MANAMA: Bahrain is succeeding in becoming an investor’s gateway to the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region, says a local economist. More and more new companies are choosing Bahrain as headquarters and others in the region are looking to shift their offices here Mashal Group chief executive director and economist Dr Yousef Mashal told GDN. This is as a result of the economic strategy initiated by the Crown Prince and first deputy HRH Sheikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa through the Economic Development Board (EDB), he said. Investors are choosing Bahrain because of its economic and social freedom and freedom of movement, as well as the benefits provided by the government, added the economist ‘The government of Bahrain provides full ownership to investors, it provides a resident permit and investors can sponsor their own employees and buy their own land and property here and this is an additional benefit,” explained Dr Mashal. And price wise it is more feasible to set up a company in Bahrain than anywhere else in the region. We also have much more experience dealing with international and multinational companies since Bahrain has been a hub for these companies for the last 50 to 60 years and we know how to provide these services and at what cost. All this gives Bahrain an edge over other countries. Dr Mashal said Bahrain has also put in place strategies to train its workforce and this has assured investors they will be provided with the employees they need. All this started with the plans and blue-print by the Crown Prince through the EDB and we have started seeing the benefits of the labor and educational reforms and we are now seeing the start of economic reforms, he said. This is also in a move to reduce dependence on declining oil reserves and encourage foreign investment by diversifying the economy. Testimony of Bahrain’s economic freedom can be seen in many international reports where Bahrain’s economy scored highly in economic freedom, including business Freedom, fiscal freedom, monetary freedom and financial freedom. It also confirms that Bahrain is the fastest growing economy in the region. In a short period of time Bahrain has become the first freest economy in region. This is a very good sign and is what investors in the world will be looking at, said Dr Mashal. It shows the strategy taken by the Crown Prince through the EDB is becoming fruitful. Bahrain has a right and known strategy and has taken steps to eliminate the red tape in doing investment in Bahrain and that’s why ranks Bahrain high in many economic reports. Dr Mashal said the country had a highly regarded legal system that allows foreign firms to resolve disputes satisfactorily through the local courts with no prohibitions on the use of international arbitration to safeguard contracts. Because of its communications and transportation infrastructure, regulatory structure and cosmopolitan outlook, Bahrain has become home to many multinational firms that do business in the region he said. Bahrain has also succeeded in developing itself as a financial hub noted Dr Mashal.
Dr. Yousef Hamed Mashal
Economist and Political Analyst