Bahrain Economic Development Board CEO Khalid Al Rumaihi said that Bahrain-China links are still hampered by a lack of direct air connectivity between the two countries
Bahrain’s government is in talks with two Chinese firms about establishing or expanding their presence in the kingdom as it works to woo inflows of foreign direct investment from China, according to Bahrain Economic Development Board CEO Khalid Al Rumaihi.
Speaking to Arabian Business in Manama, Al Rumaihi said that one of the companies with whom discussions are currently taking place is JollyChic, a Chinese start-up which sells fashion and is primarily focused on the Middle East markets.
Founded in 2012, the company has a value of $1 billion following a Series C funding round from global VC firm Sequoia Capita.
“They have a presence [in the region], but we’re in discussions about expanding that presence,” Al Rumaihi said. “We’re in discussions with JollyChic about fulfilment or a call-centre, bringing their presence in Bahrain to significant size.”
Al Rumaihi also revealed that Bahrain is in discussions with a second Chinese firm - which specialises in news aggregation - although he declined to identify the company.
The Bahrain EDB currently has an office in Beijing and more recently opened one in Shenzhen, China’s tech hub.
“To us, that indicates that a lot of the inflow could come from technology. The Chinese economy is moving from manufacturing into technology,” he said. “We see tremendous potential for FDI from China.”
Al Rumaihi added that business ties with China are still hampered by a lack of direct air connectivity with Bahrain.
“That’s going to be the missing piece to allow us to scale even beyond where we are today,” he added. “If we’re not able to make it easy for these businesses to come to Bahrain and go back, we’re not going to hit the potential that we have.”
While Al Rumaihi said that Gulf Air currently has plans to open a route to China, the Bahrain EDB is working to “accelerate” it.