think of it as a project finance bank. The ways of financing the development in the region is going to take another shape, for example, tapping new sources of liquidity outside of the banking markets, like capital markets or long-term investors.

Based in the Bahrain Financial Harbour, BNP Paribas is fully ingrained in the Kingdom of Bahrain s economic life, playing a key role in financing major infrastructure projects over the last four decades, and as a prominent player in capital markets transactions.

The Bank s regional headquarters serve the banking needs of local and international corporations, governments, financial institutions and ultra-high net worth individuals with its portfolio of products and services, across the Middle East and Africa. BNP Paribas Najmah, the dedicated Islamic entity of the BNP Paribas group, is also located in the Kingdom of Bahrain, providing Islamic Banking services across the region.

The decision to locate the regional headquarters in Bahrain was based on the following attributes: a stable government, a good social climate and excellent relations with neighbouring countries; strong government support for the financial services sector; its proximity to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the most populous country in the Gulf, where oil wealth was leading to rapid economic diversification into energy-intensive industries; no taxation on either income or profits; high-quality infrastructure, including the telecommunications network; a well-educated population; a highly convenient time zone which enabled same-day contact with the markets in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore, Europe and New York.

There was, however, another reason why BNP favoured Bahrain. The vigilance exercised by the Bahrain Monetary Agency (later to become the Central Bank of Bahrain) had given international credibility to banking activities carried out in the Kingdom, and in addition the agency, which functioned as both central bank and banking supervisory authority, gave BNP a clear indication that it wished to see the Bank set up in Bahrain in order to develop its treasury operations market.

Jean-Christophe Durand explains that the Kingdom of Bahrain s enduring appeal as a regional centre for banking is largely due to its well-developed regulatory environment and the supportive attitude of the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB): The authorities want to empower banks and encourage them. The CBB and other local authorities are forward- looking constantly listening to what businesses need and introducing measures to accommodate them.

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