Bahrain tops global financial attractiveness rankings for 3rd consecutive year

– Bahrain tops AIRINC Global 150 Cities Index for financial attractiveness –

– Seven MENA cities in the top 16 places –

Manama, May 30 2021: Bahrain has topped the globally-recognised AIRINC Global 150 Cities Index financial attractiveness ranking for the third straight year, leading impressive rankings for MENA capitals – with seven leading MENA cities in the top 16 places. Aside from the capital of Bahrain in first place, others cities ranked included Riyadh, Kuwait City, Amman and Abu Dhabi.

The rankings evaluate the salary levels, cost of living, and taxes in a particular market in order to create an overall score for financial attractiveness.

The news of Bahrain’s win follows its recent success in the InterNations Expat Insider 2021 survey, where the country led the GCC across different indicators that included quality of medical care, political stability, ease of settling in and job satisfaction. The country was ranked fifth globally for ease of settling in, and a high number of respondents in Bahrain said they had no immediate or future plansto return home despite the pressures of the pandemic.

The Government of Bahrain was one of the first in the region to develop an economic diversification strategy away from hydrocarbons, successfully creating an economy where more than 80% of its GDP comes from non-oil sectors, providing a broad range of opportunities for Bahrainis and expats working in the country. Bahrain has since become known for its great regional connectivity, regulatory innovation, and best-value operating costs.

AIRINC describes itself as ‘the leading authority on international mobility data since 1954’ and supports multi-national corporations and others with the workforce globalisation strategies. The rankings are put together by an in-house team at AIRINC who ‘continuously research the costs and living conditions of many cities around the world to evaluate international mobility’.

Foundation Holdings to invest $30m in healthcare and education in Bahrain

Manama, May 27 2021: The Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) today announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Foundation Holdings to invest US$30 million into launching its affiliate companies, in Bahrain including a new state of the art medical centre focused on specialised healthcare and non communicable diseases.

This investment into the Kingdom will support Foundation Holdings & EDB’s shared goal of driving meaningful and positive impact in Bahrain’s healthcare and education sectors.  The launch of primary care provider Right Health – an affiliate of Foundation Holdings – will be centred around a new research and development centre that, along with a chain of outpatient and diagnostic facilities and pharmacies, will offer a clinical capacity of 150 doctors and nurses capable of serving as many as 500,000 patients annually.

The agreement also includes launching medical solutions through ProMedEx – another Foundation Holdings affiliate – who will work with the country’s leading private and public hospitals to offer the world’s best-in-class technology orthopaedic and general surgery implants and devices.

The healthcare market in Bahrain has been growing at an annual average rate of 12.2%, from an estimated $1.1 billion in 2015 to an estimated $2.0 billion in 2020[1] which reflects the growing investment opportunity within this key sector.

Abhishek Sharma, Chief Executive Officer of Foundation Holdings said, “We believe that Bahrain is poised to become a major hub for finance, healthcare, education, technology and innovation and we are proud to partner with Bahrain to enhance the quality of the healthcare and education sectors in the Kingdom and the wider GCC region.  We are committed to driving innovation within these critical sectors, to meeting the growing demand for specialised service offerings and to creating jobs to lay the foundation for stronger long-term economic growth.  This MoU enables us to establish Bahrain as the regional pioneer for healthcare and education and in turn become the springboard for the entire GCC, attracting foreign direct investment and importing global best practice to enhance and boost Bahrain’s position in the global sphere. The latest technologies of our investee companies like ProMedEx and Right Health will further benefit all residents of Bahrain in addition to creating local jobs, and we look forward to using our talent, scale and experience as an effective private sector partner to make a significant positive impact in the Kingdom.”

Commenting on the partnership, Mahmood Al Aradi, Chief Investment Officer at Bahrain EDB said, “This is a strategic investment that has the potential to unlock significant opportunities for healthcare providers in Bahrain over the coming years.

“We are extremely pleased to be supporting Foundation Holdings with their plans to enter the Bahrain healthcare market. Our strategic location, our competitive business offering, which includes delivering the best value operating costs in the region, and the growing demand for healthcare services will all play a fundamental role in contributing to the success of the project.”

