Bahrain EDB / English / About EDB


Since its inception in 2000, the Economic Development Board (EDB), in cooperation with the government and a range of partners and stakeholders, has worked to implement a number of development initiatives that are consistent with the aspirations of the leadership and the reform project launched by His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. The EDB, under the guidance of His Royal Highness Prince Salman Bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, the Crown Prince of Bahrain, the First Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the EDB, has raised the performance level of the national economy and supported its on-going sustainability. The EDB has increased economic competitiveness, raised productivity levels and focused on creating a skilled workforce that contributes to the development of the Kingdom of Bahrain.


  • Economic reform.
  • Reduction of fees and tariffs.


  • Telecommunications regulatory authority.


  • Development of the legal framework.


  • Labour market reform.
  • Bahrain Investor Centre (BIC)


  • Education reform.
  • Strategic master plan.
  • Healthcare reform.
  • Stimulating the economy.
  • Strategy for the industrial sector.


  • Higher commission of privatisation.
  • Tourism sector reform.
  • Bahrain Development Bank (BDB).
  • Creating a MICE strategy.
  • Establishment of Mumtalakat.
  • National Oil and Gas Authority (NOGA)


  • Promoting the kingdom of Bahrain.
  • Bahrain ranking project.


  • Economic vision 2030.
  • Youth role in achieving the economic vision 2030.
  • Arabian taxi company.


  • Developing state media.
  • Business development and attracting investments.
  • Bahrain Financial Exchange (BFX)


  • Social housing.
  • 2000Economic Reform

    Bahrain remains the MENA region’s most economically free country, ranked 1st out of 15 countries..

    Over 2011 Bahrain attracted nearly $900 million of foreign direct investment. In 2012 Bahrain EDB helped forty international businesses establish operations in the Kingdom across a range of sectors including financial and professional services, logistics and renewable energy.

    There are approximately 400 licensed financial institutions in the Kingdom of Bahrain, which employ about 15,500 employees in the local labour market, of whom about two-thirds that number are Bahrainis.

    According to the annual review issued by the EDB, GDP grew (at constant prices) by 70% from 2001 to 2010. The average per capita gross domestic product (BD) increased by 74% in 2010 compared to 2001, while employment rates of Bahrainis increased in the labour market to 40% compared to 2002. The average wages of Bahrainis increased by 62% in 2010 compared to 2001.

    Bahrain’s non-oil sector grew at 6.7% in 2012, as it continued a sharp recovery from growth of 1.4% in 2011.

    Overall, Bahrain has continually demonstrated resilience, and continued to grow throughout the global economic downturn. Foreign investments in 2012 included the establishment of offices by PineBridge Investments, Serco Consulting and Notz Stucki and the inauguration of projects by German industrial firm RMA and German chemical company BASF


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    Reduction of fees and tariffs

    One of the important decisions taken by the EDB after its establishment was to reduce customs duties in order to support the economic and trade exchange between the Kingdom of Bahrain and various states.


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  • 2001Telecommunicati- ons Regulatory Authority

    After the liberalisation, users were able to choose from several different companies.

    • Number of subscribers: The number of subscribers to mobile services increased, as the number of mobile lines in Bahrain in 2011 increased to about 1.693 million compared to 300,000 lines in 2002. Internet users have risen to 290,000 in 2011 compared to 51,000 in 2004, while the number of fixed telephone lines in 2011 reached 240,000 compared to 175,000 in 2002


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  • 2002Development of the Legal Framework

    The EDB introduced a number of amendments to existing laws, especially laws relating to intellectual property. The following are some of the legislations that were released:

