With Bahrain gaining in popularity as a tourist destination, many tour operators have begun offering package deals with charter flights and hotel stay. Check with your travel agent, there are some real bargains to be had!

The King Fahad Causeway, which links Bahrain with Saudi Arabia

Bahrain is gateway to
huge Mideast market

If Bahrain has become such a popular location for international firms to set up base, the reasons are not hard to find.

Its extremely liberal economic policies, a strategic position at the hub of booming Middle East economies, a supportive government and a relaxed lifestyle have made Bahrain the financial capital of the Gulf.

If there is one sector that underlines this, it is banking. Today there about 50 offshore banking units in operation in Bahrain, apart from the large number of commercial and investment banks.

While the petroleum sector continues to contribute a large share to the nations revenues, Bahrain has long been looking ahead to the future and continues to diversify its economy.

Bahrain offers several advantages for foreign firms to consider setting up base here.

The workforce is highly skilled, very cosmopolitan and can communicate in both Arabic, the language of the Middle East, and in English, the global language of business.

Telecommunications and transport facilities ­ road, sea and air ­ are excellent; in fact Bahrain is the base for Gulf Air, the largest international carrier in the Middle East.

Expatriates have always been welcome in Bahrain and the country is one of the safest in the world.

Economic freedom could hardly be greater ­ there are no personal, corporate or withholding taxes, no restrictions on repatriation of capital, profits or dividends, and the Bahraini dinar itself is highly stable, linked as it is to the US dollar. The currency is fully convertible.

What is more, Bahrain is one of the few countries in the world which allows 100 per cent foreign ownership of a company.

Added to the fact that there is duty free access to the Gulf states, Bahrain is quite literally the business gateway to a 200 million strong regional market.

It is these major advantages that has made foreign firms look to Bahrain as a viable regional base.

The Business Week: Most Bahrain businesses work a five and a half day week, from Saturday to Thursday.

Some international firms, especially those linked to the international financial sector, however work through the Bahrain weekend, and are off on Saturday and Sunday.

Business hours vary. Most firms work a break shift, from 0800-1300 and 1500-1800/1900 on weekdays, and from 0800-1300 on Thursday. However some companies work a straight 0800-1700 shift, with a 1300-1400 break for lunch.

Banks are open from 0730-1200 Saturday through Wednesday and 0730-1100 on Thursday, though these timings may again vary.

Almost all banks have 24-hour automated teller machine (ATM) facilities.

Telecommunications: Telecommunications facilities offered by local network Batelco rank with the best in the world.

Direct dial, fax and telex facilities are available to over 180 countries.

All hotels will offer international phone and fax facilities, but should you need it, you could send faxes or telexes through the Batelco office in Diplomatic Area.

Batelco also hires out mobile phones on daily, weekly or monthly basis (call 885057 for details).

Collect calls can be made to the following countries ­ Ascension Island, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Kuwait, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Puerto Rico, Seychelles, Singapore, South Korea, UAE, UK and the US.

Credit card calls (for cards issued in home country) may also be made to Australia, Austria, Denmark, Japan, Kuwait, Netherlands, New Zealand, South Korea, UK and the US.

In addition, firms have the option of setting up a FreeLink service, similar to the 1-800 lines in the US, where calls can be made to pre-designated numbers at no cost to the caller.

Hotels: Business travellers make up a sizeable section of the market, and an increasing number of hotels have turned their attention to meeting their needs.

Many leading hotels provide executive office facilities, including direct dial phones in rooms, fax machines, use of a computer and printer, and secretarial services.

Almost all 5-star hotels have executive floors, with the added benefits of airport pick-up, express check-in and check-out, meeting room or conference chamber facilities, a lounge with the latest periodicals, and beverages or cocktails throughout the day.

Among the hotels with executive floors or top grade business facilities are: Le Royal Meridien (tel 580000/fax 580333), Diplomat (tel 531666/fax 530843), Regency Inter.Continental (tel 227777/fax 229929), Sheraton (tel 533533/fax 534069), Gulf Hotel (tel 713000/fax 713040) and Holiday Inn (tel 531122/fax 530154).

Business meetings: The Bahrain summer can often pose a dilemma as to what to wear to a business meeting.

Non-Arab businessmen would be advised to wear a light jacket in summer, a suit otherwise.

How much time you should give yourself to get to your meeting would depend on the distance and time of day you will be on the road.

Travelling times in Bahrain are generally quite short (45 minutes would probably be about the longest you would need to get from one point to another).

Travelling within Manama should not take you more than 10-20 minutes, a little longer during peak times.

Also allow for enough time between appointments, meetings here can drag on for longer than you plan!

If you are doing business with a Bahraini, you will find introductions and greetings here last a little longer than the normal handshake. Initial polite conversation is expected, coming to the point immediately can be considered rude.

With the sizeable expatriate population here, there is always the possibility that your meeting will be with a non-Bahraini, which makes setting out rules a little complicated.

Generally, however, Western expatriates tend to be extremely time-conscious. Asian managers fall somewhere between this and the Bahraini approach.




" Abdulnabi Al Sho'ala
" Fahmi bin Ali Al Jowder
" Johnny Young
" Engin Turker
" Farouk Almoayyed
" Karlheinz Aumann
" Mohammed Buzizi
" Mohammed Dadabhai
" Ebrahim Al Dossary
" Haji Hassan
" Faisal Jawad
" Khalid Kanoo
" Saleh Al Kowary
" Iqbal Mamdani
" Akram Miknas
" Abdul Rahman Morshed
" Khamis Al Muqla
" Mustafa Al Sayed
" Jamil Wafa
" Khalid Al Zayani

Bahrain is gateway to
huge Mideast market

Exhibition facilities

Centre of Gulf
banking universe