Bahrain ‘har­bour­ing’ the global econ­omy

Hus­sain bin Ra­jab, Di­rec­tor, Man­u­fac­tur­ing, Trans­port, & Lo­gis­tics Sec­tors, Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Board, King­dom of Bahrain, in a tête-à-tête with CARGOTALK, shares the scope of op­por­tu­ni­ties, in­vest­ments and growth fac­tors that Bahrain of­fers holis­ti­cally

Cargo Talk - - International - JESSY IYPE FROM BAHRAIN

Can you brief us on the his­tory of EDB while enu­mer­at­ing its role in Bahrain?

The Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Board of Bahrain was estab­lished in the year 2000 with a man­dated fo­cus on pub­lic sec­tors, eco­nomic re­forms, at­tract­ing for­eign di­rect in­vest­ments and en­hanc­ing the busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment in the coun­try. This also in­cludes work­ing with the gov­ern­ment on im­prov­ing pol­icy and reg­u­la­tions. We fo­cus on five pri­or­ity sec­tors, these are: fi­nan­cial ser­vices, tourism, ICT, man­u­fac­tur­ing and lo­gis­tics. Bahrain is the most di­ver­si­fied econ­omy in the Gulf and with oil and gas con­tribut­ing to only 20 per cent of GDP. Man­u­fac­tur­ing and lo­gis­tics con­trib­ute 18 to 18.5 per cent to Bahrain’s GDP. In the man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor, which is 14 per cent of Bahrain’s GDP, the ma­jor com­po­nent is alu­minium seg­ment which con­sti­tute 12 per cent. On lo­gis­tics sec­tor, we are spear­head­ing in en­abling value added ser­vices, freight for­ward­ing, as­sem­bly and pack­ag­ing.

Kindly en­lighten on some up­com­ing projects

Bahrain is cur­rently in­vest­ing around 33 bil­lion US dol­lars in new in­fra­struc­ture projects. About 10-11 bil­lion dol­lars of that goes to in­dus­tries. There is a re­fin­ery ex­pan­sion of about 5.5 bil­lion dol­lar to dou­ble its ca­pac­ity, there is a gas process­ing com­pany which is ex­pand­ing and also an in­vest­ment in a new 300 mil­lion dol­lar pipe­line con­nected with the King­dom of Saudi Ara­bia, the Gulf re­gion’s big­gest econ­omy. A sec­ond cause­way is also be­ing built con­nect­ing Bahrain to Saudi Ara­bia as well as ex­pan­sion of the Bahrain In­ter­na­tional Air­port. Ap­prox­i­mately 15 mil­lion dol­lars are also be­ing in­vested in so­cial hous­ing.

What is Bahrain’s USP?

There is a lot of in­ter­est from in­ter­na­tional com­pa­nies in Bahrain as a re­gional man­u­fac­tur­ing and dis­tri­bu­tion base. Ma­jor in­ter­na­tional man­u­fac­tur­ing busi­nesses from all over the world use Bahrain as a hub, in­clud­ing In­dia’s JBF and Chemco, BASF, one of the world’s big­gest chem­i­cal com­pa­nies, and Modelez (for­merly known as Kraft Foods), one of the world’s big­gest food man­u­fac­tur­ers. The ad­van­tages of set­ting up


a man­u­fac­tur­ing busi­ness in Bahrain in­clude:


Bahrain is strate­gi­cally lo­cated at the heart of the Gulf, a mar­ket cur­rently worth around 1.5 bil­lion dol­lars and ex­pected to reach 2 bil­lion dol­lars by 2020. Bahrain is con­nected by a road cause­way to Saudi Ara­bia, the Gulf’s big­gest econ­omy, and has a num­ber of free trade agreements with some of the world’s big­gest mar­kets, in­clud­ing the United States.

Bahrain is 20-25 per cent cheaper than other GCC coun­tries for cost of con­struc­tion, man­power, util­i­ties, truck­ing, or is­su­ing com­mer­cial li­censes, lo­gis­tics where the cost of OPEX or CAPEX is less, in­clud­ing em­ployee cost.


Bahrain has a wellestab­lished frame­work of its com­mer­cial laws and labour laws. To­day, Bahrain is the only coun­try in the re­gion that of­fers 100 per cent for­eign own­er­ship in al­most all activities with­out free zone re­stric­tions. This means that prod­ucts man­u­fac­tured in Bahrain can be ex­ported within the GCC with no re­quire­ment to pay du­ties.


Bahrain has one of the high­est skilled work forces in the re­gion. In terms of em­ploy­ment, we have struc­tured poli­cies. Each busi­ness has lo­cal­i­sa­tion re­quire­ments, like all coun­tries in the re­gion, but com­pa­nies of­ten ex­ceed these due to the high qual­ity of labour avail­able. Bahrai­nis are bilin­gual and are work­ing across all in­dus­tries.


Tam­keen is an or­gan­i­sa­tion that helps em­ploy­ees and em­ploy­ers. It pro­vides salary sub­si­dies, train­ing and grants. They look at cer­tain cri­te­ria like hir­ing, salaries, na­ture of op­er­a­tion and ex­port cov­er­age. Be­ing in op­er­a­tions for past 10 years, Tam­keen sup­ports busi­nesses based in Bahrain to find and train local ta­lent, and helps Bahrai­nis to move to­ward self-em­ploy­ment and en­trepreneur­ship, soft sup­port to con­sult­ing, etc.


Fi­nally is avail­abil­ity of world class in­fra­struc­ture, well ser­viced in­dus­trial parks, as well as the Bahrain In­ter­na­tional Air­port and the new King Sal­man Port, launched in 2009 and man­aged by APM Ter­mi­nals. Our port is the most ef­fi­cient in terms of turn of and turn­around time. We have the Bahrain Lo­gis­tics Zone for lo­gis­tics activities, and for com­pa­nies who want to estab­lish re­dis­tri­bu­tion cen­tres. The Bahrain In­ter­na­tional In­vest­ment Park caters to com­pa­nies in­ter­ested in in­vest­ing in the King­dom and ex­port­ing glob­ally. It is strate­gi­cally lo­cated next to the port, a few min­utes from the air­port, and is on the high­way to Saudi Ara­bia. Com­pa­nies like JBF In­dia, Mon­delez, BASF and many other have ben­e­fited from the in­fra­struc­ture fa­cil­i­ties avail­able in the coun­try. Bahrain is also the Mid­dle East hub for DHL, the global lo­gis­tics com­pany.


Bahrain does not have any cor­po­rate or per­sonal taxes and as far all we know there is no in­ten­tion ex­cept for VAT, which, along­side other coun­tries in the re­gion, may be in­tro­duced from 2018.

Bahrain is the only coun­try in the re­gion that of­fers 100 per cent for­eign own­er­ship in al­most all activities with­out free zone re­stric­tions

Hus­sain bin Ra­jab Di­rec­tor, Man­u­fac­tur­ing, Trans­port, & Lo­gis­tics Sec­tors, Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Board, King­dom of Bahrain

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