Business and operations
Bahrain’s growing economy offers exciting investment opportunities within a supportive business environment designed to help businesses flourish for years to come.
The Bahrain economy is the most diversified in the GCC region with opportunities in the financial services, ICT, manufacturing, logistics, and tourism sectors. Bahrain’s pro-innovation business policies and laws give businesses of all sizes the opportunity to thrive.
As a business-friendly hub for the GCC Market, Bahrain offers high-yielding opportunities for investors owing to a favourable tax environment, ease of doing business, and unparalleled access to the USD 2.07 trillion GCC market and beyond. Alongside a highly skilled workforce, maintaining this liberal economic environment is a key differentiator in Bahrain’s value proposition as we continue to be guided by the national Economic Recovery Plan and work towards attracting additional investment into the Kingdom.
Bahrain’s world-class business developments are home to some of the world’s leading companies such as Amazon, Mondelez, EY, IBM, BNP Paribas, DHL, Microsoft and Citi .
Yes. Bahrain witnessed significant economic growth since the introduction of the Economic Recovery Plan in 2021. Non-oil real GDP growth for 2022 grew by 6.2%, and Bahrain’s FDI stock relative to GDP in 2022 stands around 80%, which is well above the global average, and is a testament to the attractiveness of the investment environment in Bahrain.
2022 has been a record year for Bahrain EDB. Despite a challenging economic climate across the globe, Bahrain EDB exceeded the USD 1 billion target set at the beginning of 2022, attracting investments worth USD 1.1 billion which are expected to generate more than 6,000 job opportunities in the Bahraini economy over the coming three years. These investments are from 89 projects in key sectors, including financial services, ICT, manufacturing, logistics and tourism. The companies represent regional and international organisations, from India, China, the USA, and Germany among others.
Bahrain lies at the heart of the Arabian Gulf, with fast and efficient access to every market in the Middle East by air, sea and road. Major Gulf markets including Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates are all less than a one-hour flight away.
Saudi Arabia, the Gulf’s largest economy, is just one-hour away by road, which means Bahrain has the quickest access to KSA. Additionally, Bahrain’s cultural neutrality is unique in the Gulf. We have maintained warm relationships with our neighbours in the Middle East, from the UAE to Saudi Arabia, and, therefore, you will find doors are open to business and trade across the region.
Business in Bahrain are benefiting from a business-friendly environment, unparalleled market access with easy access to land, sea, and air routes; and Bahrain’s Free Trade Agreements with 22 countries, including the first ever US FTA with a GCC member.
Bahrain’s connectivity to the region is strengthened by the presence of prominent logistics providers, including DHL, Aramex, FedEx, among many others. Bahrain also offers investors the fastest time to market in the GCC due to our fast and efficient customs clearance procedures. Within the GCC, Bahrain has the shortest time and distance between the airport, seaport and causeway. All these factors render Bahrain as the GCC gateway hub to access key international markets.
Very competitive. Bahrain has one of the lowest business cost environments in the Middle East, with good value property, labour and the lowest taxes in the Gulf. Additionally, it has the lowest operational costs compared to other GCC hubs, and excellent value for money. The 2022 Cost of Doing Business report by KPMG highlights Bahrain’s cost competitive standing across various indicators and sectors. Bahrain’s costs of doing business are lower than the GCC by almost 27% in financial services and 28% in ICT.
Bahrain ranks 1st Globally for Financial Attractiveness, based on AIRINC’s Global 150 Cities Index 2022.
With the exception of trading, contracting and construction-related activities, and power generation, all sectors are open to 100% foreign ownership. This reduces set-up costs considerably since businesses do not have to use third parties to establish their businesses.
Bahrain has the following FTAs with their respective originating status requirements of value addition:
- Bahrain – GCC
- Greater Arab States*
- Bahrain – United States
*Signatories of the Greater Arab FTA include: Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, UAE, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Algeria, Djibouti, Somalia, Mauritania and Yemen.
**Signatories of the Europe FTA include: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland.
Communications infrastructure is world-class, fully developed and digitised.
The telecommunications sector was fully liberalised in 2004 and is among the freest ICT sectors in the region. The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority is mandated with promoting fair competition among established and newly licensed operators.