Foundation Holdings is a global strategic investment firm focused on the healthcare and education sectors in India and the GCC. It currently holds investments in UAE, Saudi Arabia and India. Foundation Holdings will deploy the funds into establishing its portfolio companies in Bahrain, creating 300-500 locally sourced, specialised healthcare jobs in the process. The news of the MoU comes as Bahrain continues to embark on ongoing healthcare reforms as part of its Vision 2030 programme, creating new and expanded opportunities for investors and healthcare providers.

–  ENDS –

For more information, please contact:

Mahmood Ali

Executive Director, Communications

Economic Development Board

Phone: +973-39798919

E-mail: internationalmedia@bahrainedb.com

About Foundation Holdings

Foundation Holdings is a leading strategic, global investment firm focused on building sustainable, industry defining companies in the impactful sectors of healthcare and education with assets under management exceeding AED 500 million and investments in 7 companies across the GCC and India. Foundation Holdings’ applies its value-creation approach to impact investing by building great healthcare and education companies, maximizing their financial potential, and scaling their social and environmental impact. Foundation Holdings’ management team has led successful IPOs across the New York Stock Exchange, London Stock Exchange, Australian Stock Exchange and the Dubai Financial Market, as well as having led two of the largest IPOs in the region.

The firm is the recipient of various awards and distinctions including the Investment Recognition Award by the UAE-India Economic Forum, Responsible Business Award (Nomination) by Ethical Corporation Award, Best Socio Economic Impact Investor Team, UAE, (Nomination) by cfi.co, Best Educational Investment Management Firm (Nomination) by Global Business Outlook, Most Progressive Healthcare Investment Firm, UAE by International Business Magazine etc. Find us in Dubai & Mumbai, and at www.foundationholdings.co 

About Bahrain Economic Development Board

The Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) is an investment promotion agency with overall responsibility for attracting investment into the Kingdom and supporting initiatives that enhance the investment climate.

The EDB works with the government and both current and prospective investors, in order to ensure that Bahrain’s investment climate is attractive, to communicate the key strengths, and to identify where opportunities exist for further economic growth through investment.

The EDB focuses on several economic sectors that capitalise on Bahrain’s competitive advantages and provide significant investment opportunities. These sectors include financial services, manufacturing, technology and innovation, tourism, education, healthcare, logistics and transport.

For more information on the Bahrain EDB visit www.bahrainedb.com


[1]https://2016.export.gov/industry/health/healthcareresourceguide/eg_main_124534.asp#:~:text=The%20healthcare%20market%20in%20Bahrain,estimated%20%242.0%20billion%20in%202020

Bahrain property transactions jump 36% in Q1 2021

  • Bahrain real estate transactions reached $600 million compared to just over $440 million in Q1 2020
  • Almost 3,000 real estate deals conducted in the first quarter of 2021

Manama – May 18, 2021: Bahrain’s real estate transactions rose by 36% in Q1 2021 reaching $600m (226 million BD), according to figures released by Bahrain’s Survey and Land Registration Board. These figures represent a boost of more than a third compared to the first quarter of last year, when numbers were just over $440m (166 million BD).
Just under 3,000 properties were sold across the first three months of this year, a rise of 51% from the first three months of last year’s transactions, which reached just under 2,000. Listings portal Propertyfinder.bh also reported that the number of sale listings during Q1 2021 have gone up almost 10% over the last quarter. Much of this success can be attributed to strategic swift financial decisions taken by the government to support the economy.
Commenting on this, Ali Al Mudaifa, Executive Director, Investment Origination at the Bahrain Economic Development Board said: “The rise in real estate transactions indicates the growing demand for residential and retail properties in the Kingdom which represents an opportunity for investors and developers who can benefit from Bahrain’s business-friendly regulations such as 100% foreign ownership. In addition to local demand, we witnessed a 21% surge in real estate transaction value from expat buyers including GCC nationals.”
Bahrain’s long-standing real estate sector is a popular destination for investments, offering a multi-dimensional marketplace that caters to the growing demand in the Kingdom. Residential properties present a unique opportunity as affordable housing schemes come into effect, with a demand request of 5,000 units per year and 40,000 units to be delivered by 2022 by the Ministry of Housing.


-Ends-


For more information and media enquiries, please contact:
Communications and Media Department
Economic Development Board
Phone: +973-17-589966
E-mail: internationalmedia@bahrainedb.com

About Bahrain Economic Development Board
The Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) is an investment promotion agency with overall responsibility for attracting investment into the Kingdom and supporting initiatives that enhance the investment climate.

