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U.S. franchises in demand in Bahrain, reports Country Profile


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Bahrain flag

Flag Facts

Red is the traditional color for flags of Persian Gulf states. The five points of the white serrated band represent the five pillars of Islam. Until 2002, the flag had eight white points, but this was reduced to five to avoid confusion with the Qatari flag.

Location: In the Middle East, Bahrain is an archipelago in the Persian Gulf, east of Saudi Arabia. It’s about three-and-a-half times the size of Washington, D.C.

Language: Arabic, followed by English, Farsi and Urdu

Total Population: 1.4 million. Immigrants make up approximately 48 percent of the total population, according to UN data.

Capital: Manama

Government: Constitutional monarchy

Religion: Muslim (74%), Christian (9.3%)

Economy: While the Bahraini government is working to diversify the economy, oil still comprises 85 percent of Bahraini budget revenues. Lower world energy prices have generated sizable budget deficits—about 10 percent of GDP in 2017 alone—but the country is seeing growth outside oil. High-value manufacturing and industrial services, information technology, healthcare and medical equipment, construction, professional services, renewable energy and tourism are all growth areas. Bahrain’s regional competitiveness is still a challenge as its small size, central location among Gulf countries and economic dependence on Saudi Arabia result in a balancing act. Bahrain is one of just two Gulf Cooperation Council members to have a free trade agreement with the U.S. (Oman is the other).

Culture note: Politeness is highly valued, and blunt statements should be recast into constructive, balanced terms. During meetings, accept the offering of coffee, tea or soft drinks. While most local businesspeople and officials wear local attire—a white dress (thobe) for men with a fabric headdress including a scarf (ghatrah) and a headband (egal) and a black dress (abaya) and headcovering (hijab) for women—expatriates typically wear business attire similar to that of the United States.

GDP (official exchange rate): $35.33 billion

Currency: Bahraini Dinar (conversion rate at press time: 1 BHD equals $2.65 USD).

Franchising in Bahrain: Demand for U.S. franchises, particularly in the fast food, restaurant and retail sectors, remains strong, and more than 100 U.S. franchise outlets operate in Bahrain. Five Guys, IHOP, Cold Stone Creamery, Elevation Burger and of course McDonald’s and Subway all operate there. The market is also growing for automotive services, high-end fashion and convenience stores. Standard commercial laws govern franchise agreements, and Bahrain is a member of the World Trade Organization and World Intellectual Property Organization. Franchisee financing usually comes through bank loans, personal savings or family investment funds.

Ease of doing business rank by World Bank: 62.

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