Manama listed in the top 5 globally for FDI strategy in latest fDi Magazine ranking

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The Kingdom of Bahrain’s capital Manama has been named as the fifth globally amongst all-sized cities and first amongst small and mid-sized cities for FDI strategy in the 2021 Global cities of the Future index produced by the Financial Times’ fDi Magazine. Both Abu Dhabi and Dubai similarly ranked in the top 10, with Abu Dhabi placing sixth and Dubai placing eighth.

Commenting on the latest rankings, the Bahrain Economic Development Board’s Chief Executive, His Excellency Khalid Humaidan said: “In 2019, FDI stock made up 80% of our nominal GDP which is double the world average. We are very proud of this achievement and for being recognised for our FDI strategy. What is more promising is that three GCC cities have ranked in the top ten, highlighting the clear attraction for FDI in the region.

“This independent recognition is further confirmation that our board has set the right strategy for us to go forward and they continue to be supportive of our agenda.”

The Kingdom’s FDI strategy is pinned on a diverse multi-sectoral approach which is showing results and gaining recognition, as evidenced by Bahrain’s leading performance in the survey.

In addition to the Kingdom’s ranking in FDI Strategy, Bahrain was also ranked highly in cost-effectiveness and business friendliness, being 6th globally and third in MENA, and seventh globally and second in MENA respectively for small and mid-sized cities.

Bahrain has undertaken an ambitious and comprehensive programme of economic reform, which has been further recognised by other independent studies and surveys. The 2020 World Bank Doing Business Report named Bahrain the fourth most improved country in the world, and research by KPMG in a Cost of Doing Business Report highlighted that Bahrain is between 20-30 percent more cost-effective than some of its neighbors across multiple industries.


Bahrain real estate sector deals valued at US$ 1.9 billion in 2020


The real estate market in the Kingdom of Bahrain is gaining pace despite the challenges faced by the pandemic, with a series of major projects and initiatives driving sector growth. The rebound of Bahrain’s real estate sector fuelled a 14% and 20% rise in real estate deals in the third and fourth quarter of 2020 respectively, with the total value of real estate transactions in Bahrain reaching $1.9 billion (BD 717.4 million) in 2020.

Bahrain’s National Real Estate plan for 2021-2024 is set to further increase the sector’s contribution to the national economy as part of continued economic diversification efforts. The plan includes five initiatives and 17 projects, including laws and regulations, long-term plans and operational initiatives for developing the real estate sector.

Mixed-use major real estate projects in the Kingdom set to exceed US$ 12 billion which includes Eagle Hills Marassi Al Bahrain, Diyar Al Muharraq, Dilmunia and Bahrain Bay, which are creating prosperity through attractive and unique real estate destinations. Bahrain is a multidimensional marketplace that enables investment in a diverse range of properties that focus on addressing the growing consumer demand in Bahrain and the region for integrated communities that offer opportunities for the live, work, play lifestyle.

Commenting on the latest real estate developments, Ali Al Mudaifa, Executive Director – Investment Origination at Bahrain Economic Development Board said, “Bahrain’s bounce back in the real estate sector is testament to the Kingdom’s dedication towards economic growth.”

“Seeing these projects come to life has been a rewarding experience and we are confident that Bahrain’s real estate sector will continue to grow in the coming years.”

In addition to delivering a total of 30,000 homes over the past five years, Bahrain’s housing ministry is currently in the process of digitising their services to improve their offering. During 2020, the ministry completed around 45,000 transactions online, increasing efficiency and resulting in a 75% reduction in congestion time for housing service applications.


Unit of Bahrain’s GFH sells UK logistics hub for $123m

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Bahrain-based GFH Financial Group has announced that its subsidiary, Roebuck Asset Management, has concluded the off-market sale of a UK logistics centre for $123 million.

The sale of Accolade Park to Tritax Big Box REIT marks the end of a successful hold period for Roebuck, who acquired the asset for $84 million in May 2017 on behalf of a consortium of institutional Korean investors.

Accolade Park is a prime logistics centre comprising of 875,000 sq ft located in Avonmouth which is the principal logistics and manufacturing area for the South West of the country, centred around the Port of Bristol.

