Bahrain tops Mena for financial, investment and trade freedom

Bahrain has topped the region in terms of financial, investment, and trade freedom, in the Heritage Foundation’s 2022 Index of Economic Freedom, affirming the kingdom’s business-friendly credentials.

Ranking fourth overall in economic freedom across Middle East and North Africa, Bahrain has logged a score of 62, well above the regional and world averages.

The index evaluates the level of economic freedom based on 12 factors, grouped into four categories: rule of law, government size, regulatory efficiency, and open markets.

In two of the factors, investment (85) and financial (80), the kingdom has obtained the same score as Singapore – the freest economy in the world as per the index.

The report says a free and open investment environment provides maximum entrepreneurial opportunities and incentives for expanded economic activity, greater productivity, and job creation.

Government policies that allow for greater freedom in any of the areas measured tend to spur growth which, in turn, is an essential element in generating more opportunities for people to advance themselves economically, thereby reducing poverty and building lasting prosperity, it adds.


Talking about financial freedom, Heritage Foundation explains that an accessible and efficiently functioning formal financial system ensures that diversified savings, credit, payment, and investment services will be available to individuals and businesses.

By expanding financing opportunities and promoting entrepreneurship, an open banking environment encourages competition in order to provide the most efficient financial intermediation between households and firms as well as between investors and entrepreneurs.

Describing Bahrain’s overall investment framework as transparent, the report says foreign and domestic investors are treated equally in the country. “The financial system remains vibrant and generally free from government involvement. No restrictive measures have been implemented in the banking sector during the past year,” and “the government maintains a pro-business commercial environment and supports business start-ups,” the report adds.

Commenting on the index, Ali Al Mudaifa, chief investment officer at the Economic Development Board (EDB), said: “Bahrain’s high ranking amongst countries in the region is a reflection of the country’s business-friendly environment and forward-looking regulations. We’ve got exciting plans ahead of us in line with the Economic Recovery Plan, which aims to attract investments worth $2.5 billion into the country by 2023 through the enhancement of our overall business ecosystem.”

Companies in Bahrain benefit from a range of competitive advantages and opportunities, which can be identified and leveraged with the support of the EDB’s team that has the expertise and resources to get companies off the ground. These competitive advantages include the country’s 45pc operational cost savings compared to the rest of the region, and its pioneering regulations, which is reflected by Bahrain ranking 2nd globally for tax burden in the 2022 Index of Economic Freedom.




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