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Bahrain launches virtual mall with 100 stores amid COVID-19 shop closures


Bahrain has launched a virtual mall to enable shops to continue serving their customers during the ongoing global COVID-19 outbreak.

The website, which officially opened on Thursday April 23, features a range of products from more than 100 companies operating in the Kingdom including fashion, homeware and electronics.

Several major brands are set to participate in the virtual service, with the government-run website not charging any fees to retailers amid physical store closures to combat the spread of COVID-19.

H.E. Zayed bin Rashid Al Zayani, Bahrain's Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, said: “This will enable companies to continue offering their products to consumers. It has been designed by the Ministry and will provide its services to companies for free."

The initiative is the latest digital offering from the Kingdom to help combat the ongoing global health crisis, with solutions including remote learning and a nationwide bracelet tracking programme rolled out across the country.

Last month, Bahrain’s Ministry of Education together with the Kingdom’s Information & eGovernment Authority announced a partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to create a dedicated electronic education portal for millions of students.

This portal is used to view lessons, download education materials, complete their homework online, and participate in discussions with classmates.

Parents can use the system to follow up on the activities carried out by their classes, while school administrators can monitor the progress of students and teachers.

The portal is powered by AWS, which recently opened its first Middle East data region in the Kingdom.

AWS is also supporting the Bahraini government in its concerted shift to the cloud – the Kingdom has mandated the use of Cloud IAAS & SAAS across government, which assisted in the fast roll-out of nationwide distance learning.

To put this into perspective, according to a recent study by Teacher Tapp, just one in six schools in the UK had the technology to set and receive work from pupils.

Meanwhile, Bahrain’s national electronic wallet BenefitPay announced a 1257% increase in the number of remittances through its Fawri+ service during the month of March 2020 – worth some BHD103 million (USD273 million).

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