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Dhaka Tribune

Diplomats: Political unrest holds back $10bn Gulf investment

Update : 28 Dec 2013, 07:05 PM

Political uncertainty and violence are holding back over US$10bn of investments from Gulf countries.

Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait are willing to invest billions of dollars to take advantage of the lucrative market in Bangladesh, but they are afraid of taking the decisions due to the instability, diplomats said.

“If Bangladesh can provide sustainable stability, the Gulf countries are ready to invest in several projects like power, tourism and port sectors,” said a senior diplomat.

They have a lot of idle money which they want to invest here.

If a business environment that may provide them with good returns could be ensured, Bangladesh would not face any difficulty to tap foreign investment, he added. Power, infrastructure, tourism, gas and oil are the sectors where they showed interest to invest.


Qatar being the highest per capita income country had expressed willingness to invest in the second international airport in Dhaka and 2,000 megawatt power plants, but there is no headway, said another diplomat. Altogether, their proposed investment size ranges between $4bn and $5bn.

He said the country agreed in principal to deposit $1.8bn with Bangladesh Bank.


Kuwait is interested to build a refinery in Bangladesh with an estimated investment of $1bn.

“We had several rounds of talks with them, but the progress is much slow due to uncertainty,” said the diplomat.

Saudi Arabia

Prince Walid bin Talal visited Bangladesh in 2012 and expressed desire to invest in tourism and power sectors. “We made several presentations during his visit and he showed interest in the two sectors,” he said.

Bangladesh embassy in Riyadh is in touch with his company and if the situation becomes normal, he might invest $1.5bn to $2bn, he added.


The United Arab Emirates has offered to invest in four multi-billion dollar projects in the shipping sector. They showed interest in Chittagong seaport, Mongla seaport, setting up a dry dock and deep sea port, the diplomat said.

A delegation of an UAE company, DP World, was scheduled to visit Bangladesh in October to negotiate the projects, but postponed the trip due to uncertain political situation, he added.


Oman wanted to sign a memorandum of understanding with Bangladesh on gas and oil exploration, but there is no progress as yet.

“Oman has expertise in oil and gas exploration and they are interested in offshore exploration,” the diplomat said. The country also interested in agriculture and aquaculture cooperation with Bangladesh, he added.


Bahrain had proposed to invest $200m to set up a power plant in Bangladesh.

“Several groups including Bangladesh diaspora in Bahrain wanted to set up a bank to invest in infrastructure, but there is no progress,” the diplomat said.

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