Bahrain Economy Grows 4.5% in First Quarter

Bahrain’s economic growth reached 4.5 percent during the first quarter of the year, the kingdom’s highest level since 2014, led by the 12.1 percent year-on-year growth in the oil sector, a report said.

Nearly $4 billion of projects have now been tendered under the GCC Development Fund, with nearly $3 billion of projects already commenced, marking a near tripling from a year earlier, added the report, citing the latest Bahrain Economic Quarterly (BEQ) issued by the Economic Development Board (EDB).

The EDB report also noted that the non-oil economy continued to grow and benefit from major infrastructure investment. Private sector projects are making good progress, such as Alba Line 6, said the report. While growth continued to be broad-based across the non-oil economy, performance was particularly strong in social and personal services with 8.4 percent year-on-year gain, the BNA report highlighted. This reflects the strong demographics drivers underpinning the demand for private education and healthcare. Construction which rose by 5.4 percent year-on-year, while financial services expanded by 3.1 percent.

This resilience momentum in the non-oil sector has helped to support strong growth in private sector employment. Overall employment saw an almost 7 percent year-on-year increase in Q1, with the private sector creating 46,669 jobs as compared to Q1 2015, a 9 percent year-on-year gain.

“There are very significant challenges for all GCC governments in adjusting to a lower oil price environment,” Khalid Al Rumaihi, chief executive of the EDB was quoted as saying in the report.

“These challenges are prompting countries across the region to make strategic commitments to economic diversification — something which we are confident will help us maintain momentum in the future,” he added.

Meanwhile, Labor and Social Development Minister Jameel bin Mohammed Ali Humaidan received the Executive Board Chairman of Bahrain Free Labor Unions Federation (Al Hurr), Yaqoub Yousef Hassan.

They discussed expanding cooperation between the ministry and workers’ trade unions in Bahrain and consolidating social dialogue between the three production partners. Both the minister and Yaqoub noted in particular the positive cooperation between the ministry and Bahrain Free Labor Unions Federation (BFLUF), and stressed that current economic challenges make it imperative to boost the rate of employment in the private sector, and support the progress of trade unions in the Kingdom.