A high-profile delegation organised by the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) and led by Mr. Khalid Al-Rumaihi, Chief Executive of the EDB has concluded its visit to Germany.
The business delegation included representatives from both the public and private sectors in Bahrain including H.E. Hassan Al Majed, Undersecretary of Ports and Maritime Affairs at the Ministry of Transportation and Telecommunications and members of the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI).
The visit, conducted between 4th and 8th May 2015, was scheduled to tie-in with the prestigious Transport Logistic exhibition in Munich, and included a series of meetings with senior officials and businessmen.
During the visit, the delegation met with H.E. Alexander Dobrindt, German Federal Minister of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, H.E. Parliamentary State-Secretary Dorothee Bär, and H.E. State-Secretary Franz Josef Pschierer of the Bavarian Ministry of Economics, Energy, Media and Technology. In addition, the EDB participated in the official opening ceremony of Transport Logistic 2015 where a Bahrain Pavilion showcased the Kingdom’s attractive business environment to German and international investors. Furthermore, Mr. Khalid Al-Rumaihi attended meetings with a number of public officials, including a meeting with H.E. Olaf Lies, Lower Saxonian Minister for Economic and Labour Affairs and Transportation, as well as senior representatives of private sector businesses such as Rhenus SE, Kühne+Nagel AG, Lufthansa Cargo AG, DSV A/S AG, Hellmann GmbH and Dachser Group SE.
The delegation also attended a lunch hosted by Messe München GmbH and, following a meeting with H.E. State-Secretary Pschierer where Mr. Khalid Al-Rumaihi and other members of the Bahrain delegation presented Bahrain’s economic story and key competitive advantages to Bavarian companies and ministry officials, they attended a dinner reception hosted by the Bavarian Ministry of Economics, Energy, Media and Technology which was co-organised by the German Chamber of Commerce and Industry for Saudi-Arabia and Bahrain.
Furthermore, the delegation attended a high-level Bahrain-German Dinner hosted by Mr. Khalid Al-Rumaihi and the German-Arab Friendship Society (DAFG e.V.), which included companies such as Siemens, SMS Meer, BMW, Munich Re, Rohde+Schwarz and RMA, as well as a briefing and business breakfast hosted by DVZ where delegates were given the opportunity to network with their German counterparts and discuss opportunities for further cooperation. a number of B2B meetings were also conducted between representatives from the Bahrain delegation and their German counterparts on the side-lines of the exhibition.
Mr. Khalid Al-Rumaihi, Chief Executive of the EDB said: “During the course of our visit we have seen real recognition that the Gulf is a very exciting market and businesses want to know how they can access it.
“We have a very strong story to tell. The Gulf has grown rapidly in recent years. It is now a $1.6 trillion market and in spite of the decline in the oil price, it is expected to reach $2 trillion by 2020. The long-term prospects for this growth are underpinned by a number of factors; the population is young, growing and increasingly educated and we are diversifying our economies away from oil and gas.
“The countries of the Gulf are not only more connected to each other than ever before but they are also increasingly at the centre of global flows of people and goods. As a result, it is hardly surprising that transport and logistics is one of the most important areas of growth in the region and attracting attention from international investors.”
H.E. Hassan Al Majed, Undersecretary of Ports & Maritime Affairs said:
“Strategically located at the heart of the Gulf, Bahrain has long been considered the gateway to the GCC. With the shortest travel time in the region between its seaport, airport, and the logistics processing zones, Bahrain enables more efficient and faster processing of trade goods and some of the lowest operating costs.”
“Bahrain is also connected to the Gulf’s biggest market, Saudi Arabia, by King Fahad causeway. With the second causeway linking Bahrain to Saudi Arabia and a new railway connecting Bahrain to the GCC rail network are also planned, Bahrain is set to be even more connected to its neighbours.”
A large number of German businesses have already established operations in Bahrain as a means of accessing the wider GCC market, including BASF, RMA, SMS Meer, Allianze Global Investors, Hannover Re and Reihnmetall Armacell. Leading German logistics companies with offices or facilities in Bahrain include: DHL, Schmidt Middle East logistics JLT and Talke Logistics.
The delegation’s visit represents the latest in a series of visits by Bahraini officials to Germany. In April, the EDB sponsored the 6th Ghorfa Education & Vocational Training Forum in Berlin, and a delegation led by Bahrain EDB and including officials from the National Institute for Industrial Training (NIIT) and Tamkeen, attended the event. During the visit several meetings were arranged for NIIT and Tamkeen with their German counterparts to discuss possible future partnerships and training programs. In December, NIIT, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Education Center of Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles in Kassel, Germany, to promote cooperation in the fields of apprenticeship and training.
Most recently, German company Armacell, a world leader in flexible insulation foams for the equipment insulation market and leading provider of engineered foams, announced plans to build a new manufacturing facility in Bahrain. The plant, which will be located at the Bahrain International Investment Park (BIIP), will produce elastomeric rubber insulation for the US$3 billion heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) market in the GCC.
Bahrain recently announced an update to its visa policy whereby visitors from Germany can now be issued a multi-entry visa that is valid for three months. This visa allows a length stay of two weeks per visit. Additionally, business visitors are able to spend longer periods of time in the Kingdom, as the new policy dictates that business visas are issued with a one-month validity and are multi-entry with two weeks of stay per visit.