How We Can Help

Not only have we worked hard to create the broad economic framework expected by international businesses, we have also put in place a dedicated support infrastructure for businesses setting up in our country.

At the centre of our drive to attract and support foreign businesses is the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB), a dynamic public agency (Source: 1).

Businesses setting up in Bahrain receive valuable assistance, helping them to assess their opportunities in the Gulf and to execute the practical steps free of charge.

The Economic Development Board’s business development team supports investors. Sector specialists can help you to analyse:

  • Costs
  • Infrastructure
  • Workforce requirements
  • Regulatory, legal and tax issues
  • Market opportunity

You will be assigned a relationship manager who can introduce you to other companies that have set up in the kingdom.

Your relationship manager will refer you to our Bahrain Investors Centre, which is an efficient one-stop-shop for setting up a business, and will follow up on registration applications.  Additionally, your relationship manager will liaise with the relevant ministries, as well as the business community, to ease the process of setting up.

However, our support does not stop there: one of the things that makes Bahrain unique is the continued level of support you receive after you have set up your business. We do not just bring you out here; we help you to succeed.

(1) The Economic Development Board is responsible for creating and overseeing Bahrain’s economic development strategy, and for attracting foreign direct investment.

Business Etiquette

What should I wear?

There are no restrictions on dress code. During the day people doing business wear suits and ties. Women may dress as they please, although it is polite to dress modestly.

How should I greet people?

When doing business always shake hands, using the right hand. If you are a man and are introduced to a woman, you should let the woman offer to shake hands.

What about hospitality?

Drinking Arabic coffee together is a symbol of harmony and trust. Served in tiny porcelain cups, coffee should be taken with the right hand. When you want no further refills, signal that you have finished by shaking your cup slightly from side to side and handing it back.

How should I conduct meetings?

In the Middle East, initial meetings are often devoted to establishing trust. Much time may be spent on light conversation before embarking on business matters. You should be aware that business decisions are often reached only after lengthy internal consultation.

What are the prohibited business activities?

  • Gambling
  • Alcoholic drinks manufacturing
  • Narcotics manufacturing
  • Weapons manufacturing
  • Cigarettes manufacturing
  • Import of all types of waste and treatment, storage and dumping of radioactive materials and toxic waste in Bahrain
  • Import, manufacturing and dealing of Asbestos and its by-products (not including Asbestos removal)
  • Import and industrial use of restricted chemicals
  • Import of automatic cigarette vending machines
  • Letter post (exclusive to Bahrain Post)

What about business activities only allowed for Bahraini citizens and companies?

Some activities such as:

  • Real estate services and rental and management of land and property (not including buying and selling, management of personal property or consultancy services)
  • Press, publication and distribution house (Daily, non-daily, and specialized newspapers and magazines)
  • Printing Press
  • Cinematic filming studio
  • Management and operation of cinema theatres and film distribution
  • Cinema halls
  • Goods land transport
  • Passenger land transport
  • Tourist land transport
  • Domestic Sea Cruises
  • Driving instruction
  • Motorcycle rental
  • Car rental
  • Call taxi
  • Oil products supply (Filling Stations)
  • Gas bottling and distribution
  • Cooker re-filling and repairing
  • Handling and processing formalities with Government Departments and Authorities
  • Hajj and Umra services
  • Foreign manpower supply
  • Commercial agencies
  • Small business activities

Requirements

1. Can I own a business in Bahrain?

100% foreign ownership of business is allowed. Sector-specific and/or company type restrictions may apply.

2. Can I own a land in Bahrain?

Bahraini and GCC nationals are permitted to own land in all areas of Bahrain.

Non-nationals and foreign companies are permitted to own property and real estate in new developed areas, including:

  • The Greater Manama Area, such as Ahmad Al-Fateh District, Hoora Area, Bu Ghazal Area, Northern District of Manama including Diplomatic Area (areas of high rise residential and commercial structure with elevation of 10 storeys or above)
  • Seef District (with elevation of 10, 5 and 3 storeys)
  • New tourism developments such as Durrat Al Bahrain, Amwaj Islands
  • Areas which fall within the sphere of the Bahrain Financial Harbour (BFH), the Bandar Al Seef Area and Lulu Islands

3. What are the Legal structures available in Bahrain and their main features?

Bahrain Shareholding Company (B.S.C.) – Public

A Public Shareholding Company consists of a number of partners (not less than 7) who subscribe therein by way of negotiable shares. Partners shall be liable for the company’s debts and obligations only to the extent of the value of their shares.

Main features of this company type are:

  • Limited liability
  • Banking / insurance activities are allowed
  • Local operations are allowed
  • Local office presence is required
  • Minimum share capital required is BD 1,000,000
  • Minimum number of partners and promoters required is 7
  • Minimum number of directors required is 5
  • Local sponsor is not required

4. Do I need a Local Sponsor to form a closed shareholding company?

No. Local sponsor is not required

Foreign ownership:

  • Nationals of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) are permitted 100% ownership
  • Foreign (non-GCC) investors may acquire up to 100% of the company
  • Under the terms of the Bahrain-U.S. Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT), U.S. investors were accorded MFN (or GCC) treatment beginning January 1, 2005
  • Annual submission of audited financial statement is required

With Limited Liability Company (W.L.L.)

A Limited Liability Company is a company of which partners are responsible for the company debts and liabilities only to the extent of their shareholding in the capital. If the number of partners falls below two, the company must introduce new shareholders within a period of 30  days, or by force of the law, be converted to a single person company, or proceed to dissolution. A Limited Liability Company cannot issue public shares, negotiable warrants, or debentures.

