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Bahrain Will Grow Beyond Oil: Crown Prince

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Altrendo Travels | Atrendo | Getty Images

To grow, the Persian Gulf island nation of Bahrain needs to be part of a collaborative effort with its much bigger and oil-richer neighbors, His Highness Shaikh Bin Hamad al Khalifa, CEO of the Bahrain Economic Development Board, told CNBC Wednesday.

“We have to think collaboratively. We can no longer be a single-hub society, said Hamad al Khalifa, who spoke with CNBC at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York City.

“We are thinking about growing the pie and having a smaller slice, but remaining relevant by investing in certain niches, by developing sectors that we think provide the best potential for rapid growth and productivity."

The crown prince said that Bahrain needs to diversify beyond oil and expand its businesses into financial services and insurance, tourism and health care. The nation, which has a GDP of $21.9 billion, is projected to grow by 4 percent this year and more than 5 percent by 2012, said Hamad al Khalifa.

The country has just 776,000 residents, an unemployment by 5.5 percent, a literacy rate of 91 percent and a life expectancy of 76.

“We have a set of conditions in Bahrain,” said Hamad al Khalifa, “a robust regulatory framework, an open and tolerant society, excellent connectivity with the world and a very good cost base to operate from that allow us to remain quite competitive.”