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Chapter | Transport from The Report: Bahrain 2019

Bahrain is home to a dynamic transport sector, including one of the Gulf’s oldest airlines and a causeway linking the kingdom to Saudi Arabia, the region’s largest economy. A second such link is in development, and soon the kingdom will also be connected by rail to the GCC train network. In addition, it will gain an expansive urban light rail system, a new airport and a revitalised national aircraft fleet. Bolstered by such projects, the sector is expanding. The transport and communications industry grew by 5.4% in 2017 in real terms, which was faster than the overall GDP growth of 3.8% and an increase from 2.5% the previous year. This chapter contains interviews with Mohamed Al Binfalah, CEO, Bahrain Airport Company; and Krešimir Kučko, CEO, Gulf Air.

Chapter | Insurance from The Report: Bahrain 2019

The growth of new firms and the consolidation of older players are helping the sector advance. With 36 insurance and reinsurance companies in operation as of December 2017, Bahrain’s insurance sector is well developed, particularly when taking into account the size of the economy by both GCC and emerging market standards. The market comprised 14 conventional locally incorporated firms (including two reinsurers), 12 branches of foreign conventional firms (including three reinsurers), and eight takaful (Islamic insurance), firms (including two re-takaful, or Islamic reinsurance, firms). The market also includes 32 insurance brokers and 25 firms licensed to operate outside of Bahrain.

Chapter | Islamic Financial Services from The Report: Bahrain 2019

In light of its history as a regional financial hub, and the presence in the country of several major international Islamic financial institutions and support bodies, Bahrain has a well-developed, sharia-compliant financial services sector. The Islamic banking and takaful (Islamic insurance) segments have been posting healthy growth in recent years, though profit margins in each are under greater pressure than in their conventional counterparts. Both segments are also witnessing a trend towards consolidation, which industry players say should help create stronger institutions better able to invest in expansion and technological development. The kingdom is a major global centre for the Islamic finance segment, and is home to four standard-setting institutions and infrastructure providers.

Chapter | Capital Markets from The Report: Bahrain 2019

In light of its history as a regional financial hub, and the presence in the country of several major international Islamic financial institutions and support bodies, Bahrain has a well-developed, sharia-compliant financial services sector. The Islamic banking and takaful (Islamic insurance) segments have been posting healthy growth in recent years, though profit margins in each are under greater pressure than in their conventional counterparts. Both segments are also witnessing a trend towards consolidation, which industry players say should help create stronger institutions better able to invest in expansion and technological development. The kingdom is a major global centre for the Islamic finance segment, and is home to four standard-setting institutions and infrastructure providers.

Chapter | Banking from The Report: Bahrain 2019

Growth in the banking sector has maintained an upward trajectory in recent years, with banking assets growing and investors taking note of the favourable and robust regulatory environment. This, combined with the sector’s profitability, high penetration rates and investment in financial technology, has strengthened Bahrain’s position as a regional leader in banking. Bahrain’s proximity to Saudi Arabia, combined with the availability of an experienced banking workforce, the ease of recruiting expatriates and respect for the Central Bank of Bahrain, have seen it maintain a role as a regional, and in particular Saudi-focused, centre for financial services. This chapter contains an interview with Jean-Christophe Durand, CEO, National Bank of Bahrain.

Chapter | Economy from The Report: Bahrain 2019

Bahrain is among the smaller economies in the GCC, but it is also one of the more diversified, with well-developed financial services and manufacturing sectors. Despite its diversified economy, Bahrain nonetheless faced pressures in recent years as a result of the 2014-15 drop in oil prices. However, an aid package from other Gulf states, announced in late 2018, and an accompanying fiscal-adjustment plan, as well as growth on the back of a partial oil price recovery and a recent major oil and gas discovery, offer hope for a turnaround in 2019. This chapter contains interviews with Khalid Al Rumaihi, Chief Executive, Bahrain Economic Development Board; Mahmood Alkooheji, CEO, Mumtalakat; and Sameer Nass, Chairman, Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry.