“Bahrain is a strategic location in the heart of the Gulf, and along with the proximity to the region’s largest market, Saudi Arabia, was one of the main reasons that made us decide to have a presence here.” - Stephen Krauter, Chief Executive, cargo-partner
A proven gateway for the free flow of goods:
Bahrain offers the best physical access to Middle East markets such as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Jordan and Turkey.
Bahrain is also a driving force in regional and global trade: as well as numerous Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) as part of the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council), Bahrain has its own FTA with the USA and is negotiating on behalf of the GCC to establish FTAs with the European Union, China, Japan, Singapore and Australia.
The Kingdom has been a member of GAFTA (Greater Arab Free Trade Area) since 1998 alongside Egypt, Kuwait, Jordan, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.
Highly efficient and competitive:
Bahrain invests significantly in integrated logistics, business and infrastructure. You will benefit from faster, streamlined processing of trade goods – Bahrain offers the shortest transit anywhere in the Gulf between seaport, airport and logistics processing zones. As a result, companies who operate here enjoy excellent value and low business costs.
The 2014 Global Enabling Trade Report, which analyses 138 economies in terms of institutions, policies and services facilitating the free flow of goods, ranked Bahrain 33rd globally. Bahrain performed particularly strongly in the availability and quality of transport infrastructure, ranking 17th for availability and use of ICT and 28th for operating environment1.
What is more, Bahrain ranks 34th out of 144 economies in the 2014-15 Global Competitiveness Report for overall transport infrastructure and 15th for port infrastructure2.
Investment in world-class logistics and infrastructure:
Khalifa Bin Salman Port:
The $360 million Khalifa Bin Salman Port started operations in April 2009. Operated by APM Terminals, it provides sea freight, shipping and logistics services to the highest international industry specifications and standards. Built on reclaimed land in the northeast of Bahrain, it is only 13 km from Bahrain International Airport and linked to Saudi Arabia by the King Fahd Causeway.
The port offers a channel depth of 14 metres with dredging under way to deepen this further to 15 metres. It provides capacity up to one million TEUs, which could increase to 2.5 million TEUs with additional STS cranes, and up to five million with land expansion; at around 110 hectares in area, there is significant scope for this.
The Khalifa Bin Salman Port is well placed to serve northern Gulf markets such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait. It also offers excellent local access for logistics companies, by being sited next to the Bahrain Logistics Zone.
Bahrain International Airport (BIA) expansion:
BIA hosts 42 airlines, with both cargo and charter flights, and provides sophisticated facilities for logistics operators. Just 13 km from two other key developments, the Bahrain Logistics Zone and the Khalifa Bin Salman Port, the airport offers outstanding access. Capacity is impressive: 322,734 tonnes of cargo can be carried a year3, and considerable expansion is in progress.
In January 2011, the Bahrain Airport Company signed an agreement with MENA Aerospace to build and operate one of the region’s largest private and general aviation hangar complexes.
Moreover, BIA will soon incorporate ‘Cargo Oasis’, an expanded cargo handling facility that will triple Bahrain’s international air cargo capacity to one million tonnes a year – comparable to London’s Heathrow Airport – with the ability to handle 27 large cargo planes at any time.
International cargo carrier DHL has depended on Bahrain’s strategic location since setting up operations in Manama in 1978. The airport is DHL’s regional distribution centre for Eastern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. In June 2011, DHL signed a new contract to maintain its regional headquarters here for another eight years.
BIA is, of course, home to Bahrain’s national carrier, Gulf Air, which has the Middle East’s largest network and connects to 46 destinations worldwide. It is the regional hub for Lufthansa, Cathay Pacific and Air India, with links to principal global financial and business centres. Passenger numbers are growing: 8 million people travelled through Bahrain International Airport in 20134.
In January 2014, Bahrain Airport Company signed a $34.5 million agreement with Aéroport de Paris Ingénierie. This agreement is expected to enhance the airport’s infrastructure and services, enabling it to increase capacity to 13.5 million passengers a year.
Bahrain Logistics Zone:
With bonded and non-bonded areas, the Bahrain Logistics Zone (BLZ) is the only dedicated customs-free value-added logistics park in Bahrain. It is also the Middle East’s first multimodal logistics hub to focus on re-export and value-added logistics. The park is located close to the Kingdom’s Khalifa Bin Salman Port and offers the choice of building your own facilities or renting state-of-the-art warehouses with scope to operate modern logistics.
The BLZ has gained the attention of international logistics players and signed various leasing contracts. It was recently chosen by Almoayed Wilhelmsen, Aramex, Cargo Partners, Bandar Al-Khaleej (Saudi Arabia) and Bitu-Mena.
King Fahd Causeway:
The 25 km King Fahd Causeway was completed in 1986 and has brought significant economic benefits for Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, with trade increasing across the causeway to BD 3.4 million ($9.06 million) a year5. Around 12 million passengers a year cross between the two countries, together with goods and cargo. In 2013 alone, 9,890,481 travellers entered Bahrain through the causeway6.
The King Fahd Causeway is so popular, however, that it will be improved over the next 25 years and supplemented by a new 25km link, the King Hamad Causeway. This is expected to take around four years to build and cost around $5 billion.
Bahrain benefits from excellent transport throughout the region with easy access to Gulf markets. Via the King Fahd Causeway, Saudi is just a 30-minute, 25 km drive. A road and rail bridge to Qatar is also planned. An on-going $694 million investment has been pledged to other major projects, such as reconstruction of the Sitra crossing (completed in 2011) and the Shaikh Khalifa Bin Salman Highway. Construction of the multi-million-dollar interchange at Mina Salman junction has also recently been completed, and was part of the Strategic Roads Master Plan.
Logistics companies active in Bahrain include:
1World Economic Forum, The Global Enabling Trade Report 2014
2World Economic Forum, The Global Competitiveness Report 2014–2015
3Bahrain International Airport
4Kingdom of Bahrain, Central Informatics Organisation, Aeroplanes, Passengers and Air Cargo Movement at Bahrain International Airport (1999-2013)
5TradeArabia, 12 December 2011
6Kingdom of Bahrain, Central Informatics Organisation, Arrivals and Departures in Air and Sea Ports and Causeway (1999-2013)