Bahrain maximizing its export potential on the back of efficient logistics


Located between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, Bahrain has a relatively diversified economy, with both oil and non-oil sectors contributing to its growth. Though its exports are dominated by the petroleum industry, the country also exports other products such as aluminum, chemicals, and textiles, and is working towards giving them a further boost. In this story we take a look at how Bahrain is progressing towards enhancing its export potential and the role that an efficient logistics ecosystem plays in it.

A small island country in the Persian Gulf, Bahrain has been leaping forward towards maximizing its export potential. And in this feat, also enhancing its logistics infrastructure. With a population of just 1.7 million people, Bahrain has a small domestic market, and its economy relies much on exports.

In recent years, and especially post the pandemic, the governments of many countries – developed and developing alike – have enhanced their logistics and supply chain infrastructure. Bahrain too, is among those countries, which has led to significant improvements in its supply chain capabilities.

Bahrain enjoys a strategic location at the heart of the Gulf and is increasingly considered by various companies as an entry point into the Gulf markets, especially Saudi Arabia. Bahrain has two major ports, the Khalifa bin Salman Port and the Khalifa bin Salman Industrial Port, both of which handle a wide range of cargo including containers, bulk, and liquid cargo. In addition, Bahrain’s international airport is one of the busiest in the region, with direct flights to major cities around the world.

Bahrain has also invested heavily in developing its road and rail networks. The country’s well-connected highways and modern railways facilitate the movement of goods across the country and into neighboring states. This has worked in Bahrain’s favour by minimising time and cost inefficiencies. The government of Bahrain has also implemented several measures to improve the ease of doing business in the country. These include streamlined customs procedures, simplified licensing requirements, and reduced bureaucratic red tape, which makes it easier for businesses to set up operations in the country.

Bahrain’s Exports

Historically, Bahrain’s exports were dominated by the petroleum industry, but today, the country also exports other products such as aluminum, chemicals, and textiles. This diversification of its export basket helps the nation to keep a check on its over-dependence on a single source of income.

The value of Bahrain’s exports of national origin increased by 9% to USD 1.05 billion during October 2022 (Y-o-Y). While Saudi Arabia ranked first among countries receiving Bahraini exports of national origin, the US was second and the UAE third.

Petroleum and Petroleum Products:

Bahrain boasts of significant oil and gas reserves, even though it is one of the smaller oil producers
in the Gulf. Their oil exports which contributed 42% to their GDP 20 years ago, stand at 18% today,
and the country exports petroleum and petroleum products such as gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel. It’s
worth mentioning that even though contributors to GDP have diversified to such an extent where oil and gas is now 18%, it doesn’t mean that the oil and gas sector has contracted. On the contrary, it has grown.

“What has happened in 2 decades, is a proactive effort from the government and economic development board to strengthen and augment the other key and vital sectors. Also, during this time, Bahrain has experienced close to 8% growth rate Y-o-Y for non-oil exports, compared to a global average of 5.5%. Today Bahrain’s nominal GDP is more than USD 40 billion – we’ve quadrupled the size of our economy in these 20 years from less than USD 10 billion in 2002,” Ali Al Mudaifa, Chief of Business Development, Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB)

“To us it (COVID-19) was always a blessing in disguise, because once you understand the criticality of it all, we actually worked on providing the right solutions to the businesses to ensure we minimise the hiccups and challenges.” Safa Sharif A. Khaliq, Chief Executive Officer, Export Bahrain

This is the abridged version of the original article that was published in the April 2023 issue of Logistics Insider magazine. To read the complete version, click here.

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