Bahrain economy

29 October 2009

Six of the most important figures in the development of Bahrain’s economy are: Crown prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa, Rasheed Mohammed al-Maraj, Ahmed Saleh al-Noaimi, Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed al-Khalifa, Majeed al-Alawi and Esam Abdulla Fakhro

Crown prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa

Position: Chairman, Economic Development Board (EDB)

Biography: As chairman of the EDB, Crown prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa oversees Bahrain’s entire economic reform programme. The EDB was set up in 2000 to encourage private sector development and foreign investment. Since his appointment to the board in 2002, Sheikh Salman has moved to speed up economic reforms by expanding the EDB’s board to include 16 ministers, compared with just six previously. Before being sworn in as crown prince in 1999, Sheikh Salman held senior positions at the Bahrain Centre for Studies & Research in the early 1990s, and was undersecretary of defence from 1995 to 1999. In addition to his current role at the EDB, Sheikh Salman acts as deputy supreme commander of the Bahrain Defence Force.

Contact Tel: (+9731) 758 9999

Rasheed Mohammed al-Maraj

Position: Governor, Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB)

Biography: Rasheed Mohammed al-Maraj has been governor of the Central Bank of Bahrain since January 2005. The CBB replaced the Bahrain Monetary Agency as the country’s chief financial regulator in 2006. Al-Maraj is well regarded for restoring confidence to the retail banking sector in the wake of the recent global financial crisis and bringing greater transparency to a sector that accounts for about a quarter of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). Before joining the CBB, Al-Maraj was chief executive officer (CEO) of Saudi Arabia’s Arab Petroleum Investments Corporation. He has also held senior positions within gov-ernment, including assistant undersecretary at the former Finance & National Economy Ministry and undersecretary at the Trans-port Ministry.

Contact Tel: (+9731) 754 7777

Ahmed Saleh al-Noaimi

Position: CEO, Aluminium Bahrain (Alba)

Biography: As CEO of Alba, Ahmed Saleh al-Noaimi oversees the Gulf’s second-largest aluminium producing complex. He took over as Alba’s CEO in July 2005 just as the company completed a $1.7bn expansion, taking its aluminium production capacity to 830,000 tonnes a year (t/y). The launch of a sixth potline, which would take production beyond 1 million t/y, remains in the balance. In early 2009, Al-Noaimi launched a comprehensive review of the company’s strategy, including the sixth potline. He has held a series of positions at Alba since starting his career at the company in 1974. Before becoming CEO he was deputy CEO, and he has also been general manager of finance. In 2007, Al-Noaimi was appointed to the board of trustees of the Beirut-based Arab Forum for Environment & Development. 

Contact Tel: (+9731) 783 0000

Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed al-Khalifa

Position: Finance minister; chairman, Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Company

Biography: Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed al-Khalifa was appointed finance minister in January 2005 and has been chairman of Bahrain’s sovereign wealth fund, Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Company, since it was formed in June 2006. In March 2009, Mumtalakat put its plans to invest in international assets on hold for 12 months because of the financial crisis. Sheikh Ahmed’s focus is now on strengthening its Bahraini assets, which include Gulf Air and Aluminium Bahrain. Sheikh Ahmad has previously worked on the establishment of the Bahrain Stock Exchange, where he was head of operations from 1989 to 1996 and director from 1997 to 2001. He was appointed governor of the Bahrain Monetary Agency, forerunner of the Central Bank of Bahrain, in 2001.

Contact Tel: (+9731) 757 5000

Majeed al-Alawi

Position: Labour minister

Biography: Labour reform remains one of the most important strategic goals for the Bahraini government which, unlike its richer neighbours elsewhere in the Gulf, does not have the capacity to soak up unemployed locals in the public sector. Majeed al-Alawi, who was appointed labour minister in January 2005, has made good progress in addressing some of the key issues, encouraging private sector activity to create jobs wherever possible. However, a tax on companies with more than 10 staff, which is used to pay for the training of nationals, has had mixed results. Prior to his current role, Al-Alawi was labour and social affairs minister from November 2002 to January 2005. He has also worked at a host of state-run bodies, including Bahrain Petroleum Company (Bapco), the Electricity & Water Ministry and state-run telecoms firm Batelco.

Contact Tel: (+9731) 787 3754

Esam Abdulla Fakhro

Position: Chairman, Bahrain Chamber of Commerce & Industry

Biography: Esam Abdulla Fakhro is one of the most influential businessman in Bahrain. He sits on the board of the Economic Development Board, Mumtalakat and the Bahrain Stock Exchange, and heads the Chamber of Commerce & Industry. The latter represents the country’s private sector, which is expected to play a central role in the development of the economy as part of the government’s Vision 2030 strategy. It faces some opposition from smaller companies, which complain it fails to represent their interests. Fakhro also acts as vice-president of the National Bank of Bahrain and chairman of one of the oldest Bahraini trading companies, Fakhro Group. The group’s operations include industrial products, technology, restaurants, shipping and insurance. Fakhro holds a PhD in mechanical engineering from the University of London.

Contact Tel: (+9731) 738 0000

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