Alba’s CEO inaugurates annual Majlis sessions

Aluminium Bahrain (Alba) Chief Executive Officer Ali Al Baqali inaugurated the the company’s Annual Majlis for 2023 on Tuesday (January 17) at the Oasis Hall.

Attended by Alba’s executives, directors, and managers, the opening session shed the light on the successes Alba celebrated in 2022 as well as lessons learnt as the company journeys in 2023.

The CEO also unveiled the company’s 2023 objectives: 1) Safety is Our Operating License, 2) Al Hassalah Top Up, 3) Be Ready to Take off Safely, and 4) Don’t Limit Yourself, which will guide the company to taken actions in the present and turn market challenges into opportunities.

Al Baqali said: “No one ever got anywhere by staying in one place. We want to leap forward in 2023 by working collectively together to be a force for change in line with Bahrain’s Economic Vision 2030. This platform sets us on the right path to make our future happen today and this can be done if we do it together as one team.”

The CEO’s Annual Majlis sessions will continue till Thursday and will be delivered in a hybrid format for employees and contractors’ workers across Alba. These sessions aim to foster two-way communication between the CEO and the company’s workforce as well as provide guidance to focus on Alba’s vision.


Asia presents the best investment opportunities: SCB

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Investors need to look to the Asian region for the best investment opportunities in the short and medium term, said Steve Brice, Global Chief Investment Officer at Standard Chartered Bank.

Providing his outlook for 2023, Brice said there will be a slowing of global inflation and fewer federal interest rate rises in the first half of the year, followed by a decline in the second half of the year.

Brice noted that the economic slowdown should help cool inflation significantly but cautioned that inflation will not return to 2% levels in the foreseeable future.

China the exception
The exception to this will be seen in China, which is expected to achieve high growth rates as a result of the lifting of Covid restrictions and a shift in policy focus towards stabilising growth and improving opportunities for companies, investors and consumers.

“2022 was the toughest year for investors that I have seen during my 25-year career. It is only the fourth year in a century-and-a-half that US stocks and bonds have depreciated so rapidly,” Brice told an economic briefing for over 70 clients and guests in Bahrain.

He said although China is expected to rebound, a recession in the US is inevitability due to interest rate hikes, while Europe’s recession will be precipitated by increased energy prices.

Dr Boutros Klink, CEO of Standard Chartered Bahrain and the Middle East (ex UAE), said: ‘We are delighted to have had Steve with us in Bahrain this week where he shared his expert and economic insights for this year with our valuable clients. We continuously work on making tools and information available to clients for them to make informed financial decisions. As a financial institution that has been in Bahrain for over 100 years, we are committed to continue to share our expertise with our clients and contribute to the kingdom’s economic growth and development.


Bahrain origin products’ exports jump 24% in 2022

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The value of exports of Bahrain origin products increased 24%, reaching BD4.967 billion ($13.18 billion) during 2022, compared to BD3.994 billion in the previous year.

The value of imports into Bahrain increased 10% in 2022, reaching to BD5.842 billion, compared to BD5.316 billion for the previous year, said the foreign trade report of 2022 released by the Information &eGovernment Authority (iGA).

Bahrain recorded a trade deficit of BD155 million during 2022 compared to a deficit of BD643 million for the previous year.

The top 10 countries accounted for 69% of the value of imports, while the remaining countries accounted for 31%,

According to the report, imports from China ranked first with a total value of BD845 million, Brazil was the second with BD620 million, and Australia was the third with BD509 million.

Non-agglomerated iron ores and concentrates was the top product imported into Bahrain with a total value of BD698 million, while aluminum oxide was second with BD468 million, and parts for airplanes third with BD168 million.
The top 10 countries in terms of the value of exports of national origin accounted for 72% of the total value, while the remaining countries accounting for 28%, the report said.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia ranked first among countries receiving Bahraini exports of national origin, importing BD983 million from Bahrain. The US was second with BD694 million and the UAE was third with BD465 million.

Unwrought aluminum alloys emerged as the top products exported during 2022 with a value of BD1.75 billion, agglomerated iron ores and concentrates alloyed was second with a value of BD798 million and unwrought aluminum not alloyed third with BD245 million.

The total value of re-exports increased by 6% to reach BD720 million during 2022, compared with BD679 million for the previous year.

The top 10 countries accounted for 83% of the re-exported value, while the remaining countries accounted for the 17%.
Saudi Arabia ranked first with BD163 million, the UAE second with BD152 million, and Singapore third with BD104 million.

Airplane parts was the top product re-exported from Bahrain worth BD113 million.


Regional partnership ‘can benefit Bahrain’s manufacturing sector’

The Integrated Industrial Partnership for Sustainable Economic Development between Bahrain, the UAE, Egypt and Jordan provides opportunities for growth, especially in the aluminum and petrochemical manufacturing sector in Bahrain, Minister of Industry and Commerce Abdulla bin Adel Fakhro has said.

