Reform is vital for Bahrain

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Bahrain is battling it out with Dubai and Qatar to be the Gulf centre for Islamic and investment banking.

So the continuing unrest and military crackdown of protestors have been frightening off investors.

For World Business News, Linda Duffin spoke to Khalid Abdulla Janahi, a Bahraini investment banker.

He said that political reform is vital to Bahrain's economic future, but it might be a while coming.

The full transcript is below:

Khalid Abdulla Janahi: Short term, of course it is difficult. I mean it is martial law, people are worried. I mean we all know capital goes where it grows and there is the issue of capital does not go to places where there is martial law, such as in places like Bahrain today. But that is much very temporary. That's what I hope and I think it will be. That's my assessment.

I think once we get out of this, I think I can only see positives because Bahrain being a small island that it is, we can only coexist, which means we have to be together, we have to come together and we have to have the national dialogue and set the country in the right path. And I think the right path of anything is going to be very much positive for business rather than being negative for business. But that's very much medium term, which will come through maybe one year down the road rather than immediately now.

Linda Duffin: Immediately, now, you have got a state of emergency, protestors are being dispersed by teargas and Saudi tanks are moving in. I mean that is not good news for a country which sells itself as business friendly, is it?

Khalid Abdulla Janahi: No, it's not. But I mean this business of the Saudi tanks, we have to put it into perspective, because the Army National Guard and the security services, they are the ones basically which are dispersing the protestors. They are the ones which are bringing calm and security to the country, not the Saudi Army. The Saudi Army is sitting in the barracks, I think that's an important thing to really recognize because that's a reality.

However, your point of the business side of things, of course business becomes very difficult to go into a place where there is an issue of a state of emergency, but this is temporary. That's the way I look at it, I think the dialogue is open.

The Crown Prince, he came out, he agreed for the purposes of the dialogue, seven points to be on the table for the dialogue. And very very important, again I am looking at it from a purely business perspective.

The seven points included basically, one, to have a government which is basically sort of elected government; to have a fully fledged parliament with full powers, three, to really look into the electoral way of doing things in Bahrain, four, looking into the corruption side of things.

And the most important thing is really fixing the sectarian divide in Bahrain, which means meritocracy becomes the norm rather than sectarian side of things and nepotism. And I think that's a very important issue for any businessman or any business person doing business in any country.

So I think cultural meritocracy brings to us a lot of business opportunities, middle class comes in, entrepreneurship comes in, I think these are the important things that we have got to look at from a medium-term perspective.

For the full programme download the World Business News podcast.

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