    • Law No. (38) of 2009 establishing the National Authority of Healthcare Professions and Health Services.
    • Decree No. (56) for the year 2008 for the establishment and organization of Bahrain College of Technology (Polytechnic of Bahrain).
    • Decree No. (32) for the year 2008 for the establishment of the quality assurance authority of education and training.
    • Law No. (57) of 2006 establishing the Labour Fund.
    • Law No. (19) for the year 2006 on the organization of the labour market.
    • Decree for the law No. (48) of 2002, promulgating the Telecommunications Law.
    • Decree for the law No. (30) of 2009 on the establishment of the BCDR
    • Decree for the law No. (78) of 2006 on insurance against unemployment
    • Law No. (64) of 2006 Promulgating the Law on the Central Bank of Bahrain and Financial Institutions
    • Law No. (23) for the year 2005 to ratify the free trade agreement between the government of Bahrain and the government of the USA
    • Decree for the law No. (41) of 2002 on the privatization of policies and controls
    • Decree for the law No. (16) of 2002 promulgating the Law of National Audit Court
    • Law No. (13) for the year 2006 amending some provisions of Decree for the law No. (28) for the year 2002 on electronic transactions
    • Law No. (22) for the year 2006 on the protection of copyright and related rights
    • Law No. (15) for the year 2006 on the manufacture and trading of optical discs
    • Law No. (11) for the year 2006 on brands
    • Law No. (6) for the year 2006 on industrial design
    • Law No. (5) for the year 2006 on the designs of integrated circuits
    • Law No. (16) for the year 2004 on the protection of geographical indications
    • Law No. (1) for the year 2004 on patents and utility models
    • Law No. (7) for the year 2003 on trade secrets


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  • 2004Labour Market Reform

    The economic and labour market reforms conducted by the EDB, particularly following the establishment of Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) and the Labour Fund ’Tamkeen’, resulted in an increase of 35% in the total labour force from 380,000 in 2007 to 514,600 in 2011. It is expected that the total number of Bahraini workers aged 20 to 64 will reach 404,000 workers in 2020. The total employment in Bahraini labour market increased by about 40%, while the wages for Bahraini workers increased by about 25%. This is in addition to the active role played by labour market reforms that have been conducted by the EDB to reduce the unemployment rates from 16% in 2006 to 4.3% in 2010, according to the unemployment report issued by the Ministry of Labour.

    The establishment of Tamkeen in 2006 aimed at improving and enhancing the efficiency and reliability of Bahraini workers, by providing a range of training programs designed to hone the talents and capabilities. In addition, the establishment of programs to support the private sector and initiatives to raise the productivity of the SME sector and cover all related costs. By the end of 2011, Tamkeen had spent approximately 262 million Dinars to support private sector projects and the training of Bahraini citizens.


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    Bahrain Investor Centre (BIC)

    The EDB worked with the Ministry of Industry and Commerce and a number of government entities to enhance the Bahrain Investors Centre to facilitate licensing services and registration for both domestic and foreign private companies which are looking to establishing offices in Bahrain.

    Additionally, the EDB issued a guide which explains the steps required to establish any kind of business in the Kingdom. The Bahrain Investors’ Centre works on facilitating the establishment of companies in the Kingdom of Bahrain, starting from the stage of the application and start-up phase through to the actual operations where all investors can submit their applications to one point of contact through various channels available at Bahrain Investors’ Centre.


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  • 2005Education Reform

    The program aimed to qualify and equip Bahrain’s manpower with the highest levels of knowledge and skills to allow them to compete and succeed on the global stage.

    Upon completion of this initiative, it was agreed to implement the following:

    • The establishment of the Quality Assurance Authority for Education and Training (QAAET), an independent body for quality assurance purposes, responsible for monitoring the performance of all educational and training institutions, private and governmental organization, as well as publication of their reports and submission to the cabinet to take appropriate development actions. The body includes the following four main units:
      • A unit for monitoring the performance of schools
      • A unit for monitoring the performance of universities
      • A unit for monitoring the performance of education institutions and technical and vocational training
      • A unit for monitoring exams


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    Strategic Master Plan

    The objective behind this strategic master plan was to coordinate the efforts of various relevant government agencies, to ensure full coordination on long-term planning, and to ensure the development and expansion of the Kingdom through the harmonization between economic growth and uses of land.

    In order to ensure the success of the study, the EDB, in close coordination with about 50 groups concerned, held more than 300 formal meetings and workshops over two years of intensive studies, during which the Board consulted with more than 500 experts and administrators from more than 188 different institutions. The strategic planning team members, comprising planners, civil engineers, architects, economists and other experts, have worked together to develop ten strategies for the various sectors.

