux. In the discussions on eGovernment, no mention was made Open Source. It is all based on Microsoft).

Blog Posting Number: 1106

Tags: eGovernment, open source,

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