India signed an Agreement with the Government of the Kingdom of Bahrain for the Exchange of Information with respect to taxes (TIEA). The Agreement was signed by Shri Namo Narain Meena, Minister of State for Finance (Expenditure and Financial Affairs) on behalf of Government of India and H.E. Kamal Ahmad, Minister for Transportation and Acting CEO of the Economic Development of Bahrain on behalf of Government of the Kingdom of Bahrain.
Background on Indo-Bahrain Relations
Indians are known to have come to Bahrain as early as 3,000 BC when ships plied between Harappan settlements, Oman and Bahrain en-route to Mesopotamia in pursuit of trade. It is said that it was a group of Indians from Saurashtra built the Anzac Temple in Dilmun (a cuneiform reference to Bahrain at the time). Indian scholar Romila Thapar interprets Dilmun as the ‘sacred land’.
In more recent times, Indian merchants established themselves in Bahrain towards the last quarter of the nineteenth century. Others moved to Bahrain from Baghdad and Basra regions in today’s Iraq. At the initial stages they traded dates but gradually shifted attention to purchase and exports of the famous Bahraini pearls. These merchant families came from the province of Sindh and Kathiawad region of Gujarat. By around 1925, around 2500 Indian families had settled in Bahrain. Most of them were involved in small time retailing.
The discovery of oil in 1932-45, led to immigrant manpower gravitating towards the oil industry and its off shoot development activities. With the subsequent expansion of the Bahraini economy, Indians started emigrating to Bahrain to start business or take up jobs as managers, salesman, assistants, workers etc.
Demographic Features and the Indian Work-Force
Of the nearly 517,000 expatriates, nearly 290,000 Indian nationals form the largest expatriate community in Bahrain along with Bangladeshis, Sri Lankans, Pakistanis, Filipino, Indonesians and Arabs of different nationalities. The Indian workforce is by far the largest of the expatriate workforce. Keralites constitute approx. 65% of the Indian community. The other major groups are from Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Goa and Punjab. Today 65-70% of the Indian expatriate workforce is employed in the construction, contracting & maintenance sectors. There is also a relatively small number of Indian housemaids estimated at around 12000-15000. They come mostly from states such as Kerala, Goa and Andhra Pradesh. The retail and other business activities include provisions, hardware, jewellery, electronics, etc. Some others have taken up jobs as storekeepers, chemists, carpenters, barbers, etc. In addition to the predominant blue-collar labour force, there is a sizable number of doctors, engineers, chartered accountants, bankers, managers and other professionals who play a vital role in Bahrain’s socio-economic development. Professionals, such as doctors, engineers, accountants, etc. have also found growing opportunities in Bahrain.
Today there is hardly any established Bahraini business organisation that does not have a senior or middle level Indian employee playing an important role in its operations. The top Bahraini business houses such as Al Zayani, Al Moayyad, Fakhro, Kanoo, Koohejis, Ahmed Mansour Al Ali, Abdullah Nass, Mohammed Jalal as well as companies like Bahrain Almunium, BAPCO, GPIC, banks and finance companies etc. have Indians in their senior or middle management cadres.