{' '} {' '}
Limited time offer
SAVE % on your upgrade.

Page 1

Bahrain BD2 | KSA SR20 | Kuwait KD1.75 | Oman RO2 | Qatar QR20 | UAE DHS20

Benefit from Cashless Payments February 2020 | ISSUE 180

Complimentary Copy

The multi-award winning Arabian Magazine


Gulf Financial Insider

Contents February 2020 Issue 180

20 54

20 24 32 34 38 40 42

Going Cashless with e-Wallets Benefit - Paving Way for Digital Innovation Sadad - Changing Trends in Payment Solutions NHRA - Healthcare in Bahrain The Bahrain VAT Law The New Costa Experience in Bahrain Keypoint: What can we predict for Bahrain’s future?

Car News & Reviews

Simply unparalleled online presence that connects region’s most inspired communities.

46 49 50 54

BMW M4 - Civilized Beast Subaru Crosstrek 2020 - More Fun for the Money Ferrari F8 Tributo - Ferrari’s Newest, Red-Hot V8 Volvo S60 R 2020 - Wow Factor Volvo

… and much, much more!

Knowledge is power

Publisher & Editor in Chief


- Nicholas C. Cooksey

Editorial - Aswini Vijayakumar Editorial Contributors

- Hugh Haskell-Thomas - Nicholas Cortes - Bill Daly

Sales & Business Development

- Charlie Cooksey

Layout Designs - Dhanraj S

A picture is worth a thousand words. Here's last month’s most 'Liked' #BestInBahrain picture posted to our social media.

Admin & Finance

- Nikesh Pola

- Angelo Jose A Photography Distribution - Mohammed Yousif - Aramex - Al Ayam

For advertising contact

For editorial contact

Charlie Cooksey +973 3652 0004 charlie@gulf-insider.com

Aswini Vijayakumar +973 1700 4575 editorial@gulf-insider.com

Published by:

P.O. Box 26810, Kingdom of Bahrain Tel: +973 1700 4575 Fax: +973 1772 1722 Printed at Awal Press, Kingdom of Bahrain. Registered with Ministry of Information approval no. TFI-431©. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any manner without the written permission of the publisher. All Rights Reserved. Views expressed in this magazine are not necessarily those of the publisher. Bahrain Bd2 | KSA sr20 | Kuwait Kd1.75 | Oman ro2 | Qatar Qr20 | UAE dHs20

Bahrain Bd2 | KSA sr20 | Kuwait Kd1.75 | Oman ro2 | Qatar Qr20 | UAE dHs20

The multi-award winning Arabian Magazine

The multi-award winning Arabian Magazine

Photo by Luong Thi Thuy

50,331 People Reached 2,815 Reactions, Comments & Shares

FEBrUAry 2020 | ISSUE 180

Complimentary Copy


Benefit from Cashless Payments


of the Bahrain Award for entrepreneurship Fourth edition - 2019 JAnUAry 2020 | ISSUE 179


Bahrain Bd2 | KSA sr20 | Kuwait Kd1.75 | Oman ro2 | Qatar Qr20 | UAE dHs20

Bahrain Bd2 | KSA sr20 | Kuwait Kd1.75 | Oman ro2 | Qatar Qr20 | UAE dHs20

The multi-award winning Arabian magazine

The multi-award winning Arabian magazine

Send us your own photo – it could be featured next! Interview with Mr. Ahmed Abdul Rahim, CEO


Complimentary Copy

The region’s first biometric bank

Complimentary Copy

Ithmaar Bank DEcEmBEr 2019 | ISSUE 178


NOvEmBEr 2019 | ISSUE 177


Work at Height A realistic training program from Agora Training Centre

Fall Protection / Work at Height is a one day course designed to provide an understanding on the need to implement height safety procedures and the processes required to undertake evaluations of risk associated with height applications. Delegates will be trained on correct procedures to be followed when working at height, including the relevant statutory requirements, hazards of working at height and the equipment to be used when working at heights. The course is a combination of theoretical and practical sessions on which delegates will be required to demonstrate their knowledge and skills achieved during the training.

Agora Training Centre Bahrain, offers a vast variety of training programs approved Ministry of Labour as well as International Accreditation bodies. Contact us for more information


Objectives At the end of the training, delegates will be able to: • Explain the need of protection from fall • Identify common causes of fall in the workplace • Understand roles and responsibilities • Distinguish competent person and qualified person • Identify fall hazard and control • Fall Arrest and Restraint System • Understand common type and use of ladder • Explain safe ladder practices • Use of Aerial Lifts • Apply safe work practices while working on aerial platform • Understand rescue plan

Target Audience The program is designed for all personnel who are expected to work at heights as a part of their duties.

Certification This course is approved by Ministry of Labor and supported by Tamkeen

Agora Training Center Villa 270, Rd No 503, Muqabah, Kingdom of Bahrain, Tel: +973 3370 1547

On completion of the course, successful candidates will receive a certificate on Fall Protection / Working at Heights approved by the Ministry of Labour.



Follow @Gulf Insider A few of our social media posts from last month. Don’t forget to like our Facebook page!

426,906 Highlighted Posts:



reactions, comments & shares

Blue Tick Verified

9,396 Highlighted Posts:


people reached

people reached



reactions, comments & shares

Gulf Insider February 2020


people reached



Follow us on


people reached

Instagram Followers


Facebook Fans



Applicable on ALL online Bookings 10% Golf Shop Voucher issued per paid Green Fee Vouchers can be accumulated between 1st January–31st March 2020


Go to www.theroyalgolfclub.com or Scan the QR code

Social Media is changing business

Most businesses in Bahrain lack advanced digital and social media marketing skills to expertly manage a successful digital strategy, so missing major opportunities they don’t even realize. The good news is we can inexpensively create an effective digital strategy for your business, and manage it for you, for less than the salary of an employee - freeing you to run your business. We also build beautiful websites - optimized to generate income for businesses, and provide online services including SEO, design, e-commerce, photography and video production.



For a FREE evaluation of your businesses digital marketing needs. call +973 36 188 100 | 1700 4575


Day & Night Bahrain eCommerce Conference 2020


OpenX: The API Economy

When: 14th – 15th February 2020 Where: Riffa Views International School

When: 27th February 2020 Where: The Four Seasons Hotel

Bahrain eCommerce Conference 2020 is an opportunity to hear from regional e-commerce experts, experience success stories from e-commerce giants and attend free e-commerce workshops.

ArtShift is a chance to experience a new style of professional learning for visual art educators in the MENA region. It leverages the talent of local artists, participants and other professionals by providing hands-on studio style learning that is applicable to a wide range of contexts.

OpenX is the first of its kind Open Banking conference in the Kingdom of Bahrain. It is a platform that aims to provide knowledge exchange, foster synergies among market players to find solutions, encourage and promote Open Banking.

For more information: bahrainecommerceconference.com

For more information: thelevel5.org/ artshift-bahrain

When: 4th February 2020 Where: Gulf Convention Center, Gulf Hotel

2nd Annual Middle East Healthcare & Technology Conference When: 24th – 25th February 2020 Where: Intercontinental Regency Hotel The 2nd Annual Middle East Healthcare and Technology is a two-day program focusing on the need of technology implementation in healthcare sector in the Middle East Region and will bring together key decision-makers from across the world.

For more information: bricsaconsulting. com/event/2nd-annual-middle-easthealthcare-and-technology/ 12

Gulf Insider February 2020

For more information: bahrainfintechbay. com/openx-conference

A moment from another time...

Manama souq in the 1970’s

To view more immemorial images of Bahrain follow ‘The Old Bahrain’ The Old Bahrain @theoldbahrain 14

Gulf Insider February 2020

Business Society

Workshop organized by Dadabhai Travel to showcase resorts and hotels in Antalya

G4S hosts 'Cyber Security Readiness Amid Current Geo-Political State' event at Arcapita Auditorium

Gulf Insider February 2020


News Roundup

Bahrain: New authority for individual labour dispute

Bahrain: Family comes to visit imprisoned Filipino worker According to a press release by Philippines Presidential Communications Operations Office, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte led the send-off for the family of an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) detained in Bahrain after they were given the opportunity to have a compassionate visit. The Filipino worker, Aguinaldo, is currently in a Bahrain prison for killing a Pakistani national. Aguinaldo’s parents, wife, and two daughters visited Bahrain after the Bahraini government allowed them to conduct the visit. He has been in detention for three years. Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go and Special Envoy to the Gulf Cooperation Council Amable Aguiluz V extended financial assistance to Aguinaldo’s family. Aguinaldo’s family first sought the help of Senator Go in 2018, when he was still Special Assistant to the President. After consulting the matter with President Duterte, the latter appealed to the Bahraini king to commute Aguinaldo’s sentence. The Bahraini government vowed to not carry out capital punishment.

