Gateway to Arabia

What Bahrain has in Store for the Process Industry

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In Ali Baba’s Treasure Cave

Will BASF’s Gordion Schilling not only mix antioxidants but also develop new products in his lab in a few years? “Why not?”, says Khalid Al Ameen, Member of the Board of Tankeem, an organization that promotes businesses in Bahrain: Each year, Tankeem spends US $ 49 million – more than half of its total budget – to promote universities in the country. If one day the oil wells run dry, ideas shall flow instead.

International investors looking for more than just a tax exile with cheap energy costs are a crucial part of these plans. And why not? An investment friendly atmosphere, acceptance of technology, an open–minded society and a high standard of living are not for granted, even in the wealthy Gulf states. If that sounds like a tale from the ‘Arabian Nights’, wait till you hear of the US $ 1.4 trillion market that is the GCC — are you feeling like Ali Baba yet? But do not be afraid of the ‘40 Robbers’ — Bahrain is a safe and comparatively stable country. While protests in the country made the headlines in 2012, the situation has gone pretty much back to normal. “Do not forget we are a young democracy”, Minister Kamal, who can be held responsible by both the king and the parliament, explains. “Some people have to learn what to do with their freedom.”

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The atmosphere of pioneering can be felt throughout the country. While merchants in the Souks exchange goods and stories all night long, office windows in the skyscrapers are lighted. The glow of the cities shines out into the desert, where the oil pumps continue their monotonous nodding. Even without a magic lantern, the kingdom at the Gulf opens fairytale-like perspectives.

* The author is an editor for PROCESS worldwide.