In an attempt to reduce its debt, Bahrain said that it would be implementing a new “golden licence” programme that would provide rewards to businesses that would bring significant investment projects to the tiny Gulf nation.
The action is a component of the oil-producing state’s October 2021 economic recovery plan, which aims to stimulate growth and job creation.
The government’s media office said, “Companies with major investment and strategic projects that will create more than 500 jobs in Bahrain, or those with investment value exceeding $50 million, will be eligible for the licence.”
The statement said that the golden licence will be offered to local and foreign businesses and benefits include prioritised allocation of land, infrastructure and services, easier access to government services and support from government development funds.
The UAE and Saudi Arabia, Bahrain’s considerably larger Gulf neighbours, have been overhauling their immigration policies and enacting a slew of economic and legal changes over the past few years as a regional competition for talent and investment heats up.
One of the most indebted countries in the Gulf, Bahrain is home to the Fifth Fleet of the US Navy. In 2018, affluent neighbours bailed out Bahrain with a USD 10 billion rescue package contingent on reforms aimed at achieving fiscal balance by 2024.
Because of increasing oil prices, Bahrain’s real GDP rose at its quickest rate since 2013 in 2022—4.9%.
In 2022, non-oil GDP growth was 6.2%, above the recovery plan’s 5% forecast for the year.