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Bahrain: Serving as the “Bridgehead” of Chinese Enterprises in the Middle East
News sources:CHTF Organizing Committee Release Date:2017-11-20

As a traditional portal of the gulf countries and an important node of the ancient Silk Road, Bahrain has continuously deepened the economic and trade relations with China in the background of “the Belt and Road”. In 2016, Bahrain participated in the China Hi-Tech Fair (hereinafter referred to as CHTF) for the first time and held “Bahrain - Shenzhen Business Forum”. In May 2017, the CHTF 2017 in Bahrain was held. During China Hi-Tech Fair 2017 with the participation of the groups of Bahrain Economic Development Board again, Mr. John Kilmatin, the director of Hi-Tech Bureau of Bahrain Economic Development Board, has accepted an exclusive interview.

During the interview, John Kilmatin listed Bahrain’s four advantages attracting Chinese enterprises as follows: 1) Bahrain’s geographic location as a “Bridgehead” is very applicable to serving as the window for Chinese enterprises to enter the Middle East market; 2) Bahrain allows wholly foreign-owned for most industries, different from surrounding countries requiring participation of local shareholders; 3) Compared with Dubai, Doha and other regions, the operating costs of Chinese enterprises in Bahrain can be reduced by 35% and even 40% in the finance industry; 4) The local employees in Bahrain are well educated and Bahrain has no visa limitation on overseas employees’ stay in Bahrain, thus having obvious advantages of human resources.

With the pivotal position in the traditional trade logistics industry, Bahrain will have comparative advantages in the e-commerce industry in the future. Furthermore, the infrastructure and logistics service level are very attractive, for example, Amazon’s cloud services have been introduced to Bahrain and oriented as the operation center of the Middle East. In view of this, the Bahrain government also looks forwards to the investment of China’s cloud computing and cloud service enterprises in Bahrain. In addition, with the rapid development of electronic entertainment industry which is expected to achieve a market size of 4.4 billion dollars in 2020 in six Gulf countries, the Middle east and North African regions. John Kilmatin said, “In 2016, an electronic game company named Hangzhou Zhexin Information Technology Co., Ltd. has invested in Bahrain to explore the Middle East market.”

Different from traditional Gulf countries, the oil-gas industry income only accounts for 20% in Bahrain’s economic structure. “We have prepared for the post-petroleum era”, John Kilmatin expressed Bahrain’s wish to cooperate with Chinese enterprises to build a capital of science and innovation in the Middle East.