Trouble in Bahrain is leading to major job losses for expats and leaving real estate prices in the kingdom in the doldrums, claims an expat group.
Protestors regularly demonstrate against the government and some protests are violent and often aimed at expats and their businesses. The reasons for strife are due to a political fall-out over human rights and sectarian intimidation.
And now the Bahrain Federation of Expatriate Associations (BFEA) is calling on Parliament to pass laws which would help protect expat business interests and property investments.
BFEA say expats who have invested more than £97 million in some of Bahrain’s real estate developments are paying a high price for continuing unrest on the streets.
BFEA’s secretary-general Betsy Mathieson said: “The issue here is not money invested by companies, but individuals who have trusted Bahrain and had faith in the country.
Life savings lost
“Because of the protests and unstable market, many of us have seen unscrupulous property developers siphon off our life savings.”
In addition, the escalating trouble has seen many expats lose jobs, which has also affected the kingdom’s economy.
BFEA say that the trouble has been a problem for two years and it’s now affecting many businesses owned by foreign nationals which are now facing bankruptcy – which in turn is going to affect the livelihoods of Bahraini staff.
A growing problem with some families who have lived in Bahrain for decades is finding they are unemployed and without the means to repay their home loans.
Without a job they cannot stay in Bahrain – even if they have savings, explained the BFEA.
Now the organisation is demanding that expats get some degree of protection for their investments and to help protect future of their families.
Expats are demo targets
They are also calling for the violence to stop because it is putting off foreign investment.
The trouble is undermining expats’ confidence in Bahrain, especially when they are targeted and many have been injured or killed in violent confrontations.
The BFEA’s call is backed-up by the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry which says the continuing unrest has had a negative impact on the nation’s economy.
Ibrahim Zainal, the chamber’s vice-chairman, said: “Some efforts have been instigated to help businesses, like freezing labour charges paid for employing expats, cutting business costs and bringing down retail rents.
“Nevertheless, we still need more help from the government to do more to grow the economy and to pin Bahrain on the map for international investors.”