If you ask those that have the pleasure of living on this island, they would agree that Bahrain is a remarkable destination in terms of culture, quality of living, and lifestyle. The recent HSBC Expat Explorer Survey confirms just that, ranking Bahrain as the top destination in the Middle East. The annual survey counts as a holistic assessment of expats experiences across three key areas. Namely economics, experience, and family. This year, Bahrain’s position moved up to fifth in the world, up from ninth in 2017.
But what factors have helped drive our position in the rankings?
The HSBC survey stated that, in comparison to 2017, Bahrain’s standing has increased significantly across all the key indicators, up by 12, 5 and 4 positions respectively. The primary drivers of this were wage growth, opportunities for career progression, work-life balance, job security, access to quality childcare and the welcoming nature of Bahraini society – all vital factors in ensuring a smooth transition into a new working environment and settling into new surroundings with a family.
Bahrain has consistently ranked as the top location in the MENA region to live, work and raise a family, but the recent rise in our global positioning has been in large part due to the work of both the public and private sectors in working closely together as part of what we like to call ‘Team Bahrain’. Over the past couple of years, a number of steps have been taken to enhance expats’ access to extensive cultural and business resources, which have evidently been recognised by those living and working in the Kingdom.
Being the only MENA nation in the 2018 HSBC survey to increase in ranking in the top ten destinations is a testament to our ongoing initiatives that are aimed at driving both national and foreign investment.
This is further supported by our positioning in the 2018 InterNations Expat Survey, in which Bahrain was ranked number one for the second year running, with exceptionally high performances achieved in factors such as ‘ease of settling in,’ ‘feeling at home’ and ‘digital life.’
But it’s not just the first-class lifestyle that is alluring to expats. Our business environment is undergoing constant improvements. For example, the introduction of the Al Waha Venture Capital Fund of Funds, a new $100m venture capital fund of funds supported by the Bahrain Development Bank, has been designed to provide the funding needed by FinTechs and other startups looking to grow in Bahrain. The recent migration of 40 government systems to the cloud adds to the ease of doing business for entrepreneurs seeking to set up operations in the Kingdom.
Additionally, the establishment of Bahrain FinTech Bay, our first dedicated hub for financial technology and a regulatory sandbox which offers business licenses tailored specifically to startups, allows movers and shakers in the tech industry to develop pioneering technology and gain access to partners who can help develop their business strategies. Community initiatives such as StartUp Bahrain also create opportunities for professionals with interest in the digital ecosystem to align their efforts with investors and accelerator programs that allow entrepreneurs to chart a path for sustained growth.
These globally recognised surveys go a long way to showcase Bahrain’s suitability as a location for expats to thrive. They are also tantamount to our position as an open, liberal and welcoming society, that provides a platform not only for new and existing businesses but also families to flourish.