Ministry of Labour and Social Development announced its intention to establish an Individual Labour Disputes Settlement Authority in line with the ministry’s keenness to find rapid mechanisms to resolve individual labour disputes that guarantees the rights of labour and employers in Bahrain. “The authority aims to undertake an amicable settlement of any individual dispute between the worker and the employer with the consent of both parties and before having to recourse to the law courts”, Jameel Humaidan, the Minister of Labor and Social Development, said. He also stressed that the authority will implement the execution by issuing a statement to be signed by both parties in the dispute. The ministry is forming an integrated and efficient team to manage this authority within the framework of the labour law in the private sector and to reduce the number of cases before the judiciary. The ministry’s goal was to boost the process of solving individual labour disputes in the ministry, thereby reducing the number of cases being referred to the judiciary.

Bahrain: Female doctor blamed for expat’s treatment refusal A female doctor working in a private health institution was held responsible for the death of an expat resident. This was the result of the National Health Regulatory Authority’s (NHRA) investigation into the case. The expat passed away after a private hospital refused to admit him or provide simple treatment. The man who was in his forties suffered a sudden pain in the chest. A relative of the decedent confirmed that the hospital’s staff asked them to transfer the decedent to the Bahrain Defense Force (BDF) hospital or to the Salmaniya Medical Complex (SMC). The relative added that they rushed the decedent to the SMC and tried to revive him after his condition deteriorated, but he passed away.


Gulf Insider February 2020

c i t n a omr Buffet R Dinne Live Arabic Band & Lavish Buffet Couple Buffet + 1 Bottle Of House Beverage BD 30 Net Photo booth, Balloon Decoration and many activities awaiting +973 3680 6222

www.elitegrouphotels.com EliteSeefResidence&hotel





Sets 10th Guinness Record


oronet was awarded its 10th Guinness World Records on the November 6th last year at the Shanghai Expo in China. The recently awarded Guinness World Record for “The Most Diamond Set on a Toilet” is an incredible piece of art - a solid gold toilet with its bulletproof seat encrusted with 40,815 diamonds created by ten craftsmen from The Aaron Shum Jewelry Limited. The total weight of all diamonds is 334.68 carats (66.936 grams; 2.36 ounces) with the seat valued at nearly 1.3 million US Dollars. Holding nine Guinness World Record titles, including “The Most Valuable Guitar” featuring 1.6Kg of 18K gold and 400 carats of diamonds worth 2 million US Dollars, Coronet aspires for more diamond innovative creations.

Visit lifestylegcc.com for full range of elegant diamond jewelry and branded watches at very affordable prices.


Gulf Insider February 2020

Business Society

Al Zayani Foods SPC hosts the new Costa Coffee experience at Bahrain City Centre

Lunch meeting of Bahrain British Business Forum (BBBF) at the Gulf Hotel with guest speaker, HE Roddy Drummond, British Ambassador

Gulf Insider February 2020


Money & Business

Going Cashless with



he payment industry has upgraded from cash to cards and now to ‘cashless’ payments. e-Wallets have simplified the way we pay our bills. This revolutionizing Fintech is aimed at making electronic transactions easier and convenient in both online and in-store purchases. E-wallets facilitate payments, peer-to-peer money transfers and store cash for future transactions on your smartphone or computer. On the technical side, e-Wallets have a software component and an information component. The software is the part that encrypts user information and ensures the security of transactions made while the information component is where all the user details like shipping address, billing address and payment methods get stored. They are available free of charge,


Gulf Insider February 2020

require minimal setup and are gaining popularity due to security, efficiency, and ease of use

How to Use? Download the e-Wallet app from the Google Play Store or the App Store. Complete the registration and verification process to start using your e-Wallet account.

Where to use? An e-Wallet account can be used with any of the merchants associated with the e-Wallet. Supermarkets, coffee shops, restaurants, pharmacies, cold stores, and many other enterprises are a part of this Fintech innovation today. This would vary based on the e-Wallet being used.

Payment Process Scan the automatically generated QR code available at the cash counter and confirm the payment of your purchases. Money transfers and requests require the sender and the receiver to have the same e-Wallet on their smartphones.

Security e-Wallets in Bahrain are approved and certified by international payment schemes and also follow strict security standards. PCI standard accreditation, certifiable transaction receipts, personal pins, OTP, 3DSecure, Biometric Authentication, and Touch ID are few that contribute to ensuring security in these digital wallets.

Money & Business

Why e-Wallets?


orget the confusion of lastminute payments and waits outside the ATM. e-Wallets are committed to making cashless payments easier and our lives better. Here’s why you should be having one!

Convenient Transactions Free and instant transactions. Now, online and offline purchases, bill payments, money transfers, and withdrawal of cash through ATMs can be done with greater flexibility and efficiency. Digital wallets can also reduce checkout lines and of course, no more shuffling through cards to get the right one out. Transactions can be completed with a simple tap on your smartphone.

Acceptance Lots of locations and websites are including e-wallets in their payment methods today. This popularity and usage are attracting more merchants to

sign up with the cashless economy.

No Bulky Wallet Why go around with a heavy wallet when you can have everything on your mobile? Cash, cards, ID proofs, coins, and even bills and receipts can be found in our traditional wallets. E-Wallets store these valuables securely providing easy access as and when you require.

Security There is always a chance of losing your wallet. Smartphones also face the same risk. But what makes it better is its security features that protect your fund and information by restricting unauthorized access to the e-wallet application. Obviously, a lost phone is easier to find than a lost wallet!

Rewards and Discounts Affiliate programs, discounts, and rewards are the trends of today. With a

number of attractive offers, e-Wallets let you enjoy added benefits for using the application. Since the motive is client retention, engagement, and business growth, these offers are not likely to end any time soon.

Mobile Shopping Forget the fear of providing card information on websites for your online purchase. With digital wallets integrated into online shopping, you can make quick payments without risking your bank details. E-wallets are the secure medium between your bank account and the shopping website.

Future of Payment The multiple options associated with cards and payments are triggering e-Wallets’ growth in the Fintech industry. No matter how small the transaction is, you will have the details for clarification which makes it an accountable payment app.

Gulf Insider February 2020


Money & Business

Top e-Wallets in Bahrain

Today, money is shifting from the concept of a physical entity. The Central Bank of Bahrain recently revealed its digital transformation indicating the need to reduce the use of cash in transactions. With this transition, e-Wallets is sure to be an important part of the payment industry. Based on a survey conducted by Benefit in 2019, here are the top eWallets in Bahrain.


Gulf Insider February 2020

BenefitPay     

 

Add credit/debit cards Add bank accounts Peer to peer transfer Scan and pay at retail stores View Merchants through Map locator Pay service bills with Fawateer Transfer funds upto BD1000 with Fawri+ Make bulk payments upto BD15,000 with Fawri View transaction history Offers

Money & Business

bwallet Add cash through debit cards  Send and request money from bwallet users(daily limit BD1000)  International money transfer(daily limit BD500)  International top up  Scan and pay  View merchant list  Pay Batelco bills  Split bills  View transaction history  Offers 

stc Pay Add cash through debit cards or Sadad Kiosk  Send or request money from contacts having stc Pay(daily limit 1000BD)  International money transfer through UAE Exchange or NEC(daily limit 400BD)  Scan and pay  View merchant list  Pay your service bills  Withdraw money from NBB ATMs  View transaction history  Offers


Add your cards(CrediMax Credit cards, BBK debit cards, and other credit cards)  Scan and Pay at retail stores(No limit)  Shop locally and globally  International transfers across 25 countries  View merchant list  View transaction history  Offers 

Gulf Insider February 2020


Money & Business

Paving Way for

Digital Innovation Gulf Insider talks to Abdulwahed Al-Janahi, CEO of BENEFIT, on the company’s vision and their contribution towards Bahrain’s digital society.


Gulf Insider February 2020

Money & Business


an you tell us how the company’s vision has evolved over the years?

Our vision and plans have evolved quite a lot with time. When we started out, our initial aim was to connect the local banks (local debit cards issuers) for ATM

and POS (Point of Sale) switching. We knew we had to look for opportunities to develop. So we decided to extend our services beyond Bahrain and that is how we became a member of the GCC network. In the last decade, we have gone beyond the card service industry to cover other domains in financial and non-financial services with a focus on connecting financial transactions, customer information services, and business outsourcing. What we are working on now is to provide an effective shared business platform service to all stakeholders in Bahrain. This is in line with supporting the national direction of Bahrain towards a digital economy with a focus on digital society and sustainable innovation.

What are the main challenges you faced in accomplishing your vision? Penetrating into an untapped market for a cashless society is the top priority for us. There were lots of things we had to look into - technology, adoption and awareness. In addition to that, we also had to work on the end-users’ adaptation, behavior, and trust towards the utilization of new FinTech solutions. This is a national direction and we are keen towards working on it, aiming to achieve a comprehensive cashless society.

What was Benefit’s primary focus last year?