During the hold period, Roebuck has completed a number of acquisitions with Korean and other Asian institutional investors investing into mainly mission critical logistics assets across Europe including Tesco’s Avonmouth Distribution Centre, in the UK, which was acquired for about $102 million.

GFH acquired a majority stake in Roebuck, which continues to operate independently, in December. With GFH’s backing, Roebuck said it is set to execute on significant growth plans for 2021.

Together, GFH and Roebuck are working on over €1 billion of new third party mandates, a statement said.

Nael Mustafa, board member at Roebuck Asset Management and co- chief investment officer at GFH, said: “We’re pleased to announce this important exit by Roebuck of one of the prime logistics assets in the portfolio. The strategy to sell Accolade Park is in line with the Roebuck’s plans. Mainly, to acquire core and core plus logistics assets, add value through execution of asset management initiatives and to exit within a medium term.

“We look forward to announcing new transactions in this space and offering investors the opportunity to benefit from positive trends in the UK and European logistics, a segment of the market showing solid fundamentals and continued prospects for growth.”


Bahrain, Saudi national carriers set to launch codeshare deal

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The national carriers of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia are set to establish a codeshare agreement as they seek closer commercial ties.

Gulf Air and Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia), the first two airlines that started operations in the Gulf region, said they will cooperate to expand their footprints regionally and internationally by sharing their codes.

Under the codeshare deal, Gulf Air place its ‘GF’ code on Saudia flights from Riyadh and Jeddah to Bahrain, Abha, Jizan, Yanbu, Aljouf, Ha’il as well as Tunis–Carthage airport.

Saudia will place its ‘SV’ code on Gulf Air flights from Bahrain to Riyadh, Jeddah, Tbilisi, Sialkot, Faisalabad, Baku, and Multan.These codeshare operations will commence from the upcoming summer schedule of 2021, a statement said.

Gulf Air’s acting CEO Waleed AlAlawi said: “The relationship between Bahrain and Saudi Arabia has always been strong on many fronts, and aviation is one of them… We look forward to strengthening our ties to offer better connectivity and services to both airlines’ passengers.”

Ibrahim S Koshy, CEO of Saudia, said: “Saudia and Gulf Air are key partners in connecting guests on each carriers’ diverse route networks. Both airlines have a long history of partnership, in which this expanded codeshare agreement further enhances connectivity, convenience and flexibility for travelers.”

Under the deal, Gulf Air’s Falconflyer members will be able to earn and redeem miles when flying on Saudia while Saudia’s Al Fursan frequent flyer members can do the same when traveling with Gulf Air.


Humam Miscone: Reflections on Iraq’s Manufacturing Industry

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By Humam Miscone, for The Iraqi Economists Network (IEN). Any opinions expressed are those of the author(s), and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

World Bank’s Assessment Is Flawed – Manufacturing Is Viable in Iraq. Additional Reflections on Iraq’s Industry.

These additional reflections are prompted the article of Dr. Amer Hirmis entitled “World Bank’s Assessment Is Flawed: Manufacturing Is Viable in Iraq… Preliminary Brief Comments!” (Hirmis, 2021), which provided critical assessment and comments and challenged some of the analyses and recommendations provided in a recent WBG document entitled “Breaking Out of Fragility A Country Economic Memorandum for Diversification and Growth in Iraq” (WBG Memorandum) (October 2020).

Initially, I would like to recognize and record my general agreement with the arguments and comments of Hirmis (2021).

The WBG Memorandum’s envisaged a vision for Iraq’s economic diversification and growth that, while concentrated on agriculture and agroindustry, completely ignored the manufacturing industry that flourished in Iraq in the 1960s – 1980s.

Instead, the WBG Memorandum vision actually brings Iraq’s economy back 70 years ago, to the early 1950s, when Iraq used to be net exporter of crude oil, wheat and dates and had nascent industrial sector, limited to textile and some construction material industries.

These additional reflections are intended to support the arguments on Hirmis (2021) regarding the manufacturing industry and to provide information and evidence that manufacturing industry, particularly mining, mineral and chemical industries, could be of equal importance to agriculture, agroindustry and even oil industry and could ensure the aspired economic diversification, growth, job creation as well as integrated and balanced territorial development.


