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Economics & Development | Global Arab Network
Growth in banking and insurance - Bahrain changing shape of financial services
Global Arab Network - - Sarah Khan
Sunday, 18 July 2010 12:34
Bahrain (Manama) - Growth in retail banking and insurance has formed an important part of the changing nature of the financial services industry in Bahrain, according to the Annual Economic Review, which was officially launched today by the Bahrain Economic Development Board.  Global Arab Network has received a copy of the Annual Economic Review.

The Annual Economic Review: Sustainable Prosperity focuses on Bahrain ’s recent economic performance. It surveys the previous decade and assesses the challenges in the years to come.

The diversity of Bahrain ’s economy meant that despite the worst global financial crisis for over sixty years where financial services suffered heavily in other economies, growth in Bahrain ’s financial services sec to r remained broadly steady as a result of strong growth in retail banking and insurance.

In particular, the insurance industry has doubled in size in the last five years and grew by 6% in 2009 despite the global crisis. Bahrain currently counts 169 onshore insurance firms in to tal, of which 9 offer Shari’a-compliant insurance products. Retail banking, to o, has shown steady growth.

The financial services sec to r accounts for about a quarter of Bahrain ’s GDP and has contributed nearly 23 per cent of the to tal increase in GDP over the last six years.

The growth of the financial services sec to r in Bahrain , which has existed for over forty years, is an important part of Vision 2030 and the National Economic Strategy. These reforms are being led by the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB), under the guidance of His Royal Highness Prince Salman Bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, Crown Prince of Bahrain and Chairman of the EDB, which aims to improve and elevate the national living standards for all Bahrainis.

Islamic banking has also seen strong growth, as Bahrain has capitalised on its position as a hub for Islamic finance in the region.

Shaikh Mohammed bin Essa Al Khalifa, Chief Executive of the EDB, said:

“The findings of this Review demonstrate the benefits of greater diversification in financial services. The growth in insurance and retail banking will help us to continue to spread the benefits of national growth to all Bahrainis. This also shows the benefits of investing in training and education. By investing in our people we have enabled the benefits to flow to all.”

To date, 67 per cent of the workforce in financial services is Bahraini of which 37 per cent are Bahraini women.

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