Work Here and Do Not Pay a Dime in Tax!

Bahrain is an ideal destination for those seeking Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) employment opportunities, such as a tax-free regime, luxurious living, a cosmopolitan society, and a great working environment. Bahrain has many firsts to its name. It was the first to offer education opportunities to females, establish a Chamber of Commerce, set up a banking sector, put in place a diversification strategy and build up the non-oil sector so as to make economic growth sustainable, initiate reforms such as democratizing the government and privatizing the public sector, sign a free trade agreement (FTA) with the US, and co-found the GCC Common Market.

Why Seek Employment in Bahrain?

  1. Bahrain provides a lot of GCC employment opportunities, given the fact that there are many MNCs, and that Bahrain is a regional Islamic finance hub, in addition to having other growing sectors such as information communication and technology, professional and technical services, and so on. Bahrain has a high literacy rate of 95%; the workforce is bi-lingual, highly skilled and well-educated. You will find yourself working mostly with other expats; 77% of those employed were expats, and 28% were Bahraini, as of December 2014. The unemployment rate was a low 3.8% at the end of 2014. The fact that there is such a large expat workforce means that Bahrain has an international work culture and a modern work environment, along with plenty of job opportunities.
  2. Bahrain’s legal and tax framework provides incentives for businesses, thus generating more GCC employment opportunities, while also attracting expats. Bahrain allows 100% foreign ownership in all sectors. There is no corporate tax, wealth tax, withholding tax, tax on capital gains, or personal income tax. Bahrain allows for 100% repatriation of profits by companies. The legal system has deep foundations and is very robust. The Bahrain Chamber of Dispute Resolution, along with the American Arbitration Association, provides best in class dispute resolution facilities. According to the 2016 Index of Economic Freedom created by the Wall Street Journal and the Heritage Foundation, Bahrain has the 18th rank globally, and is a regional leader among Gulf countries.
  3. Bahrain provides the best standard of living and a cosmopolitan society. Bahrain attained the highest rank in the HSBC Expat Explorer Survey among the countries in the GCC, and is the fourth best place to live and work in globally. Bahrain has everything you need, the best schools and medical care, tourist attractions, a variety of shopping options, and modern spas and fitness clubs.

Top Businesses to Conduct in the Middle East

The Middle East presents a wide variety of business opportunities and avenues for foreign investment. The petroleum and its related sectors are of course most prominent. However, countries such as Bahrain present a lot of opportunities in other sectors as well, such as financial services, information communications and technology, professional and technical services, tourism, and so on.

Major Avenues for Foreign Investment

  1. Petroleum and Related Industries

The Middle East is rich in oil and gas reserves; hence, petroleum and related industries are a growing business. The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is expected to have a 10% share of the global petrochemical production business. The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) chemical industry covers various subsectors. These include the manufacture of basic chemicals, fertilizers, nitrogen compounds, plastics and synthetic rubber in primary forms. There are also pesticides, paint, inks, perfumes, synthetic fibers and so on. There are five segments within specialty chemicals that have shown a very strong growth; these are construction chemicals, water treatment chemicals, polymer and plastic additives, paints and coating additives, and oil field chemicals. The plastics industry alone accounts for 11% of total manufacturing in the GCC, a share which is expected to grow to 18% by 2018.

  1. Financial Services

Bahrain is a recognized global leader in Islamic finance, and has the largest concentration of Islamic financial institutions in the world. Bahrain also has a comprehensive regulatory framework covering all aspects of Islamic finance. Bahrain has been named the GCC’s leading Islamic finance market and 2nd out of 92 countries worldwide, according to the ICD-Thomson Reuters Islamic Finance Development Indicator (IFDI). As business opportunities grow in the Middle East, Islamic finance will continue to see foreign investment inflows.

  1. Information Communication and Technology

Bahrain’s information and communications technology (ICT) sector’s liberal business policies and advanced infrastructure make the country stand out in the Middle East. Bahrain’s advantage comes from having both a thriving domestic marketplace and being a base for accessing the growing regional market.

  1. Professional and Technical Services

Bahrain is ideal for foreign investments in professional services in the Middle East and, more specifically, within the GCC market. Bahrain’s educated workforce, strong regulatory environment, and business friendly laws such as 100% foreign ownership of business assets and real estate make the country an attractive foreign investment destination.

  1. Tourism

Bahrain offers significant potential for investors in its extensive tourism sector, with its many historical and other attractions. In addition, regional tourism is expanding faster than global tourism, at 5%.

Are You Looking To Expand Your Business In The Middle East?

Investment in the MENA region increased 23% between 2014 and 2015, making MENA the only emerging market to register year-on-year growth in such a measure, according to EMPEA Data Insights published in February 2016. The gulf countries have made significant efforts to transform themselves from being a transit point for global trade to establishing themselves as important business locations. Not only have the GCC countries taken several steps to attract investors, but growing consumer demand for manufactured products has also paved the way for global investment.