The EDB works with the government and both current and prospective investors, in order to ensure that Bahrain’s investment climate is attractive, to communicate the key strengths, and to identify where opportunities exist for further economic growth through investment.

The EDB focuses on several economic sectors that capitalise on Bahrain’s competitive advantages and provide significant investment opportunities. These sectors include financial services, manufacturing, ICT, tourism, logistics and transport.

For more information on the Bahrain EDB visit www.bahrainedb.com; for information about Bahrain visit www.bahrain.com.

Bahrain tops GCC rankings as best place for expats to live

  • Third of respondents in Bahrain have no plans to move in near future due to handling of global pandemic

Manama – May 19, 2021: Bahrain remains the best place in the GCC for expats to live and work despite the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the recently published InterNations Expat Insider 2021 survey. The survey, which samples key indices related to things like quality of life and cost of living, ranks the Kingdom ahead of Qatar, the UAE, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

While the pandemic has caused expats around the world to cut their time abroad short and return home, nearly a third of respondents in Bahrain said they no immediate or future plans to return home due to the global crisis.

In the InterNations survey, Bahrain ranked highly across key indicators including quality of medical care, political stability, ease of settling in and job satisfaction.
Just over 80% of expats in Bahrain are happy with medical care quality, compared with 71% globally. Meanwhile, 84% are happy with the country’s political stability compared to 64% globally. This combined with Bahrain’s best-value cost of setting up and operating a company than neighbouring countries, as well as the Kingdom’s unparalleled access to the GCC region’s fastest growing market are all key factors in ensuring demand from companies looking to set up in the region.

Most expats in Bahrain also feel financially secure while almost 70% of respondents said they are satisfied with their job in general. The majority of expats in Bahrain work in healthcare, energy & utilities, education and hospitality. Rapid population growth in the country is driving demand for both healthcare and education services and workers.

Exactly half of expats in Bahrain rate the cost of living positively and the Kingdom is placed 26th in the global rankings for cost of living.

Despite the pandemic, Bahrain remains a very easy place for expats to settle in, according to the survey. The country was ranked fifth globally for ease of settling in and most expats (87%) find it easy to live in Bahrain without speaking the local language, compared with 54% globally. Bahrain ranks sixth globally in the language subcategory.

Moreover, 77% of expats feel at home in the local culture (versus 63% globally), and 70% say it is easy to settle down in Bahrain (versus 62% globally). Bahrain ranks fifth in the world for ease of settling in.

–ENDS—

Notes to Editor:

For more information, please contact:

Mahmood Ali

Executive Director, Communications

Economic Development Board

Phone: +973-39798919

E-mail: internationalmedia@bahrainedb.com

About Bahrain Economic Development Board

The Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) is an investment promotion agency with overall responsibility for attracting investment into the Kingdom and supporting initiatives that enhance the investment climate.

The EDB works with the government and both current and prospective investors, in order to ensure that Bahrain’s investment climate is attractive, to communicate the key strengths, and to identify where opportunities exist for further economic growth through investment.

The EDB focuses on several economic sectors that capitalise on Bahrain’s competitive advantages and provide significant investment opportunities. These sectors include financial services, manufacturing, technology and innovation, tourism, education, healthcare, logistics and transport.

For more information on the Bahrain EDB visit www.bahrainedb.com

Bahrain real estate sector deals valued at US$ 1.9 billion in 2020

  • Bahrain real estate deals rose by 14% and 20% in third and fourth quarters of 2020
  • Ongoing mixed-use major real estate projects worth over US$12 billion
  • Bahrain real estate sector set to bounce-back amid series of major projects and initiatives

Manama – March 30, 2021: The real estate market in the Kingdom of Bahrain is gaining pace despite the challenges faced by the pandemic, with a series of major projects and initiatives driving sector growth. The rebound of Bahrain’s real estate sector fuelled a 14% and 20% rise in real estate deals in the third and fourth quarter of 2020 respectively, with the total value of real estate transactions in Bahrain reaching $1.9 billion (BD 717.4 million) in 2020.

Bahrain’s National Real Estate plan for 2021-2024 is set to further increase the sector’s contribution to the national economy as part of continued economic diversification efforts. The plan includes five initiatives and 17 projects, including laws and regulations, long-term plans and operational initiatives for developing the real estate sector.

