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Zayed al-Zayani: ‘Bahrain, Saudi Visions are Common, but Challenges Differ’ | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Bahraini Minister of Industry and Commerce Zayed al-Zayani

London- Bahraini Minister of Industry and Commerce Zayed bin Rashid Al Zayani received Asharq Al-Awsat’s reporter at Bahrain’s Embassy in London, following the first session of Bahrain-UK forum. The reporter hoped she can learn more about Manama’s relations in specific, and GCC’s ties with Britain and EU in general, especially that Gulf’s major ally is no longer an EU member.

The minister said that Britain is a strategic partner in the field of commerce, investment and cooperation in many other sectors like defense and education.

On Brexit, al-Zayani stated that Bahrain views it as a chance for Britain to take its own decisions, instead of the collective ones that it was forced to abide by within the Union.

He said the government considers depth of relations with Britain, easy transportation with Gulf States, simple language and cooperation with one government, instead of 27, all positive factors that will push forward trade ties between Bahrain and Britain.

The Bahraini Minister of Industry and Commerce revealed the Kingdom’s most prominent projects to develop domestic products come through developing the industry, tourism and banking sectors.

He also said that his country is willing to invest in its youth by granting them a “clear path to turn their dreams into great successes.”

Regarding similarity of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia’s visions, al-Zayani stressed that they are parallel, yet the two kingdoms’ challenges differ.

When asked about the competition between Bahrain and Dubai to win the title of the Financial Center for Gulf States, al-Zayani replied with a smile, saying: “The market accommodates more than one player.”

He took the interview’s opportunity to reveal what makes Bahrain different than other Gulf States.

Al-Zayani said the rate of Bahrainis working in the Kingdom’s banks exceeds 90%, in addition to the fact that 70% of the banking sector is Bahraini.

He said that this sector works on global and professional levels, adding that many Bahrainis work in international banking centers and are qualified for the best jobs, which makes the government proud. Instead of importing the sector, the government works on its sustainability and development.

The minister also spoke about Bahrain’s projects in the field of tourism; most notably the new rail bridge that will link Bahrain to Saudi Arabia and the historical deal that will restructure the identity of Gulf Air.

When asked about the main points of cooperation between Bahrain and the Economic Development Board, al-Zayani said: “We have changed four rules in 2015; some were old from the 1860s.”

“We have also issued new regulations that positively reflected on Bahrain and appeared in numerous commercial records in Bahrain,” he added.

He said that the Board’s vision focuses on five sectors, but this does not mean that the government is not interested in other fields such as the financial, banking and logistic sectors, as Bahrain looks forward to becoming the logistics center of the Gulf, especially to nourish the Saudi market and north Gulf.