    These strategies constitute a comprehensive national strategy for Bahrain, which can be used as a guide for the development of the Kingdom until 2030. The strategic master plan, geared towards continued economic growth, is supported by a national, integrated plan for land use, including a series of national policies and recommendations. This requires the consideration of all matters relating to national development in order to ensure that land use, transportation, public utility services, housing and social needs are integrated into the comprehensive economic strategy.


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    Healthcare Reform

    The healthcare reform program achieved the following milestones:

    • In July 2006, the cabinet approved the establishment of the Healthcare Professions Authority in charge of supervising the healthcare system
    • The EDB supported the Ministry of Health in the launch of this body, including modifying standards and procedures for the issuance and renewal of licenses for nurses
    • The development of the first draft of the standards of operation and licensing of public and private hospitals in Bahrain

    Steps taken to develop a number of operational and administrative areas in Salmaniya medical complex:

    • The EDB supported the Ministry of Health in reducing the waiting time for appointments for ten medical specialties by 95%. The Ministry of Health aims to reduce the waiting period for all outpatient specialties to less than 30 days
    • The waiting period for appointments for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was reduced from 223 to 35 days, and the waiting period for CT scans was reduced from 68 to 21 days. The Ministry of Health aims to further reduce waiting periods to only 15 days
    • Waiting time for operations has been limited to less than 15 minutes. This is a significant improvement from previous waiting periods, which at times extended to an hour. Additionally, the time it takes to start operations has been reduced to about 20 minutes in all disciplines
    • Reasons for the delay in dispatching patients out of the hospital were diagnosed in order to set up an external facility that provides professional services outside the hospital.
    • An analytical study of the needs of non-clinical services was conducted and tenders were issued for supply and transportation services. Another study was conducted to analyse the situation of the baths in hospitals and new standards were developed for the contracts of cleaning companies, in addition to the new guidelines for the security services and guard

    Primary healthcare service development:

    • Access to primary care increased through the opening of evening services in 20 new healthcare centres
    • A system was developed to classify the cases through the use of nursing staff for all patients attending health centres. In order to increase the provision of healthcare and appropriate service on a case-by-case basis, the system was tested in three health centres
    • The duration of patients’ visits to the doctor increased from approximately 3 minutes to about 6-8 minutes in four health centres. The ultimate goal was to increase the duration of patients’ visits to 10 minutes
    • A set of criteria and indicators has been developed for the quality of clinical services and the functioning of the centre. This set is to be monitored and monthly reports are to be issued by all primary health care centres
    • In September 2006, the Faculty of Health Sciences, in cooperation with the EDB and Tamkeen, started the implementation of a development project for the education and training of Bahraini nationals in Nursing and Allied Health Professions. 690 students were chosen to receive training over the next five years in various healthcare professions, such as nurses, laboratory technicians, radiology technicians, and dentists
    • The Labour Fund, working in partnership with the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (Medical University of Bahrain), launched a program to train 30 Bahrainis as nurses and medical support technicians in the College of Nursing

    Strategic planning for the healthcare sector:

    • In 2008, the final touches of Bahrain’s aspirations for the healthcare sector were included within the framework of the Economic Vision 2030. The most important initiatives for the healthcare sector as well as clear and measurable objectives for the next six years were identified within the National Economic Strategy 2009-2014
    • The EDB prepared and formulated an implementation plan to create and establish a body to regulate the professions of healthcare services
    • In 2010, the Economic Development Board and the Ministry of Health updated the comprehensive study that was prepared in 2005 to review the healthcare system in Bahrain. A new strategy for the development of the healthcare sector was then prepared in order to approve and begin its implementation in 2011
    • The Ministry of Health, with the support of the EDB, prepared operational plans for Bahrain’s healthcare development initiatives and their implementation during the period between the end of 2011 and early 2012.


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    Stimulating the economy

    The EDB worked to implement the suggestions made by the private sector. These suggestions were the following:

    The suggestions included a plan to facilitate the registration of companies and stimulate the private sector to establish commercial and industrial projects.

    The EDB worked on reducing real estate registration fees to suit the requirements of the revitalization of the sector and the stimulation of the economy.


