AMERICAN BAHRAINI FRIENDSHIP SOCIETY
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Bahrain News

Society News

The American Bahraini Friendship Society celebrated its 20th Anniversary at a reception and dinner at the Ritz-Carlton in Washington D.C. on Wednesday evening, November 17,2010.

On this occasion, the Society honored the memory of the Society Founders, Ambassador John Gatch, Mr. Fouad Habiby, and Vice Admiral Marmaduke Bayne, along with Admiral William J. Crowe. Founded in 1990 by Americans and other friends who lived in Bahrain, the Society reflects a special relationship between The United States and the Kingdom of Bahrain which began with the founding of the American Mission Hospital in 1893. The Society also celebrated a fruitful association between the two countries which resulted in a rich and multifaceted connection in business, academics, government, and mutual security.


The Guest of Honors for the evening were His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Mubarak Al Khalifa Deputy Prime Minister of the Kingdom Of Bahrain and Her Excellency Houda Ezra Nonoo, Ambassador of the Kingdom Of Bahrain to the United States Of America who both delivered talks highlighting the importance of this historical Friendship between the U.S. and the Kingdom of Bahrain and thanking the Society President Vice Admiral Anthony A. Less and Board Members for their supportive efforts

 

Bahrain News

 

BANKING ROLE GROWS

October 30, 2013- Bahrain recenty pledged its commitment to the development of Islamic finance to meet growing global demand and to foster broader regional growth. In a speech to World Islamic Economic Forum, the Crown Prince said economic development thrives through interdependence. "Growth in one country brings growth to others. It is a virtuous cycle," said His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Premier. He highlighted the need to create employment and enhance opportunities for the next generation in the Middle East, which has one of the fastest growing populations in the world. "Undoubtedly, the world's focus has been on political developments in the Middle East. But the driver, the catalyst, and, ultimately, the solution to our region's issues, lie in economic development, enhanced opportunity and education. "Through these there is the opportunity of delivering lasting, transformation change and prosperity across class, religion, sect, tribe and race." With Islamic finance in focus at the forum in the British capital, the Crown Prince said Bahrain sits at the heart of the rapidly growing GCC market - valued at $1.5 trillion today. The kingdom's financial sector has played a key role in fulfilling the needs of the wider region, he pointed out. "With the growth of Islamic finance, we proudly host the largest concentration of Islamic financial institutions in the region," he said. The Crown Prince called for moves to standardize the regulation of the Islamic finance industry, create new asset classes and facilitate the growth of the industry.

 

