News that McLaren Automotive has chosen Bahrain for its regional HQ reflects the Kingdom’s own track record as an international business hub, according to Shaikh Mohammed bin Essa Al Khalifa, Chief Executive of the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB).
The British high-performance sports car manufacturer announced last week that it will site its head office at the award-winning Bahrain International Circuit (BIC). The competitive cost and ease of setting-up business in Bahrain were cited as key factors in the firm’s decision by Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific regional director Ian Gorsuch. For Shaikh Mohammed, it is further endorsement of the steps taken to create an environment conducive to doing business in order to attract foreign economic investment.
Shaikh Mohammed said: “McLaren is just one of a growing number of international companies that recognise Bahrain as the location of choice from which to access the trillion dollar Gulf market and wider Middle East. In Bahrain, our plan has always been about building sustainable growth through sound and flexible economic policy, a highly educated and skilled national workforce, diversified economy, and tried and tested regulation. In today’s re-set world, our strong track record provides the optimum environment to do business both in and from Bahrain.”
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. The plans are designed to drive the private sector as an engine for growth, support further diversification of the economy and ultimately elevate national living standards by creating greater opportunities for Bahrainis.
McLaren Automotive has close links with Bahrain; Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Company has a 50 percent stake in the company and a 42 percent stake in McLaren Group. Like Mumtalakat, ranked the second most transparent sovereign wealth fund in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) by the independent Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute[i], Bahrain places a high priority on openness. The Kingdom is ranked the freest economy in the Middle East and 13th in the world by the 2010 Heritage Foundation / Wall Street Journal Index of Economic Freedom.
Bahrain has substantial experience in the automotive sector. Last month the Formula One (F1) Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix returned to the Kingdom for the seventh consecutive year. The first race of the 60th anniversary season of the FIA Formula One World Championship also brought news that CNBC had chosen the Kingdom as its regional editorial hub to cover the Middle East. This followed an announcement by Deloitte earlier this year that it had chosen the Kingdom to host its new Islamic Finance Knowledge Centre (IFKC). The companies join the likes of American Express, BNP Paribas, DHL and Kraft which had already selected Bahrain as a regional base.