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The Report: Bahrain 2015

  • ID: 3128465
  • March 2015
  • Region: Bahrain
  • 244 Pages
  • Oxford Business Group
GDP is expected to grow significantly over the next 10 years

As the region faces up to the challenge of the recent drop in oil prices, Bahrain’s fundamentals indicate the kingdom is well positioned to weather the dip. The focus on diversification goals outlined in Economic Vision 2030 is helping establish a more competitive and sustainable economy in the kingdom. The financial sector, which represents Bahrain’s second-largest GDP contributor, has continued to recover robustly since the global economic downturn.

The kingdom rose to prominence as the region’s financial hub in the 1970s and today, despite increasing competition from its neighbours, it is bolstering this position as it leads the way in the Islamic banking segment, hosting the highest concentration of Islamic financial institutions globally. The takaful segment represents one of the fastest growing segments in Bahrain’s insurance sector, itself boasting the highest insurance penetration rate in the GCC. Meanwhile a rising population is driving housing and transport infrastructure in the country with private contractors benefitting as a result. Looking forward, these expansions to rail and air links should boost the kingdom’s tourism offering, with tourism’s contribution to GDP expected to grow significantly over the next 10 years, while elsewhere the projects will drive Bahrain’s role as a regional logistics centre, with the kingdom aiming to position itself as a key entry point to the GCC moving forward.

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1. Snapshot
- Bahrain in figures

2. Country Profile
- Island nation: The kingdom remains a key regional player on several fronts
- Economic empowerment: A strategy for the advancement of women
- Viewpoint: King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa
- Orient express: Trade with Asia is growing and diversifying
- Interview: Lim Hng Kiang, Singapore Minister for Trade and Industry

3. Economy
- Fiscal challenges: Spending increases and lower oil prices are putting pressure on government finances
- Interview: Kamal bin Ahmed, Acting Chief Executive, Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB)
- Interview: Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifa, Minister of Finance
- Striking a balance: Efforts are under way to improve the kingdom’s fiscal position
- Interview: Le Luong Minh, Secretary-General, Association of South-East Asian Nations
- Interview: Abdul Latif Al Zayani, Secretary-General, GCC
- Gateway to trade: Attracting an increasing flow of FDI with investor-friendly policies
- Interview: Alderman Fiona Woolf, Lord Mayor of London
- Interview: Mahmood Hashim Al Kooheji, CEO, Mumtalakat
- On-site benefits: Industrial zones offer additional investment incentives

4. Banking
- Proven resilience: While the makeup of the sector has changed, the kingdom has retained its role as a leading regional financial centre
- Consolidation: Mergers and acquisitions among players in different market segments
- Viewpoint: Khalid Hamad, Executive Director - Banking Supervision, CBB, and Chairman, International Islamic Financial Market
- Interview: Abdul Razak Al Qassim, Chairman, Bahrain Association of Banks, and CEO, National Bank of Bahrain
- Experts weigh in: Insights from key players on the sector’s development and growth
- Interview: Hassan Jarrar, CEO, Standard Chartered Bahrain

5. Capital Markets
- On the up: Market capitalisation grows as the bourse celebrates its 25th year
- Interview: Khalifa bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, CEO, Bahrain Bourse (BHB)
- Viewpoint: Najla M Al Shirawi, CEO, Securities & Investment Company
- Encouraging activity: Moves are being made to support new listings and foreign investment
- Batelco: Telecommunications
- Seef: Real estate
- Alba: Aluminium
- AUB: Banking
- Gulf Hotel Group: Hospitality
- Al Salam Bank-Bahrain: Banking

6. Islamic Financial Services
- Leader of the pack: The sector is moving toward greater consolidation and diversity
- Dialogue: Adnan Ahmed Yousif, President and CEO, Al Baraka Banking Group, and Aabed Al-Zeera, CEO, International Investment Bank
- Regulatory matters: New rules could take the sector to the next level
- Planning ahead: Growth in pension funds bodes well for the sector

7. Insurance
- Channelling growth: New distribution and partnerships set to expand sector as consumer awareness rises
- Staking a claim: Aspirations to become a regional reinsurance centre define the industry

8. Energy
- Getting down to business: New investments are aimed at overhauling power generation and increasing production
- Interview: Abdul Hussain bin Ali Mirza, Minister of Energy
- Fine tuning: Upgrades to refinery capacity will allow the country to take advantage of new demand for products
- Interview: Pete Bartlett, CEO, Bahrain Petroleum Company (Bapco)
- Looking further afield: The kingdom is considering new options as demand for LNG increases
- Waste not, want not: With consumption projected to rise, Bahrain hopes to build new power plants and increase energy efficiency

9. Transport
- Land, sea, air: Expansions on all fronts and partnering with regional neighbours
- Interview: Maher Salman Al Musallam, Acting CEO, Gulf Air
- Flying high: An upgrade of the airport and strategic plans by the national carrier are set to increase capacity
- Logistically speaking: Efforts are under way to position the kingdom as a key entry point

10. Real Estate & Construction
- Moving past recovery: The retail and housing segments see growth as the sector begins to bounce back
- High-rising market: Though the rental market continues to be subdued, apartment sales are increasing
- Interview: Abdulla Faisal Al Doseri, Deputy CEO, Bahrain Bay
- Public works, private partners: A raft of development plans promote infrastructure and home building
- Home sweet home: Projects are planned to meet the need for social and affordable housing
- Interview: Mohammed Khalil Alsayed, CEO, Ithmaar Development Company (IDC)

11. Industry
- Paths to growth: Low energy costs, a clutch of trade agreements and a prime location support non-oil manufacturing
- Interview: HE Dr Hassan Fakhro, Advisor to the King for Economic Affairs
- Fledgling pharma: The young pharmaceuticals industry takes new strides
- Industrial scale: Incentives provided by special economic zones draw a range of tenants
- Interview: Tim Murray, CEO, Aluminium Bahrain (Alba)

12. Tourism
- Something for everyone: Investments in hotels and infrastructure continue to drive growth
- Game on: International sporting events
- Local talent: Tourism is key for the broader Bahrainisation drive

13. Education
- Head start: A regional leader in the sector
- Investing in the future: Opportunities for private involvement are growing
- Interview: Solveig Nicklos, Director, BIBF
- Future proof: The kingdom’s first higher education and national research strategy

14. Health
- For the future: Staying ahead of health trends
- Eye on expansion: Developing health tourism

15. Telecoms & IT
- Licence to call: Mature market sees growth from more data demand
- Interview: Mohammed Ali Al Qaed, CEO, eGovernment Authority (eGA)
- More Gs please: New technology and spectrum allocation stoke industry growth
- Roundtable: Alan Whelan, Group CEO, Batelco; Ulaiyan Al Wetaid, CEO, VIVA Bahrain; and Mohammed Zainalabedin, General Manager, Zain Bahrain
- Cable manners: The government gets online as national coverage grows
- Start me up: The public and private sectors partner to support SME growth

16. Legal Framework
Zu’bi & Partners, Attorneys & Legal Consultants
- Life, labour and business: Examining recent legislation affecting employers
- A new proposal for cyber crimes: A draft law addresses computer-based crimes
- Viewpoint: Qays H Zu’bi, Senior Partner, Zu’bi & Partners, Attorneys & Legal Consultants

17. The Guide
- A bed for the night: Local accommodation
- Listings: Key contact numbers
- Facts for visitors: Useful tips for new arrivals

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Note: Product cover images may vary from those shown

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