Rediscovering The Pearl Of The Middle East Bahrain
For centuries, Bahrain’s strategic location in the Persian Gulf made it an important political, economic and trading center. It was conquered and ruled by countless dynasties such as the Sumerians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Portuguese, and finally the Arabs. Clearly, Bahrain had already been tagged as a business hub long before the rest of the Middle East. Even as early as 1862, Manama (the capital of Bahrain) was pin-pointed as a cosmopolitan location, famous for its religious and cultural tolerance.
Over the last few decades, however, other countries in the Middle East have successfully emerged as trading and management hubs. Countries like Dubai and Qatar have invested heavily in promoting themselves as the best places for business. As a result, Bahrain’s prominence in the Middle East has dimmed.
We, at Morison Menon, are proud to have been involved in the superb growth of Dubai and the rest of the UAE through our business consulting services. However, in February 2009, we turned our attention to Bahrain with the sole intention of helping the rest of the world rediscover this Pearl of the Middle East as the perfect destination for businesses.
‘The Best Country for Business’: Bahrain was ranked by Forbes as ‘the best country for business’ in the Gulf. In the ‘Forbes’ Best Centers for Business 2009’ report, Bahrain was ranked 1 in the GCC and 33rd in the global markets.
One of the reasons for Bahrain’s popularity in the global markets is its standing as a free economy. Bahrain is known as the Middle East’s freest economy according to the Heritage Foundation and Wall Street Journal’s annual Index of Economic Freedom for 2009. In the global market, its economy is ranked 16th – ahead of countries like Germany, Spain and France.
The fact that Bahrain is a free market means that businesses can operate with minimum red tapism and foreign ownership restrictions while enjoying the protection of an established rule of law. The development of the Bahrain Investment Wharf and the Bahrain International Investment Park will allure foreign businesses even more.
Bahrain is easily accessible to countries in Europe, North Africa and Asia through various transport modes. This makes it the perfect location for organizations looking to establish regional operations or headquarters.
Compared to the other Gulf countries, Bahrain boasts of the 55 shortest travel time between its seaport, airport and logistics processing zones. Thus a more efficient and faster processing of trade goods is ensured. In addition, Bahrain International Airport’s Cargo Oasis project will catapult Bahrain into one of the region’s largest shipping and transport hubs.
Bahrain, like Dubai, is situated at the heart of the Middle East. Its close proximity to important markets such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia make it a prime business location. Reaching Saudi Arabia via its causeway takes a mere forty minutes, while the Bahrain- Qatar causeway once ready will mean a quick 50 minute drive from Bahrain to Qatar.
Work on the Bahrain-Qatar causeway is expected to start by the end of 2009 and finish by 2013. This would lead to the creation of a super transport path from Saudi Arabia to Bahrain to Qatar and onwards to the UAE and Oman.
Strong Legal Foundation:
Bahrain has established a strong legal framework which investors can depend upon to secure their interests and safeguard their rights. In fact, it has some of the largest financial institutions in the Gulf. The Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) is one of the region’s best and most respected financial regulators.
High Standard of Living at Low Costs:
Cost is a huge factor in these times of recession. However, Bahrain offers multiple benefits - excellent infrastructure, taxfree business opportunities, a strategic location, a cosmopolitan and liberal culture, and fabulous amenities – all at lower costs relative to other Gulf countries. Expatriates can expect fine dining restaurants, a thriving arts scene and café culture, and excellent private schools with a variety of internationally recognized curricula. In addition, they can now expect to own certain real estate properties. Business organizations can also save hugely on office/warehouse rents, accommodation, and the overall cost of operations.
Being part of a global village means that every country has been affected by the recession in some capacity or the other. However, its effects on Bahrain’s markets have been minimal. This could be due to two factors among others – Firstly, credit in Bahrain is not as freely available as it is in other markets. Hence its economy did not get as over-heated as it did in other parts of the Gulf. Secondly, the presence of strict regulations on loans kept away ‘flippers’ or speculative buyers who may have otherwise brought down the economy. As a result of this strong financial foundation, Bahrain has not been drastically affected by the recession. In fact, more than ever before, Bahrain has become the hot-spot for businesses from across the world. Morison Menon can help you capitalize on this success with its business consulting and setting-up services.
CA. Joseph Thomas