Mixed-use major real estate projects in the Kingdom set to exceed US$ 12 billion which includes Eagle Hills Marassi Al Bahrain, Diyar Al Muharraq, Dilmunia and Bahrain Bay, which are creating prosperity through attractive and unique real estate destinations. Bahrain is a multidimensional marketplace that enables investment in a diverse range of properties that focus on addressing the growing consumer demand in Bahrain and the region for integrated communities that offer opportunities for the live, work, play lifestyle.

Commenting on the latest real estate developments, Ali Al Mudaifa, Executive Director – Investment Origination at Bahrain Economic Development Board said, “Bahrain’s bounce back in the real estate sector is testament to the Kingdom’s dedication towards economic growth.”

“Seeing these projects come to life has been a rewarding experience and we are confident that Bahrain’s real estate sector will continue to grow in the coming years.”

In addition to delivering a total of 30,000 homes over the past five years, Bahrain’s housing ministry is currently in the process of digitising their services to improve their offering. During 2020, the ministry completed around 45,000 transactions online, increasing efficiency and resulting in a 75% reduction in congestion time for housing service applications.

—ENDS—

Notes to Editor:

For more information, please contact:

Mahmood Ali

Executive Director, Communications

Economic Development Board

Phone: +973-39798919

E-mail: internationalmedia@bahrainedb.com

About Bahrain Economic Development Board

The Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) is an investment promotion agency with overall responsibility for attracting investment into the Kingdom and supporting initiatives that enhance the investment climate.

The EDB works with the government and both current and prospective investors, in order to ensure that Bahrain’s investment climate is attractive, to communicate the key strengths, and to identify where opportunities exist for further economic growth through investment.

The EDB focuses on several economic sectors that capitalise on Bahrain’s competitive advantages and provide significant investment opportunities. These sectors include financial services, manufacturing, technology and innovation, tourism, education, healthcare, logistics and transport.

For more information on the Bahrain EDB visit www.bahrainedb.com

Tencent Cloud Deploys its First MENA Region Internet Data Centre Hub in Bahrain

  • Middle East cloud market expected to reach USD 4.5 billion by 2024, highlighting the growing opportunity in the region
  • Tencent Cloud will capitalise on Bahrain’s position as a regional cloud services hub

Hong Kong, March 1, 2021 Tencent Cloud, the cloud business of Tencent, today announced its collaboration with the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) – the Kingdom of Bahrain’s Investment promotion agency. The two parties signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), with the aim to drive the Kingdom of Bahrain’s Internet Data Centre (IDC) development and support its rapid emergence as the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region’s hub for the cloud and IDC sectors. The MoU signing also marks a significant milestone for Tencent Cloud as it deploys its first public cloud infrastructure in the MENA region.

According to research by MarketsandMarkets, the Middle East’s cloud market is expected to reach USD 4.5 billion by 2024, with a CAGR of 17.5 percent over the same period, highlighting the growing opportunity in this region.

The MoU between Tencent Cloud and the Bahrain EDB will allow for substantial opportunities to boost the local digital economy, empowering local organisations to expedite their digital transformation journey. It will also allow Tencent Cloud to leverage on Bahrain’s regional position, and the EDB’s connectivity with local and regional stakeholders, including Bahrain’s sovereign wealth fund, Mumtalakat.

The terms of the MoU include:

  • Tencent Cloud’s first IDC in Bahrain and MENA: Tencent Cloud will launch a brand-new IDC in Bahrain, which will go live by the end of 2021.
  • Promoting the deployment of Tencent Cloud: Bahrain EDB, together with public and private stakeholders will encourage the continued adoption of cloud services to further the digital transformation agenda. Additionally, support will be offered to partner companies to leverage cloud services in collaboration with local stakeholders such as Tamkeen.
  • Local talent development: Tencent Cloud will explore and set up training initiatives jointly with the local government in universities and educational institutions across the Kingdom to allow for further knowledge transfer and qualified digital technology talents.