Penetrating into an untapped market for a cashless society is the top priority for us.

In 2019, our main focus was to direct the society towards digital culture and to make things easier for business in Bahrain through the Benefit Plus and Benefit Data services. These were designed with the customer’s lifestyle in mind and aimed at making the community a business-friendly one. Customers’ data and information provider through e-KYC (Electronic Know Your Customer) and BenefitPay mobile application were our major achievements last year. It was a year of BENEFIT’s B2B and B2C models. These additions have not only exposed BENEFIT in the Bahrain community but has also created a positive impact on the country’s digital transformation.

Gulf Insider February 2020


Money & Business

Nezar Maroof, Yousif Al-Nefaie, Abdulwahed Al-Janahi, Hessa Hussain and Riyad Al-Maraj

How has the Benefit Company contributed towards Bahrain’s credentials as a regional financial hub? We are recognized for a number of national services. The eKYC shared platform based on the Private-Public Partnership model between BENEFIT, CBB and IGA has positively influenced Bahrain’s FinTech ecosystem. We have also initiated a national Token Vault in collaboration with international schemes such as VISA and MasterCard for debit/credit cards for contactless mobile payments. We are continuously developing our existing services to provide innovative electronic payments, transfers, and business outsourcing services. We have collaborated with international partners

Through BENEFIT’s FinTech lab, we are exploring the innovative solutions of startups and FinTech companies.


Gulf Insider February 2020

such as Swift, MasterCard, NPCI and NETS so that electronic payments and international fund transfers can be done much faster. We have also extended our business shared services to the new financial technology service providers in the FinTech domain such as the PSP, TPPs, startups and many others.

How did the economic policy of Bahrain accelerate BENEFIT’s growth? Bahrain’s Economic Development Board(EDB) established the Bahrain FinTech-bay as a regional innovation hub and this has created various business opportunities for our company. Through BENEFIT’s FinTech lab, we are exploring the innovative solutions of startups and FinTech companies. This has enabled us to provide better digital services to our customers. CBB has also established the Sandbox so that regional and international FinTech companies are able to integrate with BENEFIT ecosystem for financial and nonfinancial transactions.

Any remarkable achievements you would like to share? We launched the eKYC or the Electronic Know Your Customer last February. Since then, around 27 banks have incorporated the process with their services and more than 1000 bank

users are already trained in it. Money exchange companies and Payment Service Providers(PSPs) are also joining the service in 2020. We are quite satisfied with the growth rate of our BenefitPay application. It is being used by more than 280K users and transactions through the application have crossed 5.5 Million. The Electronic Funds Transfer System(EFTS) has also attained 82 per cent growth with more than 15 Million transactions. Also, the Bahrain Credit Reference Bureau(BCRB) is now integrated with four banks for online credit services and two of them has already initiated granting loans to clients.

Are there any new projects in 2020? We are working on multiple projects. You will see QR mobile switch, BenefitPay for online check-out with Bahrain.bh, fuel payment, remittance, eKYC enhancement with Facial recognition and online customers’ onboarding coming up in the near term.

Visit benefit.bh to know more about BENEFIT’s latest initiatives and strategies for Bahrain.

Money & Business



Salah Al-Awadhi, Abdulwahed Al-Janahi, Adel Al-Kooheji and Ahmed Al-Mahri at the International Finance Awards 2019


ahrain’s leading regional player in electronic financial transactions - BENEFIT was awarded the “Fastest Growing Electronic Payment Solution” award at the International Finance Awards 2019. This prestigious award is in recognition of BENEFIT’s achievements in the financial service sector, and its commitment to provide the most modern financial services and cutting-edge technology to strengthen Bahrain’s position as the financial hub of the region. The International Finance Awards recognises and honors individuals who have had a positive impact on the performance of their company, and have developed innovative products or services that have set benchmarks for their peers and within the industry.

It is a testament of the diligent execution of the company’s strategic initiatives geared towards making Bahrain a regional model for FinTech services. Winning an International Finance Award is a recognition of their continual efforts and commitment to improving business performance. BENEFIT CEO, Abdulwahed Al Janahi

commented, “This award marks another milestone for us. It is a testament of the diligent execution of the company’s strategic initiatives geared towards making Bahrain a regional model for FinTech services. It is a validation for all the hard work our immensely talented team has put in to achieve our vision.” BENEFIT has been making continuous efforts to develop the FinTech landscape in Bahrain and is creating various strategic alliances to strengthen relationships between businesses and their consumers, in line with Bahrain’s Economic Vision 2030. BENEFIT is also launching innovative solutions, and services to prepare Bahrain for the future economy. Up to 2019, BenefitPay has registered 280,000 users on the application and is the most used online payment platform in Bahrain. Gulf Insider February 2020


News Roundup

Bahrain: 25,000 cases handled at expat protection centre and shelter According to officials, the Expat Protection Centre and Shelter of the LMRA has dealt with over 25,000 cases since its inception. The LMRA has helped thousands of expatriates over the years since its inception in 2006. In 2015, it launched the Expat Protection Centre and Shelter which was designed to help expats in need. In line with its 2030 Vision to stop the crime of trafficking, a cross-border crime, the Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) has spearheaded the administration of the protective services offered to migrants in Bahrain based on the fact that all declared victims of trafficking have been migrant workers. According to officials, a large number of the 25,000 cases were out of labour issues. They said that most cases involved workers from Asian nationalities due to the large number of Asians who are part of the workforce.

Gulf Air brought home 1,164 stranded Bahrainis from Iraq Gulf Air confirmed that it has completed its recovery flights from Najaf International Airport to Bahrain International Airport. The airline brought home a total of 1,164 passengers on nine recovery flights.

Saturday market returns to Bab al Bahrain Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority (BTEA) is set to host the second edition of its ‘Saturday Market’. It will be held every Saturday from 9 AM to 12:30 PM and from 2:00 PM to 7:00 PM from 25th January to 22nd March 2020 in Bab Al Bahrain. During the Formula 1 Bahrain Grand Prix 2020, the Saturday Market will be open to visitors for four consecutive days. This year, the event will feature 40 craftsmen specialized in 25 crafts including basket weaving, traditional chests, wooden works, pottery, hand embroidery, henna design, dolls, carpets, cage-making, and crochet among others. In addition, the event will feature live traditional performances, traditional Bahraini food vendors, and activities and play areas for children.


Gulf Insider February 2020

Oman set to introduce VAT next year According to the Minister of Commerce and Industry, Oman will apply five percent value-added tax (VAT) in the beginning of 2021. The minister added that Oman was aiming for 2.5 to 3 percent annual economic growth and is looking to manufacturing, tourism, fisheries and logistics in a bid to diversify its economy away from oil. There are currently three Gulf Cooperation Council countries — the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain — who have levied VAT as agreed by the sixmember countries.

Business Society

LPOD wins ‘Brand of the Year Award’


he Lost Paradise of Dilmun (LPOD) water park has won the ‘Brand of the Year’ 2019-2020 award at the World Branding Awards in London. “LPOD brand campaigns have helped the brand gain immense credibility across segments and all age groups,” the CEO of LPOD said in a statement. The water park covers an overall area of around 77,000 square meters and attracts over 200,000 visitors yearly. Currently, LPOD offers 20 attractions with each one having its own operating team and lifeguards, and is looking forward to adding more in the coming years. The LPOD water park also achieved official certification from the world-renowned International Organization for Standardization (ISO). With exhilarating slides and a diverse array of food and beverage outlets, including a healthy kiosk for the health-conscious, the Waterpark focuses on the safety and security of guests and kids. All lifeguards undergo training and have to pass the exam which is authorized by The Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS). Lost Paradise of Dilmun Bahrain is also ranked 11th among the world’s best water parks on Trip Advisor.

Lunch with Chinese Embassy at China Garden in The Gulf Hotel with guest chef Chih-Yuan Lin

Gulf Insider February 2020


News Roundup

Bahrain: Iconic pottery monument to be removed

Bahrain: 15% increase in women in private sector

The iconic pottery monument erected on the roundabout on Shaikh Zayed Highway in Aali is being removed. The move comes as part of the expansion and enhancement works that are currently ongoing on the highway, which witnesses high traffic movement during rush hours on a daily basis. This is because of the vital establishments in its vicinity, such as the General Directorate of Traffic, driving school, shopping malls, schools, commercial outlets and more, in addition to the fact that it connects main highways such as Shaikh Khalid Bin Salman Highway and Shaikh Salman Highway.

Women’s involvement in the private sector has seen a major upswing in just three years, according to official statistics. The participation of women in the private sector workforce has risen from 25 to 40 per cent in the past three years. The Ministry of Labour and Social Development stated that concentrated efforts were placed to empower women and to ensure their employment. “Female employment in the government sector is even higher, it has crossed 50 per cent,” a ministry official said. Bahrainis also make up 40 per cent of the national workforce and even reach 80 per cent in education and health services. The ministry has also surveyed more than 5,000 Bahraini women who opted to work as parttimers, ever since the streamlined scheme was launched in the year 2015.

