Bahrain's Biggest Companies
Industry accounts for 43.6 percent of the GDP in Bahrain, with services contributing 56 percent. However, more people are employing in industry (79 percent) than in the service sector (20 percent). The petroleum industry currently generates more than 60 percent of the country's export receipts and accounts for 11 percent of the GDP.
Bahrain was the first of the Gulf countries to discover and begin to exploit its oil reserves and its economy still depends a great deal on the petroleum industry. However, Bahrain today imports much of the oil that passes through its refineries, predominantly by pipeline from Saudi Arabia. Bahrain does produce its own oil, with production rates holding steady at 40,000 barrels a day. The oil reserves are expected to last for at least another decade if this rate of extraction continues. Bahrain also has its own reserves of natural gas, which are expected to last for another fifty years, if production does not increase.
Oil has been very important for business in Bahrain. Much of the wealth generated by the petroleum industry has been invested in the development of the countries infrastructure and telecommunications. This, together with the government's drive to diversify the economy in response to the depletion of the oil reserves, has made Bahrain an attractive location for many large companies. There has also been a drive for privatization in recent years. The economy still depends a great deal on the production and refinement of petroleum products, but Bahrain is also home to strong construction and banking sectors and it continues to work on creating a more diverse economy in order to reduce dependence on the oil industry.
Many multinational companies have a presence in Bahrain. A free trade agreement was established in 2006 between Bahrain and the United States, which has been an important boon for Bahrain's large companies. Bahrain is considered to have the freest economy of any Middle Eastern or North African country.
Banking is a very important part of the economy, with a focus on Islamic banking and on offshore banking that has seen Bahrain competing on a worldwide basis with Malaysia, since both countries are important centers for banking. Bahrain is home to more than 100 offshore banking offices and units, and there are an additional 65 American firms working in Bahrain's banking sector.
The Arab Banking Corporation or ABC is one of Bahrain's biggest companies and it is an important player in the country's banking sector. It has branches and offices in 21 different countries, worldwide.
Investcorp is a large venture capital company based in Bahrain. It has an international reputation and its assets exceed 40 billion US dollars. Investcorp deals in a wide range of different investments, including hedge funds, private equity and technology investments. It is known for providing a diverse range of investments for its clients. In addition to its headquarters in Bahrain, Investcorp operates out of offices in London and New York.
Many of the largest companies in Bahrain are involved with the banking and financial services sectors, but the large Aluminium Bahrain company is a metals and mining company. Aluminium Bahrain produces 525,000 metric tons every year, making it a very important company in Bahrain's economy. Aluminum is the second largest export from Bahrain, after petroleum products.
The depletion of oil and of underground water in Bahrain is likely to cause problems in the future, as is the prospect of more high unemployment that is expected to have a particularly strong effect on the young. Bahrain needs to find a reliable new source of natural gas in order to support the continued growth of its petroleum and aluminum industries.
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