The Prime Minister, HRH Prince Khalifa, visiting the Alba pavilion

The Prime Minister, HRH Prince Khalifa, visiting the Alba pavilion

GIF an ‘unqualified success’

01 March 2016

More than 80 exhibitors showcased their products and services last month at the Gulf Industry Fair (GIF) and organisers Hilal Conferences and Exhibitions (HCE) described it as an unqualified success enabling manufacturers, traders, businessmen and consumers gain access to local and international markets.

The exhibition focus was on the key sectors of aluminium, industrial process and manufacturing, metals, energy and environmental protection, ports and maritime, training and safety.

HCE managing director Jubran Abdulrahman said initial reports indicated the number of visitors had resulted in more yield in terms of footfall per square metre.

“An event like this is specialised and we are not looking for thousands of people but for the right people wanting to do business,” Abdulrahman said. “The feedback from participants is very positive with most of them wanting to return next year.”

Abdulrahman added he was pleased to note that GIF had proved to be the ultimate business enabler for the Northern Gulf’s industrial sector yet again. He said the organisers were hopeful of more regional and international participation next year.

Present at the booths at the Bahrain International Exhibition and Convention Centre were some of the leading guns in Bahrain’s manufacturing, trading and services sector including energy leader Bapco, the smelter Aluminium Bahrain (Alba), Midal Cables, warehouse and business management solutions provider Majaal, rig and ship repair specialist Asry and industrial firm Ahmed Mansoor Al A’ali.

The international segment included representation from Polish, German, US, UAE and Saudi firms. Also at the event was British Offset, a joint initiative by the UK Government and BAE Systems that manages the Saudi British Economic Offset Programme, a £1 billion ($1.39 billion) investment agreement that offers opportunities for international firms to take part in lucrative joint ventures in Saudi Arabia.

The message emerging from the event was loud and clear: notwithstanding the challenging times the region is facing as a consequence of a fall in prices of its mainstay oil resource, the business world is showing perseverance and an appetite for resilience. Several of the manufacturing firms showcased future offerings indicating they were in the process of expanding capacities and priming for better times to come.

The British Offset stall

The British Offset stall

The schemes of Bapco, for instance, include the Refinery Modernisation Project, an oil pipeline between Bahrain and Saudi Arabia and the Bahrain Harbour for Liquefied Natural Gas (BHLNG) project.

Alba is in the process of building its sixth line that will raise annual production capacity by 540,000 tonnes, taking the total to approximately 1.5 million tonnes at an investment of $3.5 billion. The leading downstream firm Gulf Aluminium Rolling Mill Company (Garmco), which has gone through extensive reconstruction, recently began work on a casthouse.



Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have not been lagging behind. Packaging company Box Makers, is building a plant at the Bahrain International Investment Park with more sophisticated equipment and additional production lines than it has in its existing facility at Salmabad as well as three times more space.

“We’ve showcased broadly everything – exactly what we do. We do environmentally friendly and biodegradable packaging, and everything has a paper base. We focus on customisation and the supply solutions you want. Our high-quality boxes and printing offset lamination hold promise in export markets. Not a lot of people are doing this in the GCC region and we’ve been doing this for around six years,” said sales manager Uday Asarpota.

Some 70 per cent of Box Makers’ output went to the industrial sector in 2015 and 15 per cent to the food industry. Among its customers in the former sector are Abahsain, the maker of fiberglass products, garment manufacturer MRS Fashions and home textile supplier West Point Home. Last year, the company won business from Domino’s Pizza. Over the years its projects have included Aramex, Gulf Air, Bramco and Nestle.

Production in 2015 was 300 tonnes but Box Makers is targeting 500 tonnes, leveraging the larger capacity at the new premises.

Bahrain’s Ameeri Industries, well known for manufacturing light poles and crash barriers, announced it would launch another business line soon. The company is preparing to launch solar systems as part of its Ametech division. “We propose to offer complete solutions for buildings including roof panels, electrical panels and converters,” said its chairman Adel Ameeri.

The company is expecting to expand production of its fire-proof doors, a line under its Amgard section. Though times may be tough, there is still considerable construction activity going on, said Ameeri.

Last year the company consumed 2,000 tonnes of steel for making crash barriers, but production could be much higher this year with optimism over negotiations with a Kuwait contract to have these structures installed there.

Another Bahrain company, Meba, announced it will set up a plant to produce solar panels, the first of its kind in Bahrain.

Entrepreneurial zeal is in no short measure. Gulf Markets International (GMI), a general trading company based in Bahrain since the 1970s and having operations spread across the Gulf region, announced at the fair it is evaluating a plan to start manufacturing of some products, locally in Bahrain.

The proposal, said GMI’s chief executive Alain Arida, is currently under study and at the final stages of approval. “Bahrain could be the hub for manufacturing of these products, giving a cost advantage to the entire GCC region,” said Arida.



While large operations and SMEs delighted in the opportunity to be present at the fair, the Prime Minister highlighted the importance of trade events in bolstering economic growth.

In remarks after he opened the fair, HRH Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, said: “Industrial exhibitions, including GIF 2016, represent an opportunity to exchange expertise, conclude contracts, boost exports and set up joint ventures whose windfalls benefit the national economy.”

He reaffirmed the government’s resolve to continue encouraging Bahraini companies through incentives to expand and prosper saying the industrial sector is the cornerstone in spurring Bahrain’s growth and diversifying its sources of revenue.

Bahrain, he said, enjoys a pioneering standing on the regional exhibition industry map thanks to the modern infrastructure and attractive investment environment. He stressed the importance of promoting the quality of Bahraini products to be the best option in the market, as they meet customers’ real needs.



GIF 2016’s appeal was enhanced by several companion events including an Innovation in Industry Forum patronised by Zayed Alzayani and featuring case studies on developing innovative products, an Itech for Industry Awards ceremony, a Careers Day and workshops delivered by Alba and Bapco that gave businesses the opportunity to understand the procurement requirements of Alba Line 6 and Bapco’s extensive energy projects.

The Innovation Forum highlighted two ‘Made in Bahrain’ products. Taha International promoted the innovative use of scrap aluminium (dross) for the making of fertiliser. Ahmed Hussain of IPIFI discussed a unique IP identification and security system which was developed by his company and implemented at leading financial institutions and industrial companies in the GCC and globally.

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