H.E. Kamal bin Ahmed Mohammed, Bahrain’s Minister of Transportation and Telecommunications, said, “This is an important milestone in Bahrain’s journey to become the MENA region’s cloud and data centre hub and I commend the EDB for their ceaseless efforts in developing the partnership with Tencent and ensuring that Bahrain is a favored destination for investment. Tencent joins leading global cloud giants in setting up in Bahrain which will drive massive growth in data traffic towards MENA. Moreover, the launch of the new data centre stands to create a clustering effect as other global providers turn their attention to the increasingly attractive region, with Bahrain positioned as the destination of choice with proactive initiatives such as the Government’s ‘Cloud-First’ policy and nationwide 5G.”

Poshu Yeung, Senior Vice President, Tencent Cloud International, said, “While the local government in Bahrain has been making significant efforts to grow the local IDC industry, Tencent Cloud is excited to collaborate with Bahrain EDB as part of our ongoing efforts to ramp up the global IDC landscape. We will launch all necessary steps to set up a brand-new IDC in Bahrain to provide better coverage all over the Middle East and North African regions along the Belt and Road, fully supporting Bahrain’s ‘Cloud-First’ strategy.”

H.E. Khalid Humaidan, Chief Executive, Bahrain Economic Development Board, said, “As a global leader in technology, innovation and cloud services, the EDB is very proud to be partnering with Tencent to set up their first MENA data center hub in Bahrain. We are confident that Tencent will be able to leverage on the Kingdom’s regional connectivity, local talent, and business friendly environment to expand their services and reach clients across the region.”

Raed Fakhri, Managing Director – Investments, Mumtalakat, added, “Innovative technologies, including cloud services and other content driven services, are an area that Mumtalakat is keen to explore and support as Bahrain progresses with its ‘Cloud First’ policy. As one of the first organisations in the Kingdom to achieve full cloud migration we are excited to witness this milestone that will only further enhance Bahrain’s diversification strategy.” 

In 2017, Bahrain introduced the region’s first nationwide “Cloud-First” policy to enhance government information and communication technologies, driving the adoption of cloud across state entities and reducing IT costs by up to 90%.

Operating in 27 regions and 60 availability zones worldwide, Tencent Cloud is a secure, reliable and high-performance public cloud service provider that integrates Tencent’s infrastructure-building capabilities with the advantages of its massive user platform and ecosystem. By harnessing Bahrain’s track record of agile and forward-thinking data regulation, as well as its strategic location within the region, Tencent Cloud will enhance its rich array of global services to both the public and private sectors in the region.

# # #

About Tencent Cloud

Tencent Cloud is Tencent’s cloud services brand, providing industry-leading cloud products and services to organizations and enterprises across the world. Leveraging its robust data center infrastructures around the world, Tencent integrates cloud computing, big data analytics, AI, Internet of Things, security and other advanced technologies with smart enterprise scenarios. At the same time, we provide a holistic smart enterprise solution for sectors including finance, education, healthcare, retail, industry, transport, energy and radio & television.

Media Contact

Denize Chan Tencent Cloud denizechan@tencent.com
+852-3148-5100 (ext. 850898)  
Irene Fung Current Global ifung@currentglobal.com       

Manama listed in the top 5 globally for FDI strategy in latest fDi Magazine ranking

Manama – February 18, 2021: The Kingdom of Bahrain’s capital Manama has been named as the fifth globally amongst all-sized cities and first amongst small and mid-sized cities for FDI strategy in the 2021 Global cities of the Future index produced by the Financial Times’ fDi Magazine. Both Abu Dhabi and Dubai similarly ranked in the top 10, with Abu Dhabi placing sixth and Dubai placing eighth.

Commenting on the latest rankings, the Bahrain Economic Development Board’s Chief Executive, His Excellency Khalid Humaidan said: “In 2019, FDI stock made up 80% of our nominal GDP which is double the world average. We are very proud of this achievement and for being recognised for our FDI strategy. What is more promising is that three GCC cities have ranked in the top ten, highlighting the clear attraction for FDI in the region.

“This independent recognition is further confirmation that our board has set the right strategy for us to go forward and they continue to be supportive of our agenda.”

The Kingdom’s FDI strategy is pinned on a diverse multi-sectoral approach which is showing results and gaining recognition, as evidenced by Bahrain’s leading performance in the survey.

In addition to the Kingdom’s ranking in FDI Strategy, Bahrain was also ranked highly in cost-effectiveness and business friendliness, being 6th globally and third in MENA, and seventh globally and second in MENA respectively for small and mid-sized cities.

