Bahrain sees good foreign investment flow
Manama, January 8, 2013
Bahrain witnessed significant foreign investment flow throughout 2012, with 40 international businesses from North America, Europe and Asia as well as the Middle East region setting up their operations in the Kingdom, said a top official.
This was a mainly due to the direct outreach activities carried out by the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB).
The EDB attracted investments in 2012 from North America, Europe and Asia as well as the Middle East region. These will help create close to 900 jobs over the course of three years across a range of sectors including financial and professional services, logistics and renewable energy.
Non- financial services related investments comprised over $102 million, particularly in the areas of professional services and information and communications technology (ICT).
Commenting on the FDI flow, Kamal bin Ahmed, Minister of Transportation and acting chief executive of the EDB, said, “We are delighted at the ongoing international investment we have seen in 2012."
The increase in the number of foreign investors over the last year illustrates the Kingdom’s wide-ranging attractions; from the most skilled workforce in the region and liberal business environment to the low costs, competitive taxation and ready access to the GCC market, he added.
During the course of the year, the EDB continued to assist companies that had initiated projects in the Kingdom in 2011, including the inauguration of projects by German industrial firm RMA and German chemical company BASF.
These businesses, along with Indian Polyester company JBF, invested $200 million during the course of 2011, will help create over 500 jobs over the course of three years in the Kingdom.
As a leading business and financial hub at the heart of the Gulf, a market now worth $1.4 trillion, Bahrain has long been considered the gateway to the region, with easy access to the large economies of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar.
The Kingdom’s highly skilled bilingual local workforce and low cost of doing business mean that it is a natural home for firms looking to invest in the region, said the official.
“As we look forward to 2013, the EDB, both in Bahrain and in our offices around the world, will continue to work alongside our key partners across Government and the private sector, to ensure we help deliver further opportunities for Bahrain,” remarked Kamal bin Ahmed.
According to the companies that have set up in the Kingdom, the key reasons behind their investment in Bahrain include:
•Bahrain’s long history as a regional financial hub means that there is excellent infrastructure alongside a strong and recognized regulatory environment;
•Location provides a unique base in the GCC for international export;
•The availability of a highly skilled workforce and a low cost base proved highly persuasive;
•The active support provided by the EDB throughout the process of setting up and operating in Bahrain.
The Kingdom’s favourable business conditions were further endorsed in 2012 by the Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom, in which the Kingdom was ranked first in the Mena region in recognition of Bahrain’s strong economic fundamentals.
Bahrain was also recently ranked number one, alongside the UAE, in the Fraser Institute’s annual report on Economic Freedom of the Arab World. The Kingdom has been ranked in first place in the Fraser Institute’s report since 2009.
The other key foreign investments in 2012 include multi-asset class investment manager PineBridge Investments, international service company Serco Consulting, Swiss asset management firm NotzStucki, India-based First Flight Couriers, US-based smart energy solutions provider Petra Solar,
PineBridge Investments selected Bahrain as the location for its Mena headquarters. PineBridge received a Category 1 license from the Central Bank of Bahrain and has established its regional headquarters in Manama.
The new firm, PineBridge Investments Middle East will cover the Mena and Turkey. PineBridge currently has offices in Dubai and Istanbul, and has US$67 billion of assets under management.
Serco Consulting opened consulting offices in Bahrain, which will serve significant projects being undertaken by the company in Saudi Arabia. Serco offers a range of management and operations consulting services across the financial services, telecommunications, utilities and public sector markets.
NotzStucki selected Bahrain as the location for its regional office in the Middle East. It is one of the largest independent asset management companies in Europe, with $7.5 billion of assets under management.
First Flight Couriers launched its Bahrain office this year. A significant player in express courier services in the UAE, First Flight Couriers (Middle East) operations now serves more than 250 countries and covers 1,800 destinations, with a network of 930 own offices and 8 international offshoots.
Petra Solar launched a five megawatt solar energy pilot project in Bahrain. This project marked the first phase of a national energy plan to generate electricity from renewable sources.
The solar energy project is a collaborative effort between the Bahrain Petroleum Company, the EDB, Petra Solar, Caspian Energy Holdings, the National Oil and Gas Authority, the Electricity & Water Authority, and the University of Bahrain.
Petra Solar was selected by the Bahrain Petroleum Company to install the distributed smart solar system to supply electricity throughout the BAPCO township of Awali, the University of Bahrain, and other locations in the Kingdom.
On the new Bahraini joint ventures, Kamal bin Ahmed said Al Zayani Investments entered into a JV agreement with Imerys, the world leader in mineral-based specialty solutions for industry, headquartered in France.
Treibacher Al Zayani Schleifmittel will manufacture white fused alumina in Bahrain. The project is being established in Salman Industrial City, Hidd for approximately $30 million.
Gulf House engineering has been appointed to design and oversee the construction of the factory, which is expected to start up at the end of 2013.
The French consultancy company, Galitt, announced that it would base its regional office in Bahrain. The company specialises in payment systems and secure electronic transactions,is involved in pivotal projects around the world, including Near Field Communication.-TradeArabia News Service