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Thu 21 Feb 2008 04:00 AM

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Algeria next for Bahrain firm

Gulf Finance House has plans for a US$3bn economic development zone near Algiers.

Each week Arabian Business turns the spotlight on a leading company.

Did you hear about that multi-billion dollar development in Algeria?

You must be talking about the latest developement Gulf Finance House (GFH) is financing. The Bahraini investment bank is planning to establish a US$3bn economic development zone on the outskirts of Algiers, the capital city of Algeria. News of the project was announced last week, following talks between GFH chairman Esam Janahi and Cherif Rahmani, minister of Land Planning, the Environment and Tourism.

Yes, that's the one. So how big will this project actually be?

The primary commercial development is called the Zone and will cover at least 2.8 sq km within the new master planned city of Bouinan. GFH is currently working with international industry experts to finalise the business districts. Although it hasn't been announced yet, the development is expected to include energy, financial, telecommunications and IT business districts alongside residential developments and leisure facilities.

The concept of the zone was presented last week to Cherif Rahmani.

Okay, so the zone will host all types of sectors, and I'm guessing once its finished it will help further boost the economy in Algeria?

Yes, that's the idea behind it. During the announcement, Rahmani said the initiative would help bring new industries to Algeria as well as boost its current industries. He said that economic development is vital to any nation and that this initiative will act as a catalyst that will bring new ideas and new industries to Algeria.

Is this development essential to help it achieve proper growth?

Well it will certainly help. Rahmani described the country as "relatively prosperous" one, but he also said he would like to see further growth in other industry sectors, as currently there is a high concentration in the oil and gas industries.

Algeria is already doing well compared to other North African countries - it has the highest gross domestic product (GNP) in the region, which has averaged a 5% growth over the past six years thanks to the oil boom. The oil and gas sectors are doing particularly well and are a powerful driver of economic growth.

They account for about 46% of Algeria's GDP. There is certainly room for growth in the tourism and IT sectors in the country, which are said to both show huge growth potential.

So is this the first project of its kind?

Not at all. The Algerian zone will be the second development for Gulf Finance House Economic Development. It has another one in India called the GFH Mumbai Economic Development Zone,which was launched last year. What's more, GFH has a network of energy cities in Qatar, India and Libya. GFH has plently of experience in financial services through its network of financial and commercial business districts in Bahrain, Jordan and recently Tunisia. GFH also has links to telecommunications and IT industries.

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