Exports as a Part of Bahrain`s Economic Growth Strategy

Safa Sharif A Khaliq
Chief Executive Officer at Export Bahrain

How are you supporting SMEs toward global expansion?


Export Bahrain is a national initiative, and it's the only first dedicated export arm of the government to support and encourage Bahrain's internationalisation initiative. So, our fundamental mission is to promote, nurture and accelerate the growth of locally made product and service exports. In addition, we try to equip businesses across all industries with the capabilities to position themselves globally through various solutions and multiple streams of offerings we currently provide. This allows them to be more competitive.  

Could you provide three examples of projects you are developing (or have already developed) and how they support Bahrain's economic vision 2030?

Export credit insurance is a unique, one-of-a-kind solution in Bahrain. It reduces the payment risk and assures exporters that they are insured if the international buyer cannot pay. So, the exporter is guaranteed up to 90% of the invoice amount in case of a default. The second initiative is our Export Shipping and Logistics. We have partnerships across the trade and logistics industry to get competitive rates, where Export Bahrain gets up to 60 to 80%, below market rates for the export needs for air, land, and sea options. Our third major initiative is the Export Facilitation and Deal support, where we provide international linkages (B2B, B2C, and B2G) to expand more export opportunities for them. Export Bahrain is sector agnostic in terms of the support it provides. We've supported exports of services such as architectural services, makeup consultations, online yoga classes, marketing services, and interior designers, among many others. Finally, we are soon launching our Exporters Directory, a national exporter database and connectivity platform to showcase, promote and enhance visibility for products and services made in Bahrain.

How are you collaborating with other countries in the EMEA region, especially Europe, to build better partnerships?

EB's business model is based on a partnership to create win-win situations and to continue to expand on developing a wide range of local, regional, and international partners that can work together to achieve strong value for our SME exporters. Because of that, we have built sustainable business models which yield strong value and outcomes for businesses. We collaborate at both B2B and B2C, and B2G. We conduct joint workshops to let both parties know what they require, what they need, how we can collaborate, and how they can enter their specific market. Now, we are even being proactively approached by some of the countries. For example, we have close partnerships with our counterparts in the GCC, Turkey, Greece, Bosnia, Israel, and Hungary, among other countries. MENA related, we sent many businesses to attend the food festival and closed many deals at Expo 2020. In the Gulf region, we have outstanding partnerships and close agreements with the Islamic Corporation for the Insurance of Investment and Export Credit (ICIEC), and the Dubai Airport free zone, among many others. 

What educational insights are provided in your workshops and training does Export Bahrain offer? 

In dealing with businesses, we realised that they don't just need financing in their export journey; there was a crucial need for soft support, such as – the need to access different partners and negotiation strategies with their partners. This is where we expanded some of our partnerships and started looking into various streams of service support, including training and workshops. In addition, we have a powerful market intelligence platform in collaboration with the International Trade Centre, where businesses have access to understanding their products in a given target market, including export guides, export studies, industry information, trade leads, and trade data analysis. We provide Bahrain Exporters with trade and market intelligence of over 220 countries and territories and over 5300 products. 

How did you become passionate about this field, market cooperation, and the export sector?

Since the start of my career, my work has always been about supporting small and medium enterprises, and I have developed a strong passion for it. Empowering SMEs to achieve big things has motivated the team and me for a long time. There's something incredibly satisfying and rewarding about hearing how we've helped a small business improve team efficiency and collaboration or allow a company to access new opportunities for the first time. The importance of exporting products & services and that having international business models is no longer a luxury but a necessity.

Behind the success: Ms. Safa Sharif A Khaliq and her team.