The Bahrain Economic Development Board has highlighted details of a new visa policy that allows nationals of more than 60 more countries to obtain a visa on arrival, bringing the total number of countries with this option to nearly 100.
The new visa policy will be implemented in 2015 and is a significant development, with the potential to affect over 2.5 billion people who can now obtain a one month visa on arrival, with the ability to renew for another three months.
In particular, the new visa policy will further enable expatriates who do business in Bahrain, to easily travel in and out of the Kingdom more easily, as well as boosting the tourism industry.
EDB chairman Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa presented the new visa policy in a cabinet meeting earlier, emphasising that reforms such as this, which support the business environment in the Kingdom, will help to continue to attract inward investment and drive forward economic growth and job creation.
Kamal bin Ahmed, acting chief executive, Bahrain EDB: “Throughout history, Bahrain’s economic progress has been built on a tradition of openness, based around its role as an established hub for trade and investment.
“The new visa policy - one of the most flexible visa policies in the region - follows that tradition, enabling citizens from more than 100 countries to enjoy easier and quicker access to the Middle East’s most open economy, as ranked by the Heritage Foundation’s 2014 Index of Economic Freedom.”
The decision to revise the visa policy was taken based on key trends in the investor base in the Kingdom, including a 58 per cent increase in international investors who own businesses in Bahrain between 2005 and 2012, and 50 per cent increase in Arab investors with 17% in non-residence equity owners.
The UNCTAD World Investment Report 2014, released last month, confirmed that total foreign direct investment into Bahrain in 2013 was $989 million, an increase of 11 per cent on 2012, outpacing global average growth of 9 per cent.