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    Strategy for the Industrial Sector

    • Development of industrial policy

    In modern successful economies, industries change from dependence on manufacturing and old techniques to the use of advanced technologies and models based on research and development. The Economic Development Board, in cooperation with the Ministry of Industry and Commerce and the private sector, has developed an industrial policy that is aligned with the needs of the twenty-first century. In order to maximize results, enhance strengths, and build for the future, this industrial vision addresses the need to mainstream a culture of innovation, attract technology, and building local productive capacity.


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  • 2006Higher Commission of Privatisation

    Privatisation projects that EDB has contributed to implementing include the following:

    • Privatization of Seef Properties (via IPO)
    • Privatization of the operation and management of Khalifa Bin Salman Port
    • Privatization of some electricity generating plants such as Al Dur and Al Azel plants


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    Tourism sector reform

    The EDB developed a vision for the future of the Kingdom as a destination for tourism, leisure, and business and delivered its plan to the ministry. It is worth noting that the tourism sector is one of the most promising sectors for economic growth and job creation. The economic stimulus is gaining increased importance at the international level. Bahrain Economic Vision 2030 aims to develop the tourism sector by increasing the number of visitors. It also focuses on strengthening the supporting infrastructure for the tourism sector, including the expansion of Bahrain International Airport, improving the road network, and enhancing the efficiency of customs procedures to support growth in these areas.


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    Bahrain Development Bank (BDB)

    The EDB helped raise the BDB's capital from BD10 million to BD50 million and also facilitated funding from the World Bank. There were also improvements in the services provided and conditions applied, in addition to improvements in the operations of the BDB and increasing awareness in Bahrain of the presence of such opportunities and services. These developments led to a focus on funding economic sectors that are able to grow and encouraged citizens to benefit from services provided by the bank to establish small and medium enterprises that create employment opportunities for Bahrainis.


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    Creating a MICE Strategy

    Bahrain has always been the main centre for trade and finance in the region, which made it a key destination for business as well as tourism. In order to achieve maximum benefits from the opportunities offered by this sector and in response to a request from the Minister of Industry and Commerce, the EDB, in coordination with the Bahrain Convention and Exhibition Centre has developed a specific strategy for business tourism.

    During the development of the strategy, extensive consultations were conducted with stakeholders from the public and private sectors. One of the strategy’s main priorities is targeting the global market for the meetings, conferences and exhibitions sector, especially in light of the narrowing line between the demand for business travel and leisure. New and improved offerings for exhibitions, hotels, entertainment and recreational tools, in addition to investments in logistics and infrastructure are key elements that create added value in the conferences and exhibitions sector.

    The growing opportunities in the entertainment and recreation sector will lead to raised income levels of citizens due to the increased spending of the Kingdom’s visitors, which supports the national economy as a whole. Upon completion of the strategy development, it will be presented to the Board of Directors of the Bahrain Exhibition and Convention Centre, which oversees the implementation of the strategy with the support of relevant partners in the public and private sectors.


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    Establishment of Mumtalakat

    Mumtalakat is responsible for the management of governmental non-oil assets and aims to increase revenues of the portfolio and enhance transparency in financial matters of the kingdom.


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    National Oil and Gas Authority (NOGA)

    Aiming to regulate the oil and gas sector in the Kingdom, the EDB has worked on the establishment of the National Oil and Gas Authority (NOGA), the Supreme Petroleum Council and the Natural Gas Commission. NOGA has been established to manage governmental oil assets and raise the value of the portfolio returns from projects in this sector.

    NOGA aims to provide general laws and strategic direction, fulfil the needs of oil and gas in the present and future, support and increase economic growth of the Kingdom, preserve oil and gas resources, encourage private sector investment, encourage research and development in this area, maintain the highest level of security, safety and preservation of the environment, and ensure that concerned agencies are committed to the laws and strategic directions of the Kingdom.


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  • 2007Promoting the kingdom of Bahrain

    The EDB has conducted thorough studies to assess the international reputation of the Kingdom of Bahrain in comparison to various world markets and concluded that it is one of the most important investment destinations in the Middle East.

