Widely regarded as the best-regulated financial centre in the Middle East, Bahrain has been the region’s undisputed financial capital for more than 40 years.
Financial services currently make up 27.6% of Bahrain’s GDP, and there are over 400 licensed financial institutions.
This has created a large pool of local talent. Of around 14,000 people employed in the industry, 67% are Bahraini, with very high levels of financial skill and expertise.
Excellent opportunities for growth remain in mutual funds, fund administration, Islamic finance, project finance, private banking and asset management. To enable institutions to take advantage of these opportunities, the Central Bank of Bahrain has created a licence specifically for investment businesses.
The sector is supervised by the Central Bank of Bahrain, which since 2002 has functioned as the single regulator for the entire financial system. This enables businesses in Bahrain to operate throughout the Kingdom with no ‘free zone’ restrictions.
The Central Bank of Bahrain is generally recognised as the most successful monetary authority in the Arab world in terms of regulation, innovation, non-discriminatory treatment, licence management, and operational efficiency.
International banking groups based in Bahrain include BNP Paribas, Citibank, Merrill Lynch, HSBC and Standard Chartered; Middle Eastern banks like Arab Bank, the Arab Banking Corporation, Arcapita, GIB, NCB Capital, Gulf Finance House and Investcorp; and Asian banks such as Bank of China and India’s ICICI.
Many insurance groups are also here, including AIG, ALICO, AXA, Legal and General, and Zurich.
They enjoy a trusted regulatory environment, effective and transparent legislation, and the best resources and expertise the region has to offer.
Bahrain has been an innovator in Islamic finance ever since we brought sukuk to the international market. We have continued to lead the significant growth in this sector and have the largest concentration of Islamic financial institutions in the world, including commercial, investment and leasing banks, insurance companies, and mutual funds.
Bahrain plays host to a number of organizations central to the development of Islamic finance, including the Accounting and Auditing Organisation for Islamic Financial Institutions, the General Council for Islamic Banks and Financial Institutions, the International Islamic Financial Market and the International Islamic Rating Agency.
Bahrain's Islamic Finance sector has averaged a 15-20 percent annual growth rate over the last five years. This has prompted consulting giant Deloitte to establish its new Islamic Finance Knowledge Centre (IFKC) in Bahrain. This attests to Bahrain as the best-regulated financial centre in the Middle East.