Bahrain 'remains gateway to GCC markets'
Manama, June 28, 2011
Bahrain still offers the best gateway for businesses across the world to access the trillion dollar GCC market, a leading banker has said.
Abdulkarim Bucheery, chairman of the Bahrain Association of Banks, speaking at the roundtable on ‘Outlook for foreign banks and insurance companies in Bahrain’, said despite the events of the last few months and the global financial crisis, Bahrain’s financial sector has proved resilient and innovative.
"Much has happened over the last three months. We hope that this will be an occasion for us all to look forward, in the light of our recent experience, and to consider Bahrain’s future as a strong and thriving international financial centre," he said.
“As HE Rasheed Al Maraj, the Governor of the Central Bank, says in the latest issue of The Bahrain Banker, we are confident that Bahrain’s strengths as a financial centre will see us through our recent difficulties and, in the long run, will re-assert themselves. As the governor makes clear, we still provide the best-regulated environment in the Middle East,” he said.
The number of foreign banks and investment companies registered with the Central Bank of Bahrain is 92 out of a total of 135. Out of these, there are 15 foreign banks offering conventional retail services, 42 foreign wholesale banks and 27 foreign representative offices for conventional and Islamic banks and investment firms. There are also eight foreign institutions offering sophisticated onshore investment services with Category 1 to Category 3 licenses.
“If we take the financial sector as a whole -- adding to the banks insurance companies, investment business firms and special licensees -- there are 409 entities registered at the Central bank, of which 111 are from overseas.
“This gives some idea of the depth and breadth of the foreign banking and investment footprint in Bahrain. All in all, there are banks, representative offices and investment firms from 28 different countries operating in the kingdom, which really does reinforce Bahrain’s claim to offer the best gateway for businesses across the world to access the trillion dollar GCC market,” said Bucheery. – TradeArabia News Service