    The EDB has devised an integrated media strategy to ensure the Kingdom gains traction in the media, highlighting its main achievements and economic strengths

    In 2008, the EDB worked on the launch of an international campaign named ‘Business Friendly Bahrain’ to increase awareness among international investors about the Kingdom, and ensure that it is a top destination for companies looking to establish a business base in the Gulf. To support this, a promotional campaign was developed and launched which included communicating key messages about the Kingdom through global printed media, television, radio, internet and outdoor advertising, as well as a media program to facilitate frequent access to decision-makers in the main target markets, such as Europe and the Middle East

    The EDB has implemented an integrated campaign across multiple international media platforms, focusing on highlighting the advantages offered by the Kingdom of Bahrain to the business sector. The broad aim of the campaign is to communicate with decision makers and deliver key messages about the Kingdom. This campaign has been developed and implemented in several languages including English, German and Arabic, and featured in the most influential international and regional publications. Additionally, the campaign was supported by a significant presence on the Internet, as well as outdoor advertising.

    A guide that promotes Bahrain’s economic environment has been prepared and disseminated to investors. The campaign has won a GEMAS Effie silver award for banking, finance and insurance categories.

    to the existing sites available in Chinese, German and Japanese. All sites have been updated and improved to ensure ease of usage and navigation within the site. The website was awarded an e-content Excellence Award for e-Government Authority in 2010. The website was awarded an e-content Excellence Award for e-Government Authority in 2010.


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    Bahrain Ranking Project

    The global ranking project enables the EDB, government of Bahrain, investors and other concerned organizations to measure and rank the performance of the Kingdom at an international level, comparing it to the economies of other countries in a number of key areas, such as social and economic indicators. The results of the project provide useful indicators about performance of the government and private sector, and it also helps clarify the areas where the Kingdom achieves superior performance on a global level.

    Project Objectives include:

    • The Bahrain Global Ranking project was established with the clear goal of helping to create a better understanding of Bahrain’s economic and social standing on an international level
    • In its analytical aspect, the project refers to data obtained from a number of reliable global sources including the research and results developed by the Heritage Foundation, the United Nations Development Program, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the World Bank, the World Economic Forum, and Transparency International Organization. In previous years, the project has issued periodic reports on Bahrain’s ranking according to the indicators that were obtained from international bodies. The project was able to identify the strengths of the Kingdom and areas that require improvement as revealed by each of those indicators. These reports were used to inform ministries and partners about the latest updates on the progress of the Kingdom and recommendations for improvements. The committee was formed by representatives from national bodies.


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  • 2008Economic Vision 2030

    The launch of the Vision followed four years of extensive discussions with a range of opinion leaders in the public and private sectors, including governmental institutions and specialised organisations, as well as international consultancies and bodies.

    The Economic Vision 2030 focuses on shaping the vision of the government, society and the economy, based around three guiding principles; sustainability, fairness and competitiveness.

    Following the launch, the EDB initiated an ongoing programme of economic and institutional reform, as part of the Economic Vision 2030.

    The EDB led and coordinated with ministries to compile the first National Economic Strategy, which served as a roadmap to achieving the Vision.


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    Youth role in achieving the Economic Vision 2030

    Since the launch of the Bahrain Economic Vision 2030 in the fourth quarter of 2008, the EDB has worked on publicising the Vision and National Economic Strategy to all segments of Bahraini society, with a special emphasis on youth in the Kingdom. A range of initiatives to communicate the Economic Vision have been undertaken, including direct meetings between the various sectors of society.


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    Arabian Taxi Company

    The initiative focused on improving the quality of services, expanding the workers’ experience and facilitating their access to capital and insurance. It is a joint project between the EDB and the General Directorate of Traffic at Ministry of the Interior, as well as other partners such as the Ministry of Works, the Ministry of Justice and Islamic Affairs, Public Transportation, Bahrain Development Bank, and the Association of Public Transport Drivers.


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  • 2010Developing state media

    The EDB, in cooperation with the Institute of Public Administration, launched the International High Diploma in Advanced Professional Public Relations. It is a global certificate ranked according to British standards of academic and professional qualifications. This programme, specially designed for the Kingdom of Bahrain, includes advanced skills and global best practices. The first batch of 34 participants have completed this training.