KAPITA launches New Co-Working Space in Baghdad

KAPITA, in partnership with Iraqi Angel Investor Jafar Musawi (CEO of Atlas Plast), have opened up a new co-working space in Baghdad that aims to support the growing entrepreneurship and small business sector in Iraq.

The newly opened space ‘CoWork’, is a dedicated co-working space for companies, freelancers, startups and creatives who need a flexible and professional workspace in Baghdad.

CoWork is designed to be a convenient and affordable option for youth and freelancers to work from. It is a membership-based coworking space that has the capacity to serve up to 250 youth. This new space by KAPITA aims to create a network of productive Iraqi youth, linking freelancers with small business owners and startups, that enhances and develops the Iraqi ecosystem.

On the 22nd of April 2020, KAPITA held an opening ceremony for CoWork where a number of official figures and representatives from the Baghdad Chamber of Commerce attended along with respective figures from Banks, large corporations, prominent businessmen and Iraqi youth.

Mujahed Al Waisi, Executive Director of KAPITA stated:

“CoWork is a new addition to Baghdad, providing an important platform and space for companies, emerging projects and entrepreneurs. The entrepreneurship sector is expanding and growing rapidly in Iraq and there is greater need and urgency to keep up with these changes that are happening and a greater need to support the Iraqi youth in this sector.”

Jaafar Musawi, the Angel investor of CoWork added:

“As businessmen, we know every well the challenges that any project in Iraq faces. We must contribute in opening up new opportunities for the Iraqi market and encourage foreign and local companies to expand into Iraq and relieve any pressures and challenges they may face by providing creative spaces, services and solutions. I am very happy to partner up with KAPITA and to be able to provide a new space for entrepreneurs in Iraq.”

In addition, Bahaaddin Salim, CEO of Nass Al Iraq added:

”We are happy to support this space by providing the entrepreneurs with essential services that they require such as high-speed internet.”


Siemens to rebuild West Mosul’s Super-Grid Station

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Siemens Energy and the Ministry of Electricity of the Republic of Iraq signed a contract to construct Iraq’s West Mosul 400-kilovolt (kV) super grid station, which will provide reliable and efficient power supply to around 700,000 Iraqi citizens in northern Iraq, particularly the Nineveh province.

The construction of the Mosul station, which was destroyed in 2014, will help ensure stability in the transmission of power supply to the covered areas, coupled with a reduction in power losses.

The newly built 400-kV station will supply approximately 30 stations with voltage levels of 132-kV, thereby helping to tackle the severe shortage of power supply in the Nineveh province.

Eng. Khalid Ghazay Attia, Director General, Electricity Transmission Company, Northern Region, Iraq, said:

“Strengthening the national grid and scaling up its stability is a focal priority for us as demand for power in Iraq increases due to a growing population and to support industries and development projects in the country.

“The new Mosul station aims to bring predictable power to support the reconstruction and rebuilding of the Nineveh Governorate, recovering now from years of war. We’re already working on comprehensive grid projects across the country in collaboration with international partners, like Siemens Energy, to deploy the most reliable and advanced technologies.”

The project will be financed by the German state-owned development bank KfW.

Mahmoud Hanafy, Vice President, Grid Stabilization, Middle East, said:

“We’re proud to support the Iraqi national grid with our latest technologies. The new project comes at a significantly important time for Nineveh province.

“In addition to this project, we’re working relentlessly on the installation of more than 14 stations across Iraq. Just recently, we delivered 35 high voltage transformers to the Ministry of Electricity as part of Siemens Energy’s Roadmap for Iraq.”

For the West Mosul project, Siemens Energy’s scope of work includes the design, equipment manufacturing, construction, site delivery, erection, testing and commissioning for the turnkey 400/132/11kV substation project together with the supply of 13 auto transformers.

In 2019 Siemens and the Ministry of Electricity of the Republic of Iraq signed an implementation agreement to kick off the execution of the Iraq Roadmap which includes the addition of new and highly efficient power generation capacity, rehabilitation and upgrade of existing plants and the expansion of transmission and distribution networks.