25 September 2016 update: A first Pakistan-Bahrain Business Opportunities Conference to promote trade between two countries is being held in Manama today by Pakistan Embassy.
Bahrain’s King Sheikh Hamad bin Isa bin Salman Al-Khalifa was recently on a visit to Pakistan. It was a first visit by a Bahrain king after 40 years.
King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa wrapped up his three-day March visit as the two countries signed eight agreements to enhance cooperation in areas of trade, economy, energy, food security, air services and manpower training.
So far so good.
But this post is less about King’s visit, and more about Bahrain the country. The side of Bahrain very few people know about.
When I first visited Bahrain a few years ago to set up Skill City there, I found out some interesting things.
Since then, I have encouraged Pakistani CEOs I coach to set up businesses there. Surprisingly, their immediate reaction has been: no. It’s not safe there.
When they say it’s not safe, they mention the ongoing Shia-Sunni clashes which are reported in media. And I am stunned. Why? Fewer people have been killed in an entire year than are people killed in target killing in Karachi in one bad day. So, if you can face the challenges in Karachi, take up some courage.
Bahrain has zero crime rate. If you forget your iPhone somewhere in a restaurant, chances are you can find it back there when you visit them.
Just like UAE, it’s impossible that a lone female who’s travelling/walking late at night can be harassed.
When I trained executives belonging to IT and was home-working, found out that Bahrain has the highest network-readiness score in entire GCC. Which means it’s a league apart in IT connectivity.
With organisers of Wali’s talk on ‘Future-Ready Leadership & Learning’. Talk available for download here.
Bahrain has eGovernment. Setting up a firm there is as easy as ABC. Not like Pakistan, where you can’t get even an NTN without greasing someone’s palm.
When I visited Bahrain International Hospital, found it out completely paperless. You just walk-in from reception to your consultant to your bed to pharmacy and when you arrive there, they know what to do with you without even speaking to you.
Bahrain has a Chest Clinic which serves you for free. If, God forbid, you get a heart attack or have a chest pain, you just need to show up at or brought to the clinic. No questions asked whether you are a resident or visitor. They will treat you up to any level of care – bypass, etc. Completely for free. I have yet to find out any other place in the world which can do this.
And finally, the currency. BD can get you a lot. When I was conducting a weeklong workshop called ‘Leading and Fast-forwarding a Million-Dollar Business’, someone remarked: I don’t like the word Dollar here. You should write Dinar.
The NSSET in Bahrain where Wali has spoken.
Tailpiece: Bahrain is one of very few countries in GCC (along with UAE) which welcome you as a Pakistani. Since my first visit to Kuwait in 2008 to deliver leadership training there, my clients had significant difficulty in getting visas for me, and I could only go there on a few occasions when they got Royal intervention.
Otherwise, visas for Pakistanis are banned. And they remained banned in spite of the then Prime Minister Gillani’s visit to Kuwait to get visa ban removed.
Qatar too does not look kindly on us and we can only visit after a strict rigour of finding the right connection.
Saudi Arabia, although recently opening up, doesn’t make it easy on you to get business or visit visa.
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