In early September, we returned as business owners from an extended vacation granted to us by the government when it graciously decided, at the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in February this year, to bear many financial burdens for our business. These included the postponement of bank instalments, payment of salaries for our Bahraini employees, EWA, labour market fees, and many others.
Now we are back to shouldering our responsibilities again. And, we have to bear all the financial obligations for our business. However, I think that all the challenges that we have undergone during the past six months are not comparable to what is coming. Those who didn’t take decisions to save their projects anticipating the government’s support, must now wake up and face reality with courage.
The government helped us to catch our breath; but we should not expect it to keep on supporting us forever. Recently we witnessed how it was forced to increase the public debt ceiling from BD13 billion to BD15bn to finance public spending on essential services for citizens, including health, education, infrastructure, and others. Everyone is in the same boat, and the responsibility to reach safety is shared by everyone.
We must be realistic and optimistic at the same time and assume our responsibilities through the optimal investment of our limited resources. We must return to the bank and negotiate to reschedule loans, and to the landlord to agree with him on fair terms in paying the rent, and to our Bahraini employees to inform them that the government is no longer paying their salaries, and that we are not going to dispense with them as long as they increase their productivity.
Whoever knows me personally knows that I was not born with a golden spoon in my mouth. I had to work in delivering toiletries and other sundries when I was 16 years old to pay my school expenses. Over the past 60 years I have witnessed many difficulties, especially in the early days when I was exposed to bankruptcy and loss, but I came back and got up again, and I succeeded in establishing a fruitful business.
The secret of business success is the business owner himself. His possession of a coherent vision, his sincerity, dedication and discipline, his ability to assume responsibility, and the most significant point is his honesty with the people around him. This is the time for innovation in business. I am over 70 years old but I am still involved in technologies such as artificial intelligence, drones, and others. I closely follow what men like Bill Gates and Elon Musk are doing in research and inventions. The economy and the world of finance and business is changing, and the witty trader is the one who creates a market for his innovative services and products.
We always dream of transforming Bahrain into Singapore; perhaps we should not give up this dream. But reaching it requires a road map. And I emphasise the role of every individual in promoting himself and his project within the framework of an economic rescue plan. This includes supporting economic sectors that have a promising future, such as the information technology sector and the financial services sector. It must target and assist small business sectors such as the productive families’ sector, and training 10,000 Bahraini youth in programming and exporting their services to the world.
The approaching days are undoubtedly challenging, and whoever abandons the market now will find it difficult to return to it again. Crises kill the weak but make the strong more resilient. The strong ones are those who finish reading this article and feel that they have become more optimistic, enthusiastic and will be able to experiment, create, innovate and survive. Because survival is for the fittest.