Human capital investment 'key to Gulf growth'
Manama, September 18, 2013
Investing in human capital will be critical for the sustained growth of Bahrain and the GCC region, said a top economist while speaking at a conference in Dubai World Trade Centre.
"One of the key competitive advantages in this part of the world is the growing young population, and so investing in human capital will be critical for the sustained expansion of the non-oil economy," Economic Development Board (EDB) chief economist Dr Jarmo Kotilaine said.
He was addressing the opening session of a conference on current and future investment opportunities in Bahrain and across the GCC region.
Organised by Al Dana and Ferguson Partners, the event is supported by the EDB, Tamkeen and Bahrain Association of Banks. The three-day event concludes today.
Dr Kotilaine highlighted the high growth potential in the region, particularly with the GCC having a young demographic age profile by global standards, with over 50 per cent of the population under 25 years.
"Sustained substantial investments have been made in economic diversification and the development of physical and social infrastructure, which has contributed to real GDP growth rate of more than 5pc in the region over the past decade," he said.
"With these strong underlying growth drivers, the GCC economy, currently valued at $1.5 trillion, is expected to reach $2 trillion by 2020," he added.
"Bahrain itself saw GDP growth of 3.4 per cent last year, with non-oil growth reaching 6.7 per cent.
"Estimated overall growth this year is expected to exceed 5pc on the back of a rebound in oil production and ongoing expansion in the non-oil sector," he said.
High-level business delegations from the UK, Jersey, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Canada and Australia are attending the event.
They are engaging in roundtable discussions as well as one-to-one meetings with officials and private sector business leaders from Bahrain.
"Key economic events such as these give the private sector in Bahrain the opportunity to increase co-operation with businesses from around the world," said Transportation Minister and EDB acting chief executive Kamal Ahmed.
"This is also a valuable opportunity to showcase Bahrain's investments and economic strengths to the participants from abroad," he added.
Central Bank of Bahrain executive director for banking supervision Khalid Hamad and BMI Bank chief executive Jamal Al Hazeem, Ferguson Partners Family Office chief executive Dr Steen Ehlern and Al Dana and Partners chief executive Muneera Al Mubarak also spoke at the conference.-TradeArabia News Service