Bahrain’s economic diversification starts paying off

Minister Zayed Zayani,

MANAMA: As Bahrain continues to focus on diversifying its economic base, the Kingdom’s industrial sector has witnessed growth as the manufacturing sector had accounted for about 15% of the GDP.

Bahrain has attracted major local and international projects across its eight industrial zones covering an area of 22 square kilometers and 800 establishments.

HE Zayed Al Zayani, the Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism in his opening remarks at the Invest in Bahrain Forum 2017 said that

Invest in Bahrain 2017 is being held at the Bahrain International Exhibition and Convention Centre coinciding with the World Entrepreneurs Investment Forum 2017.

The Minister told hundreds of participants that industrial sector today represents one of the five key economic sectors which have a priority in the current phase.

“There is no doubt that the government’s diligent work to reinforce national industries and increase their competitive edge regionally and internationally has resulted in many achievements,” he said.

His Highness Shaikh Salman bin Khalifa Al Khalifa, Advisor to His Royal Highness the Prime Minister attended the conference as chief guest attended the Forum.

“The successive efforts and initiatives of the Bahrain government and the ambitious steps taken by the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism with the blessings of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, the directives and supervision of His Royal Highness Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, and the support and encouragement of His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Prime Minister, reflect the determination of our wise leadership to continue to achieve balanced and sustainable development and improve the Kingdom’s economic performance for the prosperity of its beloved citizens.

“The implemented as well as the under-review initiatives of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism in recent years have translated into reality the government’s approach, strategy and vision, especially the 2030 Vision. Those initiatives aim to diversify the sources of income, expand the economic base, and encourage the private sector to augment its contribution to the economy. This is being done especially through a dedicated resolve to develop legislation and systems to offer the necessary protection for local and foreign investments and attract foreign investments in cooperation with the Bahrain Economic Board by creating an attractive, appropriate and friendly investment environment. By the grace of God Bahrain has succeeded in achieving these goals thanks to the support of HRH Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa.

“The industrial sector witnessed further stimulation after the Ministry launched, at the end of last year, a comprehensive e-system for industrial services that covered the processing of industrial licence applications, registration of industrial establishments in the Kingdom, the facility of exemption from customs duties on industrial equipment, and e-services to facilitate the submission of applications without the need for personal attendance. A total of 837 industrial licence applications were approved through the e-system last year.

“One of the most important moves of the Ministry in 2017, that reflects the aspiration to create an ideal investment environment in the Kingdom, is the launch of business incubators facility through the e-system portal SIJILAT. This is part of the support and guidance provided by the government and shows its dedication to introduce facilities to develop an entrepreneurial environment and promote innovation to drive the nation’s economic growth, and the launch of SIJILAT service granted to individuals to conduct their work from their homes, where 484 CR has been issued since its launch in December 2016.

“A service has also been launched to license mobile food vehicles as part of the Ministry’s efforts to support small projects run by individuals by giving them legal status through simplified procedures to run businesses.

“In view of the strategic brotherly ties between Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, the Saudi Investors Centre was also inaugurated this year for which the agreement was reached in less than three months. The centre constitutes one of distinguished service channels of the Ministry to facilitate and speed up the procedures for Saudi Investments in Bahrain through further facilities and incentives, it being the largest sector in the field. Through the centre, Saudi investors can be listed on the Bahrain Stock Exchange as it is also linked with Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul). I am glad to inform Your Highness and the attendees that the centre processed 5,000 applications since its opening until May.

“The year 2017 also witnessed the launch of the Bahrain Bourse to operate the Bahrain Investment Market. It is an innovative stock market specifically designed to empower companies with growth potential in the region to obtain capital in effective ways in term of time and cost. The market is designed to use the e-auction system to find the real price of a share.”

“The government’s keenness to create an attractive investment environment led to the adoption of the best international practices and the continuation of legal and legislative reforms. Thus, in order to set the best mechanisms to implement the decision to make 20% of the government purchases and allocate as many tenders to the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and to promote economic development, the company law was reviewed to support minority contributors, and so was the bankruptcy law that allows companies to organise their financial affairs.

“An analytical study carried out by the General Secretariat of the Union of Arab Banks shows there are 10 Bahraini banks in the list of the 1,000 largest banks in the world based on the data published in The Banker magazine for July 2017.”

Meanwhile, the Minister said, efforts are continuing to meet the government’s aspirations as the Kingdom moves steadily to develop the tourism sector. This year has witnessed a noticeable rise in tourist arrivals. There were 8.7 million visitors until September this year constituting an increase by 12.8% over the same period in 2016.

“As for the participation in international exhibitions to reinforce Bahrain’s position as a destination for exhibitions and conferences and offer incentives to attract businessmen and specialised exhibitions at the international and local levels, we for the first took part in the France Exhibition. The Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority also succeeded in attracting Forum Des Pioneers which will be held in Bahrain this year. For the first time, Bahrain has also won the membership of the Executive Council of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation for 2018-21, thanks to the authority’s efforts in developing family, Gulf and international tourism sectors.

“Seven representative offices have also been set up – in Saudi Arabia, the UK, Germany, France, India, China and Russia – to attract more tourist groups and attract international tourists. More than 37,000 non-Saudi tourists arrived in Bahrain as a result of the efforts of those offices. In addition, there were 69,87,844 Saudi tourists this year compared to 55,84,043 last year.

“Bahrain’s dedication to develop all sectors has taken it to the top of the list of preferable locations for expatriates for work and living with their families in 2017, according to an international study that covered migrants across 166 nationalities.

Our forum is special this year as it coincides with the World Entrepreneurs Investment Forum 2017 organised by the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, Tamkeen and the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation. The forum includes an exhibition to reinforce partnerships between entrepreneurs from various countries and the creation of new investments to develop SMEs.”

“The Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism strives to turn these annual forums into scientific platforms for a transparent dialogue between the government and the capital owners. Through them, investors are approached with studied investment opportunities in a number of targeted sectors to promote Bahrain as an attractive investment destination.”

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