Bahrain Leadership

Country Overview  
Head of State His Majesty the King, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa
National Day December 16, 1971
Population 1,046,814 (approximately 50% expatriates)
Location / Size Arabian Gulf , 257 Square Miles, 770 km2 (comparable to Singapore)
Capital Manama
Time zone GMT+3
Currency Bahraini Dinar (BD) (US$ 1 = 0.376 BD)
Languages Arabic, English (used as business language)
Religion Islam (85%, state religion); Christian, Hindu, Jewish and other minorities enjoy freedom of religion

General Overview  
Business Hours Government offices
07:00-14:15 (Sunday to Thursday)
Banks
07:30-13:00 is the normal business hours (Sunday to Thursday)
Some banks are also open for a few hours on some afternoons
Central Post Office
(Manama, near Bab Al Bahrain) 07:00-19:30 (Saturday to Thursday)
Shops
Working hours vary, but typically 08:30-12:30 and 16:00-20:00 (Saturday to Thursday)
Many shops are open for half or full day on Friday as well
Weekly holidays Friday, Saturday
Time zone 3 hours ahead of GMT (GMT+3)
Climate

Summer:
July-September, very hot and humid (Avg. 36°C).
Winter:
December to February, cool or mild with occasional rain (10°C - 20°C).
Remaining months:
March to May and October to November, warm with occasional pleasant
breezes (20°C - 30°C)


Introduction to Bahrain
The Kingdom of Bahrain a name that translates as "Two Seas" is actually an archipelago of 33 low-lying islands located in the heart of the Gulf. Situated along major Arabian and international trade routes between Asia and the West, the Kingdom has, for millennia, served as an important port and center of business. The capital city of Manama is a vibrant cosmopolitan center offering an open economy and an educated workforce enhanced by modern cultural amenities like museums, shopping, restaurants and fine hotels.


Human Development
Bahrain is consistently one of the top Middle Eastern countries in the United Nations Development Program's (UNDP) annual index on human development. The UNDP's report tracks statistics like access to medicine and medical care, life expectancy, infant mortality and availability of safe drinking water. Bahrain ranks proudly among the top countries in those important yardsticks.

Politics
H.M. King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa is the constitutional monarch of Bahrain and is both King and Head of State. In 2002, Bahrain became the first Gulf state to introduce democracy with universal suffrage. Today, the Head of the Government is Prime Minister Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa who presides over a cabinet of 23 members. The Kingdom has a bicameral legislature, with the 40 member Chamber of Deputies elected by universal suffrage and the 40 member Shura Council which is appointed directly by the King.

Bahrain prides itself on its reputation as the most stable, liberal and open society in the Gulf, with a democratic political system, acceptance of all faiths and established women’s rights.

Bahrain is a founding member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) formed in 1981 to enhance the economies and security of its six members: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The Kingdom also enjoys close economic ties with the United States. Bahrain is the first Gulf nation to sign a Free Trade Agreement with the United States, in 2004, enabling open trade between the two countries and positioning Bahrain as a conduit for US trade flows into the Gulf region. Bahrain is home to the US Navy’s Fifth fleet permanently based in Juffair, about 5 miles south-east of the capital city of Manama.


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Bahrain Key Fact Sheet

Bahrain is the most attractive business environment for companies looking to access the MENA region

  • Most open and liberal economy in the Middle East, 16th in the world (Index of Economic Freedom 2009)
  • Regional financial services leader for over 40 years
  • The Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) is unquestionably the region’s best and most respected regulator
  • Other countries in the region look to Bahrain when formulating their own regulations and structures
  • Rule of law is enforced and transparent

Bahrain is a mature economy: truly diversified and sustainable

  • Oil and gas production accounts for less than 20% of GDP
  • Bahrain is recognised internationally as the most diversified economy in the Gulf, with high value-added sectors such as financial services and manufacturing
  • Government considers investment in education and skills-attainment as a key priority to support the diversification of the economy and private sector growth

Productivity-led growth

  • Bahrain is the only GCC country with a base of a skilled national workforce to support its diversifying economy without the need to rely on expatriate labour.
  • Most highly skilled national workforce in the Gulf: 69% of people working the financial services sector are Bahraini
  • Labour Fund's US$75 million investment is providing over 11,000 Bahraini nationals with sector-specific skills training via a four year plan

Most socially and politically liberal country in the GCC

  • As the Gulf’s centre of trade, Bahrain has long been the cultural melting pot of the Gulf with all nationalities and faiths welcome and tolerated
  • Truly multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-denominational. Home to churches and synagogues alongside mosques
  • Record for appointing women and religious minorities to public office
  • Free elections and national suffrage. Constitutional monarchy. Greatest levels of democracy and representation in the whole of the GCC

Education

  • Bahrain has one of the strongest education systems in the GCC
  • Bahrain established the Gulf’s first public education system in 1919
  • Bahrain scores highly among Arab states in every measure of gender equality due in part to the advanced position of women in the education system

 

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