The average real GDP for the MENAP region stood at 2.8% in 2014 and 2.5% in 2015, according to the IMF. The MENAP region was adversely affected by the oil price dip; however, the IMF has projected a quick recovery, forecasting annual GDP growth at 3.1% for 2016 and at 3.5% for 2017.
The gulf economy is characterised by a general notion of being oil dependent. Moreover, with oil prices plummeting since the summer of 2014 and gulf economies taking a hit, they are not being viewed positively for business prospects. However, it is important to note that not all gulf countries are alike and the prospects of growth and development are still very bright in certain nations. The entire region is characterised by economies that stand at different levels of development.
The State of the Gulf Market
Despite the stereotypes associated with the region, the GCC market is experiencing rapid consumerisation and increased demand for manufactured goods. One of biggest advantage is its strategic location. Its location allows for smooth global trade. Moreover, the GCC countries are also well connected through road, water and air.
Bahrain holds the window to the entire GCC market. Setting up a business in Bahrain can get you significant exposure to rest of the GCC countries. Saudi Arabia is just an hour by road, while Qatar is 25 minutes by air. Not only have the gulf countries come a long way from just being oil producers, but they have also encouraged private business owners to participate in the region’s growth and development model. The GCC countries have taken special initiatives to encourage foreign investment which includes hassle-free paperwork, free and easy repatriation of capital and profit as well as liberal tax laws.
The diversification of the gulf economy has opened up newer avenues for budding businessmen. Some of the key sectors apart from oil and gas are finance, housing and infrastructure, construction, healthcare services, financial services, education, information and communication technology and tourism and aviation. If you are planning to set up a business in the gulf to tap into the growing demand in the GCC market, Bahrain is a great option.
Bahrain not only enjoys a strategic location, but is also equipped with modern infrastructure. It has implemented laws and regulations for ease of business. It boasts of a highly educated labour force. Moreover, it has bilateral agreements with more than 40 different countries giving it the required edge. Bahrain also has among the most liberal laws and culture.