Public outreach: A multi-faceted approach to spreading awareness of the bourse’s offerings

While Bahrain continues to raise the profile of its bourse through cooperation with regional and global markets, it is also making strenuous efforts to heighten awareness of the advantages of investment among the local population. To do so, it has taken a multi-faceted approach.

Social Media

Understandably given the nation’s internet penetration rate of around 96%, social media platforms are playing a large part in the outreach strategy of the Bahrain Bourse (BHB), and as a result some recent innovations have never been more widely accessible to the general population. Over the past three years the BHB has launched Facebook, Twitter and YouTube pages, where members of the public can access information ranging from basic exchange processes to speeches given by key personnel at events. In February 2015, the BHB augmented its online presence with the launch of its official Instagram account, through which the bourse shares pictures of various BHB activities and events, as well as information on services and even investment tips.

Seminars & Training

Raising social awareness online is part of a much wider strategy with an increasingly large practical component. In May 2015 the BHB held training sessions in both Arabic and English, titled “The Essentials of Saving and Investment”. The event, open to both Bahrainis and non-nationals, aimed to address a poorly developed savings culture, which is almost uniform across the Gulf thanks to large social spending programmes and, in some cases, a willingness by governments to assume the bad debts of their citizens. In many jurisdictions capital markets have been seen as routes to a quick profit rather than as a means for long-term savings and investment. In a bid to counter this perception, the BHB’s recent training initiative, held at its premises in Bahrain Financial Harbour, brought together highly qualified professionals to review the investment alternatives available to individuals, as well as concepts such as risk and return, portfolio management, how to read financial statements and, finally, an introduction to the BHB itself.

While the savings and investment seminar was open to anyone who registered, in other cases the BHB has taken a more focused approach. In June 2015 the bourse signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Bahrain Businesswomen’s Society aimed at spreading awareness among its members and strengthening ties between the two organisations. The agreement is expected to result in more training sessions, the content of which will be formulated by joint committee. Speaking at the signing ceremony, the CEO of the BHB, Sheikh Khalifa bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, highlighted both the immediate benefits of the MoU and the longer-term aims of the BHB’s outreach effort, saying, “The signing of the MoU will contribute to further cooperation and coordination between the bourse and the society in the sense that more activities and events will be organised to highlight the investment opportunities available for investors at the BHB. We are seeking to encourage women to benefit from such opportunities so we can see a greater contribution of their daily trading at the BHB, as it is in GCC bourses.”

A Bigger Role

The BHB’s awareness building is thus likely to broaden. In the meantime, other government entities are playing their part in drumming up interest in the exchange. In April 2015 the Economic Development Board and the Bahrain Institute of Banking and Finance teamed up to hold a seminar titled “Capital Markets: The Way Forward”. Held on the BHB’s premises, the event focused on the importance of capital markets to economic development – a fundamental topic on which the BHB will be keen to focus in the future.