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Bahrain Expects Non-Oil Sector to Grow by 3% in 2017 | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A view of the Manama skyline at night. (Reuters)

Manama – The Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) predicted that the non-oil sector will maintain its strong economic performance in supporting the domestic product in 2017. The board expected the non-oil sector to grow by 3 percent this year.

The non-oil sector has been the major engine in the Bahraini economy, as it maintained an unprecedented growth that reached 3.7 percent in 2016 and 3.6 percent in 2015.

Despite the decline of the oil sector over the past two years, the Bahraini economy kept a 3 percent growth in the domestic product.

According to latest report released by the kingdom’s EDB, non-oil sectors that grew by 3.7 percent in 2016, contributed to Bahrain’s overall economic growth of 3 percent.

In its quarterly report, the EDB said the non-oil sector’s growth contributed in improving the gross domestic product up to 3 percent in 2016. It also asserted that the kingdom’s economy grew at an accelerated pace compared with 2.9 percent in 2015 despite the major regional and international unrest.

The EDB is a public agency responsible for attracting investment to the kingdom and supporting initiatives that promote the investment climate in the country.

The board works with the government and current and potential investors to ensure the ability of Bahrain’s investment climate in attracting investors and preserving them through determining the strength points and the available opportunities to achieve more economic growth based on investments.

The Economic Development Board focuses on the financial services sector, manufacturing industries, information technology and telecommunications, tourism, logistic services and transport.

The non-oil growth (up from 3.6 percent in 2015) was driven by a number of sectors, with particularly strong performances in finance (which grew 5.2 percent), construction (which grew 5.7 percent) and social and personal services (which grew 9.1 percent).

This momentum in the non-oil sector was supported by the implementation of unprecedented levels of infrastructure investment. In particular, the GCC Development Fund has seen the volume of active projects double from $1.6 billion in Q1 2016 to $3.2 billion in February 2017.

Bahrain has a priority program of $32 billion of infrastructure projects, which are expected to continue in stimulating the economic growth.

These projects include the $2.5 billion ALBA Pot Line 6, an associated $800 million power station deal, the $1.1 billion airport expansion project and a new $355 million Banagas gas plant.

These investments are expected to contribute in maintaining the non-oil sector’s growth above 3 percent in 2017 despite the ongoing decline of financial statuses in the region.

Speaking on the publication of the report, Dr. Jarmo Kotilaine, chief economic advisor to the EDB, said: “2016 was an encouraging year for Bahrain’s economy. We continue to see resilience in the non-oil sector and this resilience helps to underpin the economic stability for businesses and investors in the Kingdom.”

Kotilaine added that this is important because the economic transformation taking place in the region is creating exciting opportunities for businesses in the Gulf the coming years.

He also stressed the importance of maintaining economic stability and continuing efforts focusing on the structural, legal and regulatory reforms that will make it easier for companies to access those opportunities in order to attract more investments and create more job opportunities.