The government of Bahrain is drafting a new law for issuing self-sponsored residency visas for foreign investors in the Gulf kingdom.
Bahrain News Agency reported late on Tuesday that the crown prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa instructed the minister of interior to prepare the legislation, the drafting of which follows similar moves by the UAE earlier this month.
The Manama-based reported the visa is intended to emphasise Bahrain’s position “as an investment destination”, allowing foreign investors to obtain a “10-year renewable residency permit on a self-sponsorship basis.”
The announcement from Bahrain follows similar plans by the UAE, which last week said it would introduce a 10-year visa for investors, innovators and talented specialists in the medical, scientific, research and technical fields.
Also following in the wake of the UAE, the country also said it would be looking to approve a new investment law allowing 100% foreign ownership of companies by the end of the year, a move that is seen as encouraging FDI, while accentuating the already rising competition between Gulf states.
A new wave of inward investment cannot come soon enough for Bahrain’s economy, which has been among the hardest hit in the GCC by persistent low oil prices over the past three years.
According to the IMF, the Gulf island’s budget deficit will be 11.6% of GDP in 2018 and forecasts its debt will rise in excess of 100% of GDP over the course of next year.