MANAMA: A UN programme born in Bahrain and currently implemented in 52 countries has generated more than 16,000 jobs and $2 billion in investment.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told delegates at the World Entrepreneurs Investment Forum (WEIF) 2017 via a recorded video message that the programme has changed the lives of countless entrepreneurs worldwide who can now champion their own destinies.
Developed by United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (Unido)’s Investment and Technology Promotion Office in the kingdom, the Entrepreneurship Development and Investment Promotion Programme also known as the “Bahrain Model” started as an initiative to foster enterprise development for investment.
Yesterday’s opening of the second edition of the forum at the Bahrain International Exhibition and Convention Centre, being under the patronage of His Royal Highness Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, was timed to coincide with the 12th edition of the Invest in Bahrain Forum.
Shaikh Salman bin Khalifa Al Khalifa, Adviser to HRH the Prime Minister, was deputised by the Premier to patronise both events.
Shaikh Salman reiterated the government’s keenness to promote Bahrain’s investment potential through a comprehensive vision aimed at revitalising all economic sectors. He hailed the flux of foreign investments, stressing Bahrain’s business-friendly environment, openness, developed infrastructure and flexible laws which keep abreast of global trends.
Industry, Commerce and Tourism Minister Zayed Al Zayani said the forum was part of the government’s initiatives aimed at diversifying income sources, expanding the economic base, and encouraging the private sector to raise its contribution to the economy.
“This is being done especially through a dedicated resolve to develop legislation and systems to offer the necessary protection for local and foreign investments and attract foreign investments,” he told delegates.
Mr Al Zayani said the ministry strives to turn such annual forums into scientific platforms for a transparent dialogue between the government and the capital owners.
Through them, investors are approached with studied investment opportunities in a number of targeted sectors to promote Bahrain as an attractive investment destination.
Bahrain’s industrial sector today is one of five priority economic sectors and includes many strategic local and international projects across eight industrial zones covering an area of 22 sqkm and 800 establishments, said the minister.
The sector was boosted by the launch of a comprehensive e-system for industrial services that covers processing of licence applications, registration of establishments, the facility of exemption from customs duties on equipment, and submission of applications electronically.
A total of 837 applications were approved through the e-system last year.
Besides a presentation on investment opportunities in the food industry, e-commerce, IT and communications, the forum includes an exhibition to reinforce partnerships between entrepreneurs from various countries and the creation of new investments to develop SMEs.
Unido deputy to the director general Hiroshi Kuniyoshi told delegates the forum was meant to continue the work that was outlined in the Manama Declaration adopted in 2015.
“We have to take a co-ordinated and inclusive approach in promoting entrepreneurship involving all stakeholders, while noting initiatives of civil society, academia and the private sector as important drivers of entrepreneurship.
“Furthermore, the declaration calls for co-operation in support of technology exchange and transfer, innovation and capacity-building programmes for promoting entrepreneurship.”
A highlight of the opening session was the Federation of GCC Chambers of Commerce first deputy chairman Abdulrahman bin Saleh Al Otaishan calling on the Industry, Commerce and Tourism Ministry to sign a memorandum of understanding with the chamber allowing it to promote investment projects in Bahrain as well as at the Gulf, Arab and international levels.
The Works, Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning Ministry, the Economic Development Board, Mumtalakat, Tamkeen, the Bahrain Development Bank, and the Gulf Organisation for Industrial Consulting were key supporters of the forum.