The minister was speaking after conducting an inspection visit to Aluminum Bahrain (Alba). Alba Chairman Shaikh Daij bin Salman bin Daij Al Khalifa and Chief Executive Officer of Alba Ali Al Baqali, and other officials were also present, said a Bahrain News Agency report.

The minister praised the role of industrial companies in Bahrain in developing the national economy, supporting the objectives of the Industrial Sector Strategy (2022-2026) and implementing the objectives of the 2030 Economic Vision.

He noted that the Industrial Sector Strategy targets a number of industries and aligns with the Integrated Industrial Partnership for Sustainable Economic Development initiative.

The initiative also offers opportunties for clean industries, including renewable energy and green and blue hydrogen, which support Bahrain’s commitment to reach zero neutrality by 2060, along with food, pharmaceutical, and microelectronics industries.

The minister toured the company and took stock of the progress of work on the sixth smelting line project, praising Alba’s standing as the largest aluminum smelter in the world, the report said.


BMMI to join Bahrain’s pavilion at Gulfood 2023

The BMMI Group will be showcasing various products including two of its own brands, Purely and Nature’s Origins, at Gulfood Exhibition at the Dubai World Trade Centre from February 20 to 24.

Participating for the first time, BMMI will be part of the Bahrain Pavilion.

The Purely brand offers customers with consistent, high-quality, and ethically sourced food products at great value. The brand’s tagline, ‘the right choice’, highlights BMMI’s belief that great value should not mean sacrificing on high-quality or on ethical sourcing.

Great taste
Through Purely, BMMI is committed to great taste, great value and greater care for the planet. The Purely range showcased at Gulfood will include pantry staples such as canned fava beans, white beans, green peas, hummus, and more.

Nature’s Origins, the second brand BMMI is presenting at the exhibition, provides the market with farm-to-shelf spices, with an emphasis on ethical and sustainable sourcing. With Nature’s Origins, a wide range of organic and conventional products are picked from the ideal origins, with a focus on quality and adherence to international standards. Some of the brand’s products that will be showcased at Gulfood include cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper, and cloves amongst others.

BMMI works to a model of vertical integration across the group’s value chain allows BMMI to source efficiently from manufacturing sources and farm gates.


BAB collaborates with members to advance financing for SMEs

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The Bahrain Association of Banks (BAB) has addressed ways to overcome the challenges facing many small and medium enterprises (SMEs) when applying for financing from banks.

“We all know how important SMEs are, which make up more than 95% of the number of enterprises in Bahrain. We seek to help these institutions rise and grow. One BAB’s performance indicators is to increase the share of SME financing in a phased manner and on a gradual basis to reach 20% of the local financing portfolio of retail banks by the end of 2025,” said Dr Waheed Al Qassim, CEO of BAB.

Chairing a meeting attended by several Bahraini banks and insurance companies, Dr Al Qassim said: “Various Bahraini banks and insurance organisations are keen to provide finance for SMEs.”

Tamkeen’s role
The meeting focused on the significant role played by the Labour Fund (Tamkeen) in supporting SMEs in the framework of boosting the private sector’s role in overall development.

The meeting affirmed the readiness of banks to expand their provision of financing through guarantor partners such as Tamkeen or other programmes and initiatives. This is within the framework of Bahraini banks’ keenness to advance economic development in Bahrain.


Gulf Islamic Investments sets up new company in Bahrain

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Gulf Islamic Investments (GII) a leading shari’ah-compliant global alternative investment company, with over $3 billion of assets under management in real estate, private equity and venture capital, has announced the opening of its new company, Gulf Ventures Capital, with headquarters in Bahrain.

This comes as part of GII’s strategy to expand its footprint in the Mena region and globally with current presence in the UAE, London, and Frankfurt.

The company is set to invest in food, focusing on strategic food sustainability projects in agriculture, aquaculture, food processing and production, as well as logistics, green technology, and healthcare, aligning with the company’s vision for the GCC.

Through its investment in food sector, GII aims to address the rising population, increase in standard of living, disposable income and thereby the rising demand in food, it stated.

Increasing local production in sectors that are experiencing demand-supply gap, would improve GCC food sector, and GII’s investments are aligned to narrow the gap, create market competitiveness of locally produced and processed food, contributing towards long-term food sustainability, it added.

Mohammed Al Hassan, co-Founder, and co-CEO, said: “Our commitment to building and increasing our footprint is testament to our firm belief in the thriving GCC market. We see significant growth potential in food projects and logistics in Bahrain and the larger GCC region. We continue to deliver on our strategy through expanding our portfolio for our stakeholders and partners.”

GCC food market by consumption is forecasted to reach 53.14 million MT in 2026, experiencing growth at a CAGR of 3.15% for the period spanning 2022-2026.

According to Al Hassan, the logistics sector is estimated to witness strong growth due to the increase in infrastructure investment by government & private sector to develop the region into a robust logistics hub with pro-business regulatory policies.

It is estimated to register a CAGR of over 5% during the forecast period 2022-2027, he added.

