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East meets East: Why companies choose Bahrain

Bahrain is about making business – and life in general – easy.
 
It starts with our strategic location that lets investors access all areas of the Gulf and MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region in order to pursue commercial opportunities.
 
We enable businesses to operate freely with low taxes in a liberal economy that balances minimal bureaucracy with effective regulation. In parallel, we are passionate about universal education, fostering local entrepreneurship and doing everything possible to help international businesses set up here.
 
Underpinning all of this is a relaxed lifestyle and an open culture built on thousands of years of accepting different nationalities. Simply, Bahrainis are exceptionally welcoming and motivated.
 
Read why these businesses wouldn’t be anywhere else
 
YPPC gets going in months, not years
 
Company: Young Poon Precision Corporation, South Korea
 
Business area: pumps and valves
 
Turnover: US $100 million (2013)
 
Employees: 261 (January 2015)
 
YPPC, part of one of Korea’s largest industrial conglomerates, planned to target petrochemical and oil/gas customers via existing partners in markets such as Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar and Kuwait. The company also wanted to establish a regional office to collaborate better with these partners. At the same time, YPPC intended to deal directly with customers and end-users, rather than continuing to use Korean EPC (Engineering, Procurement and Construction) contractors to source new projects.
 
The company had spent three years searching for a suitable location to set up their regional office, without success. Then Mr. Andrew Kim (Sung Il Kim), Manager of the Strategic Planning Team, approached Bahrain.
 
Speaking of the decision to set up in Bahrain, Mr. Kim says: “Bahrain is one of the prime locations for the entire MENA region, because it is easy to access KSA and a short distance to other countries. When we want to visit other partners, they all say the location is excellent. Customers are happy, too, and other clients or partners visit Bahrain, enabling us to make best use of our own location.”
 
A swift process
 
Mr. Kim’s words say it all: “The Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) really helped me on ideas on how to proceed and with all procedures, in registration to establish the company, on how to work with the government authorities, on Bahrain regulations, and on how we can adjust into life in Bahrain. There was lots of help from EDB’s Japan Office and the professional Bahraini consultant Keypoint.”
 
Even faster results
 
Within a month, YPPC had secured a prestigious US $1 million project from Qatar Gas via locally-based company Metito.
 
Finally, he offers this advice: “As a manufacturer, we are taking two steps: first is to open a branch office, and secondly is that we may open our shops or manufacturing facility in the future. So, I advise other manufacturers who are thinking of having business in the region to take our method into consideration; that is, first to have a small office (in a very clear environment like we did, instead of planning in other countries) then they can expand by upgrading in Bahrain or any other country in the region.
 
By this I mean Bahrain is the best start to help them take the right the decision for the company’s regional expansion in the future.”

First-hand experience works for TOIN
 
Company: TOIN Corporation, Japan
 
Business area: translation, localisation, interpretation
 
Founded: 1963
 
Network: Japan, South Korea, China, USA, UK
 
TOIN helps well-known brands overcome language barriers so that they can operate successfully – and credibly – in global markets.
 
Their approach is inspired and regularly involves ‘being present’. When a Japanese supplier of complex factory automation systems needed operating manuals translated for export, TOIN had their translators trained on using the equipment.
 
Creating a bridge for Japanese companies
 
Maro Watanabe, TOIN’s youthful CEO, realised that this approach could help Japanese businesses wanting to expand into the Middle East. They understood the market potential, but had no idea how to break into any country. For many, Maro Watanabe says, “the Middle East is a de facto Black Box.”
 
Watanabe knew that Bahrain would provide superb access for Japanese companies across the region. So he went to the EDB’s Japan office and told them that he “wanted TOIN to become bridge between Japan and the Kingdom of Bahrain.”
 
Tuning in by being there
 
According to Watanabe, “The EDB was very generous and immediately considered my proposal. After various meetings, we decided to create a ‘Cool Japan Zone’ at the IGN Convention, Bahrain’s largest animation and game event.
 
This was an opportunity to put TOIN’s ‘being present’ into practice by going to a location and learning about it.
Young people’s passion – a welcome surprise
 
And the results took Maro Watanabe aback. “There were so many things that I wouldn’t have understood if I hadn’t actually gone there. What made the biggest impression on me was the passion of the young people. I gave them a survey questionnaire and many expressed the desire, ‘I wish more Japanese companies would participate in IGN!’ I felt the heat of their passion, and it was hotter than the desert air outside!”
 
Maro Watanabe says that TOIN plans to open a Bahrain office by the end of 2015, and work towards helping Japanese companies expand into the Middle East in 2016.
 
At the same time, TOIN believes their ‘bridge’ to Bahrain can operate both ways and provide scope to promote Japanese culture across the Middle East. As an example, they intend to hold bigger Japan-influenced popular events in Bahrain next year. This will undoubtedly increase Bahrain’s already rich diversity for locals and visitors, and provide familiar activities for the inevitably growing number of Japanese expatriate employees and their families.