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Chapter | Islamic Financial Services from The Report: Bahrain 2020

As both a regional and global leader in Islamic finance, Bahrain benefits from supportive regulation, capable human resources, and a reputation for diversified and mature offerings. Demonstrating this, the Islamic banking and insurance segments have recorded elevated growth rates compared to their conventional counterparts in recent years, even as the industry faced macroeconomic headwinds. Islamic banks are well positioned to implement new accounting standards despite some anticipated near-term pains. The government’s efforts to promote and expand financial technology could bring additional benefits to Islamic financial services. From a sharia-compliant, blockchain-supported cryptocurrency exchange to open banking initiatives, Islamic offerings will continue to benefit from policies aimed at maintaining Bahrain’s competitiveness.

Chapter | Capital Markets from The Report: Bahrain 2020

Despite facing challenging macroeconomic headwinds, in addition to illiquidity and limited levels of free-floating shares, Bahrain’s capital markets have been among the best-performing in the GCC in recent years. Indeed, the Bahrain All Share Index reached a nine-year high in mid-2019. Benefitting from lively trading activity, increasing market capitalisation and an expanding debt market, Bahrain’s capital markets are set for a strong performance in 2020. Although illiquidity and sluggish macroeconomic growth continue to pose a challenge, the Bahrain Bourse’s proactive and progressive approach to regulatory reform and digital innovation will help the bourse maintain its competitive edge against a backdrop of rising regional competition. This chapter contains an interview with Sheikh Khalifa bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, CEO, Bahrain Bourse.

Chapter | Banking from The Report: Bahrain 2020

A powerful driver of economic and non-oil growth, Bahrain’s banking sector plays an important role in ongoing diversification and development efforts. Furthermore, the kingdom has maintained its status as a regional financial centre, even with increasing competition from GCC neighbours. With financial technology developing rapidly, and profits, soundness indicators and asset growth remaining healthy, Bahrain’s banking system is well positioned to continue leading non-oil growth and diversification in the kingdom. Assets and profits have risen in recent years, with listed banks recording strong lending growth. The percentages of delinquent and non-performing loans have declined, even though overall mortgage and credit card lending has increased. This chapter contains an interview with John-Christophe Durand, CEO, National Bank of Bahrain.

Chapter | Economy from The Report: Bahrain 2020

Benefitting from its robust financial services, industrial and manufacturing sectors, Bahrain’s economy is one of the most mature and diverse in the GCC. Although the kingdom has suffered in the wake of sustained low and volatile international oil prices, its economy is set to benefit from a host of supportive policies, projects and fiscal reprogramming over the near and long term. A $10bn allocation from GCC peers will provide much-needed liquidity and stability to the country’s finances, while also increasing capital expenditure capacity in 2020. The kingdom’s liberal, diverse and incentivised business environment should continue to attract new investment, even as subsidy reforms weigh on investor sentiment and cloud the near-term outlook. This chapter contains an interview with Khalid Humaidan, Chief Executive, Bahrain Economic Development Board.

Chapter | The Guide from The Report: Oman 2020

The guide contains listings of some of the leading hotels and resorts in Oman, and provides useful cultural and travel information for business and leisure visitors alike.

Chapter | Legal Framework & Tax from The Report: Oman 2020

Prior to 1971 the Sharia Courts had jurisdiction over all civil and criminal matters, as well as personal status matters in the sultanate of Oman. However, after the succession of Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said, the judicial system was reformed in the sultanate, and Sharia Courts currently only govern matters relating to family disputes and inheritance. The 1996 Basic Statute of the State reshaped and codified the legal system in Oman, creating separate structures for the executive bodies, the judiciary, and the rights and obligations of individuals. The principles of the Basic Law entail that Oman is a free market based on cooperation between the public and private sectors. This chapter contains a viewpoint from Ben Ewing, Partner, CMS Oman.