Bahrain’s economy has lost up to $2 billion due to political unrest that hit the Gulf Arab island state in February, the head of the country’s chamber of commerce was quoted Monday as saying. The small non-OPEC oil producer was thrown into turmoil in February when protesters, mostly majority Shiites, took to the streets in numbers demanding democratic reforms in the Sunni-ruled state. The island kingdom’s worst unrest since the 1990s was put down in March in a government crackdown that called in troops and police from neighboring Arab countries. The unrest forced the cancellation in June of a Formula One Grand Prix, a major and popularsporting event in Bahrain, and British newspapers also reported last week that there would be no European Tour golf event in the Gulf state early next year.
“The damages are between $1.5 and $2 billion, and I don’t think this amount is exaggerated, but things are slowly getting back to normal,” Esam Fakhro, chairman of the Bahrain chamber of commerce, was quoted as saying by the pan-Arab Ash-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper. Bahrain’s government actions had contributed to a return in confidence and re-assured investors, Fakhro said.
Bahrain, Sunday, said it had released a group of detainees, including two former members of parliament, charged over the anti-government demonstrations. Standard & Poor’s last month removed Bahrain ratings from credit watch negative, citing an easing of political tensions and expectations that increased public spending would lift economic growth next year.
Analysts polled by Reuters earlier in June expected the country’s economy to recover and expand by 2.7 percent this year.