MANAMA: Bahrain has been placed on the map for Italian investors as not only a visible but also a viable option, Industry, Commerce and Tourism Minister Zayed Al Zayani told the GDN.
Speaking at the conclusion of a roadshow in Italy, the minister said the aim of the visit was to project the kingdom as an investment destination and gateway market, and that had been achieved.
Mr Al Zayani led a high-level Bahraini delegation that toured the European country earlier this month to showcase the investment opportunities and competitive advantages that the kingdom offers.
The visit included participation in the first Italian Arab Business Forum in Milan and the Confindustria Assafrica & Mediterraneo Forum for Bahrain in Rome.
“We are already seeing some traction in terms of interest from Italian businesses wanting to foray into Bahrain and the challenge now is to translate that into action on the ground in terms of projects,” added the minister.
“We have paved the way and I’m confident we will get something out of this (the roadshow).”
The delegation included Economic Development Board (EDB) chief executive Khalid Al Rumaihi, Bahrain’s Ambassador to France and Italy Dr Mohammed Abdulghafar and business leaders like Tricom Group chairman and CEO Tareq Wafa, Contax Partners CEO Filippo Fantechi and Annada founder Nada Alawi, who represented a nexus of Bahrain-Italian business ties.
During the roadshow, the delegation held bilateral meetings with Italian businesses and investors.
Mr Al Rumaihi said in hindsight he wished that more Bahraini businesses had joined the roadshow.
“Such platforms are mutually beneficial – we would have been able to show a wider variety of prospects in the kingdom and our SMEs would have got introduced to new markets and partners,” he added.
“Our private sector should not ignore the welcoming nature of Italy.”
The EDB chief said the public agency, which is the first point of contact for investors looking to establish their businesses in Bahrain, had done “exceedingly well” so far this year and foreign direct investment inflows were expected to top $600 million, an all-time record.
“We identify the investors’ business needs and support them during the entire life cycle of the investment, with an emphasis on the early stages of the process,” he added.
The Bahraini business leaders told the GDN that during meetings with their Italian counterparts, they had seen keen interest from manufacturers and dealers of cosmetics, fashion and apparel, food and beverages, hi-tech industrial and consumer electronics, interiors, luxury furniture, manufacturing plants and equipment, organic and agricultural products, pharmaceuticals and precision machinery.