MANAMA: Malaysia’s Power Root, the manufacturer of Alicafe coffee mix and other instant hot beverages, is investing more than $14 million for a production facility at the Bahrain International Investment Park in Hidd.
The investment was announced on the final day of the Gateway Gulf Investor Forum which highlighted opportunities for foreign direct investment being driven by economic diversification across the GCC.
Power Root’s plant in Bahrain is expected to generate more than 160 jobs for the local workforce.
The decision to locate in the kingdom rests on the strong logistics links offered by the “gateway to the Gulf”, as well as the uniquely open, supportive business environment, said a company representative.
Power Root is only the latest among food manufacturers increasingly turning to Bahrain to supply the Gulf and wider Mena market, where growing populations are driving increased demand in a market worth $125 billion.
These major manufacturers join a strong pipeline of foreign direct investment secured thanks to Bahrain’s pro-business regulatory environment, low operating costs, fast access to regional markets and strong human capital.
In 2017, the Economic Development Board achieved a record level of international investment, attracting $733m across 71 companies, which will create around 2,800 high-value jobs over three years and drive new opportunities for Bahrain’s talented youth, who were the focus of the final session of the conference.
At the forum, Ibrahim Al Omar, Governor, Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (Sagia), spoke about the growing inward investment opportunities in Saudi Arabia and the region.
“About 13 per cent of the world’s trade passes through the Red Sea and this really presents a good opportunity for the whole region,” he said.
“When it comes to FDI, we have seen a growth of about 50pc in Saudi Arabia during the first quarter this year when compared with the same quarter last year.”
From attracting FDI to empowering local businesses, the forum explored key opportunities and challenges facing businesses and governments across the GCC as the region undergoes an unprecedented paradigm shift from public to private sector-led growth.
Technology-led innovation emerged as a key driver of growth across sectors, with speakers including NEOM chief executive Dr Klaus Kleinfield seeing Bahrain as a new hub for innovation, knowledge, and trade located on the Red Sea.
Over the three-day event, the inaugural Gateway Gulf forum, which was hosted under the patronage of Deputy King His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, facilitated open dialogue and showcased projects worth $26bn across multiple sectors to government and business leaders and investors from the GCC and around the world.
The event featured more than 90 speakers, and 850 registered participants from more than 40 countries.
The next edition of the forum is expected to be held in 2020.