Chairman of Bahrain’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry says country is going 'back to normal'
Bahrain’s economy will grow three percent next year as the country recovers from protests that cost about $2 billion of output, said Essam Fakhro, chairman of Bahrain’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
“If we do it, considering the situation we underwent, it will be good as an interim,” he said in an interview on Saturday. “It takes time to go back to normal. But we are on the way.”
Rallies in February and March by the mainly Shiite majority left 35 people dead, hurt tourism and spurred the central bank to cut its forecasts for economic growth this year by two percentage points to 3 percent.
The country is holding special elections today to fill seats vacated by 18 lawmakers who belong to al-Wefaq, the country’s largest Shiite party.
Declines in tourism, real estate and the retail industry contributed to the estimated $2 billion loss to the economy, Fakhro said.
That figure also includes $200 million of damage to small and medium-size industries, which were “tremendously affected,” he said.
Fakhro said he will be part of a delegation of executives, government officials and others from the chamber that will travel to the US and Asia to promote Bahrain as an attractive investment hub.
“All attempts will be made to ensure that law and order will be enforced here,” he said. “I’m very confident that Bahrain’s reputation will be restored.”
Shiites represent about 70 percent of the country’s population of 1.2 million, according to the US State Department, and have long demanded rights equal to those of Sunnis, including appointments to senior government and military posts. In the 1990s, Bahrain was shaken by violence stemming from Shiite disaffection.