Bahrain developments in world’s top ‘free zones of the future’
The Bahrain Logistics Zone (BLZ) , Bahrain International Airport (BIA)  and Bahrain International Investment Park (BIIP)  have been ranked among the world's top 25 'Free Zones of the Future' from 700 worldwide.
All (BIIP: 2; BLZ: 3; BIA: 10) also featured in the world's top 10 for 'best facilities' in the Global Free Zones of the Future 2010/11 report by Foreign Direct Investment Magazine (fDi), part of the Financial Times Business Group. The findings reflect the Kingdom's continued investment in its logistics credentials. It also represents a growing acknowledgment of Bahrain as the gateway to the trillion dollar Gulf market, according to the nation's Economic Development Board (EDB).
Kamal Ahmed, Chief Operating Officer of the EDB and Acting Chairman and CEO of the Bahrain Airport Company, said: "The fDi Magazine rankings reflect our commitment in Bahrain to creating the optimum business environment for international companies to do business in and from. And they show the importance of prudent investment in developments such as BLZ, BIA and BIIP in helping to achieve the ambitions of Vision 2030."
The EDB – which has the responsibility for creating the right climate to attract foreign investment – is leading the process of Bahrain's Vision 2030 under the guidance of His Royal Highness Prince Salman Bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the Crown Prince of Bahrain and Chairman of the EDB.
Bahrain does not impose the restrictions of ring-fencing within 'Free Zones'. Products manufactured in the Kingdom and sold into GCC and other Arab markets are free of import duties, providing a five percent margin against Free Zone locations throughout the GCC. Bahrain also has zero personal tax, no corporate tax and permits 100 percent foreign ownership of companies – a key attraction for international business looking to establish a presence in a region anticipating enviable levels of economic growth.
The $280m BLZ, scheduled to open in 2011, has been designed to capitalise on the Kingdom's close proximity to Saudi Arabia and at just 13km from Bahrain International Airport also claims the shortest logistics transfer time to and from sea/air in the region.
Shaikh Daij bin Salman Al Khalifa, Chairman, General Organisation of Sea Ports, added: "The Bahrain Logistics Zone's (BLZ) inclusion in the top 10 ranking on fDi's list of Global Free Zones of the Future comes as a tremendous achievement for a relatively young entrant in the global free zone market. Featuring alongside the leading free zones of the world is a testament to BLZ's high business potential, and a clear recognition of its adopting international best practices in logistics services and facilities.
"We are proud that this underscores the Kingdom of Bahrain's position as an emerging multimodal logistics leader for efficiently serving the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Northern Gulf markets. We look forward to accomplishing higher standards as we move ahead towards establishing BLZ as an ideal regional base and gateway from which regional and international businesses will be able to access the high-potential markets of the Gulf."
The airport itself is undergoing a $4.8 billion expansion programme and will soon be home to Cargo Oasis, an expanded handling facility that will treble air cargo to one million tonnes per annum – comparable with London's Heathrow. And the BIIP, a 247 hectare Business Park developed by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce which already houses the likes of Kraft Foods, will be located within the Salman Industrial City. Salman Industrial City has already had $3.5 billion inflow of investments, a figure projected to reach $7.6 billion after various projects are completed.
Earlier this month a Bahrain delegation was in the Czech Republic capital of Prague to showcase the Kingdom's logistics credentials at the annual European Supply Chain and Logistics Summit. In March, Bahrain was ranked 22 of 121 economies worldwide in the 2010 Enabling Trade Index which measures institutions, policies and services facilitating the free flow of goods over borders.
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