Bahrain's Business Environment by Philip Dew

By Philip Dew

This sure consultant to the industrial projects now attracting international traders to Bahrain emphasizes the Kingdom's position as a nearby monetary hub. It offers overviews of key sectors: typical assets, production, telecommunications and estate, and a transparent rationalization of the criminal and regulatory framework, banking, finance, accounting, taxation and advertisement practices crucial for overseas traders and enterprise companions

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Shareholder meetings must be held once a year. Audited accounts must be filed (except for family companies). To do business ‘onshore’ Bahrain (ie with Bahrain clients or customers), a WLL or a branch is the correct vehicle. This type of company is the most popular with foreign investors. Table 1. Limited liability company requirements Minimum capital shareholding Need to hold meetings in Bahrain Need to file annual accounts Commercial registration fee Need for board meetings to be held in Bahrain Need to have its own premises Pre-emptive rights on share sale and capital increase Maximum capital Minimum number of shareholders Minimum and maximum number of directors General meetings of shareholders Currency of capital BHD 20,000 Yes Yes BHD 20 No Yes (an accountant’s or lawyer’s office is not sufficient) Yes No 2 None; management may be conducted by ’managers’ At least one annually Bahraini Dinar or US Dollar Single-person company These companies need to have only one shareholder; the minimum capital is BHD 50,000.

Commercial registration fees are payable on registration as a condition of registration, and annually thereafter. There is a fixed fee of 20 Bahraini dinars (BHD, approximately £35)) per annum. No accounts have to be filed. No business may be conducted, bank accounts established or telephone, fax or telex connected until the branch is registered. The time taken to register a branch is between one and four weeks. Company formation Under the Commercial Companies Law, there are several types of company, but those that concern a foreign entity are: • • • • joint-stock company; WLL (limited liability company); single-person company; variable capital company.

Women are expected to dress ‘decently’, without unnecessary display of flesh or emphasis of sexuality. As one remark by a tolerant observer put it ‘There is a difference between what you would expect to find on the beach and what you expect to see in the suq’. Families The commercial environment within Bahrain is dominated by a number of trading families. Being a small country with a limited number of large commercial enterprises, there are substantial inter-family relationships. This will often result in apparently open-market bidding actually being used to test market pricing levels, with the ‘successful’ bidder actually being an aunt, uncle or cousin.

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