Cathay Pacific Plans Daily Bahrain Service

October 30, 2013 - Cathay Pacific, one of the first airlines to fly into Bahrain nearly 40 years ago, along with BOAC and Qantas, when the kingdom was the hub of Middle East aviation, is planning to resume its daily service next year. The airline currently operates four flights a week between Bahrain and its hub in Hong Kong. In an exclusive interview with the GDN, Thomas Bellamy, the airline's newly appointed country manager for Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Offline Middle East, said Bahrain's economy and regional activities were on the upswing and they had experienced more bookings, which has led to discussions on expansion in service. "I can say that globally Cathay Pacific has load factors of more than 80 per cent," Mr Bellamy said, "although I will not be able to give you details on our Bahrain service." Two of the airline's weekly flights from Bahrain to Hong Kong are via Riyadh and two are direct. The country manager reiterated Cathay Pacific's long-term commitment to the kingdom and the local community. "Together with Cathay Pacific's and our sister airline Dragonair's extensive network to China and Asia, we will bring Asia one step closer to the community in the Middle East." Unitag Group founder, chairman and chief executive Jamil Wafa, a doyen of the aviation business and the man responsible for getting the airline to fly to Bahrain, welcomed the move. Mr Wafa said it took a lot of convincing to get the authorities to grant Cathay Pacific landing and traffic rights into Bahrain International Airport as they were apprehensive about the impact on Gulf Air, which was established then as the flag carrier of Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and Abu Dhabi. "I was invited to meet two senior Cathay Pacific executives at the Hilton Hotel, who were in Bahrain on a fact-finding mission to operate their flights into one of the Gulf states three times a week. Cathay was looking for a stopover for its Hong Kong to Bahrain and return flights. I encountered further problems when CX approached us to obtain traffic rights for their daily Bahrain-London-Bahrain service. "I strongly recommended Bahrain and managed to convince the administration here that the only way to position Bahrain as a hub was to allow more airlines to fly in and get connected with the world. It is worth noting that Bahrain International Airport gave Cathay the gateway to operate into Europe and the Gulf region. This could not have happened if the Bahrain government had not opened the door for them, said Mr Wafa. Having seen regional aviation go through turbulence and clear skies for more than 60 years, he feels that aviation in the Gulf has become increasingly fragmented over the years. "The industry has changed a lot and it cannot be run the way it used to be. "With fuel prices going up, landing fees, handling fees, catering, salaries, all components are increasingly difficult to manage. "If an airline has to do well in this difficult environment, it will need a fully knowledgeable person in aviation who understands all aspects of the business, a true blue aviation professional, who has learnt the ropes to steer it. "In the halcyon days of Gulf Air, it was the flag carrier of Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and Abu Dhabi, then each country wanted its own airline and now there are low cost, no-frills airlines also, all in the fray for traffic which has not grown so much. "Does the Gulf need so many airlines? This is a question that people need to be asking." According to him, the more united aviation in the region is, the better it will be. "There is a need for consolidation, and I'm optimistic about the future."

 

Bahrain Playing Major Role In E-Commerce

October 30, 2013 - E-Retailing accounted for 7.23 per cent of the total value of retail trade in Bahrain which is estimated at $5 billion, a senior minister said yesterday. According to Industry and Commerce Minister Dr Hassan Fakhro this is the highest rate among Arab countries and also higher than the world average of 6.14pc. Dr Fakhro said this during his opening address at the seventh Gulf e-commerce Forum that got underway at the InterContinental Regency Bahrain. Confirming the government's commitment to supporting all electronic businesses and investments that will upgrade the national economy and enhance the kingdom's role as a hub for trade and services, Dr Fakhro said the world has witnessed increasing interest in e-commerce as a result of development in information and communications technology. The minister added that the Internet has created new ways and means of getting information and news, people-to-people communication, and facilitated purchasing and payments leading to the creation of e-commerce. According to some indicators, Bahrain ranks first in the Arab world in adoption and use of information and communication technology. "Internet usage has reached about 66pc in the Arab world and the kingdom has a leading position," the minister said. Themed "E-commerce and the latest developments in technology," the two-day forum aims to highlight the GCC's key role in e-business and e-commerce. Discussions are expected to center around scientific methodologies, developing and modernizing management in the public and private sector and legal aspects of e-commerce. The forum includes sessions and workshops with experts from various Arab countries taking part.

 

AIRPORT PLANS TAKING OFF

October 28, 2013 - Bahrain Airport is to be expanded to handle 13.5 million passengers a year, the Cabinet heard recently. A new airport is also on the way. The Premier said that the major development would meet demands expected by 2030. His Royal Highness Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa chaired the Cabinet session in the presence of His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Premier. Ministers discussed and approved a memorandum presented by the Transportation Minister. Plans include a comprehensive upgrade of the current departure building and all its facilities. The new second airport was also discussed. Two locations near Fasht Aljarem and North of Diyar Al Muharraq have been reserved as potential sites for the new airport. The Cabinet commissioned the ministerial committee for services and infrastructure to complete technical and environmental studies related to this in co-operation with the authorities concerned. The Premier praised His Majesty King Hamad's speech during the inauguration of the fourth session of the third legislative term regarding the continuation of reform, development and improvement towards achieving a better life for every citizen. The Premier expressed gratitude and appreciation to the King's tribute to the government's hard work to fulfil the desires of the people for prosperity, maintaining law and order and stability, and to improve the level of services.

