Global investment in Bahrain reached record-breaking heights last year, exceeding the national forecast, at $733mn. With Bahrain also gaining the top spot on several global business rankings, 2017’s milestones highlight the Kingdom’s commitment to becoming one of the most vibrant and business-friendly nations in the region.
Today, we can proudly celebrate these achievements, having been ranked the number one globally for expats and families by InterNations, and number one regionally for youth development by the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Human Capital Index. In addition, Bahrain was ranked number one in the Arab world for ICT development by the ICT Development Index, which contributed, as well as many other factors, to increasing job creation from foreign investment by 72 percent.
The ICT sector was also the highest attractor of inward investment in 2017, contributing 54 per cent of overall attracted investment, led by Amazon Web Services. Significant steps have been taken to develop the sector, strengthening Bahrain’s position as a regional ICT hub. This is personified through the breadth of talent, ownership and innovation in the Kingdom.
Building on Bahrain’s long-established strengths as a manufacturing hub, this sector attracted 20% of our 2017 inward investment, led by Mondelez International Group. Transport and logistics followed suit with 10 per cent of total investments making it clear that Bahrain’s strategic location and direct road link to the GCC’s largest market, Saudi Arabia, combined with its low operating and set-up costs, are causing the manufacturing and logistics sector to thrive.
From a tourism perspective, investments in infrastructure are helping grow Bahrain’s offering as the Kingdom aims to increase visitor numbers to 15 million by 2020. With a current tourism investment pipeline of US$13bn, new commitments led by Action Hotels and taxi services app Careem accounted for 10 percent of inward investment secured in 2017.
Finally, financial services added five percent to the overall investment figure, buoyed by the launch of Bahrain FinTech Bay, the largest FinTech hub in the MENA region, demonstrating Bahrain’s growing dominance in the FinTech space.
Overall, by the close of 2017, the EDB had increased our inward investment by 161 percent compared to the previous year. This achievement was supported by the eight new business-friendly policies and regulations introduced in the last 12 months, including the region’s only cloud-first policy, and first onshore FinTech regulatory sandbox.
We also added no less than 71 new companies to the Bahrain Economic Development Board’s (EDB) growing partnership ecosystem, further demonstrating the attractive business climate of the Kingdom.
These record achievements were made possible by the significant joint efforts between the EDB and our public-sector partners. Together, our goal is to drive Bahrain’s Economic Vision 2030, and accelerate its transition towards a diversified economy that harnesses the productivity of a talented population. This will enable Bahrain to continue competing on a global level.
“Bahrain is in a unique position to attract investments from international and regional companies seeking to access opportunities across the $1.5 trillion GCC market range. This is thanks to the Kingdom’s strategic location and highly supportive regulatory environment, which provides businesses with advanced infrastructure, low operating costs, and a highly-skilled local workforce,” said HE Khalid Al Rumaihi, Chief Executive, EDB.
This record growth contributed to a forecasted generation of 2,800 local jobs over the next three years, which is more than 1000 higher than the forecast in 2016.
EDB is committed to continue building on these achievements as Bahrain moves closer towards its Economic Vision 2030.
Read more about the EDB’s achievements in its 2017 Annual Report.