Exporting to Bahrain

Bahrain is a small but prosperous economy, which has experienced steady growth. It has one of the most liberal business environments in the region.

UK trading links

In the year to March 2019, total trade between the UK and Bahrain was £1.1 billion (ONS, 2019). The UK remains a preferred business and trade partner. There are a considerable number of branches of British companies in Bahrain.

Gateway to the Gulf

Bahrain offers businesses a solid platform and the infrastructure to operate regionally. Due to its proximity to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain is particularly well-placed to enable entry into that market. The commercial heart of Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province is within an hour’s reach of Bahrain, via the King Fahd Causeway.

Low business costs

Compared with the rest of the region, operational business costs in Bahrain are considerably lower and manufacturing is also less costly.

UK Export Finance cover is available at competitive rates. Companies can get financial and export support through the Bahrain Economic Development Board, Export Bahrain, and Bahrain’s labour fund, Tamkeen.

Ease of doing business

43rd

out of 190 countries (World Bank, 2019)

Currency

Bahraini dinar

Business languages

Arabic

You may need a translator

GDP per capita

$25,483

UK is $41,030 (IMF, 2019)

Economic growth

1.8%

(IMF, 2019)

Time zone

GMT +3

Opportunities for exporters

There are opportunities for UK companies across a broad range of industries. Our trade advisers in Bahrain have identified particular opportunities for UK businesses in the following sectors.

Doing business in Bahrain

Preparing to export

Taxation

The UK and Bahrain have signed a double taxation agreement, meaning the same income is not taxed twice.

Bahrain has one of the most liberal tax regimes in the Gulf, with some of the lowest corporate and personal tax rates. There are very few indirect taxes and no personal income tax, wealth tax on capital gains, withholding tax (income tax deducted at source).

Labelling

All labelling and packaging must be in Arabic, or both Arabic and English. Stickers are not accepted as an adequate form of labelling. You can check requirements for specific products with the Ministry of Industry and Commerce (MOIC).

Import restrictions

To export goods into Bahrain for sale or consumption, British companies need to get a general licence from the Ministry of Interior’s Customs Affairs Directorate.

All exports need a certificate of origin to clear customs.

Goods manufactured in Israel cannot be imported into Bahrain.

Operating in Bahrain

Intellectual property

The Industrial Property Directorate has created a framework of legislation for patents, design and trademarks. However, there are no specialist intellectual property courts and there is a lack of specialist local advocates. You should speak to an IP lawyer if you think you need patent protection when exporting.

Business challenges

UK businesses operating in Bahrain may face challenges around delays in payment and government bureaucracy, especially when getting licences.

You should also be aware that there are quotas in place for employing Bahraini nationals and that government documentation is in Arabic.

Business culture

English is widely spoken. Although it’s common for written correspondence to be in English, Arabic is often preferred within government.

Bahrain is one of the most liberal of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states and is tolerant of all faiths. Islam is the national culture and should be respected.

The working week is Sunday to Thursday.

Local partnership

You can export directly to Bahrain, but working with a carefully chosen Bahraini partner or adviser is easier. A local agent will be more familiar with the business environment and will find it easier to:

  • keep in contact with customers
  • seek new business
  • get information on the latest market trends

Next steps

DIT can advise you on doing business abroad, and help put you in touch with other people who can help such as lawyers and distributors.