Bahrain has undertaken an ambitious and comprehensive programme of economic reform, which has been further recognised by other independent studies and surveys. The 2020 World Bank Doing Business Report named Bahrain the fourth most improved country in the world, and research by KPMG in a Cost of Doing Business Report highlighted that Bahrain is between 20-30 percent more cost-effective than some of its neighbors across multiple industries.

— Ends —

Notes to Editor:

For more information, please contact:

Mahmood Ali

Executive Director, Communications and Media

Economic Development Board

Phone: +973-39798919

E-mail: internationalmedia@bahrainedb.com

About Bahrain Economic Development Board

The Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) is an investment promotion agency with overall responsibility for attracting investment into the Kingdom and supporting initiatives that enhance the investment climate.

The EDB works with the government and both current and prospective investors, in order to ensure that Bahrain’s investment climate is attractive, to communicate the key strengths, and to identify where opportunities exist for further economic growth through investment.

The EDB focuses on several economic sectors that capitalise on Bahrain’s competitive advantages and provide significant investment opportunities. These sectors include financial services, manufacturing, ICT, tourism, logistics and transport.

For more information on the Bahrain EDB visit www.bahrainedb.com; for information about Bahrain visit www.bahrain.com.

IN-DEPTH: Tokenisation transformation in Bahrain

Published on Dec 2, 2020 in Logistics Middle East

In a post-COVID world, blockchain and tokenisation present an opportunity to accelerate digital change in logistics. Here, we explore how the technology is set to transform supply chains in the GCC

Following a radical shake-up of the global supply chain caused by COVID-19, industry leaders are paying close attention to the post-pandemic future for shipping, ports and other critical parts of the logistics pipeline.

Beyond the major considerations – such as where to base key hub locations to mitigate against potential future economic shocks – the global crisis has provided a logical point to step back and examine the industry’s most fundamental elements from the ground up. At the core of most industries’ supply chains is shipping – and at the core of shipping is years of processes built on physical transactions.

From tracking the movement of assets to preparing customs documentation and ultimately proving the receipt of goods, along the entire pipeline, business has traditionally been conducted using paper and pen.

Yet in recent years, the logistics industry has made a concerted shift towards blockchain and other Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies including artificial intelligence and big data – a shift that has been catalysed by the global onset of COVID-19. As part of this transformation, businesses have sought to re-purpose tech solutions from other industries – nowhere more so than in the logistics industry.

One example transplanted from the world of payments is tokenisation – a technology primarily used by financial processors to protect credit card details. Now, following years of success in Europe’s payments industry, it is set to radically improve logistics asset management across the GCC, as well as streamline the shipping process by minimising the need for physical documents.

Tokenisation works by storing a firm’s sensitive data in a highly secure digital vault and automatically replacing it with a placeholder ‘token’ of the same length and format. For example, a 16-digit credit card number could be represented by a series of random, unrelated digits that would be of no use to a would-be fraudster without access to the original data.

Unlike encryption, which can be unscrambled by figuring out the key, the sensitive information never leaves the vault, meaning the token is completely indecipherable on its own. It is therefore virtually impossible for even the most determined of hackers to access the valuable underlying data. This encryption-by-proxy is best understood using the example of a poker chip. The chip itself has no intrinsic value until it is brought back to the original processor, at which point it is exchanged for cash.

While the most common application for tokenisation is payments processing, the technology is playing an increasingly significant role in a much wider range of industries – including in the logistics sector by improving efficiency and security along the supply chain. Key use cases include tracking asset movement, enabling the easy flow of shipments from one port to another, and digitising what have been traditionally paper-based processes.

One of the first major players to enter the market is Slovenia-based CargoX, which aims to “kickstart a revolution in global logistics” through its Smart B/L Bill of Lading solution. Using tokenisation, the platform offers logistics companies and shippers a highly secure and efficient alternative to paper Bills of Lading, which collectively cost billions of dollars per year and can take up to a week to complete the transfer.

Following major successes in Europe, Stefan Kukman, the company’s founder and CEO, has previously spoken of plans to bring CargoX to the GCC, saying: “With so much of the Middle East economy built on trade, this is an opportunity for regional logistics companies to cut costs and gain a competitive edge.

