BAHRAIN’S NEW VISA POLICY CREATES EASIER ACCESS AND INCREASED FLEXIBILITY FOR RESIDENTS FROM INDIA
New Delhi, The Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) has highlighted details of a new visa policy. The new visa policy, enables residents of India, along with 35 other countries, to apply for electronic visas as of October 2014. This will bring the overall total of countries eligible to receive e-visas to 101. These can be obtained ahead of travel to the Kingdom of Bahrain through a simple online application process.
Starting in 2015 residents of India will also now be able to spend longer periods of time in Bahrain. Under the new system visas will be valid for a month and can be renewed for up to three months. Additionally, multiple entry visas will also be available.
In particular, the new visa policy will further enable expatriates who do business in Bahrain, to easily travel in and out of the Kingdom more easily, as well as boosting the tourism industry. The new visa policy will have a particularly significant impact on ease of travel for Indians due to the large numbers that live, work and travel to Bahrain. Indians make up the largest expatriate population in Bahrain with more than 300,000 residing in the Kingdom. India is also one of Bahrain’s most important trading partners. In 2011, total trade between India and Bahrain exceeded $1.7 billion.
His Royal Highness Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, First Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the EDB, presented the new visa policy in a Cabinet meeting earlier this month, emphasising that reforms such as this, which support the business environment in the Kingdom, will help to continue to attract inward investment and drive forward economic growth and job creation.
H.E. Kamal bin Ahmed, Minister of Transportation and Acting Chief Executive of the Bahrain EDB, commented: “Throughout history, Bahrain’s economic progress has been built on a tradition of openness, based around its role as an established hub for trade and investment. The new visa policy – one of the most flexible visa policies in the region – follows that tradition, enabling citizens from more than 100 countries to enjoy easier and quicker access to the Middle East’s most open economy, as ranked by the Heritage Foundation’s 2014 Index of Economic Freedom.”
In addition to the 36 countries now eligible for e-visa applications, residents from a further 65 countries will also now be able to apply for a visa on arrival. The decision to revise the visa policy was taken based on key trends in the investor base in the Kingdom, including a 58% increase in international investors who own businesses in Bahrain between 2005 and 2012, and 50% increase in Arab investors with 17% in non-residence equity owners. The UNCTAD World Investment Report 2014, released last month, confirmed that total foreign direct investment (FDI) into Bahrain in 2013 was $989 million, an increase of 11% on 2012, outpacing global average growth of 9%.