Gulf Air opens temporary museum at Bahrain City Centre Gulf Air opened its temporary museum at the Bahrain City Centre shopping mall marking the start of a series of 70th-anniversary celebrations in 2020. The Gulf Air 70th anniversary museum celebrates 70 years of aviation in the Bahrain and showcases the airline’s history since its take-off in 1950. It features rare photography and memorabilia items from different decades of the airline’s journey. Moreover, various aircraft models and Gulf Air’s uniforms from different eras will be on display to highlight the evolution of the brand over the years. The museum will be open to the public only for a limited period of time. Other than celebrating history, the museum will also display the latest Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner Falcon Gold seat to highlight the future of Gulf Air. 30

Gulf Insider February 2020

People & Culture

Celebrating Valentine’s

with Elite


his February, Elite offers winter packages and guests are free to select any of the hotels to avail special rates along with other benefits like 10% discount on food and beverages, access to VIP facilities and much more. Valentine’s evening at Al Naseem pool side in Elite Resort & Spa Muharraq will include buffet dinner with live entertainment, and a selection of house beverages at a special rate of BD 25 net per couple. A variety of international cuisines is offered at the Friday brunch in Elite

Resort & Spa. Friday brunch package is BD 20 net inclusive of house beverages and selected drinks, BD 12 net inclusive of selected non alcoholic beverages and BD 6 net for kids. Brunch will be from 12:30 pm to 4 pm. Elite Seef Residence & Hotel will offer the most famous Tarab & Arabic Grills Nights from 7pm to 12 am with live Arabic entertainment at a net price of BD 10. “AL WAHA Pool Level” offers winter “Trenz” cocktails everyday from 11 am to 12 midnight with special rates on various signature cocktails starting

from BD 2 net onwards. Ladies night on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday will have 3 coupons on selected cocktails and house wines. Valentine’s evening starts at Al Waha from 8 pm till 12 am and offers couples a lavish buffet with one bottle of house beverage priced at BD 30 net. Family Feast is offered everyday at Elite Grande Hotel with Arabic menu set for 6 persons at BD 19 net with additional 25% discount on food orders from 12pm to 12 am. Couples can avail the Valentine’s dinner buffet with beverages at BD 22 net. Weekend vibes will offer unlimited grills every Thursday and Friday from 7 pm to 11 pm for BD 8 net per person. Hotel Zodiac bar lounge at Elite Grande offers panoramic view to the city with pool side H20 having Happy Hours every day from 1 pm to 8 pm with ‘buy one, get one free’ offer on drinks.

To view more on Elite hotels, please visit: www.elitegrouphotels.com

Gulf Insider February 2020


Money & Business

Changing Trends in

Payment Solutions Gulf Insider speaks to Abdulla Salman Al-Ghatam, CEO of SADAD, on the payment industry in Bahrain.


Gulf Insider February 2020

Money & Business


hat is the story behind SADAD’s inception?

We recognized that there was a gap in the financial industry, especially in the payment sector. I have a banking background so I was already familiar with payments and knew that to be successful I needed to look for unmet requirements in the market. When I first came to know about this technology, I knew I had to get this in Bahrain. We asked around and found out more about this technology and the ways of using it. We signed our first contract and started our business with 50 kiosks and we put up 300 in 6 weeks. Our main focus was the trust of customers and we made the system so easy that anyone can use it without difficulty. We were certain that if we have the right product, people will believe in it.

How is the competition in the payments market of Bahrain? We were the only one in the beginning and it got more interesting when other companies came into the industry. We are still the leaders here and we believe that we can only grow when there is competition. When we were beginners, we went down to the market and understood what people wanted. It is that start which gave us this position in the market.

What are the key trends that will impact the payment industry in the coming years? QR was available in Bahrain for quite some time but I see the next trend in the market is going to be payments using (Near Field Communication) NFC. Acquirers and issues, even the technology giants (Apple, google etc.) are

information and at the end of every month we will send their updated bills and they can pay everything by just entering their PIN number in the most secure way possible.

What are SADAD’s future plans in FinTech? We are trying to shift people to a cashless society. People still love to pay with cash. But with the new generation, the change is happening. Currently, we are trying to facilitate the day to day payments of our customers. We have a huge growth in the mobile app users, around 300 percent, and we are also working closely with the government to reduce the use of cash in payments linked to them.

Tell us more about the Sadded payment solution. Sadded payment deals with electronic invoicing. It is a solution that lets business owners e-invoice the customer even before the product is delivered. The customer gets a message with a link that takes them directly to our payment channel and they can pay with their debit card. This service is developing well and more businesses are using it for invoicing today.

What is the concept of e-Gift cards in the SADAD application?

We are still the leaders here and we believe that we can only grow when there is competition.

getting prepared for the new easy trend. This will shift the micro-payments methodology, in Bahrain in near future.

Can you tell us more regarding “Auto Payments” in SADAD Application? SADAD has the highest level of security when it comes to payment industry. We are PCI-DSS compliant, which means that we can save the credit/debit cards of the customers in our compliant infrastructure. Our customers can then save their payment

If you have the application, you’ll notice that there is something unique every week. The e-Gift card was launched last year and it is the first Blockchain gift card developed in Bahrain. You can use this feature to pay anyone’s bill or you can gift it to another person. You will soon find it being used in more places. We have also launched a service to add loyalty cards in the application.

What are you looking forward to in 2020? We have attained success in the country and we are fully ready to expand it outside Bahrain. It will be happening this year.

Gulf Insider February 2020



Healthcare in Bahrain Gulf Insider speaks to Mariam Adhbi Al-Jalahma, CEO of NHRA, on Bahrain’s healthcare system.


hat are the new digital trends being adopted in healthcare?

We have several projects related to digitization in the health system. The application - Doctori provides online consultation from professionals either inside or outside the country. You can choose doctors, ask them questions and they will even give you advice on where to go for treatment. However, these doctors do not provide prescriptions and cannot authorize sick leaves. There are very few facilities for MRI and CT scans in the country. So the


Gulf Insider February 2020

consultants specialised in multiple disciplines in radiology opened a service called Teleradiology. There are more than 70 consultants available in the service to read reports sent from hospitals. This enables faster results. Also, there is another application – Sehati, developed by the government to assist in locating doctors and hospitals.

How are private hospitals regulated in terms of fees and treatment procedures? The fees at private hospitals are not regulated by law. We only make sure that the patients receive quality treatment based on the correct policies

and procedures that must be followed by the hospital.

What are you doing to control misconduct in healthcare facilities? We verify that the procedures for infection control, patient safety, and quality are in place for all hospitals. We ensure that staff is aware of the procedures and complaints are handled responsibly. If a patient raises a complaint against a hospital, we investigate it immediately. Complaints against hospital services regarding the proper implementation or healthcare professionals are


investigated by separate committees. We also have an in-house team and surveyors from outside NHRA to carry out inspections at hospitals.

The NHRA also assures that no medication or medical device enters Bahrain without being checked. Even personal packages you order from online stores are checked to make sure that it is not counterfeit and is allowed in Bahrain. Inspections, accreditations, and pricing of medicines are regulated by NHRA to increase patients’ confidence.

Why do people choose private over public healthcare? Some people prefer private healthcare. I think this is because of easier access and reduced waiting time as they get faster results. The government is also looking forward to working with the private sector. Now, you can see the preemployment checkup is handled by private hospitals, which has reduced the waiting time from 3 months to 2 days and you even get the results within a week.

The price of medicines is found to be different in different pharmacies. What is the process for regulation? The price of medicines is set by the NHRA. The pharmacies are not allowed to make any changes to it. If they do, it’s a crime for which they can be taken to the Public Prosecution. The approved price list is published on our website for better transparency.

Bahrain aims to be a hub for medical tourism. What challenges are you facing to achieve this aim?

Even personal packages you order from online stores are checked to make sure that it is not counterfeit and is allowed in Bahrain.

‘Lack of patient’s confidence in certain health facilities’ is specified in the challenges of NHRA strategic plan 20162020. What are you doing to change this? The accreditation program for hospitals was developed for this. We publish the list after the evaluation process so that people will be able to know that they are choosing the right healthcare providers. An accredited hospital will increase people’s confidence in medical procedures, medication storage, and medical devices.

A medical hub is not just about setting up hospitals. It’s a package that includes easy access to the country, providing provisions to take the patients from the airport to the hospital and finding a place for them to stay. Currently, we lack in medical tourism companies that support medical facilities in Bahrain. We also have to make sure that facilities especially the ones specialised in aesthetic treatment are not completely commercial-based as it can jeopardize patients’ safety and affect the reputation of the country.

