(Yicai Global) Dec. 4 -- Located in the southwestern part of the Persian Gulf, Bahrain has long been an important node of the Silk Road. With the implementation of China's Belt and Road Initiative, Bahrain has attracted more Chinese enterprises to do business. As Bahrain being inside the "one-hour economic circle" of many Arab countries, a lot of Chinese companies see Bahrain as a pivot to the Middle Eastern market, state-owned Xinhua News Agency reported.
Bahrain has made substantial investments to develop a diversified economy. The finance, logistics, manufacturing, information and communication technology and tourism have become five major economic pillar industries in Bahrain. The country has also targeted the business opportunities in the Belt and Road Initiative, and vigorously attracted Chinese investors in hopes of building Bahrain into a bridge for economic and trade cooperation between China and the Middle East.
Bahrain, as a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), has a prominent geographical location and influencing effects with its closeness to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, said Qi Zhenhong, China's ambassador to Bahrain, when speaking of the advantages of doing business in Bahrain. With its lower business costs as compared with neighboring countries, open social atmosphere and convenient transportation, China enterprises can quickly enter the GCC market through Bahrain.
Some large Chinese enterprises currently stationed in Bahrain include Bank of China [SHA:601988; HKG:3988], China International Marine Containers (Group) Ltd., China Comservice, China Harbor Engineering Company Ltd., Huawei Technologies and Jinluo Water Co. The businesses involve traditional manufacturing, sewage treatment, construction, technology, retail and other fields.
Chinese tech giant Huawei Technologies stationed in Bahrain in 2004 and set Bahrain as the Middle East regional headquarters in 2009, employing more than 600 local staff. The operating costs in Bahrain are about 30 percent lower than those in Dubai, and its policies are relatively loose than other countries in the region, said Chai Xin, director of public relations at Huawei's Bahrain Office. The social atmosphere in Bahrain is more inclusive. So, it is easier for the Chinese employees to integrate into the local culture.
"Most Chinese companies view Bahrain as a window to the Middle East market," Chai Xin said. "Technology is one of the pillar industries in the region. Companies that are engaged in e-commerce, cloud computing and games could get more policy support and more opportunities," he added.