Bahrain eyes gems hub status
Manama, November 26, 2011
Bahrain's private sector has announced its ambitious plans to make the country a hub for the loose diamond industry.
The Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) is holding talks with the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) to discuss the possibility of setting up a GIA office here, said BCCI pearl, gold, jewellery committee board member Mohammed Sajid Shaikh.
He said there was already a similar office in Dubai, but Bahrain was better situated to access the Saudi Arabian market.
However, for the loose diamond industry to be successful customs duties on diamonds should be removed to bring the country in line with other GCC states, he added.
'We look forward to setting up the loose, rough diamond market in Bahrain and then reselling to the Gulf market,' Shaikh told the GDN on the sidelines of Bahrain's five-day Jewellery Arabia expo, which ends today.
'There are individuals in Bahrain who are dealing with rough diamonds, but we are hoping to have a GIA office in the kingdom to start trade from here.
'But if we are to compete with other GCC countries customs duties on loose diamonds must be removed.
'If we set up the GIA office then we will have people coming here from other GCC states instead of going to Belgium.'
Shaikh said the Jewellery Arabia expo was an excellent opportunity to create new business ventures.
He said although some regional and international jewellery companies were unable to participate in the exhibition for financial reasons, they were attending the exhibition to explore business opportunities.
Buyers from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Dubai were also attending the event to buy the latest gold and jewellery collections manufactured in Bahrain.
'The chamber is very active here and is helping the international business community to hold business to business talks,' said Shaikh, who is Al Jabriya Group managing director.
He said during the unrest in Bahrain the gold market experienced an 80 per cent drop in trade, but now it was back to normal and orders were coming from the GCC and the international market.
Another positive for the gold market has been the drop in gold prices from BD22 per gramme to BD19 per gramme in the last few days and they were expected to fall even further, he said.
'Because gold prices were very high some previous exhibitors don't want to participate in Jewellery Arabia because they think they won't sell, but still many have participated,' said Mr Shaikh.
He revealed Bahrain's gold and jewellery industry had acquired a new market in Afghanistan this year.
He said the country was particularly interested in Bahraini designs and three to four workshops in Bahrain were working solely for this new market.
In these workshops each month they produce 40kg of gold bangles and necklaces.
'Afghanistan offers a very good opportunity for us,' said Shaikh. 'We are very happy to have this new market and expect it to grow further. We also deal with Sudan and Yemen.'
'We were affected a little by the problems in Libya because they were our customers,' he added.-TradeArabia News Service