13 August 2017
Growth in the non-oil sector of Bahrain’s economy reached 4.4 percent in the first quarter of 2017, up from 3.7 percent during 2016, according to the Bahrain Economic Quarterly published by the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB).
This growth was driven by strong performance across the non-oil private sector, with momentum continuing to be supported by large-scale infrastructure projects. Overall, during the first three months of 2017 the Bahraini economy expanded by 2.9 percent, in line with the 3 percent pace seen in 2016 as a whole.
The first three months of 2017 saw particularly strong growth in the hotels and restaurants, financial services and transportation and communications industries.
Hotels and restaurants emerged as the fastest growing single sector during Q1, posting a 12.3 percent year-on-year real rate of expansion. Financial services continued along its strong growth trajectory reported last year, posting an annual expansion of 8.3 percent at the end of Q1 compared to 5.2 percent in 2016. The transportation and communications sector also performed strongly, with an annual real growth rate of 8.2 percent in Q1.
Underpinning the near term momentum in Bahrain’s non-oil economy is the large amount of investment in infrastructure that the country is experiencing. This includes the $3 billion Alba Line 6 project, which is set to create the world’s largest single-site aluminum smelter. $1.1 billion is being invested in the airport modernization program and a further $335 million has been earmarked for a new Banagas gas plant.
Expressions of interest have been solicited for the construction of the King Hamad Causeway which will add to the existing King Fahd Causeway, connecting Bahrain to Saudi Arabia and serving as a platform for the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) railway.
Jarmo Kotilaine, chief economic adviser of the Bahrain EDB, said: “As the region continues its transition in a low oil price environment, Bahrain offers further encouraging indications both of its resilience and the progress of diversification.
The Q1 growth figures are very encouraging and underscore the impact both of the government’s reform agenda and the powerful countercyclical impact of the unprecedented infrastructure project pipeline.”
© Arab News 2017