Bahrain expat investors ‘paying price’
Manama, December 16, 2012
Expatriates who invested more than BD60 million ($159.9 million) in real estate development projects in Bahrain are paying the price for ongoing disruption on the streets, according to a group that represents foreign residents.
Some have lost jobs as a result of unrest and its impact on the economy, stressed Bahrain Federation of Expatriate Associations (BFEA) secretary-general Betsy Mathieson.
She said foreign residents had been among the victims of unrest over the past two years, even if their stories had rarely been told, our sister publication, the Gulf Daily News reported.
"We have invested more than BD60 million of our life savings in Bahrain," she said.
"I am not talking about foreign investment companies, but individuals who have put their faith and trust in Bahrain and invested here, buying property."
Speaking during a press conference at the Crowne Plaza, she added that businesses managed or owned by foreigners were facing bankruptcy - putting the livelihoods of Bahraini staff at risk.
"Many of us have lost our jobs or fear they are under threat," she said.
"Due to the unrest and the instability in the market, many of us have lost our life savings at the hands of unscrupulous property developers."
As a result, Mathieson explained some families who had lived in Bahrain for decades found themselves without a job and unable to pay their mortgage.
"Even if they have some savings, they cannot remain in Bahrain without a residence permit," she added.
"For expatriates, Bahrain is their home and we demand our right to protect our investments and the future of our families."
Elaborating on the negative impact of unrest on the national economy, Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry first vice-chairman Ibrahim Zainal called on the government to support the private sector.
"There have been some initiatives, such as freezing the Labour Market Regulatory Authority fees on foreign workers, slashing fees for obtaining a commercial registration and reducing rents in malls so that businesses can sustain," he said.
However, he added more needed to be done.
"We need to revive the economy, which is showing good signs now, and require government support for the private sector to make it stronger on the global investment map." – TradeArabia News Service