A RED-CARPET WELCOME: Bahrain beckons the world

An island country in western Asia, Bahrain, officially known as the Kingdom of Bahrain – well renowned among tourists for its world heritage site, pearls, dates, and scarfs is also an eye catchy destination for business. The fastest, cheapest, and most efficient gateway to the region’s largest markets, Bahrain opens the door of opportunities for logistics businesses. With the lowest setup and operating costs for logistics businesses in the GCC, competitive and attractive land lease rates at the Bahrain Logistics Zone, economical ports, and the lowest cost of living in the GCC nations, the island country helps establish a favourable business environment. Ahmed Sultan, Executive Director – Business Development for Manufacturing, Transport and Logistics, Bahrain Economic Development Board (Bahrain EDB), during an exclusive interview, talks about how the nation aims to be the preferred destination for logistics businesses. He also discusses the Bahrain Logistics Zone (BLZ) while also touching upon the sustainable initiatives taken by the nation. Edited excerpts:

What are some of the key opportunities offered by the Kingdom of Bahrain that make it an ideal hub for global transportation and logistics companies wishing to establish or expand their presence in the GCC?

Of course, at the core is our location. Bahrain sits right in the middle of the east and the west, and we are also at the centre of the Gulf. We have a causeway hooking us up with the largest GCC economy i.e. Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. So, location is the biggest advantage. Then we’ve got, at the moment, 22 FTA with several nations. We were the first GCC country to sign an FTA with the US and hopefully, there are many more to come. The government is working on some funds, India included that’s a work in progress. So, it’s mainly the network. We are sitting at a good location and on top of it, we have also got a good cost element. The cost of doing business in Bahrain is cheaper compared to our peers when it comes to handling logistics, and manufacturing operations.

So, I think that’s a key advantage for decision-making.

The Bahrain Logistics Zone boasts of being one of the best locations in the Middle East for keeping project and construction costs low. Tell us more about it. How can this be a potential game-changer for logistics businesses?

At the movement, Bahrain Logistics Zone (BLZ) is like 5 mins away from the Port of Khalifa Bin Salman, and around 10-15 mins away from the airport. So, clearly, the zone is in a very lucrative location.

Adding to that, the zone has very lucrative incentives, keeping the construction costs and the cost of doing business low. It allows two types of leasing:

a) lease land and build your warehousing facility: A plot of anywhere between 4000 meter and
above, at the movement can be leased at 4.2 Dinars per sq. meter (including the service charge), and can be leased for up to 20 years with 12-18 months of potential grace period.

b) lease a ready-to-move facility: Even when it comes to a ready-to-move facility, it costs 2-5
Dinars per sq. meter per month, these are short terms and are renewable, smaller parts. BLZ is currently seeing companies from sectors like logistics, trading, and petroleum making an influx, but any industry that requires massive lands for manufacturing facilities will be an excellent candidate for BLZ.

Last year, The Kingdom of Bahrain launched the “Bahrain Global Seaair hub” – the fastest regional multimodal logistics hub in the region with only a 2-hour turnaround time for all containers. What is the significance of this hub?

Air freight is fast but expensive, and sea freight is cheaper but slower. Bahrain Global Sea-air hub is the best of both worlds. By using the Bahrain Global Sea-Air hub, you can save up to 50% on time and 40% on cost- taking advantage of both worlds.

I think this will especially make a significant difference for the e-commerce companies, and of course it will make our turnaround time great. Although the regional multimodal logistics hub has just started, we look to now market it, and believe that a lot of companies will be intrigued by it and will be keen to use the facility.

This is an abridged version of the original interview published in the December 2022 issue of Logistics Insider magazine. Click here to read the complete interview.

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