BIG NEW PROJECTS ON WAY

October 25, 2013 - Milestone new housing projects are part of an ambitious government scheme to meet demands, it was announced recently. His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Prime Minister, visited the project sites in Sitra, Samaheej and Galali. He was accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister Shaikh Khalid bin Abdulla Al Khalifa and Housing Minister Bassem Al Hamer. The Crown Prince said these new developments were part of a series of projects that also include the East Hidd development, and are important milestones in the ambitious government program to meet demand for housing. He highlighted the progress achieved in this field, following the directives of His Majesty King Hamad and the efforts of the government led by His Royal Highness Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa. The Crown Prince stressed the importance of ensuring continued efficiency, sustainability and fairness in the development of new housing projects. He also spoke on arrangements to ensure optimal utilization of funds from the GCC support program allocated to development and infrastructure projects that benefit Bahrain's citizens. He was briefed on the details and stages of the projects, and commended the commitment shown by those managing the projects to meet housing requirements. The Crown Prince highlighted the continuing development of projects, policies and initiatives aimed at meeting demand in the housing sector, including those based on partnerships with the private sector in order to achieve higher levels of effectiveness and productivity. The housing projects include facilities such as schools, mosques, gardens and shops. The Samaheej project includes 530 housing units and the Sitra development includes 978. In Galali, 609 houses were delivered to citizens last month

BAHRAIN 'SET TO GROW AT 5.3PC'

October 15, 2013 - Bahrain's economy is on course for a strong performance this year, with growth expected at 5.3 per cent, according to an assessment by the central bank. In its September newsletter, the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) said the Kingdom's gross domestic product (GDP) growth is expected to ease to 4.2pc and 4pc in 2014 and 2015 respectively. The CBB cites the latest issue of Bahrain Economic Quarterly, published by the Economic Development Board, as the source of the data. The report notes the global economic outlook has displayed fairly consistent signs of improvement for the key advanced economies, most notably the US, even if risks still persist. This has tested market mood about the emerging markets as the prospect of a gradual phasing out of quantitative easing by the Fed risks creating a much more challenging liquidity environment. The report points out that Bahrain's oil sector seems to have returned to normal, following a protracted disruption in the offshore Abu Sa'afa field last year. Production has largely normalized and with gradual output gains in the Bahrain Field, double-digit growth in the oil sector is expected. Bahrain's non-oil output experienced a sharper than expected deceleration in the first quarter which seems to have been primarily linked to delays in approving the 2013-2014 budget. Data on bank lending in the spring points to some lost momentum. Fiscal policy and project spending should support non-oil growth in the second half of the year. The state budget was approved in June with significant spending increases, some of them backdated to the beginning of the year. At the same time, work is expected to begin on some of the projects financed from the GCC Development Fund. This should permit a significant acceleration in non-oil growth in the second half of the year. The global context is somewhat more promising. Although recurrent emerging market jitters are likely in the face of potential monetary tightening in the US, the global economy is looking slightly more robust. Reversals are possible in view of the multitude of risks that still exist, but present configuration should prove supportive of growth in Bahrain. The near-term outlook for the global economy seems characterized by growing optimism about the advanced economies with mounting anxiety about some of the more vulnerable emerging economies with current account deficits. The mixed global outlook should be more supportive of oil prices, although significant volatility is expected. Bahrain's fiscal break even price of $115 per barrel can be consistent with market realities if risks in the emerging market space prove short-lived. Greater volatility would likely result in recurrent downward pressure on prices. The impending recovery in the West will at some point begin to translate into upward pressures on interest rates, with negative implications for the cost of funding for Bahrain and local lenders. The prospect of greater capital controls by some emerging markets may reduce the potential for global investment flows and have some adverse implications for foreign direct investment. It is likely, however, that interventions in the currency market will prove fairly limited in duration.

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