Pankaj Gupta, co-Founder, and co-CEO for GII, said: “GII’s diversified investments prove our leadership in financial solutions and profitable partnerships. Our new presence in Bahrain offering different asset classes demonstrates our strong position in the region.”

Saleh Albelushi has been appointed as the CEO for the new GII entity – Gulf Venture Capital.

On his new role, Albelushi said: “It gives me pleasure to execute GII’s strategy for growth. Food, agriculture, logistics and green technology are sectors that we will focus on, covering not only Bahrain but also the GCC.”


Bahrain EDB attracts $1.1bn investments in 2022

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Bahrain’s Economic Development Board (EDB) succeeded in attracting investments for 89 projects exceeding BD415 million ($1.1 billion) during 2022, it was revealed at the EDB board meeting on Sunday.

The investment will contribute to creating more than 6,000 quality job opportunities for Bahraini citizens over the next three years, said a Bahrain News Agency report.

His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the Crown Prince, Prime Minister and Chairman of the Economic Development Board (EDB), chaired the meeting at the EDB headquarters in Bahrain Bay.

The EDB’s achievements in 2022, its goals for 2023, and progress on the kingdom’s economic competitiveness and developments, in line with the Bahrain Economic Vision 2030, were reviewed.

His Royal Highness highlighted the importance of increasing efforts in further developing key priority sectors to meet the aspirations of Bahraini citizens.

HRH the Crown Prince, Prime Minister and Chairman of the EDB emphasised the private sector’s role as a main driver of the kingdom’s comprehensive development, led by His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.

HRH Prince Salman bin Hamad noted the role played by Bahraini citizens in supporting the kingdom’s national interests, by diligently prioritising far-reaching development goals and initiatives that benefit and support their present and future.

His Royal Highness highlighted that the Kingdom’s economic diversification strategy continues to advance, through the investment in available commodities and the adoption of effective legislations and policies, supporting direct investment and providing quality job opportunities for Bahraini citizens, in line with the kingdom’s Economic Recovery Plan.

EDB Chief Executive Khalid Humaidan then presented the board with the EDB’s performance and achievements for the year 2022.


Bahrain joins industrial partnership for sustainable development

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Bahrain has now joined the UAE, Egypt, and Jordan to become the fourth member of the Industrial Partnership for Sustainable Economic Development at its second Higher Committee meeting held in Cairo, Egypt. Bahrain will boost the partnership’s total industrial manufacturing value from $106.26 billion to $112.5 billion. The Partnership will focus on textiles and clothing among other sectors in the next phase.
Bahrain possesses a strong industrial sector with more than 9,500 companies and 55,000 employees as well as industrial foreign direct investments worth $4.3 billion. The UAE, Egypt, Jordan, and Bahrain represented 30 per cent of the Middle East and North Africa’s industrial contribution to the GDP, adding up to industrial exports worth $65 billion in 2019. The combined population of the countries is 122 million, which is 27 per cent of the Middle East and North Africa and 49 per cent of the region’s youth population under 24.

In May 2022, the UAE, Egypt, and Jordan had launched the Industrial Partnership for Sustainable Economic Development in Abu Dhabi. The initiative aims to establish integrated industries that contribute to diversifying the economy, promoting its growth and providing specialised job opportunities.

In the first phase, the Partnership has shortlisted 12 projects costing $3.4 billion, of the 87 proposals it received for setting up industrial projects in fertilisers, agriculture and food sectors. Along with textiles and clothing, the Partnership will focus on chemicals, plastics, and metals in the next phase.

Foreign direct investment in the UAE, Egypt, and Jordan touched $151 billion between 2016-2020, which is about 42 per cent of the new foreign direct investment in the Middle East. In 2019, the countries exported goods valued at $433 billion in total, while the imports added up to around $399 billion.


Bahrain energy firm signs deal for AI oil drilling technology

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The Bahrain-based Oil and Gas Holding Company (nogaholding) announced a collaboration deal with UAE technology pioneer AIQ to integrate and deploy artificial intelligence (AI) and digital solutions into its upstream operations.

Under the collaboration pact, the energy investment specialists will utilise the latest AI technologies provided by AIQ to increase the operational efficiency of Tatweer Petroleum, a subsidiary of nogaholding.

The digitalisation project will use machine learning and data science to enhance existing field architecture to optimise and improve performance, while reducing operational risk.

Group CEO Mark Thomas said through the collaboration with AIQ, nogaholding aims to maximise the value of national resources and venture into new areas of growth and opportunity.

“The fourth industrial revolution has enabled companies to implement big data and AI to enhance operations and efficiency,” he added.

Omar Al Marzooqi, CEO of AIQ, said AIQ is developing breakthrough AI tools and applications that accelerate the sustainable digital transformation of the energy sector.

“We look forward to working with nogaholding to leverage the power of AI and data to unlock value for Tatweer Petroleum,” he said.

AIQ has enabled the development of breakthrough AI solutions across the energy industry, with the company focusing its expertise on critical AI projects across the oil and gas value chain.

AIQ efficiently collects, categorises, and models data allowing for smarter, safer, and more informed decision-making.