In the autumn of 2008, as the first ripples of global recession spread across the Gulf, Bahrain announced its Vision 2030 plan. It was not the first Middle East country to draw up a blueprint for long-term development. But in the words of Sheikh Mohammed bin Essa Al-Khalifa, Chief Executive of the Bahrain Economic Development Board, ‘it came at an opportune time’.
With oil prices falling from an all-time high in July 2008 to a seven-year low a few months later and stories of debt defaults, redundancies and investment scandals flooding the newspapers it was a good time to establish where the Bahraini economy was heading. Vision 2030 was not intended to pilot the nation through the storm. Yet its clear appraisal of every issue from road traffic to healthcare, as well as its basic targets, provided much needed clarity in a time of confusion.