In an effort to lower its debt, Bahrain said on Monday that it would be implementing a new "golden licence" program that would provide benefits to businesses that would bring significant investment projects to the small Gulf country.
The action is a component of the oil-producing state's October 2021 economic recovery plan, which aims to stimulate growth and job creation.
"Companies with major investment and strategic projects that will create more than 500 jobs in Bahrain, or those with investment value exceeding $50 million, will be eligible for the license," according to the government's media office.
According to the announcement, the golden license would be made available to both domestic and foreign companies. Benefits include priority land allocation, infrastructure, and service, quicker access to government services, and assistance from government development funding.
The United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, Bahrain's considerably larger Gulf neighbors, have been reforming their immigration policies and enacting a slew of economic and legal changes over the past few years as regional competition for talent and investment heats up.
One of the most indebted countries in the Gulf, Bahrain is home to the US Navy's Fifth Fleet. In 2018, affluent neighbors bailed out Bahrain with a $10 billion rescue package conditional on changes aimed at achieving fiscal balance by 2024.
Higher oil prices have benefited Bahrain, whose real gross domestic product expanded by 4.9% in 2022, the quickest rate since 2013.
The non-oil GDP growth rate in 2022 was 6.2%, above the recovery plan's target of 5% for the year.
By fLEXI tEAM