Leading French firms sign new deals with Bahrain
April 30, 2019 | 4:53 PM
by Times News Service
During the visit, Bahrain also reaffirmed deals worth over $1.5bn with French firms across sectors. - Supplied picture

Muscat: Coinciding with a major diplomatic visit by a royal delegation from Bahrain, leading French firms including aviation leader Thales, oil major Total, insurer AXA and leading asset managers Amundi and Tikehau Capital have on Tuesday signed MoUs and agreements worth more than half a billion dollars with the Gulf Kingdom. This bring the total number of ongoing agreements with France up to $4.63 billion.

Two of the agreements were related to support for Bahrain’s national carrier Gulf Air–Thales and Michelin both struck deals to service the national carrier’s fleet – and insurance leader AXA signed a MoU to build AXA Gulf’s new corporate headquarters in the Kingdom of Bahrain. Total signed a MoU with Bahrain’s Tatweer Petroleum related to the major oil and gas discovery made off the west coast of the Kingdom in 2018.

Gulf Air has long had a close relationship with French firms and has been a long-standing customer of Airbus, and these latest deals come as the airline sets out to build the region’s youngest fleet, and expand its network from 47 to 65 destinations in five years.

Osool Asset Management, launched in 2011, is a major asset management firm and Amundi signed an MoU today to further strengthen collaborations. YBA Kanoo, which signed an MoU with AXA, is one of the largest independent family-owned multinationals in the Middle East, with a diverse portfolio of businesses.

During the visit, Bahrain also reaffirmed deals worth over $1.5bn with French firms across sectors.

Noting the strength of the historical relationship between France and Bahrain, Khalid Al Rumaihi, Chief Executive of Bahrain’s Economic Development Board (EDB), said: “There has been a long history of trade between our two nations and these deals are an expression of the increasingly close commercial ties across a variety of sectors from aviation to financial services that link France and Bahrain."

“There is a growing favourable outlook for more deals to be made across the knowledge economy and in high-tech industries, as well as in traditional areas of cooperation, such as infrastructure and energy,” he added.

The agreements and MoUs signed in Paris are just the most recent in a long history of deals negotiated between the two countries. Up to 70 per cent of Bahrain’s water and electricity, for example, is generated by desalination and thermal plants constructed by the French energy giant Engie, and Airbus is a primary supplier of aircraft to Gulf Air.

Bahrain is in the midst of a $32 billion infrastructure renaissance focusing on tourism and hospitality, retail, real estate, finance (especially FinTech)and oil and gas services. It is also recognised as the first Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) country to diversify its economy away from oil.

In 2018, the non-oil sector of the economy grew by 4.3 per cent and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) has bolstered nearly all segments, across tourism, real estate, education and healthcare, manufacturing, transport and logistics, financial services and information, communications and technology (ICT). The non-oil sector currently comprises more than 80% of the economy.

While in France, the Bahraini delegation visited FinTech incubator Le Swave and signed a joint statement on working together to increase the global growth of FinTech. The Kingdom has the foremost FinTech hub in the Middle East and Africa and is positioning itself as an innovation hub for the GCC and MENA, encouraging the growth of an entrepreneurial ecosystem aimed at attracting individuals and companies with cutting-edge ideas and products. New laws have been passed to promote the growth of the FinTech industry and to make Bahrain a destination of choice for next generation technology companies.

Officials and Delegates at the various MOU signing ceremonies that took place in France. Also, seen in the pictures is Zayed bin Rashed Alzayani, Bahrain Minister of Industry, Commerce.

Subscribe to our newsletter and be the first to know all the latest news