Do you ever wonder how come Bahrain, despite its relatively smaller size and population, has managed to establish itself as a major hub for innovation and entrepreneurial success not just in the immediate neighborhood, but across all of the Middle East and Africa?
Well, for starters, it’s a combination of a multitude of factors including an abundance of homegrown talent, a supportive government, state-of-the-art communication, and infrastructure, just to name a few.
However, when it comes to the innovation-driven, highly competitive technology and digital startup ecosystem, there’s one organization whose unparalleled contribution over the past four years has made it possible for a number of Bahraini startups to shine on the global stage: FabLab Bahrain.
Have a knack for technology and innovation? FabLab is waiting to show you the way.
FabLab Bahrain is affiliated with the FabLab Foundation, a globally recognized nonprofit network that started as an offshoot of MIT’s Center for Bits & Program in 2009.
It was started by co-founders Salman Al Oraibi, Ali Rajaie, and Rafed AlMannai. Collectively, the trio brings along years of experience and expertise in a range of domains including, but not limited to, biomedical engineering, healthcare, entrepreneurship, ICT, and banking & finance.
In line with the broader objective of its parent network, FabLab Bahrain aims to empower emerging startups and innovators in the Kingdom by providing them with the know-how, tools, and financial means to pursue their passion for technology and innovation.
In essence, FabLab Bahrain is a platform that takes raw and promising talent in and helps them to transform into quality innovators, inventors, and entrepreneurs with marketable skills and concepts.
“To be a Fab Lab means connecting to a global community of learners, educators, technologists, researchers, makers, and innovators- -a knowledge sharing network that spans 30 countries and 24 time zones. Because all Fab Labs share common tools and processes, the program is building a global network, a distributed laboratory for research and invention,” Al Oraibi said in a conversation with StartUp Bahrain.
A community that’s continuously expanding
As a platform that’s willing to embrace basically anyone with an idea that they’re passionate to bring into life, FabLab Bahrain has over the years created a rather large and tightly-knit community of “makers and hands-on entrepreneurs,” Al Oraibi noted. And buoyed by the success so far, the platform is actively and relentlessly reaching out to new and emerging local talents all across Bahrain.
Some of the most notable projects they’re currently working on include:
- Bird Hide Project: A collaboration with the Bahrain-based Arab Regional Center for World Heritage, the Bird Hide project aims to launch a sophisticated, tech-driven observatory for migratory birds.
- Fab Academy: When launched, it will be the first-of-its-kind academy in the region to offer a six months advance program in digital fabrication, and possibly other courses too in the near future. The course is based on MIT’s renowned rapid prototyping program “How to Make (Almost) Anything.”
Despite its tremendous success, however, FabLab Bahrain also has its fair share of challenges. Especially when it comes to funds.
Al Orabi pointed out: “We have faced many challenges throughout our four-year journey. Funding is was and remains our main challenge. A key success factor for sustainability of Fablabs is funding from the Governmental and Private sector. Currently, we are operating the Fablab activities by our own efforts and we call upon Private and Public sector to help us maintain and expand our activities.”