Kamal bin Ahmed, Minister of Transportation and Acting Chief Executive of the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB), announced today that $22 billion worth of infrastructure projects are currently planned in the Kingdom, and will cover various sectors.
The projects will help boost the national economy, providing opportunities for Bahrain’s citizens, along with the strengthening of the Kingdom’s regional competitiveness.
The Minister affirmed that such projects, which will involve investment in the industrial, infrastructure, and tourism sectors, will have a positive impact on the development of those sectors, and will increase Bahrain’s competitive advantage. The projects include the Bahrain International Airport modernisation project, the development of Al-Jazair Beach, investment projects in Durrat Al-Bahrain, expansion of the Aluminium Bahrain (ALBA) smelter, and the modernisation project being carried out by Bahrain Petroleum Company (Bapco), as well as other projects. Government organisations, and Mumtalakat Holding Company in particular, will play a major role in the implementation of key projects.
The Minister added, "These are important investments that promise opportunities to international investors as well as strengthening connectivity with the region. The infrastructure projects are part of a wider effort by the Kingdom, which aim at diversifying the economy, as well as drawing quality investment, in order to support long term sustainable growth, create quality job opportunities, and increase the standards of living. This comes as part of Bahrain’s upcoming economic strategy, under the guidance of His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the Crown Prince, First Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the EDB."
"Our current focus is on ensuring that the positive economic outcomes of these projects are experienced in the Kingdom through cooperation with different parties and government institutions, to implement them in a timely manner, so that their positive effects can be reflected on the national economy in the quickest possible time. Additionally, working with the different concerned parties will ensure that we are able to meet the required goals of each project," he added.
The Bahrain International Airport modernisation project is currently underway at the Bahrain International Airport and will increase the airport’s capacity from 9mn to more than 14mn passengers.
Alongside improvements to its transport infrastructure, the government of Bahrain is also investing in a range of other areas, including housing and its accompanying infrastructure projects, which represent one of the Kingdom’s priorities, and is included in the $7.5 billion which was provided as part of the GCC Development Fund. Bahrain aims to create 40,000 new housing units in a quick and efficient manner, following on directives from His Majesty King Hamad bi Isa Al Khalifa, and to support this growth with investment in education facilities.
The importance of the projects and the integration of efforts between all concerned parties to meet the goals were emphasised by His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince, First Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the EDB, while chairing a recent EDB Board meeting. His Royal Highness stressed the importance of integration and cooperation in an effective and timely manner, in order to promote further economic development, along with improvements to overall services and quality of life, and the creation of quality job opportunities for Bahraini citizens.
The Kingdom’s open investment policies have helped it to be established as the freest economy in the region, according to the Heritage Foundation’s 2014 Index of Economic Freedom.
Reflecting this success, the UNCTAD World Investment Report 2014 confirmed that total foreign direct investment into Bahrain in 2013 was $989 million, an increase of 11% on 2012, outpacing global average growth of 9%.
Likewise, the recent implementation of a new visa policy means fewer restrictions and easier access to the kingdom for more than sixty additional countries. In addition to 36 countries now eligible for e-visa applications, residents from a further 60 countries will also now be able to apply for a visa on arrival.