Amazon has set up its regional office in Bahrain, so there is a lot of interest from the bank and a lot of encouragement for the local authorities to use these cloud services. And, certainly, it offers a lot of advantages for the banks in terms of, as I mentioned, efficiency, but also in terms of security of operations, in terms of shared investments, and the installation of Amazon in Bahrain has opened the eyes of many of the bankers here. And the National Bank of Bahrain, for example, is considering already to engage with Amazon to transfer certain of their operations to the cloud, and we are confident that the regulations and safety aspects are very well covered.
There is an opportunity for local banks and regional banks to get more involved in the financing of large, industrial infrastructure projects, which maybe they were not doing it as much in the past, but they have the means to be able to contribute effectively to this large project. And I think it is important that these are not only financed by international banks, but there is much more contribution from the local banking industry. It could be Alba, it could be the Babco Refinery, it could be some infrastructure project, it could be a power project. We have identified this as an opportunity for us. It could be smaller projects, it could be manufacturing projects, it could be transport projects, and we believe that local banks will equip themselves with the right quality of teams to finance these opportunities.
I would put aviation in the same category as structured finance. The airlines in this region have been growing, but there are still opportunities because they are renewing their fleets, they are opening new lines and so on. And, again, as a national bank, we should be prepared to finance aircraft and to finance the development of this industry, which has become an important element in the region.
You will find Bahraini bankers, of course, in the country, but [also] in the GCC, in Europe, in the US, and it is definitely an area of strength. So, how did it happen? There is a very high level of education in the country, especially in this area, Including one of the most reputed banking institutes for the Arab world is based here. So, the question about how has Bahrain kept itself as the leading position is definitely the ability to upgrade and train the banking and the financial industries’ workforce, and that is remaining. And today, I would say the next era, the next step, is to create innovation in terms of fintech and to have the ability with local resources to develop fintech products. And I am confident with the efforts made with FinTech Bay, with the creation of incubators in the country, that it will happen. Because that is for the next wave.
Bahrain is very well positioned for the next wave, because in a bigger picture, one of the strategic directions of the government – supported by the EDB, but also the regulator – is the technological development in the banking industry, and the creation of FinTech Bay is a key element, because it will not only create local expertise, but it will attract foreign entrepreneurs in this area.
So it is a very smart move by the EDB and it will contribute to maintaining the strong position of Bahrain in the financial sector in the years to come. You will see regional entrepreneurs, regional fintech specialists coming to Bahrain, but you will see, probably, Europeans coming as well, Americans, and we have seen it already, and there are already some small firms establishing themselves in Bahrain with the objective to cover the whole region.