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Bahrain on Mission to Attract and Fast-Track Global Tech Startups

The Kingdom is offering support and well-trained workers to create a global digital sheen

Digital startups looking for a supportive home can now consider Bahrain to be among the top spots to base their business. The Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) – the investment promotion agency for the Kingdom of Bahrain, in partnership with Web Summit – recently announced a fast-track setup process for startups globally that are looking to take advantage of an optimiazed business environment and keyed in startup ecosystem.

The fast-track setup process is a free service offered through a dedicated concierge, and includes:

• A fast-tracked entry process which will cover residency, visa requirements and business registration

• Guidance from Bahrain’s incubators and accelerators, as well as access to their networks and programmes that will provide businesses with the connections they need to grow and expand

• Access to grants and financial support

The initiative will allow businesses and startups to benefit from the full ecosystem in Bahrain, which boasts operating costs up to 40% lower than its neighbors, one of the region’s most highly skilled local workforces and some of the most advanced soft infrastructure in MENA (Middle East and North Africa Peace Institute). Sitting at the nexus of the Middle East, the Kingdom offers a convenient springboard into the wider region opportunity, including its largest market, Saudi Arabia.

“International startups can benefit hugely from the entrepreneurial support structure in Bahrain – offering access to capital, talent and new markets. With a hassle-free approach to setting up businesses in Bahrain, there is no better base to scale across the growing $1.5 trillion Gulf market,” noted Pakiza Abdulrahman, Manager of Business Development – Startups at Bahrain EDB.

In recent years, Bahrain has joined other Gulf countries in spending considerable resources on diversifying away from the previous focus on hydrocarbons. It has a burgeoning and increasingly dynamic digital economy as well as a maturing tech community and a rapidly growing FinTech ecosystem. It claims an agile and flexible regulatory framework that allows it to regulate emerging technologies – such as open banking and cryptocurrencies – in ways other jurisdictions simply cannot, making it a de facto test-bed for new technologies.

The Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) is an investment promotion agency with overall responsibility for attracting investment into the Kingdom. It works with the government and both current and prospective investors to keep  Bahrain’s investment climate attractive and identify opportunities for further economic growth. Economic sectors of focus include financial services, manufacturing, ICT, tourism, logistics and transport.