Bahrain’s labour productivity highest in Gulf: Report

August 28th, 2008 - 7:35 pm ICT by IANS  

Dubai, Aug 28 (IANS) Bahrain recorded the highest increase in labour productivity among all Gulf nations, according to an independent report. The ‘Growing Beyond Oil’ report, issued by the American not-for-profit organisation Conference Board, praised the success of Bahrain’s efforts to modernise its labour market stating that the resultant increased productivity is the key to future economic growth, Bahrain’s Economic Development Board (EDB) said in a statement.

It said Bahrain’s labour productivity rate was 20 percent higher than that of Oman, its nearest competitor, and more than five times above the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) average.

Apart from Bahrain and Oman, the GCC comprises Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The report said while other Gulf countries experienced steady economic growth due largely to an inflow of expatriates, Bahrain’s economic growth was based on rapidly increasing labour productivity and therefore was more sustainable.

Around 290,000 of the total of over 4.8 million expatriate Indians in the Gulf live in Bahrain.

“These excellent results reflect the great strides Bahrain has made towards modernising and liberalising our economy, and training and educating our native workforce,” Shaikh Mohammed bin Essa Al-Khalifa, chief executive of EDB, said in the statement.

“Businesses operating in Bahrain are capitalising on the availability of the most highly-skilled native workforce in the region,” he said, adding that the workforce in the banking sector comprised 73 percent Bahraini nationals, of which women accounted for 27 percent.

Al-Khalifa said that through further liberalisation and skills investment Bahrain would become the Gulf’s most attractive destination for both business and highly-skilled workers.

Stating that Bahrain’s labour force has become one of the most skilled in the Arab world, the report said education was compulsory and free for the country’s entire population.

As a result, Bahrain’s literacy rate at 85 percent, is one of the highest in the region.

The kingdom has a long-term commitment to develop a modern and highly skilled workforce that is capable of competing with economies across the world.

In 1919, Bahrain became the first country in the Gulf to launch a public education system. It was also a pioneer in giving its female population equal access to its educational resources.

In 2005, the Royal University for Women joined the country’s 15 other universities, and the state continues to provide free and compulsory basic schooling for the children of both citizens and expatriates, the report said.

In June this year, the Bahrain Labour Fund announced that under its Human Capital Development initiative, it had invested more than $75 million to provide over 11,000 Bahraini nationals with world-class training over the next four years.

The initiative covers nationals entering the labour market as well as existing employees.

Bahrain is also one of the top performers among Middle Eastern countries in the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) annual index on human development.

The ‘Growing Beyond Oil’ report studied the progress of economic diversification in the oil-rich region.

The GCC countries are all focussing on diversifying their respective economies and move away from their sole dependence on oil and gas.

Founded in 1916, the US-based Conference Board is a non-profit global business organisation supported by business executives that holds conferences, convenes executives and conducts business management research.

It connects more than 1,600 corporations in nearly 60 nations.

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