Gulf Insider February 2020


News Roundup

Gulf Air adds new leisure destination for summer 2020

Bahrain: Customs official sentenced to five years in jail

Gulf Air, in line with its boutique strategy to add boutique leisure destinations to its network, has revealed a new addition to its 2020 network with a popular premium leisure destination: Nice on the Cote d’azur in France commencing from July 2020 with two weekly flights operated by an Airbus 321neo aircraft. The announcement was made during the Kuwait Aviation Show 2020 in which Gulf Air participated. The airline’s network is expanding tactically to strengthen the current destinations’ map. Recently the airline announced plans to operate flights to Milan as a year-round destination as well as Mykonos and Munich as seasonal destinations which will be starting from summer 2020.

The Fourth Grand Criminal Court issued its ruling against a public official in the Customs Affairs intending to obtain a profit from others, as it sentenced him and the other convicted party for five years’ imprisonment and fined each BD14,250 dinars. The details of the incident go back to when the Public Prosecution received a notification from the Customs Affairs stating that the first defendant, at the request of the second defendant, disclosed a shipment of electronic vapes in favor of the latter, in violation of the applicable rules and procedures and without paying the estimated customs value of the goods that amounted 14,250 dinars. This was done for an amount that the second defendant agreed to give in return. The Public Prosecution began its investigations and listened to the testimony of witnesses, and interrogated the defendants before referring them to the court that ruled to convict and punish them.

Bahrain: Expelled expat returns with friend’s passport An expat lady could not stay away from her boyfriend after being deported from Bahrain for practicing prostitution. She returned to him with the help of a forged passport belonging to her friend. She took advantage of the similar look between them, but she was caught and transferred to the Supreme Criminal Court. Details go back to when the airport police directorate received information that the accused was expelled from the country on September 5, 2018, but she used a stolen passport in the name of her friend to return to the country and was seized in a hotel. The defendant admitted the incident, noting that she was expelled in September 2018 due to a prostitution case and was deported, but in December of the same year, she stole a passport from her friend while they were in one of the GCC countries and used it to enter Bahrain again. She justified her actions by saying that she wanted to stay with her GCC boyfriend.


Gulf Insider February 2020

News Roundup

Kuwait to hire from Ethiopia after Philippines ban Kuwait and Ethiopia are in talks to work out an agreement on sending domestic helpers to the Gulf country amid an ongoing crisis with the Philippines over the recent murder of a Filipina. Kuwaiti and Ethiopian officials discussed a draft memorandum of understanding on recruiting skilled Ethiopian domestic workers in Kuwait City. A Kuwait committee led by the Foreign Ministry is expected to travel to Addis Ababa to learn first-hand about labour mechanisms in the African country. Kuwait has set conditions for hiring Ethiopian domestic workers from Ethiopia including efficiency, previous training and proficiency in speaking the English language. There are already nearly 18,000 Ethiopians, mainly women, working as domestic helpers in Kuwait, according to official figures. Kuwait has recently embarked on opening up new labour markets after the Philippines banned the dispatch of workers to the country.

Kuwait to construct metro with 68 stations The Public Authority for Roads and Transport (PART) announced its new construction projects plan including the features of the metro project due to be executed in Kuwait. The metropolitan rapid transit system project (KMRT) is to be built across five phases, and will spread over 160 kilometers, with 68 stations along three lines, according to the plan, a statement said. The first phase of the metro project covers areas in several governorates with nine stations in Kuwait’s business center, which includes a railway stretching 50 kilometers from Kuwait City to Kuwait International Airport with 27 new stations. Thirty percent of this will be underground.

Philippines announces total deployment ban to Kuwait The Philippine government has imposed a total deployment ban of Filipino workers to Kuwait, following the death of Jeanelyn Villavende, who was tortured and sexually abused by her employers. The Department of Labour and Employment (DOLE) announced on January 15 that the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) Governing Board has signed a resolution for a total deployment ban to Kuwait. The deployment ban was recommended by Labour Secretary Silvestre Bello III after the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) autopsy report showed that Villavende was not just tortured, but also sexually abused by her employers in the Gulf state. An embalming certificate from the Kuwait government has confirmed that Villavende, who was reportedly beaten “black and blue”, died of “acute failure of heart and respiration” as a result of shock and multiple injuries in the vascular nervous system. However, a separate autopsy by NBI showed that Villavende’s brain, heart, and some internal organs were missing; and that she also suffered multiple, severe traumatic injuries including genitalia injuries – an indication that she was sexually abused. Gulf Insider February 2020


Money & Business

Up close and personal:

The Bahrain VAT law


n 2017, all six member countries of the GCC region ratified the landmark GCC framework agreement on the deployment of value-added tax (VAT) in their respective territories. While the UAE and Saudi Arabia were the first countries to introduce the taxation system, Bahrain followed suit in 2019, applying the standard 5 per cent VAT rate - considered one of the lowest worldwide - on goods and services. The VAT introduction in Bahrain, however, differs as compared to the UAE and Saudi Arabia as it comes in three stages. Certain businesses are mandatorily required to obtain VAT registration, while at the same time allowing those that are exempted to register voluntarily. Hence, businesses are required to evaluate the value of


Gulf Insider February 2020

Under the law, larger businesses are required to register first and the remaining companies later. their supplies and check whether they are required to register under VAT. The VAT registration due dates are also different to ensure smooth implementation. Under the law, larger businesses are required to register first and the remaining companies later. Larger businesses with a higher

turnover - that is, the value of the annual supplies exceeds BHD 5,000,000 – were mandated to register last year, with the deadline set on the 20th of December 2018. For the second phase, businesses with the annual supply value exceeding BHD 500,000 were instructed to register from the 1st of January 2019 until the 20th of June 2019. For the third and final phase, all remaining business whose annual supplies exceed BHD 37,500 - the threshold for mandatory VAT registration - in the previous 12 months or will exceed BHD 37,500 in the next 12 months should obtain a VAT registration by 20th of December 2019. Non-resident businesses in Bahrain are also required to register under Bahrain VAT, irrespective of the value of their supplies, in case they make

Money & Business

supplies for which VAT is liable to be collected. Additionally, exempted businesses can voluntarily seek a VAT registration if they meet the following two requirements: first, the value of supplies or expenses in the previous 12 months exceeds BHD 18,750, the voluntary registration threshold - and second, the value of supplies or expenses in the next 12 months will exceed BHD 18,750.

There are two important VAT terminologies. One is output VAT, which means the tax collected on sales, and the other is input VAT, the tax paid on purchases.

In short, as per the VAT law, all companies mandated to register and those seeking to voluntarily register should do so by the end of 2019, and they should begin implementing the new taxation system beginning January 1, 2020. For proper and timely compliance therefore, it is critical to understand the VAT law and how it applies to businesses. The basic is that VAT applies to all types of supplies of goods and services. The supply of goods means passing the ownership of a good or the right to use a good as an owner. Whatever not considered as a supply of goods is considered services. This means that, in business, it is taxable if ownership is transferred or service is done, subject to the other conditions of the law. There are two important VAT terminologies. One is output VAT, which means the tax collected on sales, and the other is input VAT, the tax paid on purchases. The difference between output VAT and input VAT is the net VAT payable to the authority. Also, input VAT can be refunded if the amount is higher than the output VAT. VAT is categorized into two, namely taxable and exempted. In Bahrain, under the exempted category, or zero-rated supplies, are certain financial services such as banking, exports, new building constructions, educational services, medicines and medical equipment, certain food items, and bare land, to name a few. Businesses can obtain a list of exempted goods and services from the government. The rest falls under the taxable category. Understandably, the new taxation system can take some for better understanding by some businesses as that have long operated under the zerotax environment of Bahrain and the rest of the region. However, empowering oneself through learning and studying the law’s complexities and availing of advanced solutions to simplify things is always the key.

This article is written by CA Manu Nair, as a part of Tally’s VAT knowledge series.

Gulf Insider February 2020


Money & Business

The New Costa Experience in Bahrain

Charlie Cooksey speaks to Mr. Nawaf Al Zayani, Chairman of Zayani Investments, on Zayani-Costa partnership and their plans in the food business.


hy did you choose the Food and Beverage industry for your new venture?

One of the driving forces of our business group is developing business opportunities. We are here to make profits but with something sustainable and in line with our quality and ethical standards. Now, the food business serves a greater good and provides people with a service they appreciate. Food has a certain quality standard and if you pick the right quality partners, you have succeeded in achieving that quality. We also wanted to diversify our portfolio and the food business seemed 40

Gulf Insider February 2020

Costa is a global brand which is a good way to enter this competitive market. to be a potentially profitable and sustainable one.

Can you tell us more about Costa Coffee and Al Zayani partnership? We never found the right opportunity

to deal with the food franchising business. We wanted something with credibility so that we could develop on it. When the Costa opportunity came, it was available as a master franchise for different territories. We chose to bid only for the Bahrain area because we wanted a global brand which is among the top three brands. At the same time, we wanted something that could be scaled up, teach us the business, and give us a head start. Costa seemed right, so we bid for it and were recognized by Costa.

