Bahrain has been on the trade map between India and Saudi Arabia from time immemorial. After it obtained independence in the mid twentieth century, the country has made rapid strides in all walks of life including its non-oil sectors. Though essentially an oil-producing country, with more than 55% government revenues emanating from natural resources such as crude oil and natural gas, today Bahrain does not totally depend upon its petro dollars. Bahrain enjoys a per capita income of nearly 20,000 US dollars, generated by a population of over 600 thousand people each. Its gross domestic product rises close to 15 billion US dollars annually. The non-oil Sector has recorded an 80% growth year over year and is poised to open a myriad of opportunities for the serious investors. Because of such wide-spread diversity, Bahrain is insulated from the many economic busts that engulf other nations in the region.
Being a traditional regional trading hub, Bahrain enjoys a prime place in the mercantile world with access to the products from the entire globe. Import duties are levied at average 10% and the Bahrain Dinar is freely convertible and transferable. There is neither personal income tax nor corporate tax in the country.
The Private Sector has a predominant place in trade and business, while the government’s recent focus has been on developing basic industries such as aluminum refining, ship repair and tourism. The Government permits 100% ownership of new industries by eligible investors. Foreigners can establish representative offices or branches without local partners. The country is largely visited by thousands of commodity dealers, financial services providers and global oil industry traders every day.
When it comes to counting on business in a predominately oil- related region, one can not but be amazed at the stupendous growth of the financial services industry in Bahrain, especially its banking sector. It is truly the financial hub of the regions, with premier banks from the world over vying for a visible place in the vicinity. Taking over the mantle from Lebanon as the banking hub in the mid ’70s, largely owing to Lebanon’s internal strife, today Bahrain stands aloft with a plethora of commercials banks, development banks, insurance outfits, consultancy centers and money changers.
Bahrain is a shopping paradise that can suit all purses. The narrow lanes and alleys in the country’s prime shopping complex namely the ‘Bab el-Bahrain’ souk abound with thousands of merchandise ranging from plastics, jewellery, spices, perfumes, metal wares, handicrafts , textiles, etc.
For the exclusive jewellery monger, there is the Gold Souk where hundreds of gold merchants vie with one another to trade gold wares at their best designs and cheapest prices. No doubt, Bahrain has become the region’s wholesale market place for gold trade, with buyers from all over the neighborhood falling head over heels to buy gold at best bargains.
Bahrain’s duty free complex at its airport is one of World’s best shopping malls, stocking more than 40,000 merchandise that represent world’s finest brands and names at their cheapest bargains.
Why Bahrain excels over others?
In short, excellent infrastructure, an ever expanding handy market that includes the giant Saudi Arabia, an educated work force that is very familiar with international business language of English, relatively low operational costs compared to other western countries, easy access from all parts of the world, nil individual or corporate income taxes, transparent legal system, its cultural accommodation especially towards the expatriate fraternity, a friendly local populace that reveres international cultural pluralism, the country’s liberalism in lifestyle for foreigners with an active night life, and above all the pragmatism evinced by the ruling emirate are perhaps a few of the reasons for what Bahrain is today.