Newsweek highlights Premier’s efforts to enhance Bahrain’s progress
Manama, American Newsweek Magazine has affirmed that the Kingdom of Bahrain is a modern and open country that managed to cope with increasing competition in the region by enhancing its industrial capabilities, keeping pace with global changes and developments, and vigorously taking advantage of market opportunities.
In a report, Newsweek also shed light on the strength of the existing friendship and partnership relations between Bahrain and the USA, citing His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa's statements during his meeting with US President, Donald Trump, in which he affirmed that the two countries' friendship was based on a very good foundation of mutual understanding and strategy that we have worked on.
The magazine highlighted His Royal Highness Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa's keenness to maintain the strength of relations with the USA, and to continue boosting cooperation between the two countries as long-term allies, citing the Prime Minister's assertion that a friendly relationship with the U.S. is important for both the kingdom and the wider region.
The report, themed Bahrain: The U.S.'s partner in the GCC-The U.S.'s private sector is a priority for the economically invigorated kingdom and published recently, included statements by HRH Premier and meetings with a number of officials. The report highlighted the progress currently witnessed by the kingdom in various economic fields.
The report says that Bahrain is historically known as the trading hub of the Middle East, and was the first country in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region to have discovered oil (in 1932), noting that Bahrain as a modern and cosmopolitan archipelago has coped with increasing competition from other GCC states by enhancing its industrial capabilities, keeping pace with global changes and developments, and vigorously taking advantage of market opportunities.
The magazine attributed Bahrain's progress to HRH the Prime Minister's policies, which, the report said, led to a sustained chain of efforts and sacrifices being made to achieve planned targets and explore future horizons.
The magazine quoted HRH the Prime Minister as saying that Our comprehensive approach is based on pursuing a development strategy that is aimed at diversifying income sources and building an economy capable of competing globally.
The success of this approach has enabled Bahrain to achieve high economic growth rates and be at the forefront in many sectors, most evidently in the financial services sector, with the kingdom now home to 325 financial and insurance institutions, the report said.
The report indicated that Bahrain's real gross domestic product (GDP) increased by 3.9 percent in 2017 and that non-oil sectors grew by 5.0 percent, making it the fastest growing economy in the GCC region.
Foreign investment in Bahrain reached nearly $10 billion, 95 percent of which is concentrated in the financial sector, and major projects worth $32 billion have been established in industry, logistics, infrastructure, health care, education and tourism, the report added.
Newsweek also highlighted HRH Premier's comments on the 2018's massive offshore discovery of an estimated 80 billion barrels of oil and 10-20 trillion cubic feet natural gas, noting that he thought that such discovery could invigorate the kingdom for many years to come, bolster its foreign investment and attract significant private international investment to the country's energy sector.
The magazine said that Bahrain was the first country to sign a free trade agreement with the US in 2006, and as a result the U.S. is now Bahrain's second-largest trading partner, with 11 percent of its total exports going to its Western ally and nearly 9 percent of its imports coming from there.
The report also affirmed that the US market has become a priority for Bahrain's investment through its sovereign wealth fund, adding that Bahrain's investments in the US market now represent 8.3 per cent of the country's investment portfolio.
Regarding its meetings with a number of officials in the kingdom, the magazine highlighted Bahrain's efforts to develop its infrastructure, noting that Bahrain is currently implementing $32-billion-worth infrastructure projects, including a second causeway with Saudi Arabia, the GCC railway project, and the construction of a new terminal at the Bahrain International Airport (BIA), to increase capacity to 14 million passengers a year.
The report also shed light on Bahrain's efforts to boost tourism, noting that the sector's contributions to the country's GDP have doubled since 2016 to reach 7 per cent now, and that the number of tourists grew from 9.7 million in 2015 to 11.4 million in 2017, a 17.5 percent rise.
The report also said that the country is currently building a new exhibition centre which, once operational in 2021, will be the largest in the Middle East, and will allow the kingdom to host more large-scale events.
The magazine also affirmed that Bahrain is expecting investments of around $4 billion in electricity, water and renewable energy within the next five years to meet the 9 per cent annual increase in the demand for energy, as well as to be a leader in green energy through use of solar and wind energy by 10 per cent.
On human resources development, the report said that the kingdom has injected close to $3 billion for the training of more than 125,000 individuals (38 percent of Bahrainis in the private sector workforce), as well as over 45,000 businesses, representing 53 percent of active businesses through the Labour Fund (Tamkeen) which was established in 2006.
Source: Bahrain News Agency