Bahrain’s private sector continues to remain as the “primary engine of growth”, thanks to the efforts of the Economic Development Board (EDB) in diversifying Kingdom’s economy.
According to the latest report, EDB has surpassed its 2017 targets in terms of new projects and local job creation as well as in direct investments, which doubled in 2017 to reach US$733 million.
This came as His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and Chairman of the Economic Development Board chaired a board meeting of EDB, yesterday.
Khalid Al Rumaihi, Chief Executive of the Bahrain EDB, told HRH the Crown Prince that the board’s effort resulted in creating 2831 new jobs in the private sector in 2017 and recorded a growth of 4.8pc in the Kingdom’s non-oil sector.
The growth, according to Al Rumaihi, is one of the highest levels in the region - and constitutes more than 80 percent of the Kingdom’s GDP. Since the EDB’s inception in 2001, Bahrain’s non-oil sector has achieved an average of 7.5pc annual growth.
Praising the significant strides in boosting Bahrain’s economy, HRH the Crown Prince stressed that the progress is in-line with His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa’s vision for a modern, diverse economy.
Prince Salman also acknowledged the role played by EDB in “working alongside public and private sector partners to develop Bahrain’s key economic sectors.”
In this regard, HRH the Crown Prince stressed that there is need to continue attracting high levels of new investment into the Kingdom to continue “building on the success of 2017.”
“This would ensure that Bahrain’s key sectors benefit from the global expertise and knowledge transfer,” Crown Prince told the board members.
Moving on, HRH the Crown Prince welcomed the EDB’s new board members and wished them success in their roles. Prince Salman also thanked the former EDB board members for their efforts in ensuring that the EDB successfully reached its previous objectives.
The meeting further discussed new initiatives EDB is targeting to support the Kingdom’s transition to a digital economy, improve business licensing procedures, advance the SME ecosystem, and enhance the logistics and manufacturing sectors.
In 2017, Amazon Web Services announced the opening of its first ‘Region’ in the Middle East by 2019. Investments by Mondelez and Paytabs followed. Regulatory Sandbox, crowdfunding regulations, measures to protect minority shareholder rights, commercial registration of incubators, accelerators and start-ups and the establishment of the SME Board were the other government initiatives of 2017.
Discussions also focused on the upcoming launch of FinTech Bay, which was formally announced in November 2017. Bahrain FinTech Bay, EDB said, will play a key role in facilitating collaboration between market participants and stakeholders in the FinTech ecosystem and will be the biggest dedicated FinTech hub in the region.