Bahrain will make investments of more than $20 billion over the coming years in large scale industrial and infrastructure projects, the GCC development fund, as well as government and private sector investment, a top official has said.
Economic Development Board (EDB) chief economist Dr Jarmo Kotilaine told a panel discussion during the First Annual Global Employers’ Summit yesterday that this is aimed at spurring public and private sector participation across the manufacturing, energy, healthcare and education sectors. This includes a commitment to build 25,000 housing units over the coming four-year period.
He said it was also a reflection of Bahrain’s diversification efforts over the past decade and the general resilience of the GCC economies at a time of doubt about the global recovery. EDB is the semi-private autonomous agency responsible for formulating the country’s future economic development strategy. “Even as the hydrocarbons sector experiences a decline, headline real gross domestic product expanded by 2.9 per cent last year and we continue to project robust growth throughout this year and the next,” he said.
Dr Kotilaine said forward-looking indicators point to a high degree of continuity in the regional non-oil economy, reflecting the strength of key structural growth drivers and the commitment of regional governments and investors to long-term projects.
“Bahrain has been a trading outpost along the old Silk Road connecting the Gulf to the world for thousands of years, due to its strategic role as a gateway for mobilising foreign direct investment and trade facilitation between the countries of the Maritime and Continental Silk Road.”
The welcoming business environment and skilled workforce contributed to the growth of the country’s economy and success of its business story, he added. The kingdom has some of the lowest operating costs in the region and tried and tested regulations that meet international standards and the best practice worldwide implemented for the development of entrepreneurs and micro, small and medium enterprises in Bahrain, he said.
Bahrain’s open business environment has attracted international business from around the world looking to access the fast-growing GCC market, currently worth $1.6 trillion and expected to reach $2trn by 2020.
The panel discussion titled ‘Doing Business in the Gulf Region’ was moderated by BCCI first vice-chairman Othman Alrayes. Other panellists were Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry director general Rabah Al Rabah, Federation of UAE Chambers of Commerce and Industry vice-chairman Abdulla Al Owais and Council of Saudi Chambers’ Dr Saud Al Omari.
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