Manama : The Kingdom received foreign direct investments over BD124 million (USD 329 million) in the past one year. This was disclosed by Khalid Al Rumaihi, Chief Executive of Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) at its board meeting held yesterday.
The meeting was chaired by His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and Chairman of the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB).
Fifty-three newly set up international companies in the country will help create over 2300 jobs, said Al Rumaihi. These figures reflect an outstanding year, and demonstrate that economic development continues to gather pace, he added.
Al Rumaihi made a presentation before HRH Crown Prince which covered EDB-led initiatives in collaboration with the private sector, which aim to bolster sustainable economic growth and increase direct investments. Emphasis was also placed on the EDB’s role in advancing the Kingdom’s diversification efforts, particularly non-oil sector growth, which now makes up more than 80 per cent of national GDP which grows at a rate of 7.5 per cent.
Focus on Fintech
Al Rumaihi discussed the importance of strengthening Bahrain’s position as a regional hub for Fintech. In this regard, he noted the Central Bank’s key role in developing the appropriate regulatory environment to support innovation in the financial sector.
He also noted that the EDB is currently developing a physical space for entrepreneurs and Fintech companies from around the world to test their innovative financial solutions. This space will provide entrepreneurs and Fintech companies access to investors and the necessary technical support.
Al Rumaihi explained that the EDB, in cooperation with Bahrain Development Bank, is working on establishing a $100 million fund to encourage venture capital investments and to develop a sustainable environment for start-ups and innovation. He also noted the EDB’s new collaborative initiative with the Information and eGovernment Authority, Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism and the Central Bank of Bahrain to consolidate Bahrain’s Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) data. This initiative aims to ensure the transparency of Bahrain’s FDI figures when sharing with international bodies.
Al Rumaihi highlighted the Kingdom’s achievements in the 2017 World Investment Report issued by UNCTAD, which ranked Bahrain 14th in the Middle East and North Africa. Bahrain’s total FDI inflows were worth $282 million, while FDI outflows from the Kingdom registered at $170 million.
HRH Crown Prince said that advancing sustainable economic development and increasing Bahrain’s global competitiveness are vital for facilitating direct investment and creating high-quality jobs for citizens. HRH Crown Prince highlighted Bahrain’s achievements in developing an attractive regulatory environment to encourage innovative and high-tech opportunities across the country, stressing that the introduction of a Fintech Regulatory Sandbox will encourage the adoption of innovative financial solutions that reflect global trends.
HRH Crown Prince also emphasised that these development efforts, intended to prioritise the needs of citizens, should continue at a swift pace in order to meet the expectations of His Majesty the King.