Why do you think Costa Coffee will be a good introduction for Al Zayani Foods? Why Costa? Costa is a global brand

Money & Business

which is a good way to enter this competitive market. With some degree of success from the beginning because of the established brand, it is not something we will spend lots of time and go nowhere. Then there is passion. On a personal level, I’m a coffee passionate person. Here, nobody does anything which they are not passionate about. This is why you see us diversifying the managing directorship of this company.

There are already so many coffee brands in the market. How are you going to position yourself among them? There are lots of things that sets

We believe so much in a Bahraini-driven business with Bahrainis running it at the ground level and the highest levels.

us apart. Firstly, our baristas have undergone around 8-10 hours of training every day for 2 months even before we opened Costa so that they could get the consistency right. The second thing that distinguishes us is our food offer. We have tied up with the best to provide back of the house food offering. Our goal is quality and value first, and profits second. The final area of distinction is, we believe so much in a Bahraini-driven business with Bahrainis running it at the ground level and the highest levels. We are first and foremost here to serve the local need and nothing serves the local need like a local person. Why do we think we will succeed?

Because our core product is excellent and we are sure that you’ll no longer struggle to find quality coffee.

What are your future plans with Al Zayani Foods? As for Zayani Foods, we have already acquired a management stake in the regionally acclaimed Al Rifai nuts and confections brand and we intend to develop the business opportunity to its fullest potential. We want to cover as much as we can in the food sector with different brands but that is supposed to happen in time. We are very keen to get something that will add value and which does not conflict with our existing portfolio.

With the existing brands, we are planning to expand organically in Bahrain over the next 2 years. We started with one store, but you will see four other stores coming up in the next 2 months.

Is there anything new coming in from Al Zayani investments? At Zayani Investments, we are always eyeing on what’s happening in the future so that we can stay ahead of the requirements. With other industries, the focus is definitely on what’s relevant to the region. But, we also have plans for internationalizing our portfolio. Today, if you are not a global player, you are walking the line of extinction. Gulf Insider February 2020



Reading the runes – what can we predict for Bahrain’s future?


ngoing changes to Bahrain’s regulatory framework, from the economic substance requirements touched upon in last month’s issue to the kingdom’s personal data protection law (the PDPL), are simply a window into the efforts that the government and key decision makers are making to establish Bahrain as the automatic choice for investors - both large and small, looking to establish a presence in the GCC. These efforts have been noticed: just last month the World Bank, in conjunction with Bahrain’s Economic Development Board (EDB), hosted an event highlighting Bahrain’s continuing and accelerating improvements in its Doing Business rankings. In fact, Bahrain was ranked in the top 10 of improving nations, with improvements


Gulf Insider February 2020

Bahrain was ranked in the top 10 of improving nations, with improvements in nine of the ten metrics that the World Bank analyses. in nine of the ten metrics that the World Bank analyses, including getting credit, protecting minority investors, paying taxes, and resolving insolvency. The creation of an institutional framework

to register and regulate entities dealing with insolvency and bankruptcy can only make doing business in Bahrain more attractive. Even in the only metric where Bahrain did not improve – starting a business – it earned a score of almost 90 (89.6) out of 100. According to the EDB, Bahrain implemented over a dozen reforms in 2019 like freeing up business activities, abolishing minimum capital requirements, implementing Bahrain’s personal data protection law and moving business registration online with streamlined licensing processes and reduced registration times. The new trust law introduced in 2018, makes establishing trusts, including charitable and ‘purpose’ trusts, easier. Other laws simplify raising capital and establishing investment funds while new rules on crowd-funding like the Central Bank of


Bahrain’s (CBB) approval on platforms where people (P2B) or businesses (B2B) can lend money to businesses to get a financial return or to raise capital by issuing ordinary shares and Bahrain’s growing reputation as a FinTech hub with the CBB continuing to grow its regulatory sandbox are all pointers towards continuing success. Meetings over the last month with key decision makers in Bahrain suggest that, piece-by-piece, we are moving

Meetings over the last month with key decision makers in Bahrain suggest that, pieceby-piece, we are moving towards achieving the aims of the Vision 2030 blueprint.

towards achieving the aims of the Vision 2030 blueprint. FinTech is an important indicator of both the challenges and the progress that the Kingdom is making particularly with over 400 financial institutions now based here in Bahrain and the financial sector the most significant provider of private sector employment. New infrastructure, fresh thinking and supportive regulations are supporting the formation and growth of a thriving community where a range of different ideas are combined to often form innovative and surprising results. Using a careful blend of both carrot and stick – with the government partfunding salaries for fresh graduates in the private sector and supporting strategic investments (such as moves to the cloud) while the public sector seems to be on the verge of moving

to one-year contracts for expatriate employees, the government knows that it has to balance the interests of investors and the desire to nurture home-grown industries and businesses as well as the region’s most highly educated, skilled multi-lingual workforce. However, with sophisticated investors increasingly spoiled for choice, this is no time for Bahrain to rest on its laurels. Indeed, looking again at the Doing Business analysis, Kuwait (83rd globally) and Saudi Arabia (62nd) are also ranked in the top 10 improvers for 2019 and the UAE (16th globally) remains some distance ahead of Bahrain (43rd) – although the gap is narrowing. When it comes to starting a business, Bahrain (67th globally) is only ranked seventh in the Arab world, outstripped not just by the UAE but also by Tunisia (19th), Oman (31st), Saudi Arabia (38th), Morocco (43rd) and Mauritania (49th). Change brings both opportunity and threat. The signs, however, are mostly positive. Bahrain’s GDP growth in 2020 is expected to outstrip peers. Bahrain’s commitment to regulating economic substance has had the positive effect of removing the kingdom from the European Union’s list of “uncooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes”. The oil price is holding relatively steady. The geopolitical picture is becoming clearer. Business confidence is returning. Now it is up to us to keep up, move forward and thrive.

Mohammed Ashraf is a senior director at Keypoint and leads the firm’s corporate advisory services function. He is also a private notary. Any views expressed in this article are his own. For more, please see keypoint.com or @keypointme. follow us on Gulf Insider February 2020


News Roundup

Bahrain cuts down visa fees in 2020 Based on the recommendation of the Government Executive Committee, the Cabinet approved a draft resolution to amend the fees related to the services of the General Directorate for Nationality, Passports, and Residency Affairs, which was submitted by the Minister of Interior. In this regard, the charge of one-year visit visas is reduced from BD85 to BD40 while five-year visit visas are reduced from BD170 to BD60. In addition to this, the duration of student visas is expanded from one to five years and diplomatic visas from three to five years. The move is a part of Bahrain’s push to increase the number of foreign visitors to the country.

Saudi announces visa on arrival for us, uk, eu visa holders Saudi Arabia has announced that visitors with an entry visa to the US, the UK or a European (Schengen) visa can obtain a visa on arrival at airports and other ports. A source in the SCTH said that this development is a continuation of the launch of the tourist visa. The source added that there is an existing committee working to define the goals and the mechanism for applying the structure of the visitor visas. Those who obtain a tourist or commercial visa to these countries can now enter the Kingdom via tourist visa upon arrival only. Furthermore, the visitor to the Kingdom must have used his visa to visit the US, Britain, or any of the Schengen countries, before entering Saudi Arabia.

Dubai: Hike in government salaries A new salary scheme for Dubai government employees will see their pay hiked by an average of 10 per cent. The salary hike of “professional employees” will range from 9 to 16 per cent. The scheme also specifies a minimum wage for Emirati fresh graduates in addition to provisions for flexible working hours, telework and part-time employment. This new salary scheme is in line with the vision of Sheikh Mohammed and the ‘4th of January Document’ to “further enhance government excellence by investing in human capital and retention of talent”.


Gulf Insider February 2020

Car News & Reviews

Ferrari F8 Tributo


Subaru Crosstrek 2020

2020 Volvo S60 R

Car Bahrain

Civilized Beast Gulf Insider enjoys the new BMW M4 CS.


he BMW M4 CS is a powerful car. The twin-turbocharged 460bhp straight-six engine pulls strongly, even in higher gears. Taking it for a spin on the North Manama Causeway on a sunny afternoon with surprisingly light traffic was a highly enjoyable experience. The seven-speed, dualclutch automatic offered lightning-quick gearshifts and the ride was firm but tolerable.


Gulf Insider February 2020

BMW’s iDrive infotainment system is one of the best in the market. I soon discovered that this car has a huge amount of front-end grip, doesn’t roll in corners, and handles beautifully.

And on reaching the slow moving traffic snarl up at the traffic lights by Bahrain Financial Harbour, it crawled and blended with the rest of the traffic at low revs like the wolf in sheep’s clothing that it was. There’s all sorts of high tech engineering in the M4 CS such as adaptive dampers, heavily revised aluminium suspension, and an electronically controlled limited-slip differential.

