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The IET’s local network in Bahrain is small, but surprisingly active

Bahrain can be easily overshadowed by its larger, better known neighbours in the Gulf region of the Middle East; especially Saudi Arabia and the UAE.  Perhaps the same might be said of IET Bahrain, the IET Local Network that works in the kingdom.

Early Days

The Chairman of IET Bahrain is Dr. A-Imam Al-Sammak, an Associate Professor at the University of Bahrain for slightly over 30 years. He joined the IET way, way back in 1979 or 80 when doing his Masters in the UK. Dr Al-Sammak was one of the eight engineers who found the island’s Local Network, sometime in 1995.

In the 1990s, the local network had somewhere in the region of 150 members. Many were migrants, in Bahrain for work. These days, as workers have left the island to follow opportunities elsewhere, the membership number has dropped a bit.

Events, my friend, events!

A small local network, such as Bahrain, keeps a relatively high profile by hosting a lot of events. IET Bahrain has held 125 over the last ten years, which comes to something like one per month. These might be public meetings, symposiums, and workshops.

Normally, the local networks are helped by the IET from the UK, and it is hoped an event centred on charterships can be staged by the IET Bahrain in October. This would be an in-person event, that will, hopefully. attract visitors from around the Gulf region.

Robot Wars

IET Bahrain’s local network has been organising (and has twice held) the GCC Robotic Challenge. This is an annual event, hosted each year by a state belonging to the Gulf Cooperation Council (Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, UAE, Oman, or Kuwait).

The Challenge tests the abilities of its competing teams (students at university engineering departments from across the GCC) over six rounds. In the past, competitors have had to demonstrate skills in areas such as coding, movement, navigation, football skills and sumo wrestling (!).

Not even the pandemic could derail the Challenge, moving online in 2021 and 2022 to outwit Covid.  Indeed, the 2022 edition took advantage of the disease to challenge teams to create robotic systems that could help fight Covid. This year’s Challenge will be a hybrid. Definitely a win for IET Bahrain.

Pick yourself up, dust yourself off…

The IET Bahrain is looking to get back on its feet, by getting back to hosting events. Events such as the 7th Arab ICT Conference, pencilled in for December 6th & 7th in Manama’s Gulf Hotel Convention Center complex.

Some 200 papers have already been submitted for discussion (with more to come), together with 60 presentations. The IET UK supports normally supports such events by sponsoring them, selling it, and sending a keynote speaker, something the Bahraini network is eager to continue.

We’ve won…

It’s this finesse, dexterity with events that has reaped the Bahraini local IET network a pair of prizes. In 2013, IET Bahrain won a prize at the EMEA Community Volunteer Conference, we won the ‘Most Content Generating Network’ award. They were back to win another in 2017, this time the IET EMEA ‘Best Content prize.

Dr Al-Sammak puts this down to the sheer number it holds. Hopefully, with the world getting back to normality after the pandemic, The IET’s Bahrain local network can return to being a major driver of the IET in the Middle East.

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