EDB Chief Executive meets with the seventh intake of the Prime Minister’s Fellowship Program

The Chief Executive of the Economic Development Board (EDB), Khalid Humaidan, today met with members of the seventh intake of the Prime Minister’s Fellowship Program.

During the meeting, Humaidan highlighted the EDB’s mandate including its efforts to attracting direct investments in the Kingdom’s priority sectors in order to further economic diversification and to create job opportunities for citizens, in line with Bahrain Economic Vision 2030.

The Chief Executive noted that the PM Fellowship Program reflects His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the Crown Prince and Prime Ministers’ commitment to enriching the leadership skills of young government professionals, and enabling them to closely oversee the developing and implementing government policies and strategies,, adding that the program would stimulate teamwork and enhance innovation.

The EDB’s CE highlighted Bahrain’s skilled workforce as one of the Kingdom’s greatest competitive advantages, which has contributed to attracting  FDI.

The Chief Executive expressed his hope that the fellows fully benefit from the program and develop the right skills to contribute to the development of the government’s initiatives and achieve its long-term goals. For their part, the members of the seventh intake of the Program expressed their appreciation to the Chief Executive, for the support and encouragement to further develop and excel in service to the Kingdom of Bahrain.

Global training provider FranklinCovey launches first Middle East Education headquarters in Bahrain

FranklinCovey, a leading training and coaching solutions provider serving more than 140 countries with thousands of clients, including 90% of Fortune 100 companies, launches its first FranklinCovey Education Middle East headquarters in Bahrain to oversee its offices in the region and serve its regional clients.

Co-Founded by Dr. Stephen Covey the author of the global best-seller “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” the FranklinCovey company provides leadership training and assessment services for the organization and the individual in the areas of leadership, individual effectiveness, and business execution.

FranklinCovey Education Middle East (exclusive partner to FranklinCovey) boasts some of the world’s most prominent educational-leadership programs, including the world-renowned “Leader in Me” program, which has served over 5,000 schools in 80 countries plus a big number of well-known colleges and universities around the world. Some of the regional educational clients include New York University Abu Dhabi, American University Sharjah, Tabuk University Saudi, and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RSCI) Bahrain.

Commenting on the launch of FranklinCovey Education Middle East in Bahrain, Ahmed Shawqi, Managing Director of FranklinCovey Middle East, said: “We’re excited for the launch of our headquarters in Bahrain. It will allow us to oversee our operations across many countries like Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Oman the GCC region, and other countries like Jordan and Iraq.

“We’re witnessing a major step towards empowering youth and students in Bahrain and the region with the leadership and life skills they need to thrive in the 21st century.”

Ali Al Mudaifa, Chief Investment Officer of the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) said: “Our talent is one of our greatest competitive advantages. It has continuously made Bahrain the right destination for companies to set up their business.

“We’re proud to witness one of the world’s leading training providers set up their headquarters here. This launch comes at an opportune time as the country ramps up its efforts to upskill talents to lead the next phase of economic growth, in line with the objectives set under the Economic Recovery Plan.”

Bahrain’s growing student and working-age population are driving up the demand for training and formal education, particularly for higher education – the fastest growing education subsector. As part of the National Economic Recovery Plan, the government of Bahrain aims to employ 20,000 Bahraini nationals and provide training for 10,000 Bahrainis annually by 2024.

As part of the strategic collaboration with the Economic Development Board Tamkeen Supports the employment of around 120 Bahrainis in GIG Gulf as part of the company’s plan to expand their regional headquarters in Bahrain

The Labour Fund “Tamkeen” announced its support for GIG Gulf, previously known as AXA Gulf Insurance, towards the recruitment of around 120 Bahrainis. This is in line with Tamkeen’s mandate of empowering individuals to become the employee of choice locally and internationally. GIG Gulf offers talented Bahrainis the opportunity to obtain greater exposure and acquire skills within the insurance industry, boosting their competitiveness.

This initiative comes in partnership with the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB), the organization responsible for attracting direct investment into the Kingdom. GIG Gulf’s new regional headquarters in Bahrain Bay was completed in 2020 and continues to serve four different countries within the region. This is evidence of the company’s successful experience following the initial establishment of operations in Bahrain, which, alongside the Kingdom’s favorable business environment and the availability of experienced local talent, resulted in GIG Gulf increasing its employment and service offerings in the country.

The new regional headquarters is home to 250 employees with a 60% Bahrainization rate. GIG Gulf has committed to growing their operations in the Kingdom, which currently hosts several departments including actuarial, finance, human resources, procurement, customer contact center, IT, and a regional training center which supports key business lines including motor, healthcare, property insurance and several other services to serve both individuals and enterprises.

