Bahrain’s Economic and Development Board (EDB) has launched its first Southeast Asia office in Singapore.

According to a statement made by the board and cited by Singaporean media outlet The Edge, the newly opened office will help promote Bahrain’s image as a destination for foreign direct investment (FDI) projects. It will provide investors with market intelligence and guidance, as well as connect them with relevant decision-makers.

“We are delighted to establish a foothold in Singapore,” said Dalal Buhejji, executive director of business development for financial services at Bahrain EDB. “In addition to the Free Trade Agreement signed in 2013, this move is a giant leap for furthering our partnerships with Asian businesses which stand to benefit from Bahrain’s innovative investment climate and progressive regulatory framework.”

Bahrain is looking to ramp up FDI as the country’s economy continues to be dominated by state-owned enterprises. In 2022, it secured $1.95bn in FDI inflows, up from $1.77bn in 2021, according to the United Nations Conference of Trade and Development (UNCTAD), thanks to the kingdom’s efforts to diversify its economy away from oil and gas.

In a move to pull in investors from abroad, Bahrain’s government launched in April 2023 the Golden Licence, which provides key benefits and streamlines services to impactful investment projects in Bahrain.

For a project to receive the Golden Licence, the investment value must exceed $50m, or demonstrate the creation of more than 500 jobs.

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Since its launch, the policy has managed to attract five investment projects undertaken by Citi, Eagle Hills Diyar, Infracorp, Saudi Telecommunication Company and Whampoa Group. The five projects have a cumulative investment value of $1.4bn and are expected to create over 1,400 new jobs in the kingdom.