TWO veteran businessmen have decided to step aside and pave the way for youngsters to run in the upcoming Bahrain Chamber elections.

Senior chamber board members Khalid Al Zayani and Abdulhakim Al Shammary told the GDN that they have decided against contesting in the March 19 polls.

Thousands of businessmen are expected to cast their ballots to elect a new 18-member board for a four-year term.

“I will not be contesting as I don’t want to be re-elected,” said Mr Al Zayani, who is the honorary chairman of Al Zayani Investments. “We need new and young blood on board who will bring about change.”

He added that he will ‘not be running away’, assuring that he will be along with other seniors on the advisory board.

“I will be a member of the Chamber and will be working closely with the executive board.”

Mr Al Zayani also confirmed that his son Nawaf Al Zayani has been approached by a senior businessman who plans to contest as a team.

“He would agree, I think, and it is good to see the energy around – the new board should be bold and welcome fresh ideas. With technology taking over, changes are inevitable and we should be ready to embrace this.”

Mr Al Shammary, who has been on the board for three consecutive terms, said he will be supporting contestants.

“Some members who are contesting have sought support – and I will do that, but will not contest this time,” said the chairman of the Abdulhakim Al Shammary Group.

“I will support individuals and not as a bloc, for I believe in helping deserving people to be on the board even if they are independent.”

The former MP also agreed that the chamber should have ‘new blood’, urging older businessmen to step down.

“Look at the Saudi Arabian leadership, the young leader has set a trend in the region and I think we should adopt that as the new generation has amazing ideas.

“They understand consumer requirement as well as the needs of the system. At the same time they should be backed by experienced people who are keen to share their expertise and history.”

Meanwhile, two other businessmen Khalid Al Amin and Nabeel Kanoo indicated that they might contest the polls and were ‘contemplating’ the prospects.

“If I decide to run, I will definitely go in as a team, leading it,” said Mr Al Amin who is a sitting member and the head of the food and wealth committee.

He added that the bloc, if and when finalised, will have all the business sectors represented as well as women and small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

“The position comes with responsibility and calls for public commitment,” he added.

Mr Kanoo said the board should be a ‘good mix’ of representatives from all sectors and gender, adding that he was ‘contemplating’ and will take a decision within a week.

“There should be youngsters on board, which is important,” he added.

The GDN reported last week that the venue of the polls will be announced later while the elections committee chaired by Adel Al Maskati approved the poll schedule and discussed the formation of a sub-committee to verify the list of eligible voters.

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