Economic performance in Bahrain was moderate in 2013 and GDP was estimated to have grown by 4.9%. This growth was primarily supported by resurgence in the hydrocarbon sector. Non-oil growth was slow compared to overall growth and was estimated to be 2.8% for 2013. This was primarily due to weak investor sentiment in the region associated with concerns on the political situation. The forecast for non-oil GDP growth in 2014 is expected to be around 5% with a number of significant projects expected to take off leading to an increase in capital investment. Non-oil GDP is expected to be flat with no change in oil output. Overall growth is projected to be around 3% in 2014, lower than the growth rate in 2013, reflecting limited growth in the oil sector.
Bahrain’s long-term policy of diversification away from petroleum, which accounted for 19% of GDP in 2012, protected it somewhat from political unrest associated with the Arab Spring and the global economic slowdown. Still, hydrocarbons contributed at least 80% of government revenues between 2007 and 2012 with the offshore Abu Sa’afa field, which it shares with Saudi Arabia, providing 80% of Bahrain’s oil revenues since 2009. Gas comprises about 10% of hydrocarbon revenues. The hydrocarbon sector declined 12.6%. The share of non-oil revenues represented 13% of revenues in 2012 and has grown in absolute value by about 2% annually during the last decade. These non-hydrocarbon revenues mainly comprise fees from ports and various other public registrations and services. Sectors driving most of Bahrain’s GDP growth have been manufacturing particularly aluminum finance, telecommunications, transport and the service sector. Manufacturing contributed 14.8% of GDP in 2012, is dominated by oil-related downstream industries and employs the largest number of Bahraini nationals. Financial corporations comprise about 17% of GDP, competing with Malaysian institutions for Islamic finance and strengthening its overall position by instituting central bank regulation, flexible ownership rights and anti-money laundering laws. Transport and telecommunication accounted for 7% share of GDP in 2012 and 9% of GDP growth. Social and personal services accounted for 5.4% of GDP in 2012 and 10% of GDP growth.
Bahrain’s overall doing business ranking (ranked 46 out of 189 economies) increased in 2014 by one place over its 2013 rank. This is due to a significant improvement of credit availability ranking by 24 ranks (130). Bahrain ranks in the top ten countries globally in terms of the ease of obtaining construction permits (4) and the ease of paying taxes (7). There is considerable ease in getting electricity (52), registering property (32) and resolving insolvency (27) while there is concern on protecting investors (115) and enforcing contracts (122). Bahrain ranks as the fourth easiest destination in the region to do business with.