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Bahrain lures investments with new ‘golden licence’

City, Architecture, Building Unsplash/Charles-Adrien Fournier
The golden licence is part of the priorities of the government’s economic recovery plan

Bahrain has launched a ‘golden licence’, providing incentives to foreign and local companies with large-scale investment projects in the country.

The move aims to propel investments and boost job creation as part of the country’s fiscal and economic reforms.

Chrissi Zamora, CEO of Europe and Middle East at Dubai-based company set-up firm Healy Consultants Group, said the initiative would “spark a new era of growth, job creation and global competitiveness” in the kingdom.

“Bahrain is poised to become a regional powerhouse for investment and innovation,” she added.

Companies with significant investment and strategic projects that will create more than 500 jobs in Bahrain, or those with investment value exceeding $50 million, will be eligible for the licence.

These eligible will be offered several benefits, including prioritised land allocation for investments, infrastructure services and utilities. They will also have streamlined access to government services, such as business licensing and building permit approval, as well as support from Bahrain’s Labour Fund and Bahrain Development Bank.

The new licence strategy is part of the government’s economic recovery plan, which was introduced in 2021 during the pandemic.

Gulf neighbours the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia have in the past few years reformed their visa systems and introduced a raft of economic and legal reforms as regional competition for talent and investment heats up.

Bahrain ranked first in the world as the best destination for getting started abroad in 2023, according to the Expat Essentials Index by InterNations.

The survey scored countries across a number of key pillars, analysing aspects including digital readiness, online government services, and ease of digital payments, opening a bank account and obtaining a visa, in addition to housing affordability.

Scott Cairns, managing director of Creation Business Consultants in Dubai, said the golden licence is expected to boost Bahrain’s economic growth “as it further strengthens its business environment, increases foreign direct investment and provides incentives for international investors to expand their operations” in the country. 

“With such reforms, Bahrain now becomes a new destination for investors to consider along with the region’s leading nations such as UAE and Saudi Arabia. We anticipate the competition for talent between these leading nations to heat up as more incentives are introduced.”

Last month, Bahrain announced that its GDP grew 4.9 percent in 2022, the fastest rate since 2013.

Non-oil real GDP increased by 6.2 percent in 2022, the highest rate since 2012 and above the five percent target in Manama’s economic recovery plan, according to the latest figures from the Ministry of Finance and National Economy.