Bahrain F1 race 'will help drive investment'

CEO of Economic Development Board also says Gulf state is coping with global crisis.
Bahrain F1 race 'will help drive investment'
By Andy Sambidge
Wed 25 Mar 2009 11:34 AM

A leading economy official in Bahrain said on Wednesday that next month's F1 Grand Prix will help attract further investment by international companies amid the global downturn.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Essa Al Khalifa, chief executive of the Economic Development Board (EDB) said the big race on Sunday April 26 will be a "timely reminder of Bahrain’s pole position as a regional business hub".

He added: “The Bahrain F1 Grand Prix will once again showcase the kingdom’s attractive business environment for companies looking to access the MENA region.”

According to Martin Whitaker, CEO of the Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain was the second most watched circuit on last year’s F1 calendar, helping to raise awareness of the kingdom as a location for international businesses looking to access the markets of the Gulf.

Khalifa added: “Our position as the most established financial centre in the Gulf makes us better placed than many others to weather the current economic climate.

"We have adopted a very sound fiscal and monetary approach which will help to maintain our platform for growth. We are not complacent – no one is completely immune from the global crisis – but having seen global downturns before, we have the experience to deal with difficult times and are confident we will emerge stronger.”

He claimed Bahrain had so far been less affected by the global economic downturn than others in the region.

The kingdom is ranked the freest economy in the Middle East by the Heritage Foundation/Wall Street Journal’s 2009 Index of Economic Freedom and 16th in the world – the only country in the MENA region to appear in the world’s top 20.

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