Car Bahrain

BMW’s iDrive infotainment system is one of the best in the market. Its colour screen and rotary dial controller require no fumbling around and prodding a screen on the move, and its menu structure is extremely easy to follow. There’s plenty of legroom in the rear even for two tall adult passengers. The rear seats fold 60:40. It has plenty of safety kit, too, and the BMW 3 Series (upon which the 4 Series is based) achieved the maximum five-star rating in crash tests.

To arrange your own test drive contact Euro Motors on +973 17750750

Because the M4 CS is so well equipped as standard it’s not necessary to spend much on optional extras.

Starting Price: Currently unavailable

Alternative options:

Inside it’s beautifully equipped with a classy dashboard and seats that are electronically adjustable and provide excellent support. Because the M4 CS is so well equipped as standard it’s not necessary to spend much on optional extras.

Mercedes-AMG C 63 Coupé Starting Price BD 26,356

Audi RS5 Starting Price BD 36,990

Gulf Insider February 2020


Bahrain Car News Bahrain: Car stolen from showroom in Sitra

Bahrain: Renew vehicle registration online

The Director-General of the Capital Governorate Police Directorate stated that within 24 hours of committing the crime, the police managed to arrest a 29-year-old Bahraini who is suspected of stealing a car and dumping it in the sea. He explained that, after receiving a report in this regard, the directorate undertook search and investigation operations that resulted in identifying and arresting the suspect. “He stole the car from a car showroom in Sitra and intentionally dumped it in the sea in Karzakan region,” the Director-General said. The official confirmed that necessary legal measures are being taken to refer the arrested person to the Public Prosecution.

The Information & eGovernment Authority (iGA) has launched a new service allowing the owners of public transport vehicles such as taxis and tour buses to renew vehicle registrations online via the national portal - bahrain.bh. Launched in coordination with Ministry of Transportation & Telecommunications (MTT) and the General Directorate of Traffic (GDT) and the Ministry of Transportation & Telecommunications (MTT), the service allows individuals and business owners to renew registrations of public transport vehicles via a single transaction, as both MTT and GDT’s and MTT’s fees have been combined as one payment that doesn’t require separate reviews by each organization. iGA said that the service will differ depending on the type of user. Business owners will need to enter Commercial Registration (CR) numbers and expiry dates, then the registration type (taxis, on-demand taxis, rental vehicles, public transport vehicles, vehicles for tourist transport, or vehicles for construction companies).

Bahrain: Traffic official imprisoned for fake Accident Report The High Criminal Court sentenced an employee at the General Directorate of Traffic, along with another defendant, to three years in prison for forging a traffic accident report. The court also acquitted a third defendant for committing the same crime. The Public Prosecution accused the employee of entering false data into the system of the General Directorate of Traffic, in consensus and prearrangement with two other defendants. The false traffic accident report was issued so that the insurance company covers the expenses of repairing the cars involved in the accident. The second defendant asked the first defendant, the employee, to mention more damages to the car in the report. The crime was discovered by another traffic policeman, who issued the first report stating the actual damages that were caused as a result of the accident. He logged into the system of the General Directorate of Traffic to review the report he had previously entered, only to find out that it


Gulf Insider February 2020

was falsely amended by the first defendant. The matter was reported and all three suspects were summoned and interrogated. However, the third defendant, who was involved in the accident, was acquitted by the court for lack of evidence proving his involvement.

Car Bahrain

Mini Review

More fun for the money This Subaru XV was a surprising delight to drive.


or such a relatively low powered vehicle, I really enjoyed my time driving this Subaru. Okay, so it doesn’t have a particularly powerful engine and on the road its steering is a little light – but that’s the only negative things I can say. What the XV has plenty of is authenticity. It’s a well-built budget priced crossover that, unlike many others on the market can actually ‘do the business’ and be used and enjoyed for off-roading! This car is basically an off-road version of Subaru’s Impreza hatchback, but with substantially raised ground clearance and lots other modifications plus extra headroom befitting an off-road vehicle. There’s plenty of seating space and the ride is comfortable, though boot space is a bit limited. One of its great strengths is Subaru’s

One of its great strengths is Subaru’s excellent All Wheel Drive (AWD) system excellent All Wheel Drive (AWD) system, which comes standard on all Subaru’s and is something the company is renowned for. For overall practicality, for both road and off-road usage, this XV scores very highly. It also has great build quality and comes well equipped with LED lights and attractive two-tone leather upholstery with orange stitching. The XV is offered in three trim levels:

2.0i / 2.0i-S and 2.0i-S EyeSight. All come standard with all-wheel drive and are powered by the same 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (154 horsepower, 196Nm of torque) with Lineartronic transmission. If you’re interested in getting an XV for off-roading, I recommend you first go on to Youtube and watch some of the interesting videos made about the XV, including where it keeps up with other far more expensive off road vehicles such as a Jeep Wrangler and a Land Rover Defender – an impressive feat for any crossover.

For arrange your own test drive call Motor City – +973 1773 6222 PS. Motor City are currently offering the XV at a starting price of just BD6, 995 (plus VAT) with 10 year/ 250,000 km warranty.

Gulf Insider February 2020


Car Bahrain

Ferrari’s newest red-hot V8

Charlie Cooksey drives the first Ferrari F8 Tributo to arrive in Bahrain.


’m not sure what I love more – the coffee they serve in the Ferrari showroom or the F8 Tributo itself. Ok, I love the F8 Tributo more of course, but the coffee is possibly some of the best on the island. The first time I collected the all new Ferrari F8 Tributo from Euro Motors, the sole authorised dealer of Ferrari in Bahrain,

Location: Al Bander Resort 50

Gulf Insider February 2020

The F8 Tributo is the latest and greatest car to come from Ferrari.

it was raining so hard and there was so much water on the roads that to be honest I didn’t feel confident to really test such a powerful machine that I wasn’t used to. I was hoping it would clear up later in the day so I could have some fun but it didn’t, it just began to flood. I returned the car in the afternoon having not really had much fun with it. I

Car Bahrain

Location: Mahonia, Adliya‎

Personally, I far prefer the look of the F8 compared to the 812 Superfast and the Portofino, it looks a lot more aggressive and sporty which I like.

couldn’t give an honest opinion on the car until I took it out on a clear, standard Bahraini day. So, a week later and under clear blue skies I collected the Ferrari for the second time – and fell in love with it! The F8 Tributo is the latest and greatest car to come from Ferrari. This mid-rear-mounted two-seater provides jaw dropping performance with the best 8 cylinder engine in the world, intense driving pleasure, unprecedented handling, and superior ride comfort. It’s the most powerful, fastest, and lightest for its type, named in homage to the most powerful V8 in Ferrari history. It replaces the 488 GTB and has been significantly improved to provide even better control and on-board comfort. Personally, I far prefer the look of the F8 compared to the 812 Superfast and the Portofino, it looks a lot more aggressive and sporty which I like. The F8 I was driving was red, which is the best colour for any Ferrari, it stands out in the crowd and attracts a lot of attention. The 3.9 litre twin turbo V8 engine, a visual work or far, is clearly on display. It produces a massive 710 horsepower, which is 49 hp more than the 488 GTB. Overall performance levels are significantly higher than those of the 488 GTB thanks to the increase not just in power, but weight reduction and improved aerodynamic coefficient. Gulf Insider February 2020


Car Bahrain

Location: My Café, Adliya‎

This is a seriously fast car. It will achieve:   

The 3.9 litre twin turbo V8 engine, a visual work or far, is clearly on display. It produces a massive 710 horsepower, which is 49 hp more than the 488 GTB.

Zero to 100 kph in 2.9 seconds Zero to 200 kph in 7.8 seconds Top speed = 338 kph.

When driving fast, the massive horsepower is skilfully controlled thanks to Ferrari technology so it doesn’t smash you in the back when you put your foot down. Rather the car’s torque ramps up with every gear employed and thanks to masterful engineering and technology lets you throw it about like it’s a Golf GTI. It makes you think you’re a more skilled driver than you actually are. And this Ferrari also behaves itself impeccably in the slow moving Manama rush hour traffic, pottering along at low speed in comfort and without fuss. The cockpit is a comfortable work of art. The luxuriously stitched leather seats hold you in secure comfort no matter how hard you drive this car. Every element of the dash, door panels and tunnel is beautifully designed, and the steering wheel, like all Ferrari’s steering wheels, have mounted controls, the prancing horse in the middle, and feels great to hold – and look at. The Ferrari F8 Tributo is expected to be on the roads later this year and is available only through Euro Motors, the sole authorized dealership of Ferrari in Bahrain.

