The Russian-Bahraini Business Forum, in which the most important companies and organizations of the Kingdom of Bahrain as well as 200 Russian organizations participated, was held in Moscow on April 29, 2014. The activity took place during an official visit of His Royal Highness Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, the Crown Prince of Bahrain and Senior Executive Prime Minister and Chairman of the Bahrain Economic Development Board to Moscow.
The Russian-Arab Business Council, the Bahrain Economic Development Board, the Ministry of Industry and Trade of Bahrain, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI) of Bahrain, the Russian-Bahraini Business Council, Vnesheconombank (The Bank for Foreign Economic Activity, BEV), and the Russian Direct Investment Fund took part in the forum.
Business leaders of both countries, including Vladimir Dmitriev, the Chairman of Vnesheconombank and member of the Coordination Council of RABC, Khalid Al-Moayyed, the Chairman of the CCI of Bahrain, and Kamal bin Ahmed, the Minister of Transportation and Acting Chief Executive of the Bahrain Economic Development Board, spoke to the forum participants.
As Kamal bin Ahmed, the Minister of Transport noted on the day before the forum, “We see good opportunities for strengthening economic and trade ties with Russia, for which our business can offer a lot. The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) markets—which are valued at 1.5 trillion dollars—continue on the course of diversification, and the economy of Bahrain is dynamically growing. This opens new attractive opportunities for foreign investors and stimulates commodity production for export. We are firmly focused on strengthening connections with Russia and working together so that our countries can use the advantages of a quickly growing economy like the Russian Federation and the GCC.”
In his speech at the forum, Khaled Al-Moayyed, the Chairman of the CCI of Bahrain, analyzed the future development of bilateral trade. In his words, “Since the momentous visit of HRH Hamad ibn Isa Al-Khalifa, the King of Bahrain to Russia in 2008, we have been focusing on the growth of trade between our countries. Petroleum exports from Bahrain to the Russian Federation between 2008 and 2011 have in fact grown ten times larger. Bahrain offers significant opportunities for Russian investors since, thanks to our fortunate geographic location, they have close connections to all of the markets in the GCC region.”
Vladimir A. Dmitriev, the Chairman of Vnesheconombank, noted the importance of strengthening the Russian-Arab Gulf partnership, pointing out that it is one of the priorities for Russian foreign policy in the Middle East. Vladimir A. Dmitriev, who is also the Chairman of the Russian-Bahraini Business Council, expressed his hope that “The visit of the Crown Prince Sheikh Salman, as well as our business forum will give momentum to the political and business cooperation between our countries and other states in the region.”
During the forum, a panel discussion dedicated to the business climate of Bahrain took place. Vivian Jamal, the Executive Director of the Bahrain Economic Development Board, moderated the panel. The panel was made up of Adel Al-Moayyed, the Chairman of the Bahrain Petroleum Company (BAPCO), Abdurrahman Al-Baker, the Executive Director of the Administration for supervising the financial institutions of the Central Bank of Bahrain, Afnan Al-Zayani, a member of the Board of Directors of the CCI of Bahrain, Saker Shaheen, the Managing Director and CEO of “Shaheen” Group, and Salah Janahi, the director of the industrial zones of the Ministry of Industry and Trade.
At the end of the forum, an announcement was made about the establishment of direct air travel from Moscow to Mamana in response to the growth in demand by the business community of Russia, Bahrain, and the other countries in GCC. As one of the measures of the support of trade and investment between the two countries, Bahrain instituted an arrangement for receiving visas for Russian businessmen upon arrival.
During the activity, there was also an announcement of the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the investment fund of the Government of Bahrain “Mumtalakat” and the Russian Direct Investment Fund. At the conclusion of the agreements, a decision was made that Mahmud Hashim Al-Koheji, the General Director of “Mumtalakat,” will be inducted into the International Expert Board of the Russian Direct Investment Fund. As Kirill Dmitriev, the General Director of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, noted in this respect, “We are confident that this new partnership will become a catalyst for the growth of investment flow and economic cooperation between our countries.”
Kamal bin Ahmed Mohammed, the Minister of Transportation of Bahrain, sent Vladimir Yevtushenkov, the Chairman of RABC, a letter of gratitude, in which he mentioned the efforts of the Russian-Arab Business Council to attract leading representatives of the business community of Bahrain to participate in the forum, and also expressed the hope of a continuing partnership between RABC and the Bahrain Economic Development Board with the goal of strengthening bilateral trade, economic, and investment ties.
Sources: RABC, EDB, EBV, Russian Direct Investment Fund