Along with competitive costs, easy access to the rest of the Middle East, and a well-established business infrastructure, you will find that we have a great deal of experience in understanding the needs of foreign businesses and responding to them.
We regard foreign investment as key to our Economic Vision 2030 long-term plan for improving the competitiveness of our economy, creating skilled jobs for Bahrainis and enhancing living standards. For this reason, we are committed to building on our existing advantages, aiming to build the Middle East’s most attractive centre for business.
We offer businesses operating in the region five important advantages:
• Our position at the heart of the Gulf makes access to every market in the Middle East quick and efficient – by road, air and sea. By car, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf’s largest economy, is less than an hour’s drive away and Riyadh, its business hub, is a four hour drive. By plane, the United Arab Emirates is an hour flight and Qatar just 25 minutes; further, Bahrain is the home of Gulf Air, which has the largest regional network in the Gulf. In addition, following the opening of the Khalifa Bin Salman Port in April 2009, Bahrain has become a major regional trans-shipment centre.
• We are committed to maintaining the region’s most liberal business environment, with zero taxation for private companies, few indirect taxes for private enterprises and individuals, and free repatriation of capital. We are also the only country in the region offering 100% foreign ownership of business assets and real estate in most sectors. Finally, unlike any other Gulf country, Bahrain has a fully liberalised telecommunications sector. As a result, Bahrain is ranked the 18th most open economy worldwide by the Heritage Foundation and Wall Street Journal’s 2016 Index of Economic Freedom.
• Bahrain has a track record as a modern international business economy stretching back several decades. Our financial services sector has been thriving for 40 years and was recently judged the Gulf’s most sophisticated financial market (Source: 1).
• Our low costs are another important advantage. Basic costs such as rents for offices and industrial land are lower than elsewhere in the region. The combination of subsidies and privatisation in the utilities sectors, mean that electricity, gas and water costs are highly competitive. And with low living costs, wages are also highly competitive.
• Our workforce is the most educated and skilled in the Gulf. This means you can minimise spending on expatriate packages and build a long-term, sustainable local workforce. For example, Bahrainis comprise two thirds (65%) of the financial services workforce, according to the Central Bank of Bahrain.
• Finally, our supportive visa policies are an important development that places Bahrain among the countries with the most flexible visa policies in the region, providing easier and quicker access for businesses with operations in Bahrain. Further visa policy changes were fully implemented by early 2015, which included an increase to the number of countries whose nationals are offered visas electronically or upon arrival, the extension of the duration of stay for visitors, and the issuance of multiple entry visas for most nationalities. The new policy was also accompanied by improvements to the individual screening process, ensuring faster and more effective processing of applications. Click here for more information on our visa policies.
World Economic Forum, The Global Competitiveness Report 2015-2016 (Bahrain ranked 39 from 140 countries).