Jobs boost shows Bahrain's resilience - top official

CEO of Economic Development Board says Gulf state can cope with economic crisis.
Jobs boost shows Bahrain's resilience - top official
By Andy Sambidge
Fri 27 Feb 2009 07:39 AM

More than 1,700 new jobs were created in Bahrain’s financial services sector last year, indicating the Gulf state is well positioned to weather the worst of the economic downturn, said Kamal Ahmed, CEO of Bahrain’s Economic Development Board (EDB).

His comments follow reports that the workforce in Bahrain’s financial services industry grew to 13,922 in 2008 with 57 percent of the new jobs going to Bahrainis.

The figures, revealed in an annual survey conducted by the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB), represented a year-on-year increase of more than 14 percent and a 68.5 percent (5,659 new jobs) over the past three years.

Ahmed said: “Bahrain is the most established finance centre in the Gulf and continued to expand in 2008. Backed by the highest and most transparent regulatory and supervisory standards in the region, the kingdom offers investors a tried and tested location for financial services businesses.

“Of course, these are last year’s figures and we appreciate the global situation has changed. But the growth in our financial services sector over the past three years, which these figures illustrate, has been based on prudent, conservative principles.

"Yes, there are likely to be tough times ahead and we are not complacent about continued success in the current climate, but we believe we are well positioned to weather the storm and emerge strong.”

Ahmed maintained that Bahrain’s track record of nearly 40 years as the region’s leading financial centre was even more important in the current climate.

He added: “The kingdom has seen global downturns before and benefits from the experience to deal with difficult times. No one is immune from the global crisis but the strength and depth of Bahrain’s finance sector means it is certainly well cushioned."

The CBB’s Financial Sector Employment Survey also showed there had been a 12 percent increase in the number of women employed in the sector.

Bahrain’s financial services industry comprises more than 400 licensed institutions and is one of the largest contributors to the kingdom’s economy, accounting for 27 percent of GDP in 2007.

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