With the company’s objective of enhancing productivity and continuous development, it has achieved several key milestones including a 90% Bahrainization rate amongst employees serving personal lines customers, as well as a diverse workforce made up of 50% women. This project will support the company’s future growth plans across the region, enabled even more by a customer-centric workforce.

On this occasion, His Excellency Husain Mohamed Rajab, Chief Executive of Tamkeen, said: “Our core mandate at Tamkeen is to support Bahrainis to become the employee of choice and enterprises to become the engine of economic growth, by enabling them to successfully seize opportunities that the new economic realities present in order to boost their contributions to the local economy, in line with the Kingdom’s national priorities. We are fully committed to these objectives, and we welcome GIG Gulf’s efforts in hiring and developing Bahraini talent. We look forward to seeing their continued growth and positive impact in the Kingdom’s economy especially within the high potential sectors, which includes the Financial Services sector, the largest non-oil contributor to GDP, which offers numerous growth opportunities.”

His Excellency Khalid Humaidan, Chief Executive of the Bahrain EDB added: “The decision by GIG Gulf to invest in their new regional Headquarters in the Kingdom is a testament to Bahrain’s strengths as a regional financial services hub and reflects the positive attributes that make Bahrain attractive to international companies. Bahrain’s strategic location at the heart of the gulf, its highly skilled local workforce, and competitive operating costs are just some of the reasons that encourage leading companies to establish operations in the Kingdom.”

Additionally, Paul Adamson, Chief Executive Officer, of GIG Gulf said: “We have seen from our own employees how talented the Bahraini workforce is, and we are eager to continue to support the recruitment of highly qualified locals to build our talent pool within GIG Gulf. We are proud of our history of over 70 years operating in Bahrain and very excited by this new commitment and investment, which creates new employment opportunities for nationals and is key to building sustainable operations.”

In line with Tamkeen’s commitment to upskill locals and create quality job opportunities within high-potential sectors like the financial services industry, Tamkeen recently announced an initiative in partnership with the Central Bank of Bahrain, the London-based Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, and the Bahrain Institute of Banking and Finance (BIBF) to train and employ Bahrainis in the field of actuarial science which will support their growth within the insurance industry.  

Earlier this year Tamkeen unveiled an organization-wide strategic transformation plan that included the launch of 16 support programs. The transformation initiative focuses on creating greater impact for the national economy in response to market needs. Tamkeen’s programs were developed following a series of consultation sessions with representatives from various sectors and thus catering to the market requirements. The transformation initiative focuses on creating greater impact for the national economy in response to market needs, in line with the direction of the national economic recovery plan.

(Source: Tamkeen)

Bahrain ranks 1st globally in female digital skills training and STEM education  

Bahrain ranked 1st globally in multiple subindices within Metas’ (Facebook) Inclusive Internet Index conducted by Economist Impact, including national female e-inclusion policies, female digital skills training & STEM education, open data policies, and privacy regulations.

The Inclusive Internet Index 2022 measures whether the internet is accessible and affordable in each country and how much it enables social and economic mobility. It assesses the performance of 100 countries in four indicators of inclusion: availability (usage, infrastructure and quality), readiness (literacy, safety and policy), affordability (price and competitive environment), and relevance (local and relevant content).

Dalal Buhejji, Executive Director of Investment Origination at the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) said, “Bahrain continues to focus on creating equal opportunities within the tech and innovation sector, as well as leading on female tech-inclusion with initiatives like Women in FinTech led by the Supreme Council of Women.

Prioritising IoT and ICT comes naturally to us due to the Kingdom’s availability of talent, best-value operating costs, and its forward-thinking regulators – coupled with the infrastructure that drew companies such as Citi to set up their Global Tech Hub in Bahrain.”

It is worth noting that The Kingdom of Bahrain was recently ranked first in the GCC for the availability of advanced computer programming talent in Information and Computer Technology (ICT), according to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Report 2020.

Telecommunications, ICT, and digital economy are considered vital sectors under the Kingdom’s Economic Recovery Plan. The sector strategy aims to establish a world-class digital infrastructure by attracting big-tech companies, and making Bahrain a regional digital innovation hub.

Bahrain’s Spire Technologies expands in MENA with a BD 15 million investment plan supported by Bahrain Economic Development Board.  

Spire, the premier Open Banking provider in the GCC is set to expand its operations in Bahrain and the MENA region through a 15 million BD investment plan, with support from the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB). This expansion will create 200 jobs over the next three years in high-value data sciences and artificial intelligence sectors.

Spire graduated from the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) Open Banking Sandbox and has been ratified by CBB to offer Open Banking services in Bahrain. Spire has established its headquarters in Bahrain and is in process of setting up a regional office in KSA. The company brings a strong international partner network including Salt Edge, a leading Canadian Open Banking player and Mastercard to offer next-gen Open Banking solutions.

