Is Bahrain the best place to live and work in?

According to a survey, Bahrain has shot to the number one spot on a list of best places in the world to live and work in. And this is a tremendous improvement from the previous year where Bahrain barely made it into top 20. What surprised many was the fact that the United States was ranked 43rd, third bottom on the list. So what exactly is it about Bahrain that has led it to its top spot?

How did Bahrain take its pole position?

1) No language barrier

First and foremost, the one language that is widely spoken in Bahrain apart from Arabic – English. Language barrier has often been one of the top barriers within culture that often turns people away. As such, it makes assimilation easy for anyone who is looking to integrate in their culture. More importantly, it easily makes foreigners feel at home.

2) Tax rates

Gulf States have been known for their “non-existent tax rates†which has also been top on the list for many who choose to relocate there. Although this is set to change with the roll out of the VAT that is expected in 2018, the impact on Bahrain is much lower as compared to its neighbouring countries. Bahrain has always been a slightly more family orientated country and hence education and residential contracts take the bigger slice of the pie for them which fortunately is at zero rated and exempted from VAT respectively.

3) Work life balance

Most people are drawn to Bahrain with the laid-back lifestyle that it is known for. Moreover, the country has been rated relatively high for its ‘finding friends’ category which is an additional attraction point as it makes assimilation a lot easier.

In addition, the UAE has also been popular for families where it is known to be safe and secure for young children whilst providing a great education at the same time. Although an Islamic state, Bahrain is considered to be more liberal that neighbours Saudi Arabia and Qatar and hence has attracted expats and migrant workers that now make more than half of its population.

Lastly, people in Bahrain respect a work life balance lifestyle as it is generally a more family oriented country, making it one of the best places to start as well as raise a family as you get the support that you need. What makes it even better is the extremely welcoming people in Bahrain.

4) Exciting career prospects

Bahrain established the first financial centre in the Gulf when banks and investors in Beirut sought a safe offshore haven in the 1970s and has since been a leading centre of innovation and expansion in the Islamic finance sector. It has also ensured that its citizens have been educated to take advantage of the opportunities within the financial sector which has increased year on year as a contributor to their GDP.

However, with the opportunities that have been created as Bahrain diversified its economy to become, this has also led to a growth in the number of available jobs where these now need to be filled with not just their citizens but with expats and migrant workers too. The main driver for job growth included insurance firms, money changes, financing companies, investment business firms as well as the banking sector.

In addition, the government of Bahrain has been encouraging and promoting the employment of female workers as well, adding to the pool of available talent.

Hence, despite a weaker economic backdrop in the wake of lower oil prices, the economy is holding firm in Bahrain. This might have impacted the financial sector initially but most organisations are already on their road to growth in profitability.

Future of Bahrain

As Bahrain continue to take on a leading role within the financial sector, the industry will only continue to grow which represents the increase of job opportunities that the country will witness. Will the country be able to continue attracting expats (and perhaps even more after being voted number one place to live and work in)?

What about the emerging skills gap which citizens in Bahrain need to continue to keep up with?

Organisations who are hiring within Bahrain will also need to start looking at foreign workers in an attempt to match the skill sets that it requires. With legislation, compliance and the evolving landscape of the financial technology sector, there seems to be more that Bahrain needs to look at in terms of hiring the right individual.

If you are looking for opportunities within the financial sector or would like advice on the best available talent within the market in Bahrain, please connect with the huxley team in Dubai at [email protected] or follow our LinkedIn page for more industry related insights.

Source: UPI, The National, Business Insider, HSBC, Oxford Business Group, Arabian Business, Meed

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