The will to undertake reform and self-confidence in our homegrown abilities are among the main pillars of the kingdom’s development strategies, plans, and processes.
This determination and confidence were apparent in the directives of His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince Prime Minister, and Economic Development Board (EDB) chairman, when he chaired a recent meeting of the EDB.
He stressed the importance of continuing the nation’s economic diversification efforts, which, he said, “Contribute to enhancing the sustainability of the national economy, in line with the principles of the 2030 Economic Vision.”
These directives by HRH Prince Salman give hope to everyone regarding the future of economic development in Bahrain. They go a long way towards boosting confidence in what has been accomplished on the ground and at the national strategy level. It demonstrates that plans for the future are in place and taking shape, at a time when global economies are facing troubling repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic.
What Bahrain has pursued in terms of an economic diversification strategy and attracting foreign direct investments reflect the exceptional courage of the leadership that seeks to achieve success in transforming challenges into opportunities. These strategies are evident in many vital sectors and support the private sector, especially start-ups and entrepreneurs. The will to reform has nurtured expanding areas of growth in many sectors that have a promising future and a potentially great fortune such as the fintech and the ICT sectors.
The wise leadership is keen that all citizens of this country benefit from the economic development process and that the business environment is strengthened, regardless of difficult circumstances. This success of such efforts is apparent in the success of the EDB, which exceeded its expectations for 2020 by attracting foreign direct investments amounting to BD333 million ($885m). This has been distributed between local, Gulf, European and Asian companies that have contributed to various sectors including banking, financial, industrial, logistics, education, and health, in addition to real estate, tourism and ICT.
As a businessman and investor, I understand the difficulty for any investor to make a critical decision regarding the development of his business. So, when I consider that such a large sum of foreign investments has made its way to various economic sectors, despite all challenges, I see this as proof of the confidence the investor places in the capabilities and competitive advantages of the kingdom. This confidence is delivered through a business environment that favours entrepreneurial aspirations and encourages investment.
All part of the vision adopted by Bahrain’s leadership.
We, the businessmen and investors, must play our part and shoulder our responsibility towards our country in these circumstances. Our responsibilities include responding to the general trends in Bahrain, especially in terms of facing economic challenges and passing through the current difficult stage with the least possible losses. There is no place in the world that is not suffering economically from the negative effects of the pandemic, and perhaps Bahrain is one of the countries with the least amount of suffering. This is thanks to the sound management of the coronavirus crisis, including financial grants, exemptions, and other measures taken by the government to support the private sector.
I had the opportunity to get closely acquainted with the nature of the work of Team Bahrain of national cadres in the EDB when I accompanied them on a visit to Italy a year ago. I can confidently say that this team can write a better future for the national economy; and has the effectiveness and efficiency that make it worthy of the great responsibility entrusted to it.
I think that Bahrain and its people are on the path to success in terms of economic diversification, strengthening investment co-operation, and in the battle for development, and turning challenges into opportunities in the ‘Covid-19’ era. And, I can confirm accordingly that time has not run out yet, and we still have about a decade to achieve Bahrain Vision 2030.