Spire aims to provide Open Banking compliance, infrastructure and strategic financial management solutions for banking customers and small businesses.  The company is already revolutionizing financial data sharing as well as making money movement simple, secure, and fun.

Osama Al Khajah, Chariman, Board at Spire Technologies, said: “Open Banking will comprehensively change how banks and fintechs engage with the larger economy. Spire is empowering individuals and businesses and will directly help create more affordable and more innovative financial solutions. Bahrain was a natural choice for Spire to launch its MENA business given the Kingdom’s strong regulatory framework, large talent pool and tremendous support from EDB and the central bank.”

Musab Abdullah, Executive Director of Investment Development – Financial Services, Technology & Innovation at the EDB, said: “Spire’s success reflects Bahrain’s strong financial services eco-system, including open banking services. We are pleased to support the company with its expansion and see it benefit from Bahrain’s pro-innovation regulatory framework and its collaborative “Team Bahrain” approach.”

Al Bayrooni launches first stand-alone kidney treatment centre in Bahrain

With support from the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB), Al Bayrooni Dialysis, Bahrain’s first stand-alone dialysis centre for treating kidney diseases and conditions, has launched in Bahrain with a US $1.4M+ facility.

The centre includes a full-spectrum of high-quality kidney care services focused on the needs of End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) patients. It is dedicated to treating chronic kidney disease as well as a vast range of kidney conditions, including Hemodialysis, Transplantation Referrals, and Holiday Dialysis. Al Bayrooni also includes programs to prevent or postpone admission to dialysis.

Dr. Sandra Carmody, Administrative Director at Al Bayrooni, said: “Through the launch of the centre, our goal is to improve quality of life by providing the best care. We ensure this through our state-of-the-art technology and outstanding customer service.

“Bahrain’s healthcare sector has exciting growth opportunities and a workforce ripe for development. With our international team of specialists, we look forward to sharing our experience with the Bahraini medical community.” 

Commenting on the launch, Munther Almudawi, Executive Director of Investment Development – Education and Healthcare, at the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) said: “Healthcare is a promising sector and a critical focus area for our government. With the planned US$30 billion strategic projects under the Economic Recovery Plan, we aim to elevate the quality of healthcare for Bahraini citizens, amongst other long-term sustainable results.

“Unique projects like Al Bayrooni drive our healthcare sector forward, moving Bahrain a step closer towards becoming a leading centre for modern medicine. We hope to see their facility grow and serve more patients in Bahrain and the wider GCC.”

The healthcare market in Bahrain has been growing at an annual average rate of 5.7%, from an estimated $1.1 billion in 2018 to an estimated $1.3 billion in 2021, reflecting the growing investment opportunity within this key sector. Bahrain has a long history in healthcare, establishing its first healthcare provider back in the late 1800s. Today, Bahrain has more than 800 licensed healthcare facilities. Healthcare is an area of focus for the Kingdom’s Economic Recovery Plan and its 2030 Economic Vision.

FDI inflows to Bahrain increase by 73% in 2021, surpassing global average

Bahrain’s Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflows increased by US$1.766 billion in 2021, marking a 73% year-on-year increase and surpassing the global FDI average growth, according to the 2022 World Investment Report issued by the United Nations Conference of Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

According to the report, the Kingdom’s inward FDI stocks increased by 6% from 2020, reaching US$33.47 billion in 2021. With a GDP value of US $38.8 billion in 2021 according to the Information & eGovernment Authority of Bahrain , Bahrain’s FDI stock relative to GDP reached 86 %, ranking as the highest in GCC and surpassing the global average of 47%.

Investment in 2021 was primarily directed at Bahrain’s financial services, manufacturing, and mining & quarrying industries, according to the Information & eGovernment Authority of Bahrain.

The World Investment Report focuses on FDI trends at a regional and country level, as well as emerging measures to improve its contribution to economic development. It highlighted that global FDI has recovered to pre-pandemic levels in 2021 and has reached US $1.6 trillion, an increase of 64% from booming merger and acquisition activity, as well as rapid growth in international project finance from loose financing and major infrastructure stimulus packages.

H.E. Khalid Humaidan, Chief Executive of the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB), commented: “We’re proud of the progress achieved in 2021 and we look forward to achieving greater heights by attracting more direct investments across a diverse number of economic sectors, in line with the objectives set under Bahrain’s Economic Recovery Plan.”

In 2021, the EDB attracted $839 million in direct investment into Bahrain through successful projects that are expected to create a total of 4,861 local jobs, including Citi’s first MENA tech hub.

Bahrain Ranks 1st in Ground and Port Infrastructure according to WEF’s 2021 Travel and Tourism Development Index

Bahrain ranks first amongst Arab countries and second in MENA in Ground and Port Infrastructure, according to the World Economic Forum’s 2021 Travel and Tourism Development Index.