Business Prospects in The Gulf

The GCC countries enjoy a strategic location on the world map. This gives them easy access to nearly two-thirds of the globe. These countries have long posed as important hubs for global trade. but the advent of ultra-modern cities and growing infrastructure facilities have made them apt for business investment. Free trade agreements and the establishment of free trade zones, which allow 100% business ownership, have also boosted global investment.

The gulf countries as ranked by the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business is led by the UAE (31), followed by Bahrain (65), Qatar (68), Oman (70), Saudi Arabia (82) and Kuwait (101). The Ease of Doing Business rankings are given after analysing the various aspects of setting up a business and the country’s openness to foreign trade and investments. The UAE and Bahrain lead the way for making it easy to set up a business, mainly because of favourable laws and simpler procedures. Also, liberal laws in general are a major factor why these countries are preferred. Saudi Arabia in comparison has stricter laws; however, with time it has made efforts to welcome foreign investment.

The gulf economy is a preferable choice for global investment as it is a fairly raw and untapped market. The development stage of its various economies offers numerous opportunities for growth and expansion. Interestingly, despite being a fairly new market, it is home to one of the oldest and strongest financial structures in the world. It has also made efforts to modernize itself in terms of infrastructure and living as evident from the evolution of cities like Dubai, Doha and Manama. Allowing expats to work alongside GCC nationals makes a fully efficient and strong labour force.

Establishing your business in the UAE or Bahrain gives you easy access to the entire gulf region through air, road and water. Some of the popular sectors for investment are Internet, e-Commerce and Apps, Food and Beverage, Real Estate, IT, Hardware and Software, Technology, Tourism and Hotels.

Which is the Best Country in the Gulf to Live In?

Did you know that the most favored Gulf destination for expats in the world is Bahrain? Yes, the rankings by the Inter Nations Expat insider survey 2015 had Bahrain in the 17th position, ahead of the UAE, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia! The popularity of the nation is possibly evidenced by the strong Bahrain bourse. Bahrain is a small nation of over 30 islands, with a population of approximately 1.3 million. Bahrain in Arabic means “two seas,” referring to the fresh water springs beneath the salt water of the gulf. But what makes the ‘Kingdom of Two Seas’ the most preferred country in the Gulf? Let’s find out.

Best Destination in the Gulf

  • Job Opportunities: Bahrain is called the Gateway to the Gulf for its strategic location and close proximity to Saudi Arabia and Qatar. It was the first country to discover oil fields but now is more involved with oil refining, petroleum processing and the financial markets. So as far as employment opportunities are concerned, along with the recent relaxation of visa policies for Indians, the destination is perfect for both white collared and blue collared workers, as evidenced by the number of Indian expats reaching close to 3 lakhs in Bahrain!
  • Economy: The economy is strengthened by the nation championing open economy, impressive infrastructure and access to a pool of educated employees. According to Gulfair, the country has the free-est market in the Middle East and ranks 16th worldwide, ahead of Germany, France, China and India! There is minimum red tape and complete foreign ownership policies. Moreover, the country has a liberalized labor market and a sound legal and regulatory framework for markets. And that is reflected in the strong Bahrain Bourse. So, business is definitely healthy here.
  • Culture: The nation is considered one of the most liberal amongst the Gulf countries. It has a rich history dating back 4,000 years to the times of the Dilmun civilization. The population largely follows the Islamic faith, but that does not affect the modern and relaxed outlook of the state, with relaxation on niqab and burkha. Women are allowed to drive and own businesses here. The fact that Saudis travel to this island country frequently for holidays is also indicative of the ambiance of the place.

According to the World Population Review, more than half of the population of Bahrain comprises expats and that is one of the reasons for the rich, modern and inclusive culture. You will be surprised to know that out of the two famous Souqs in Bahrain, Al-manmah is mostly populated by the Indian subcontinent masses. It is no wonder then that even though the national language is Arabic, English, Hindi, Urdu and Malayalam are also understood.

With such an accommodating environment, no wonder it scores well for life and work on the HSBC 2014 survey, becoming the best country to live in amongst the Gulf nations.

Can Saudi Arabia Pull Down the Prices of Crude Oil Further?

Crude oil prices have reached the lowest in 11 years at $35 a barrel, as opposed to its peak in 2014, when it soared to $112 a barrel. There are many factors that have affected this fall in price some of which are – the devaluation of Chinese currency, stagnancy of European economies, Saudi Arabia’s reduced subsidies, the possibility of resumption of Iranian exports as well as the repeal of the US export ban have all caused high supply and low demand, according to an article published by CNBC on January 5, 2016. Various analysts across the world have predicted that the bearish market will persist and all of them have different predictions for how low the prices will go. The biggest impact of this slump will be faced by the Middle East economy, which depends heavily on the crude oil and petroleum industry.

