MANAMA: Bahrain has reduced the timeframe for land applications, in response to growing demand for industrial land across the kingdom and as part of the government’s ongoing strategic focus on supporting investors in the manufacturing sector.
The initiative, introduced by the Industry, Commerce and Tourism Ministry guarantees that complete applications for industrial land will be assessed within a maximum of 18 working days.
Over the past 30 years, the government has invested heavily in establishing industrial zones throughout the country, developing dedicated areas for manufacturing clusters.
By 2020, further investment will be supported in plans led by the ministry to develop infrastructure in industrial zones.
The ministry currently operates eight industrial zones totalling over 10 million sqm.
These zones are a dynamic base for hundreds of companies sustaining over 46,000 jobs and are key in developing and strengthening the manufacturing sector of Bahrain.
The improvements made last year in the land application process has led to a 69 per cent increase in allocations.
To further improve efficiencies, the ministry has set an objective to launch an online land application service in 2018.
Accessing the land application form on the ministry’s website looks to improve turnaround times and convenience.
Following approval for land, the Industrial Areas Operations Directorate of the ministry have streamlined the steps required to sign a land lease agreement designed around service efficiency.
This increased focus is also aimed at ensuring the proper utilisation of the land.
Bahrain International Investment Park (BIIP) is the most recent industrial zone to be developed in the kingdom, providing three million square metres of land with easy access to both Bahrain International Airport and Khalifa bin Salman Port in Hidd.
As of the end of 2017, total investment in BIIP had reached $1.89bn, with 82pc of its land capacity occupied by 118 companies spanning various manufacturing sectors from 29 countries, including Saudi Arabia, the United States, Canada, Germany, South Korea and India.
Industry, Commerce and Tourism Minister Zayed Alzayani has stressed the importance of industrial zones such as BIIP in stimulating increased investment in the country.
“When BIIP reaches full occupancy, we anticipate that investments by Bahraini and foreign industrial companies will have exceeded $2bn, creating more than 10,000 jobs,” he said.
Bahrain’s large-scale infrastructure development is currently valued at over $32bn and covers a wide range of sectors, including housing and transport.
This includes $10bn of investments undertaken by government-related entities (holding companies, funds), $7.5bn under the auspices of the GCC Development Fund, and $15bn worth of investment by private sector entities.
The manufacturing sector is a key benefactor of these investment projects.
The extensive modernisation programme at Bahrain International Airport will increase air cargo capacity to one million tonnes annually by 2020.
Additionally, the new King Hamad Causeway will be the second road connection between Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
Economic Development Board (EDB) chief executive Khalid Al Rumaihi said: “The manufacturing sector is a key pillar of Bahrain’s economy, accounting for almost 15pc of GDP. Over the past five years, the sector has grown by 18pc and is the second largest non-oil contributor to the economy, after financial services.
“The kingdom offers numerous competitive advantages for manufacturing. We are continuously improving the business environment to ensure the best possible experience for companies and investors.”
Investors will be able to take advantage of the kingdom’s low operating costs, the availability of a highly skilled, bilingual workforce, a supportive regulatory environment, and 100pc foreign ownership in most sectors.
Existing industrial projects across the country range from export-based products such as plastics, precision engineering, electronics, food products, manufacturing aluminium products, fiberglass products, packaging materials and other industrial products.