For more information call Euro Motors, Tel. +973 17 750 750 52

Gulf Insider February 2020

Car Bahrain

New Age of Mobility By Matthew Davidson, Head of motors services at dubizzle


ars today are massively more efficient now than they were 10 years ago, and even so, they are stationary for 90 percent of the day. The automotive sector is set for a complete change in the coming years. The rising adoption of electric vehicles and the developments in autonomous driving technologies, has been propelling market demand. In the next decade, there will be a huge adoption of electric and automated cars on the road. However, to see the full adoption of these modes of transport anywhere in the world require significant changes in infrastructure. The UAE has been at the forefront of driving that change in the region. The UAE government is targeting a 20 percent adoption of electric vehicles in its own fleet by 2020, and 42,000 electric vehicles on its streets by 2030. In addition to this, the government recently initiated the first phase of a legislative framework with new rules for self-driving cars.

Currently, the high initial cost of purchase of electric vehicles, few charging stations around the city, and a general unawareness of the ease of use and maintenance of electric cars has made the adoption of electric cars by end-users slow. With a large percentage of the expat population also living in apartment buildings, convenient access to charging stations is also limited. Saying this, there are steps being taken to make it easier to own an electric vehicle. Last year, DEWA installed 100 electric vehicle charging stations in Dubai, bringing the total number up to 200. This number is expected to continue growing, and property developers are increasingly considering installing EV charging stations in new projects. So what does this mean for the used car market? Of course, new cars of today become the pre-loved cars of tomorrow, and we anticipate that within the next five years, we will see the number of used electric vehicles in the second-hand market increase.

This will be a part of the development of the transport sector which will comprise of electric and autonomous vehicles. The electrification and automation of mobility go hand in hand – as cars get electrified, automation will come into play, people will start sharing vehicles, changing the rules of ownership and thereby reducing the cost of mobility. Certainly, the introduction of fast 5G communications will play a huge part in making automation a reality. The Dubai Autonomous Transportation Strategy aims to transform 25 percent of the total transportation in Dubai to autonomous mode by 2030. Dubai, in particular, is being talked about globally as a city best suited for automated vehicles due to its outstanding road infrastructure. There’s so much potential to maximize here, and by crowd-sharing fully automated electric vehicles, we will be able to make transportation more effective and cost-efficient.

Gulf Insider February 2020


Car Bahrain

Wow Factor Volvo Gulf Insider drives Volvo’s top of the range S60 R Design.


few months back we drove the 2020 S60, Volvo’s all new luxury sedan. This month we compare it to the top of the range S60 R

Design. The first thing I noticed looking at this car is the “wow factor”. It was totally black, including black wheels,


Gulf Insider February 2020

black interior, and came with dark tinted windows. It looks far more sporty and stylish than the previous model I drove. In fact it’s probably the best looking Volvo sedan I’ve ever driven. The S60 R Design I drove has the T5 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine which provides 254 horsepower and 350Nm of torque.

Standard features in the R Design include 19-inch wheels (compared to 18inch wheels on other S60 models), LED headlights, sunroof, selectable drive modes, dual-zone automatic climate control, large instrument panel display, four-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, driver-seat memory functions, splitfolding rear seats with power-folding

Car Bahrain

may also include front and rear parking sensors, auto-dimming mirrors, keyless entry, blind-spot and rear cross-traffic warning system with automatic braking and steering assist, and an automated perpendicular and parallel parking system. Also available on those trims are a 14-speaker premium Harman Kardon audio system and the Multimedia package that includes a navigation system. Overall, this is a very good looking and practical car, and, what makes the S60 even better is its highly competitive price.

Arrange your own test drive at Motorcity showroom in Sitra. For more information, visit VolvoCars.com/BH or contact: +973 17736222. headrests, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. The R-Design has various exterior elements giving it a sportier look over other S60 models. Acceleration was smooth and swift. Steering is precise. The All Wheel Drive (AWD) system is standard, and came in useful when the last S60 I tested got engulfed in soft sand. I was able

The R-Design has various exterior elements giving it a sportier look over other S60 models.

to easily free myself while numerous other drivers in standard two wheel drive cars got stuck and needed police assistance – including our own Gulf Insider photographer. The interior is beautifully crafted with top quality materials used throughout. There’s a 9-inch vertically oriented touchscreen with Volvo’s Sensus infotainment system, a rearview camera, Bluetooth phone and streaming audio, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, two USB ports, and an auxiliary audio jack. Being a Volvo there is of course plenty of advanced safety features which include forward collision warning, fullspeed automatic emergency braking, run-off road mitigation, lane keeping assist, a road sign reader, a drowsy driver warning system, and remote vehicle controls. Rear seat passengers have access to AC vents and power points. There’s also a fancy pull out arm rest seat divider in the back with cup holders All trims are eligible for the S60 and

Volvo S60 R Starting price: BD 18,900 (without VAT)

Alternative options: Genesis G70 Starting Price BD 16,275

Lexus ES350 F Sport Starting Price BD 21,900 BMW 330i Starting Price BD 23,650

Gulf Insider February 2020


Car Bahrain

Mercedes E-Class now with an exclusive offer

The New 2020 Jeep® Renegade

Al Haddad Motors is now offering a limited time exclusive package deal on the 2020 Mercedes-Benz E-Class - both the sedan and the coupe with a 5-year Service Package and a 5-year Mercedes-Benz Warranty.

The New 2020 Jeep® Renegade will be the first vehicle to adopt the innovative 1.3-liter turbo petrol engine which maximises fuel efficiency and ensures outstanding performance both on and off-road. Legendary Jeep brand’s off-road capability comes with two advanced 4x4 systems - Jeep Active Drive and Jeep Active Drive Low that ensure benchmark performance in all conditions. For urban adventure enthusiasts, the new Renegade offers fourth-generation UconnectTM, 7-inch or 8.4-inch displays, high-definition touchscreens, Apple CarPlay integration and Android AutoTM compatibility, so that owners can always be connected.

For more information, please contact Al Haddad Motors on 17785454, or visit www.mercedesbenzme.com/bahrain

Behbehani Brothers Launches New CJDR Showroom Behbehani Brothers, the dealership for Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge and Ram (CJDR) vehicles in Bahrain, have launched their new flagship showroom in Sitra. With an expansive floor space of 1,750sqm, the showroom is located adjacent to Sitra petrol station, and will showcase the entire range of high-quality passenger cars, SUVs and pickup trucks from the Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, and Ram brands. The CDJR Service Centre will remain at its current location.

For more information, contact Behbehani brothers on +973 17459999

Aston Martin returns to Bahrain Aston Martin has returned to Bahrain with a new partner - Adamas Bahrain Motors. The partnership will see the unveiling of a new showroom in MODA Mall later in the year, showcasing the marque’s full range of award-winning Second Century models for the first time – led by their highly anticipated new SUV, Aston Martin DBX.


Gulf Insider February 2020

Looking to buy a new car in Bahrain? Enjoy 50+ recent test drives and car reviews


BMW X3 and X4 M

Camp Jeep

Chevrolet Silverado

Lamborghini Huracan Evo

Porsche Panamera GTS

Audi e-tron Audi Q8 Audi’s new RS 6 Avant

Porsche Cayenne

Porsche 911

Lamborghini Urus Dodge Challenger

Audi Q7

Ram 1500 Mercedes Benz A – Class

Ferrari 812 Superfast Bentley Bentayga V8

Mercedes-Benz A-Class Sedan 2020

Renault Duster

Ferrari GTC4 Lusso

Bentley Continental GT

Ferrari 488 GTB

Mercedes AMG GLE 43

Rolls-Royce Cullinan

Bentley Flying Spur 2020

Ferrari Portofino

Mercedes GLE 450

Rolls Royce Cullinan

MG HS and RX8 2020

Subaru WRX STI

MINI Countryman Cooper S ALL4

Volvo S90

Volvo V40 Cross Country

BMW 5 Series BMW X3 and X4 M

Universo Ferrari Event Genesis G70

BMW X2 M Sport BMW 3 Series

Hyundai Sonata

BMW 7 Series

Hyundai Palisade

Nissan Maxima SR

Jeep Wrangler

Porsche 718 Cayman GTS

Jeep Grand Cherokee

Porsche Macan

BMW X7 BMW 8 Series

Volvo XC 40

Volvo XC90

Read our Reviews Online (Scan the QR Code for the Reviews)

Gulf Insider February 2020


Car Bahrain

Photo of the Month

Behbehani Brothers launches the new Bentley Flying Spur at the Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay. Got some cool car photos we can feature? Send them our way! Editorial@gulf-insider.com

Follow us 58

Gulf Insider February 2020


Car Bahrain

VOlvo xc90 Drive Now, PAY IN 2021* SAVE BD4,700 With its amazing attention to detail, the Volvo XC90 has redefined the luxury SUV with cutting-edge technology and effortless Scandinavian design. Discover the perfect blend of driving pleasure and performance at the Motorcity showroom. 10 YEARS/UNLIMITED KMS WARRANTY

Made by Sweden

*Terms and conditions apply





17 736 222

Profile for Gulf Insider Media

Gulf Insider Issue 180 (February 2020)