Whether you’re new to the island, a long-term resident ex-pat or Bahraini through and through, you’ll appreciate the importance of foreign business to the kingdom’s economy.
A great deal of commerce relies on good international relations and the wheels of business are certainly greased by the presence of groups such as the Bahrain British Business Forum (BBBF) which was formed in 1995 to promote trade and investment between Bahrain and Britain ‘in a non-discriminatory, non-political and non-profit making manner’.
There are monthly lunch meetings with networking opportunities and a speaker at which Bahraini and British business people meet to work out ways to help each other.
Now with more than 400 members and a mix of large and small businesses, the group recently conducted a survey asking members what they would like to see.
One of the main responses was to seek better contact with the various ministries and the result was the formation of a number of special interest groups, from legal to construction, each of which aim to meet four times a year.
This month will see the launch of a host of new initiatives aimed at younger professionals and entrepreneurs.
A young persons’ business group is being established, within the main forum, and a work experience scheme is also being set up aiming to place school and university students with member companies.
There’s also soon to be a programme, in partnership with Bahrain Polytechnic, for final-year students with projects as part of their courses to be placed in member companies – benefitting both the young people and the employers who will get highly motivated young people who already have some of the relevant skills.
BBBF secretary Jill Boggis said: “We work with Bahrain HR Forum, other legal groups, construction groups, BCCI - where we can, we work with other groups so members can meet new people.
“We also have an alliance with BizLadies offering discount for both memberships and some sharing with events.
“We surveyed members a year ago and as a result are trying to support members with more practical connections and our lunches have seen an increase in ministers coming to talk about their plans and ideas.”
As well as its commercial activities the BBBF also organises the annual Poppy Ball, held as close as possible to Remembrance Sunday when people wear poppies to remember the war dead and those fallen or injured in conflicts.
The ball is held in support of the Royal Hospital Chelsea and the group hosts visiting Chelsea pensioners who come to Bahrain with support from members.
There’s also an annual members’ golf day and a business bazaar which, this year, may take the form of a conference or forum.
BBBF chairman, Khalid Al Zayani, said: “The Bahrain British Business Forum is firmly committed to creating opportunities for productive business connections.
“We have monthly lunches with key speakers plus six sector-specific interest groups as well as a range of social activities. We want as many businesses as possible to participate in building a strong economy and so if your business is based in Bahrain and you want to find out how to make more of the Bahrain British connection please join us at our next event.” www.bbbforum.org
American Chamber of Commerce Bahrain (AmCham) Promotes trade and investments between Bahrain and the US in a ‘non-discriminatory, non-political and non-profit making manner’. www.amcham-bahrain.org (17 522 777).
Bahrain French Business Club Has around 120 members and was registered in 2000. Widely regarded as a model for the island’s business associations bringing together French and Bahraini commercial interests. www.cafbahrain.com (17 748 999).
Bahrain Irish Business Network Established to promote, foster and advance the business relationship between Ireland and Bahrain, promote growth of Irish businesses in the kingdom, encourage trade between the two nations and promote Bahrain as the Middle East’s premier destination for Irish businesses coming to the region. www.bahrainirishsociety.com
Bahrainisch-Deutsche Gesellschaft Also known as the Bahrain German Friendship Society, is an established network in the kingdom of Bahrain for public and private people with an interest in fostering business and relations between the two countries. www.bahraingermany.com (17 716 324).
Biz Ladies Networking group for women in business which organises regular meetings, presentations and social events. http://bizladies.org (38 442 727).
International Chamber of Commerce Bahrain An ICC national committee comprising leading companies and business which shape ICC policies and alert their governments to international business concerns. www.iccwbo.org (17 380 000/17 380 016).