He added: “The adoption of a blockchain based smart bill of lading will affect logistics and trade in the Middle East as much as it will in any other part of the World. It will transform the analogue, slow and sometimes troublesome processing of physical paper-based cargo documentation into a digital experience with a maximum level of trust and security when transferring the document.”

The GCC logistics industry is already moving in this direction following the launch of Fasset, a FinTech startup which tokenises hard assets via blockchain technologies. The system works by “fractionalising” – or breaking down – larger assets into smaller tokens, similar to the way CargoX turns a bill of lading into a digital document ready for virtual transmission at the click of a button.

Fasset – which has received millions in funding from strategic backers in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Singapore – is the first of its kind to receive authorisation from the Central Bank of Bahrain to test its concept in the country’s FinTech Regulatory Sandbox. Fasset intends to focus on financing sustainable infrastructure across a number of industries including energy, transport, ICT and social sectors such as Education and Healthcare.

The launch of Fasset is timely. In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, governments the world over are increasingly digitising their trade processes. The latest country to do so is India, which moved its trade documentation workflows to blockchain-based platforms in a bid to minimise person-to-person interactions in the shipping process.

While the GCC has so far not formally regulated for the use of these technologies for shipping documentation (apart from Bahrain with its electronic transferable records law), customs requirements specify only that electronic documents need to be uniquely identifiable. In fact, blockchain-based platforms are already playing a major role in supply chain management across the Gulf, and according to 2019 research by the Middle East Institute, are central to “expanding commercial ties and overcoming obstacles to global trade”.

In particular, the paper emphasised the benefits of digital shipping documents that allow for the processing and tracking of millions of unique data points on shipments and containers while guaranteeing a high level of security and transparency. This move towards blockchain stands to benefit manufacturing firms handling complex supply chain routes in particular, and a surge in use of the technology is anticipated. According to research firm Gartner, blockchain is set to support the movement and tracking of US$2 trillion of goods and services globally by 2023.

Moreover, the GCC is better placed than most to drive this technological revolution. Firstly, the region’s historically strategic location between Eastern and Western trade routes means more efficient processes and faster shipping times have positive reverberations for supply chains globally. Second, decades of tech-focused economic diversification have resulted in some of the world’s most advanced digital infrastructure – exactly what is needed to put high-speed blockchain systems into place. Finally, key players within the GCC logistics industry have demonstrated a strong appetite for the uptake of these new technologies.

Last year, Bahrain’s APM Terminals – which manages the country’s sprawling Khalifa Bin Salman Port – launched a blockchain-based system to overhaul traditional processes and speed up shipment clearance times. The firm’s managing director Susan Hunter praised the effectiveness of the technology, saying: “Many of the processes for transporting and trading goods are costly, in part, due to manual and paper-based systems. Replacing these peer-to-peer and often unreliable information exchanges, the platform enables participants to digitally connect, share information and collaborate across the shipping supply chain ecosystem.”

Blockchain has also had a positive impact on road-based logistics. Bahrain is connected to Saudi Arabia, the region’s largest market, by the 25-kilometre King Fahd Causeway – one of the busiest crossings in the Middle East that facilitates the flow of imports and exports via many thousands of commercial trucks each day. Despite recent restrictions owing to COVID-19, for the most part passage of commercial freight was able to continue as usual, thanks to high-tech artificial intelligence scanners installed along the length of the causeway.

The scanners automate blockchain-based data collection and allow shipment inspections to take place before trucks reach the border. This has greatly increased both the speed and capacity for customs processing as demonstrated by the US$1.45 billion in trade between the two nations during the first half of 2020.

Saudi Arabia too has made similar strides towards enhancing its customs processes with advanced technologies. In September of last year, the country’s customs authority partnered with shipping giant Maersk to highlight the importance of blockchain to reduce time and costs while enhancing security. That came after the country launched its first-ever blockchain-enabled shipment from the King Abdul Aziz Port in Dammam to Rotterdam in the Netherlands in May 2019.

The UAE has recorded similar developments, with a dedicated nationwide Blockchain Strategy in place and freight forwarders offered access to efficient digital processes via the Silsal information exchange platform. Furthering these efforts, the World Economic Forum recently collaborated with Dubai Future Foundation (DFF) to produce a blockchain toolkit to strengthen the supply chain.

