Bahrain has consistently pursued a national vision, one of generating prosperity through sensibly assessing its inherent resource and geographic advantages, identifying key sectors for long-term growth and investing in quality infrastructure to provide the conditions for those sectors to develop to their full potential.
All this takes place in an open economy and with a fiscal and regulatory framework attractive to international investment. Remaining alert and responsive to new opportunities and agile in anticipating and reacting to change has enabled this self-confident country to meet the challenge and build a dynamic, resilient, competitive and diversified economy.
The country was the first in the region to sign a free trade agreement with the United States and continues to invest heavily in logistical infrastructure, building new industrial parks and ports and expanding existing facilities, both to attract new investment and to enhance its role as a regional hub.
This material side of Bahrain’s collaborative and win-win approach to attracting investment is matched by the country’s insistence on entrepreneurial freedom for business, recognised by the Heritage Foundation awarding the country first place ranking in its Index of Economic Freedom for the Middle East and Africa.
Economic diversification has been a consistent theme of Bahrain’s development strategy. The financial sector, renowned for its probity and efficient regulation, has been one of the region’s leading financial centres for more than four decades.
Meanwhile the aluminium industry was established in 1971 and has since been followed by a range of manufacturing facilities for downstream aluminium products, each adding value to the use of the country’s resources while often building Bahrain as a regional manufacturing base.
A similar process has taken place in the oil and gas sector with the establishment of petrochemicals plants and other downstream facilities, adding value, transferring technology and skills and creating jobs, besides developing a regional role. The application of advanced recovery techniques has greatly increased output from fields previously considered as in decline, while new offshore exploration licences are expected to give a further sharp boost to oil and gas output.
Bahrain has consistently led the region in telecommunications technology and now, with the Third National Telecommunications Plan, is jumping ahead with the implementation of a national broadband network and the infrastructure for introducing 4G long-term evolution technology. This will give businesses and entrepreneurs in Bahrain an edge over their rivals in other countries, besides radically transforming their access to government departments and public services through the national roll-out of the eGovernment programme.