Main features of this company type are:

  • Limited liability
  • Banking and insurance activities are not allowed
  • Local operations are allowed
  • Local office presence is required
  • The minimum share capital required is BD 20,000
  • The minimum number of partners and promoters required is 2 and the maximum is 50
  • The minimum number of directors required is 2
  • Local sponsor is not required
  • 100% foreign ownership is allowed
  • Annual submission of audited financial statement is required

5. Do I need a Local Sponsor to form a WLL Company?

No. Local sponsor is not required and 100% foreign ownership is allowed

Partnership Company

A Partnership Company is a company without limited liability, formed between two persons or more under a specific name, and in which partners assume joint responsibility, to the extent of all their entire personal assets, for the partnerships debts and liabilities.

Main features of this company type are:

  • Unlimited liability
  • Banking and insurance activities are not allowed
  • Local operations are allowed
  • Local office presence is required
  • Minimum share capital is not applicable
  • The minimum number of partners and promoters required is 2
  • The number of directors required is 2
  • Local sponsor is not required
  • 100% foreign ownership is allowed

6. Do I need a Local Sponsor to form a partnership (Unlimited Liability) Company?

No. Local sponsor is not required and 100% foreign ownership is allowed

Simple Commandite

A Simple Commandite is a limited partnership company established between one or more partners, who are jointly liable to the extent of their entire personal wealth for the company’s obligations, and other partner or partners who have invested capital in the company but are not involved in management (the limited partners).
No limited partner is held responsible for the company’s obligations save to the extent of his share in the capital.

Main features of this company type are:

  • Limited liability – there are two categories of partners: limited partners or shareholders and partners with unlimited liability (joint partners)
  • Banking and insurance activities are not allowed
  • Local operations are allowed
  • Local office presence is required
  • Minimum share capital is not applicable
  • The minimum number of partners and promoters required is 2
  • Minimum number of directors required is 2
  • Local sponsor is not required
  • Share of Bahraini partners’ capital shall not be less than 51%

Commandite by Shares

Commandite Partnership by Shares is a company established between two categories of partners, one of which is that of joint partners who are jointly responsible, to the extent of their entire personal wealth for the company’s obligations and the other is that of limited partners (shareholders) who are not liable for the company’s obligations except to the extent of their equity (shares) in the capital.

Main features of this company type are:

  • Limited liability – there are two categories of partners: limited partners or shareholders and partners with unlimited liability (joint partners)
  • Banking and Insurance activities are not allowed
  • Local operations are allowed
  • Local office presence is required
  • Minimum share capital required is BD 20,000
  • The minimum number of partners and promoters required is 4
  • Minimum number of directors required is 2
  • An external auditor is required
  • Local sponsor is not required
  • 100% foreign ownership is allowed

7. Do I need a Local Sponsor to form a Commandite partnership by shares Company?

No. Local sponsor is not required and 100% foreign ownership is allowed

Single Person Company (S.P.C.)

A Single Person Company is a company the capital of which is fully owned by a single natural or corporate person. The proprietor of the capital of the company shall be liable only to the extent of the capital allocated for the company.

Main features of this company type are:

  • Limited liability
  • Banking and insurance activities are not allowed
  • Local operations are allowed
  • Local office presence is required
  • The minimum share capital required is BD 50,000
  • The minimum  number of partners and promoters required is 1
  • The number of directors required is 1
  • An external auditor is required
  • Local sponsor is not required
  • 100% foreign ownership is allowed
  • Annual submission of audited financial statement is required

Foreign Company Branch:

A branch of a foreign company which is incorporated and registered outside the Kingdom of Bahrain, may be established as an operational office, a representative office, or a regional office.

Main features of this company type are:

  • Limits of liability same as the parent company
  • Local operations are allowed only for an operational office
  • Representative and regional Office are only permitted to undertake marketing and promotion
  • Banking and insurance activities are allowed (operational offices only)
  • Local office presence is required
  • Minimum share capital is not applicable
  • Branch manager is required
  • A local sponsor is required only for an operational office

8. Do I need a Local Sponsor to open a Foreign Company Branch?

No. A local sponsor is required only for an operational office

Holding Company

The purpose of a holding company is to own shares in Bahraini or foreign joint stock companies and to own shares or stakes in Bahraini or  foreign  limited  liability companies, or to participate in the establishment of such companies and to manage them and provide loans thereto and to guarantee them before third parties. A holding company may take the form of a Closed or Public Shareholding Company, a Limited Liability Company, or a Single Person Company. Characteristics of a holding company will depend on its legal form. A Holding Company must own more than 50% of the shares of the affiliated company.

9. Is 100% foreign ownership allowed for an individual establishment?

Individual Establishment

Only Bahraini citizens and citizens of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries (must be resident in Bahrain) may register an Individual Establishment in the Kingdom of Bahrain. An Individual Establishment is a non-incorporated entity and is owned by one individual only. The owner is liable for all debts and liabilities of the business to the extent of his/her personal assets.

Main characteristics of this type of establishment are:

  • Unlimited liability
  • Owner must be Bahraini or GCC national no less than 18 years of age

10. How can I get the Commercial Registration?

After selecting a business activity and the type of legal structure for your company, the necessary approvals from the concerned sector regulators are required. When all requirements and conditions are submitted and met respectively, a Commercial Registration (CR) is issued by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce. Commercial Registrations must be renewed on an annual basis.

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