In an increasingly digital world, where logistics players and governments alike are keen to limit person-to-person interactions, blockchain and tokenisation present an opportunity to accelerate digital change. Recent developments such as the launch of Fasset and the rapid uptake of blockchain technologies throughout the supply chain indicate that the Middle East – and in particular the GCC – is set to be at the forefront of this change.

Bahrain attracts US$885m investment in 2020

Manama, Bahrain, January 18 2021: Bahrain attracted US$885 million (BHD333 million) in direct investments during 2020 through new companies setting up and expanding in the Kingdom.  

Several prominent companies have launched operations in the Kingdom, with investments from local, regional and international companies investing in vital sectors including financial services, manufacturing, logistics services, education, healthcare services, real estate, tourism, and ICT.

H.E. Khalid Humaidan, Chief Executive of Bahrain Economic Development Board, commented: “Despite the challenges faced across the globe due to COVID-19, we were able to continue the momentum from 2019, attracting hundreds of millions of dollars in investment from around the world.

“Investors are increasingly turning to the region’s tried-and-tested business environment, where our commitment to building a pro-investor ecosystem is backed up by robust regulation. This, and our longstanding economic diversification efforts, show Bahrain is focused on enabling growth in a wide range of sectors.”

According to the UN Conference on Trade and Development and the IMF, the size of accumulated direct investments compared to the Kingdom’s GDP in 2019 was 78% – almost double the global average of 42%. 

–ENDS—

Notes to Editor:

For more information, please contact:

Mahmood Ali

Executive Director, Communications and Media

Economic Development Board

Phone: +973-39798919

E-mail: internationalmedia@bahrainedb.com

About Bahrain Economic Development Board

The Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) is an investment promotion agency with overall responsibility for attracting investment into the Kingdom and supporting initiatives that enhance the investment climate.

The EDB works with the government and both current and prospective investors, in order to ensure that Bahrain’s investment climate is attractive, to communicate the key strengths, and to identify where opportunities exist for further economic growth through investment.

The EDB focuses on several economic sectors that capitalise on Bahrain’s competitive advantages and provide significant investment opportunities. These sectors include financial services, manufacturing, ICT, tourism, logistics and transport.

For more information on the Bahrain EDB visit www.bahrainedb.com; for information about Bahrain visit www.bahrain.com.

BAHRAIN EDB APPOINTS AN ADVISOR TO THE BOARD

Manama, December 17th: The Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) has announced the appointment of Mr. Iain Lindsay as an advisor to the Board. 

Mr. Lindsay brings a wealth of experience, having worked as a British diplomat for 40 years, with experience in Europe, the Middle East and the Far East, serving most recently as the British Ambassador to Bahrain from 2011 to 2015 and to Hungary from 2016 until 2020. Prior to that he was Deputy Head of Mission and Director, Trade and Investment at the British Consulate General in Hong Kong from 2007 to 2011. He has spent much of his career in Asia Pacific, serving also in Tokyo (twice) and Canberra. He was also Deputy Head of Mission in Bucharest from 2003 to 2007, helping with Romania’s accession to NATO and the EU. 

It is this experience along with a strong international network and a focus on investment and trade which uniquely positions him to support the EDB with its main mandate of attracting direct investment to the Kingdom in order to contribute to the creation of jobs and reaching out to international investors from key target markets the EDB has identified, and in which he has worked previously.

The EDB focuses on several key sectors which offer strong competitive advantages to both local and international investors. These sectors support non-oil growth and help further diversify the local economy. Mr. Lindsay brings a unique value to the EDB Board.

For more information, please contact:

Communications and Media Department

Economic Development Board

Phone: +973-17-589966

E-mail: internationalmedia@bahrainedb.com

About Bahrain Economic Development Board

The Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) is an investment promotion agency with overall responsibility for attracting investment into the Kingdom and supporting initiatives that enhance the investment climate.

The EDB works with the government and both current and prospective investors, in order to ensure that Bahrain’s investment climate is attractive, to communicate the key strengths, and to identify where opportunities exist for further economic growth through investment.

The EDB focuses on several economic sectors that capitalise on Bahrain’s competitive advantages and provide significant investment opportunities. These sectors include financial services, manufacturing, ICT, tourism, logistics and transport.

For more information on the Bahrain EDB visit www.bahrainedb.com; for information about Bahrain visit www.bahrain.com.

Go to top