Published: Tuesday August 21, 2012 MYT 11:30:00 AM
M'sian investors invited to Bahrain
KUALA LUMPUR: Bahrain, which is in the process of diversifying its economy, is calling on Malaysian business community to invest in its infrastructure developments, Islamic finance and manufacturing activities.
Bahrain Economic Development Board chief executive, Shaikh Mohammed Essa Al-Khalifa, said the kingdom was seeing a strong expansionary government budget, made possible by prudent economic management, the boost of the US$10 billion Gulf Development Fund and high oil prices.
"This expansionary budget is likely have a strong stimulus effect, with particular investment being made in social housing and infrastructure spending," he said in an interview with Bernama.
Shaikh Mohammed said Bahrain could also become an ideal gateway to the wider Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) that was currently estimated to have a combined gross domestic product of US$1 trillion.
"There are a number of opportunities in Bahrain and, through Bahrain, to the wider GCC, in particular through trade and investment in construction, agriculture, food production, information communication technology, education, science and technology as well as tourism.
"The region is the world's energy hub, but all economies in the GCC are pursuing diversification programmes and increasing investment, which means there are opportunities across the economic spectrum, from retailers to construction, heavy industry and financial services," he said.
He said Bahrain offered some of the region's lowest operating costs, the best skilled workforce in the area and has excellent transport links to all members of the GCC.
On Islamic finance, Shaikh Mohammed said, Bahrain and Malaysia had strong ties, most noticeably in the Islamic finance industry, where both countries operated as hubs for their respective regions.
"For example, the Accounting and Auditing Organisation for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI), the institution that sets the standards for auditing and accounting in Islamic finance across the world, is based in Bahrain but has Bahraini and Malaysian experts on its staff," he said.
Shaikh Mohammed said the kingdom was committed to help boost Islamic finance among Islamic countries and in the process enable Islamic banking to complement the conventional banking.
"We have a responsibility to take on a leadership role in the industry, whether through the institutions based in Bahrain, like AAOIFI or the International Islamic Financial Market, which set standards across the globe or through the regulation of our central bank," he said.
To date, Bahrain has advised over 30 countries on Islamic finance industries, Shaikh Mohammed said, adding that, 12 per cent of banking assets in Bahrain were in Islamic institutions.
"We are confident that we can help the industry continue to grow across the world," he said. - BERNAMA