Bahrain remains ‘on recovery path’ despite slower growth

Political unrest has hurt Bahrain’s status as a regional financial hub

Ben Flanagan
Ben Flanagan - Al Arabiya News
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Bahrain’s economic growth slowed to 4.6 percent in the third quarter, although the country remains on a “recovery path”, analysts said.

The national economy “bounced back” in the three months to the end of September, Bahrain’s state news agency reported, with a gross domestic product of 2696 million dinars ($7.15 billion) during the quarter.

Bahrain’s economic growth of 4.6 percent during the quarter was led by the oil sector, the news agency said quoting the country’s statistics office.

“The oil sector played a pivotal role as the driving engine of the national economy, contributing to the overall growth rate by 45 percent thanks to rising prices in world market and soaring production,” Central Informatics Organization chairman Dr. Mohammed bin Ahmed Al-Amer said in a statement.

“The other economic sectors contributed to the overall growth rate by a major bulk of 55 percent,” he added.

The rate of growth of 4.6 percent was lower than the 5.3 percent reported for the previous quarter, according to figures quoted by Reuters.

John Sfakianakis, chief investment strategist at Saudi investment firm MASIC, said that the outlook for the country is still positive.

“Bahrain is still on this recovery path,” he told Al Arabiya News. “4.6 percent is not a bad number… It’s a decline from the previous quarter but it’s still positive… Some of the other countries are growing by about 3 to 3.5 percent.”

Bahrain’s $30 billion economy was hit by the global recession while its status as a regional financial hub was hurt by political unrest in the country.

Analysts polled by Reuters in September forecast Bahrain’s GDP growth would accelerate to 4.0 percent in 2013 from 3.4 percent in 2012, before slowing again to 3.5 percent next year.

“People are beginning to invest back into the economy,” said Sfakianakis. “I’m more optimistic for the Bahrain outlook for next year than this year.”

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