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Responsibilities and Achievements of The Economic Development Board

Manama: A decision to appoint the members of the Economic Development Board (EDB) has been issued by His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince, First Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the EDB, which includes key personalities from the public and private sectors.
 
 
The EDB has the responsibility of establishing a development strategy for Bahrain’s economy in cooperation with the Government, as well as creating the right environment to attract foreign direct investments to the Kingdom, to reinforce the economy as well as create more opportunities for the private sector, and job opportunities for Bahrainis. This is in line with the leadership’s vision and national reform that has been launched by His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.
 
 
To achieve this goal, during the last decade the EDB has addressed some of the important issues which were considered significant challenges, in order to resolve these in cooperation with both the private and public sectors. Such issues included reform programmes for different sectors, including labour, education, economy and investment. These efforts resulted in the growth of the Bahrain economy by 70% over the last decade, and the decrease of unemployment levels to less than 4% as well as the doubling of non-hydrocarbon exports and its contribution increase to the country’s GDP.
 
 
In 2005, the EDB in cooperation with the Ministry of Labour contributed to the launch of the labour market reform project, which focused on the fundamental change of the overall labor market environment, which included its complete restructuring, improvement, and advancement; as well as its decisive end goal of enabling the Bahraini employee and promoting them as the private sector’s employee of choice. This resulted in the establishment of the Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) and Tamkeen to manage funding programmes and support productivity and consultation for all institutions and companies including SMES to drive the Kingdom’s economy.
 
 
The EDB’s fulfilling journey has included the implementation of various fundamental reforms to the education and training sectors held in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, through the launch of national initiatives to develop education and training with the aim of filling the gaps in the educational outcomes and labour market, under the supervision of HE Shaikh Mohammed bin Mubarak Al Khalifa, Deputy Prime Minister. These efforts have resulted in the establishment of the Quality Assurance Authority for Education and Training, Bahrain Teachers College and Bahrain Polytechnic. Other outcomes included outlining a strategy for higher education and the Schools Improvement Programme.
 
 
The EDB has worked on reforming the economy and reinforcing Bahrain’s economic environment to attract foreign direct investments in order to create better job opportunities for Bahrainis. One of the key achievements in this area was developing the management of public institutions, by establishing the Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Company, Bahrain's investment arm for the Kingdom's non-oil and gas strategic assets. Mumtalakat was established to align and implement the execution of the government’s initiatives to pursue value-enhancing opportunities, as well as improve financial transparency in the Kingdom. The EDB has also contributed to increasing Bahrain Development Bank’s (BDB) capital from BD10 million to around BD50 million, to increase its ability to provide financial support to small and medium sized businesses through low interest loans. To ease the establishment of businesses in Bahrain, the EDB has also worked closely with the Ministry of Industry and Commerce to ease and facilitate procedures of registering companies in the Kingdom.
 
 
Various studies to develop the Kingdom’s economic performance have been undertaken by the EDB including: the national plan to improve the tourism sector, a study to improve the manufacturing sector, and improving the exhibition and conferences sector. This also included a study to implement the “National Strategic Plan” in 2005, which is a comprehensive and ambitious strategic plan for the use of land and infrastructure, and takes into account the diverse needs of all economic sectors in the Kingdom such as trade, entertainment, manufacturing, housing as well as the needs of local and international investors.
The EDB has played a significant role in the liberalisation of the telecommunications sector which resulted in the establishment of the Telecommunication Regulation Authority (TRA). The TRA is tasked with ensuring competition within the telecommunications sector in Bahrain in order to encourage service providers and mobile operators to establish operations in Bahrain, safeguarding the sector from the trappings of a monopolistic system which is both detrimental to growth and negatively affects consumers.

The Vision 2030 was launched in October 2008, a comprehensive development plan which serves as a roadmap for the future goals and aspirations of the Kingdom of Bahrain with the most important being the improvement of the overall standard of living for all Bahrainis. It is a vision for all Bahrainis based on the principles of fairness, competitiveness, and sustainability, and encompasses all the goals of the various governmental institutions and will allow them to develop further. Following the launch of the Vision 2030, the National Economic Strategy - 2009-2014 - was introduced, which includes various initiatives and developmental projects that the public sector institutions will undertake collaboratively and with a united focus, in order to improve their services for the Kingdom and its citizens in order to achieve the goals set out in the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.
 
 
One of the initiatives launched by the EDB with regard to investment promotion was the international advertising campaign “Business Friendly Bahrain” in 2008. This campaign reached millions of people, including global decision-makers in various sectors. It appeared on international television channels – including CNN, BBC WORLD, and Al Arabiya – and local, regional, and international newspapers and magazines. The EDB has also worked on strengthening its presence at the World Economic Forum – Davos seeing as it is the most important platform for global economic dialogue.
 
 
The EDB also supported the partnership between private and government sectors when it comes to housing to create better living standards. In January 2012, the EDB facilitated an agreement (Public-Private Partnership; PPP) between the Ministry of Housing and Naseej to implement a 4,100-unit housing project. The project is the first of its kind in the region, costing $550 million, and spans over three government owned areas; Buhair, Lozi, and Northern City.
 
 
In tandem with the EDB’s efforts in promoting the Kingdom internationally, the EDB has also undertaken efforts to do the same in Bahrain. Over the past years, the EDB has ensured and persevered in organising a week of communication with Bahrain’s entities abroad. The objective of this is to reinforce and emphasise the importance of joint efforts between all relevant entities in promoting Bahrain on an international level. Key target markets of the EDB in its promotional campaigns include India, Germany, Britain, and many East Asian countries.
 
 
The EDB has continued to support various distinguished events and conferences which achieved successes and built an international reputation for Bahrain, including the annual Spring of Culture Festival in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture which received accreditation from UNESCO in 2007, the Bahrain International Garden Show (BIGS) which celebrated its 10th anniversary this year and the World Islamic Banking Conference (WIBC).

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For further information please contact:
 
Bahrain Economic Development Board
 
Tel: +973 17589966