Factors Effecting Low Oil Price and Middle East Economy

Saudi Arabia being the biggest economy in the middle east, has a fair amount of influence on that of the surrounding nations. The GCC region controls about 40 per cent of the world’s crude oil reserves and as such, plays a major role in its global supply. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries or OPEC countries have historically cut down on supply in order to boost oil prices. However, given that the most influential OPEC member Saudi Arabia is at loggerheads with another member, Iran, it is refusing to cut down on its output. Therefore, if the conflict between the two nations persists and Iran begins to export crude oil of its own, chances are Saudi Arabia will pull down the prices further. Bahrain, with its strategic location between the two countries, will be instrumental in determining the impact the conflict will have on Middle East economy.

Impact of the Low Prices on Saudi Arabia

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia announced early this year that it will be making significant budget cuts in order to address GDP deficit of 15 per cent. Subsidies for water, electricity and petroleum will all be cut and other public developmental projects deterred. The IMF has predicted that the country could go bankrupt in just five years if it does not make changes to its economic policies. Therefore, these are critical times, not just for the kingdom, but for all countries that have economies highly dependent on trading oil. Countries like Bahrain that have been working to develop a post oil identity will find themselves more resilient in the face of this crisis.

4 Amazing Places to Visit for Good Food in Manama, Bahrain

Manama, Bahrain’s capital, is one of the most sought after cities in the country. With a diverse population and expats from all over the world living here, this is definitely a great place for a holiday, especially for Italians. Apart from being the business hub of the country and the Gulf Region, the city is also a great tourist destination. It would be fair to say that it is one of the top tourist destinations, given that BQ Magazine pegs tourism as contributing at least 20% of the nation’s GDP. Manama, Bahrain, is the gateway for many Arabs and expats living in the Gulf region to enjoy and spend some quality time, while enjoying along Bahraini cuisine and drinks, which are otherwise banned in Arabian countries.

Best Places to Eat in Manama

When it comes to eating your heart out, Manama, Bahrain, leaves you spoilt for choice, with the entire range on offer, from pocket-friendly food joints to 5-star restaurants.

Here are some of the best restaurants in you should definitely try for good food in the city:

  1. Café Lilou’s – This restaurant is a must for those seeking good food with a beautiful ambience. French architecture and interiors with polished wood floors, and the delectable cuisine make this place quite popular with expats and locals alike. The café also has gorgeous outdoor seating, which makes it a great place to pop into with friends.
  1. Masso – this eatery belongs to none other than popular chef Susy Massetti. Known for its fresh ingredients and best in class food, the atmosphere here will make you feel that you are already in a familiar and comfortable place. You can choose from the best Mediterranean dishes here.
  1. Haji Gahwa – One of the best places if you want to try Bahraini or Middle Eastern cuisine, this place boasts biryanis that are simply lip smacking and usually served with chopped onions and a salad made from cucumber and tomatoes. The laneway tables enhance the experience, allowing you to enjoy your meal while enjoying a warm Gulf night.
  1. Bahay Kubo – This is traditional Filipino restaurant, and many consider it the best restaurant in Manama, Bahrain, because it offers the finest quality of food. The restaurant also has a private room, where you can enjoy social functions and small parties with your family and friends. It often gets busy during lunch and dinner time, so you might need to book your table in advance.

How to Start a Business in Bahrain

On having learned that 100% foreign ownership of business along with ownership of land for GCC nationals is permitted, most people wonder how to start a business in Bahrain. If you are one of them, the first step is to identify the business activity and then the legal structure of the company that you wish to register. This will determine the approvals that you will need in order to receive a Corporate Registration from the Ministry of Industry and Commerce.

Legal Structures of Companies in Bahrain

Bahraini Shareholding Company (Public/Closed): A shareholding company that is public constitutes of 7 or more promoters who hold negotiable shared. They are liabilities are in proportion to the value of the shares that they hold. On the other hand, a closed shareholding company consists of two or more partners who hold negotiable shares that are not offered to the public for subscription.

With Limited Liability Company: As the name suggests, the liability of the partners in such a company is limited to the extent of their shareholding in the capital. It must constitute of at least two partners at all times and cannot issue public shares or debentures.

Partnership: This type of company is formed between two persons or more and they assume joint responsibility to the extent of their entire personal assets for the company’s debts and liabilities.

Simple Commandite: Such a company is a limited partnership company, at least one of more of the partners are liable to the extent of their personal wealth while others are only liable to the extent of their share in the capital. These limited partners are not involved in the management of the company.

Commandite by Shares: The ownership of such a company is divided between two categories of partners – one in which the partners are jointly responsible to the extent of their personal wealth and the other in which the partners are only liable to extent of their equity in capital.

Single Person Company: If you are an individual contemplating how to start a business in Bahrain, you may want to opt for such a company. It has one natural or corporate person as the owner of its capital and he is liable only to the extent of the capital that he has allocated for the company.

Foreign Company Branch: If you are the owner of company that is registered elsewhere and are wondering how to start a business in Bahrain, you may want to operate as a branch or a regional office in the kingdom.

Holding Company: This is a company that owns more than 50% shares and stocks in Bahraini or foreign joint stock companies or participate in the establishment of such companies by providing loans or acting as a guarantor to a third party. It also has a distinct legal structure of its own as a closed or open public shareholding company, a limited liability company or a single person company.