20 February, 2022

Marketplace Middle East explores Bahrain’s Vision 2030



Any use of this material must clearly credit CNN’s Marketplace Middle East


Marketplace Middle East airs on CNN International on Saturday 19th  February at 20:00 GST


In this month’s episode of Marketplace Middle East, CNN’s Eleni Giokos travels to Bahrain to see how the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 plan is investing in sectors like tourism, business services, manufacturing, and logistics to boost growth.


The Bahrain International Exhibition and Convention Centre is set to be the region’s largest exhibition centre when it opens later in 2022. At the construction site, Giokos meets Zayed Al Zayani, Bahrain’s Minister of Industry, Commerce, and Tourism who speaks about economic diversification, “Diversification is not new to us. We’ve done it before. Before oil, we didn’t have oil, we were a pearling nation. We went from pearling to oil, to industry, to banking, to telecoms, and I’m sure we’ll find more and more as we go along.”


He adds, “I think the biggest asset in Bahrain is the Bahrainis themselves.”


Bahrain relies on oil and gas for its electricity supply. But renewable energy is a fundamental component of the country’s economic recovery plan. Husain Mohamed Rajab, CEO of Tamkeen, a semi-government agency that helps start-ups grow in the region, believes renewable energy will be a lucrative sector. He tells the programme, “Renewable energy is one of the key sectors that are growing in the region. GCC is one of the most energy rich regions globally. And that drives a lot of interest from governments to support the growth and development of any activity in this sector. And definitely manufacturing of solar panels or anything that has to do with renewable energy is considered as a priority for us.”


This is good news for small businesses like Solar One, Bahrain’s first solar panel company, as the government sees entrepreneurship as pivotal to the country’s economic future. Giokos speaks to Faisal Khalifeh, the founder and managing director of Solar One. He says the company produces around 60,000 solar panels in a year, “It just feels good to be part of Bahrain’s goals, with their renewable energy targets.”


Bahrain is home to the largest aluminium smelter outside of China. Alba (Aluminium Bahrain B.S.C.) produced over 1.5 million metric tonnes of aluminium in 2021, and CEO Ali Al Baqali speaks about challenging China, “Nobody can compete China. China’s producing more than half of the total production of the world. But I think there is a strong demand in the market.”


Al Baqali takes Giokos on a tour of the smelter and gives her a look at how aluminium is produced. Here, he discusses the climate change concerns within the aluminium industry, “The smelter is very energy intensive. We are producing electricity through natural gas. We know that there is issues about the natural gas. We are certified as a green aluminium. However there are challenges to reduce this number. That’s why we are putting a lot of initiatives to be more green, to tackle all these aspects in the future.”


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