    This programme has raised capacity building for those who directly work in the field of public relations. The graduates of the first batch worked on the management of the media campaign for national dialogue conducted by Bahrain in 2011, managed the media campaign for the elections and the implementation of the recommendations of the Fact-Finding Commission.

    The EDB has worked extensively to prepare more than fifty official spokespeople from various ministries and government agencies through specialized training programs on the media messages for Economic Vision 2030 and the programmes associated with promoting the Kingdom of Bahrain as an investment destination for the GCC region. The EDB has also formed a network of communicators inside the government’s ministries and bodies, and has organised a forum to exchange knowledge about the challenges of the sector. International speakers were invited to talk about best practices in the field of communication at the global level.

    The EDB has developed frameworks and standards on how to develop media strategies as a guide for best practices to be used by its partners from government ministries and agencies. These frameworks provide the opportunity to share competencies to achieve desired results.


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    Business Development and Attracting Investments

    The efforts of the EDB, in cooperation with the government and various partners in the private sector and the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry, have led to increased flow of direct foreign investments. During the past ten years, the Kingdom has been able to attract foreign direct investment.

    In order to achieve the Kingdom’s policy of economic diversification geared towards reducing dependence on oil as a basic source of national income, the EDB was keen to enhance Bahrain’s private sector and communicate with businessmen through the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The EDB has organized numerous promotional tours for Bahrain in targeted global markets, allowing Bahraini businessmen to directly communicate with foreign investors and engage them in profitable partnerships. The objective of the visits and promotional tours is to communicate Bahrain’s economic strengths and attract promising foreign investments and resettlement, in order to ensure the continued mobility of the local market and create job opportunities.

    The promotional tours organized by the EDB included most European markets, the USA, the Republic of Turkey and some of the major Asian capitals. The visits concentrate on certain targeted sectors including manufacturing, food industry, ICT, logistics, industrial services, and heating; in addition to a focus on encouraging exports.

    AS a direct result of strategies and investment action plans promoted and carried out by the EDB, the Kingdom of Bahrain attracted foreign investments estimated at US$ 300 million during 2011. This was achieved through attracting nearly twenty large international companies to the Kingdom in the areas of legal services, oil and gas, the production of polyester films, fire and security solutions, and technology.

    A further forty businesses were attracted to establish operations in Bahrain in 2012 as a direct result of the EDB’s outreach activity.

    The main factors that encourage international companies to open and operate their headquarters in Bahrain, include: access to GCC markets, free trade agreements with GCC countries and the USA; the highly skilled workforce and the low-cost base and support provided by the EDB at all stages of transition are among the key incentives for international companies operating in Bahrain.

    Examples of international companies that have established their headquarters in Bahrain in order to enter the GCC market including:

    • Software AG: a German company specializing in providing information management solutions, application development techniques and data merge.
    • Zain: the regional telecommunications giant
    • Microsoft Company
    • WIPRO Technologies: a company specializing in providing research services, development and comprehensive solutions in the areas of business, technology and operational processes
    • CB Richard Ellis Group Inc. (CBRE)
    • Dow Corning Company
    • Huawei International: a leading provider of network operators around the world
    • DLA Piper International
    • JPF Industries CO. Ltd: a company specializing in producing polyester films in Bahrain International Investment Park
    • Enerflex Company: a leading provider of oil and gas services based in the USA
    • German giant BASF Chemical Industries (BSF)


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    Bahrain Financial Exchange (BFX)

    BFX received a license from the Central Bank of Bahrain for the inclusion of cash instruments and derivatives in multiple asset classes including currencies, commodities, stocks, and debt instruments, for trading and clearing the market via intermediaries. The future plans include the circulation of Islamic financing tools or products conforming to the provisions of Islamic law and principles

    The BFX has worked on the development of the market to raise the level of performance compared to the Middle East financial markets through the improvement of standards of price discovery, market transparency, risk management, economic integration between countries, financing and investment in the Arab world.


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  • 2012Social housing

    The EDB has supported the government in preparing for the implementation of this initiative because of its great importance to achieve a better standard of living for the Bahraini citizen.


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