Bahrain has 6 cables, 4 of which are submarine fiber optic systems, and 2 of which are terrestrial dark fiber systems. Bahrain is connected to the rest of region by the Fibre Optic Gulf Cable and high-tech FLAG Falcon cable system. Bahrain’s fiber networks are still underutilised and will easily meet the growing demand for international connectivity by future investors for years to come.
Yes. Bahrain has excellent connectivity with the rest of the world. More than 27 airlines fly from our world-class Bahrain International Airport. We boast more than 51 flight destinations worldwide. Gulf Air, Bahrain’s National Carrier offers the best regional connectivity with the highest number of flights within the region. There are daily flights to all GCC countries every day with flight times under an hour.
Bahrain International Airport (BIA) was awarded the title of “Best New Airport in the World” by Skytrax during 2022. The BIA launched a new passenger terminal building, with a capacity of 14 million passengers. It is a green building-certified facility that provides a seamless passenger experience. BIA is adding enhancements that include 24/7 customs, a core warehouse, new air cargo village and direct access to airside and freighter parking stands. The airport’s 2030 Air Cargo Development Strategy is focused on high-value cargo, value-added contractual logistics and distribution.
Bahrain is a multi-modal logistics hub with transport links that are among the best in the Middle East.
Bahrain has the infrastructure, with access to vital markets and advanced facilities such as Salman Industrial City, which includes Bahrain International Investment Park (BIIP) and Bahrain Logistics Zone (BLZ), the Middle East’s first multi-modal hub for value-added logistics and re-export.
The Kingdom invests heavily to meet growing demand and facilitate supply-chain throughput, with a pipeline of infrastructure projects worth USD $32 billion under way.
Bahrain launched the “Bahrain Sea-to-Air logistics hub”, the fastest regional multi-modal hub facilitating logistics processing between sea and air transit cargo through the Khalifa bin Salman Port (KBSP) and the Bahrain International Airport (BIA). Logistics companies can use Bahrain as a central bonded link bridging East to West and vice-versa, in a move to maximize economic efficiency and ensure faster lead times.
Strategic infrastructure projects that are expected to increase trade and connectivity in the region are the Bahrain Metro project worth $2bn, which is expected to be completed by year 2027 and the planned King Hamad causeway, which is the second bridge linking the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Kingdom of Bahrain will consist of four lanes for vehicles and part of the railway.
Businesses in Bahrain can set up wherever is most convenient for them. There are no ring-fenced free zones, meaning the entirety of Bahrain is a free zone.
Education and skills
Three generations of modern higher education have given Bahrain’s men and women the opportunity to develop advanced skills and expertise. There are many international schools offering curricula from Europe, the US, Japan and India. In addition, Bahrain is reforming post-secondary education to support the needs of the economy and give Bahrainis more choice over the skills they want to develop. Bahrain has a tech-savvy population, highly qualified ICT workforce, strong entrepreneurial community that is of great value to investors looking to hire.
Life in Bahrain
Yes. According to InterNations, Bahrain is ranked 1st Globally for Getting Started Abroad 2023. Bahrain was also ranked 1st amongst the GCC in the World Happiness Report 2022 which was released by the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Solutions Network.
Bahrain has a distinctive island culture that both locals and expats find relaxing and fulfilling. From its beautiful coastline offering great water sports, to the vibrant restaurant scene, to the warmth of the traditional cultural events, to the café culture, art and music scene and spacious housing, Bahrain offers an excellent lifestyle proposition, especially for families.
The cost of living in Bahrain is highly competitive when compared to other GCC countries and this will continue with the proposals of the 2030 strategy to build Bahrain as an attractive business center. In fact, according to the Cost of Doing Business report 2022 by KPMG, Bahrain’s cost of living is lower than that of the GCC by up to 51% in 2022. Bahrain offers excellent value for money, coupled with a balanced lifestyle.
The EDB is an investment promotion agency, chaired by His Royal Highness the Crown Prince of Bahrain, with the overall responsibility for attracting investment into Bahrain and supporting initiatives that enhance the investment climate. EDB is the first point of contact for investors, delivering a world class, seamless experience and holistic support across the investor lifecycle.
We offer business case support, facilitation, and aftercare services. This entails identifying and connecting potential joint venture partners, providing information on sector-specific opportunities, as well as offering aftercare and expansion support. This ensures long-term satisfaction and project success.
Have additional questions? Our team is on hand to help answer them.