*** ----> 'Let Bahrain focus on its roots to solve unemployment issues' | THE DAILY TRIBUNE | KINGDOM OF BAHRAIN

'Let Bahrain focus on its roots to solve unemployment issues'

By Captain Mahmood Al Mahmood

The big debate going on currently in Bahrain is about measures to make the Kingdom a welcoming place—for everybody, not just Bahrainis.

Parliament has passed a slew of laws making it possible to introduce taxes on expat remittances and limit driving licence validity to the date of expiry of the residence permit.

Juxtapose this against efforts to make Bahrain an attractive retirement destination for all nationalities: we have the Golden Visa scheme, and expats buying property can live in Bahrain and even participate in municipal affairs with voting rights.

We also have a fiercely guarded reputation as one of the easiest environments in which to do business, and this generates millions of dinars in direct foreign investment and also jobs for Bahrainis.

Why, then, are we tweaking a working model to gain whisker-thin advantages?

Make no mistake: as a Bahraini father with daughters and sons, I am keenly aware of the plight of our youth, who are well-educated and qualified but struggling to find jobs.

Yes, high youth unemployment can constrain long-term growth and reduce economic, social, and political stability.

And with increasing education levels among women, the female youth unemployment rate in the GCC is more than quadruple the male youth unemployment rate compared to equal rates in high-income countries.

Despite crying "wolf" over perceived overpaid expat workers and how remittances are robbing our kingdom of money and sending it abroad, the truth is very different.

Look at what happened to the UK after Brexit: politicians built up a case that foreign workers (read EU migrants) were robbing Britons of jobs that were rightfully theirs and had overrun the welfare system.

Now experts say the British economy is a patchwork of fix-it short-term solutions since Europe has closed ranks against easy access to their jobs market for the British!

What we should be doing is going back to our Bahraini roots for a solution.

In our forefathers’ time, Bahrainis went wherever they found work.

Why should our youth be stuck with the empty promise of handouts and jobs in Bahrain only?

Let us be a training hub and train and equip them to work in a global economy, becoming globetrotters who shine anywhere.

That will be a great stride towards economic growth and financial independence for our youth.


Captain Mahmood Al Mahmood is the Editor-inChief of The Daily Tribune and the President of the Arab-African Unity Organisation for Relief, Human Rights and Counterterrorism