BAHRAIN witnessed an 87 per cent surge in the number of Indians visiting the kingdom during the first half of the year.

Indian Ambassador Vinod Jacob said yesterday that both Bahrain and India were working together on the tourism and investment front and to further deepen their historic ties.

“There was an 87pc surge in the number of Indians visiting Bahrain in the first six months of this year, with the data showing 504,173 arrivals compared to 269,302 for the same period in 2022,” said Mr Jacob, citing statistics provided by the Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority.

He was speaking during an event organised by the Bahrain India Society (BIS) at Crowne Plaza Bahrain, where he was welcomed by the Society’s chairman Abdulrahman Juma and its members.

This was the first speech by the diplomat after he presented his credentials on Sunday to Deputy King His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa at Sakhir Palace.

According to the latest statistics, 5.9 million visitors arrived in Bahrain over the first six months of this year, up from 3.9m during the same period last year – an increase of 51pc. The total inbound tourism revenues increased during the first half of the year by 48pc to reach BD924 million, up from BD623m for the same period in 2022.

The diplomat said an increasing number of Indian tourist visas were being issued by the Embassy in Seef District, as he encouraged more Bahrainis to explore India.

“As of mid-September, my Embassy issued a total of 3,904 visas of which 64pc were tourist visas,” said Mr Jacob.

“I would like to take this opportunity to welcome more Bahrainis to visit India for leisure, business, education and medical purposes.

“I hope the new category of Ayush (AY) visa for foreign nationals for treatment under Ayush systems/Indian systems of medicine like therapeutic care, wellness and yoga will be used by Bahraini friends.”

The new category of visa was announced last month for foreign nationals seeking medical treatment and is part of India’s roadmap for the Heal in India initiative, which aims to promote India as a medical value travel destination.

Mr Jacob further spoke about the revamped consular service appointment mobile application ‘EoIBh CONNECT’ which enables service seekers to book appointments for various consular services provided at the Embassy premises, as well as through the outsourced service provider at Dana Mall, Sanabis.

The diplomat, in his remarks, also touched upon the India-Bahrain bilateral trade, which he said still has room for growth.

“For instance, in the year 2005, the India-Bahrain bilateral trade was $575m which tripled to $1.6 billion last year,” he said.

“Some of the gains seen last year could be temporary adjustments in the immediate aftermath of lifting of the Covid-19 related restrictions.

“On the investment front, India holds the sixth place in Bahrain with a total of $1.4bn.

“We can explore new ways and new sectors to make progress and collaboration in IT, big data, fintech and renewable energy.”

Bahrain primarily imports agricultural products including rice, boneless meat, shrimp, sugar, fresh fruit and vegetables, machinery and engineering goods, medicaments, jewellery and polymers.

Meanwhile, its exports to India include urea, methanol, mineral fuel, mineral oils and products, iron ore, aluminium, copper and bridge sections.

During a high-level Bahrain delegation visit to India in March backed by the Bahrain Economic Development Board, it was announced that two leading India-based companies, Aerolam Middle East and Titan Company Limited (Titan), would launch their operations in Bahrain with a total investment of approximately $45m.

Mr Jacob also highlighted the Global Biofuel Alliance launched by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with the leaders of Singapore, Bangladesh, Italy, USA, Brazil, Argentina, Mauritius and the UAE earlier this month, on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in New Delhi.

“The alliance intends to expedite the global uptake of biofuels through facilitating technology advancements, intensifying utilisation of sustainable biofuels, shaping robust standard setting and certification through the participation of a wide spectrum of stakeholders,” he said.

“The alliance will also act as a central repository of knowledge and an expert hub.”

He told BIS members and guests of the warm reception he has received and his fruitful meetings with ministers and officials.

“The leadership and the friendly people of Bahrain have welcomed the recent successes that the Indian Space Research Organisation has achieved with the Chandrayaan 3 Mission landing at the south pole of the moon (last month) and the Aditya L1 observatory to study the sun,” said Mr Jacob, who was last posted as deputy high commissioner in the Indian mission in Colombo.

The envoy also highlighted a speech given by Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Dr Abdullatif Al Zayani at the United Nations General Assembly at its 78th session in New York last week, in which he said Bahrain welcomes and endorses the Economic Corridor Project that will link India with Europe through the Middle East region. That was one of the main outcomes of the G20 meeting in New Delhi earlier this month.

Bahrain is home to more than 350,000 Indians, who constitute the largest expat community in the kingdom.


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