The report also highlighted strong placements for Kingdom, including ranking 12th globally in business environment. Amongst GCC countries, Bahrain ranked second in the following areas: travel and tourism policy; price competitiveness; prioritization of travel and tourism; and demand pressure and impact – measured by inbound length of stay, seasonality of international tourist arrivals, interest in cultural and natural attractions, and quality of town and city centers.

Commenting on the index, Dr. Nasser Ali Qaedi, CEO of the Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority (BTEA), said: “Bahrain’s ranking in the report is another testament to the unique offerings within Bahrain’s tourism sector. The Kingdom is increasingly becoming a more attractive destination for tourists and investors alike. With our new tourism strategy, we look forward to seeing the sector contribute more towards the Kingdom’s economic growth.”

Ali Murtaza, Executive Director Investment Development – Tourism at the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) said, “Bahrain’s recognition for its advanced infrastructure, business environment, and travel and tourism policy comes as a result of our efforts in strengthening public-private partnerships and increasing our competitiveness to increase the tourism’s sector contribution to GDP, attract more investment, and create quality jobs.” 

The new tourism strategy, as part of the Economic Recovery Plan, aims to increase the sector’s GDP contribution to 11.4%, attract 14 million tourists by 2026, increase average visitor spending to $198, and increase average tourist nights to 3.5 days. Bahrain has been ranked 15th among the world’s emerging competitive markets and fifth in terms of business fundamentals, according to the Agility 2022 Emerging Logistics Markets Index.

China’s iCOOL sets up a US$10.7 million manufacturing facility in Bahrain to serve Middle East, US and European markets

  • Investment expected to create 150 jobs and generate over US$31 million in revenue in first year of operation

KKC Industries WLL (iCOOL), a Chinese manufacturer of heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) products has launched a US$10.7 million manufacturing facility in Bahrain.

Through its operations in Bahrain, iCOOL will produce and export air conditioning insulation pipes to the Middle East, US, and European markets, utilising Bahrain’s strategic location and duty-free trade through its FTAs with 22 countries around the world, including the first-ever US FTA with a GCC member.

As an HVAC manufacturer, iCOOL serves customers from 130 countries with an annual revenue of US $420 million. Approximately 80% of the machinery used by iCOOL is designed and developed by the company, which allows iCool to operate at 10% higher capacity than its peers.

Gary Xu, General Manager at iCOOL-Bahrain commented: “With two decades of experience, iCOOL continues to introduce new and innovative products that improve efficiency. We build customer-centric and products that are great value for cost, and Bahrain is the perfect location to capitalise on for our business through its refined manufacturing ecosystem, best-value operating cost and skilled workforce. We look forward to using Bahrain’s value proposition to generate high revenues as we target producing 480 containers of air conditioning insulation pipes within the first year of operation, equating to over US$ 31 million in revenue.”  

Ahmed Sultan, Executive Director of Investment Development – Manufacturing, Transport, and Logistics at Bahrain EDB, commented: “Manufacturing is one of the key sectors for the Kingdom’s Economic Recovery Plan and the investment opportunities it creates. This announcement is a reflection of Bahrain’s unique offering for investors. We are delighted that iCOOL did choose Bahrain as their hub to serve their needs for their markets in the Middle East, US, and Europe while creating over 150 jobs in Bahrain during the next 3 years.”

As per the Kingdom’s Economic Recovery Plan, Bahrain aims to increase the manufacturing sector’s contribution to the overall national origin export to 80.1% of Bahrain’s total export by 2026. Manufacturing accounts for around 14% of GDP and is the second largest contributor to Bahrain’s non-oil sector.

Bahrain ranks 2nd in MENA and 3rd globally in Islamic Finance

The Kingdom of Bahrain ranked second in MENA and third globally in Islamic finance, one of the key areas in the 2022 State of the Global Islamic Economy Indicator by DinarStandard, a growth strategy research and advisory firm empowering organizations for profitable and responsible global impact.

The indicator measures the development of the Islamic economy based on multiple areas, which are the country’s Muslim friendly regulations, public awareness innovation, investments, and expenditure, in the following sectors: Islamic Finance, Halal Food, Muslim-Friendly Travel, Modest Fashion, Pharma & Cosmetics, and Media & Recreation.

Considering all areas, Bahrain’s overall rank in the indicator was fourth in MENA and sixth globally. The Kingdom also ranked first in MENA and fourth globally as the best Muslim-friendly travel destination, as well as eighth globally in Islamic finance assets 2020, with an asset value of $102.1 billion.

The Kingdom of Bahrain was also recently ranked second in MENA and fourth globally within the Islamic Finance Development Indicator (IFDI) 2021 issued by Refinitiv, a subsidiary of the London Stock Exchange Group, the world’s leading provider of intelligent information for businesses and professionals.

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