Food, education, quicker loans, and viable energy can drive Bahrain businesses: Mumtalakat CEO
TDT | Manama
The Daily Tribune – www.newsofbahrain.com
Covid troubles might run for a few months more, a fact acknowledged by all, but Bahrain’s business community is upbeat about the prospects ahead.
Khalid Al Rumaihi, the CEO of the Kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund - Mumtalakat echoed the optimism and touched upon the significant opportunities that entrepreneurs could successfully tap in the years ahead.
He was addressing the Rotary Club of Salmaniya’s recent virtual meeting.
Nevertheless, the current phase has helped to unlearn many old habits and acquire more relevant habits for many of us.
For example, the digital adaptation has made significant inroads - indicated by the manifold jump in electronic financial transactions since the pandemic’s start, Khalid Al Rumaih added.
The big opportunities are not just in financial services, but in sectors that are critical to the nation - the long-term necessity of which has been reinstated by the coronavirus lockdown struggles even after the world’s strides in globalising trade.
He pinpointed four significant areas where entrepreneurs could make a lasting impact, with or without collaboration with the government.
Consumer-credit space As described by the CEO, the first area of opportunity lies in the consumer-credit space by bringing in more innovation, depth, and spread through easy access for broad demographics and suiting the young generations’ preferences.
There might be challenges when this opportunity is tapped through innovative methods, much quicker channels, hitherto not adopted in the banking world.
But, the potential is enormous and worth to be pursued by entrepreneurs.
Energy sector The energy sector is the second area of opportunity highlighted by Khalid Al Rumaihi, where renewables gain more importance as a source of energy - especially the possibility of generating energy as close as possible to the area of consumption to reduce overall cost.
Entrepreneurs can tap areas that serve such a shift to renewables as a long-term business opportunity. Food security The problem of food security was highlighted as the third opportunity for entrepreneurs.
After the recent worldwide shut-down experience because of the pandemic, food security has become much more critical than earlier.
Mumtalakat CEO considers hydroponics and aquaponics as areas with a particular interest for the Kingdom, and entrepreneurs can tap this focus by the Kingdom to develop new businesses enabling food security for Bahrain.
One of the biggest bottlenecks related to developing food self-sufficiency is land-cost, on which businesses might require assistance from the government. Education Another significant opportunity will be in education.
Unlike pre-pandemic years, now many online collaborations have taken place, especially in teaching and learning. Khalid Al Rumaihi said “developing our people is our secret weapon, if we can accelerate education in a way that was not possible earlier, the rewards will be enormous.”
He added that it is possible to combine teaching by a professor in Bahrain along with virtual lessons from a world-class professor from a globally reputed institute in the coming days.
Such a shift in focus will enable the Kingdom to grow much faster than earlier.
The virtual meeting participants included prominent business leaders in Bahrain, including President Amira Ismail, Club Service Director Hanadi Alansari and Secretary & Incoming President Faisal Juma; the CEO answered their questions after his address.
He clarified that there are no proposal or thoughts to add more taxes as it will affect the competitive advantage of the Kingdom in the region. On another question about the possible US dollar weakness, Al Rumaihi said world-over countries are forced to follow very dovish monetary policies.
Still, the oil price strength and economic revival will help Bahraini dinar withstand any fall in the greenback