You can be on Entrepreneur’s cover!

Island Life: I Admit It, I Was Surprised Bahrain's islanders are a chilled-out bunch... except when it comes to entrepreneurship.

By Fida Chaaban

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You're reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.


Everyone that I met in Bahrain told me that we were on an island, sometimes multiple times in the same conversation. At first, I thought people assumed that I didn't have a handle on basic geography, but throughout my week there, I realized that their unique makeup really does permeate so much of their culture, down to the way they look at business. The conversations often went something like, "Well, Bahrain is an island so..." or "Since we're on an island..."

Sociologically, it's a down-to-earth place. Basically, everyone and anyone will offer to drive you home, everyone and anyone will ask you to join them on a social outing regardless of whether or not they even know your last name, and finally, everyone comes to Bahrain to stay (or so it seems). The islanders are a chilled-out bunch... except when it comes to entrepreneurship. Their ecosystem is tightly-knit, highly collaborative, and enthusiastic bordering on manic. They do everything together, and by "they," I mean that all the different NGOs, NPOs, and governmental organizations involved in entrepreneurship (even remotely) band together tightly to support initiatives in so many different ways that I found myself drawing charts trying to keep it all straight.

For those of you wondering about the "situation" in the country, I personally did not see any evidence of ongoing issues, but I was made aware that protests do still occur here and there, and that they mostly take place in certain areas (much like periodic outbursts in Lebanon). I want to touch on the recent global discussions that suggest entrepreneurship can act as an antidote to civil discontent and unrest. I would venture to tie this all back to Bahrain, and I realize my next statement may garner criticism: government projects meant to foster, assist and promote micro-businesses, startups and SMEs in the Kingdom give people a reason to hope and try, and having visited at least six different entities made to do just that, I am a firm supporter of the population unification measures (my words, not their's) in Bahrain via business. It is true enough that when I was touring the island I wasn't taken to protest hotspots, but I was taken to places that have been established to create an inclusive and prosperous economy- and that is the first step forward. Where there is industry and potential for growth, there is community and prospects for a strong future.

I expect many people out there will call me an optimist (and perhaps words not so positive), but I am heading a publication that looks for solutions and I found many of those in the Kingdom. Whether or not the global community is aware of these same solutions is another story altogether. I hope this Bahrain-centric edition leaves you with a new-found awareness of the proactive enterprise space on the island.

Fida Chaaban

Chief Communications Officer, KBW Investments

Fida Chaaban is the Chief Communications Officer of KBW Investments, a privately held Dubai-based investment concern that works across multiple sectors. Prior to her most recent appointment, Fida was the founding Editor in Chief of Entrepreneur Middle East and Entrepreneur Qatar magazines. She is a big believer in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region’s startup ecosystem, and endeavors to use both print and web to positively encourage development in various entrepreneurial spaces and across industries. Based in Dubai, UAE, Fida is a social media enthusiast and sees it as the medium of today’s effective enterprises.

You Won't Have a Strong Leadership Presence Until You Master These 5 Attributes

If you are a poor leader internally, you will be a poor leader externally.

Side Hustle

He Took His Side Hustle Full-Time After Being Laid Off From Meta in 2023 — Now He Earns About $200,000 a Year: 'Sweet, Sweet Irony'

When Scott Goodfriend moved from Los Angeles to New York City, he became "obsessed" with the city's culinary offerings — and saw a business opportunity.

Growing a Business

Why (and How) Amazon Created the Kindle and Changed the Book Industry Forever

In this exclusive excerpt from the book 'Working Backwards,' longtime Amazon execs reveal how the company dealt with massive disruption ... and transformed itself as a result.

Business Ideas

63 Businesses to Start for Under $10,000

Need new inspiration for a business you can start with $10,000? Here are over 60 profitable business ideas you can run with now.


Nysaa, A Joint Venture Between UAE-Based Apparel Group And India-Based Nykaa, Makes A Stylish Debut In The GCC

Both Nykaa and Apparel Group have come into this joint venture as powerhouses in their own right.

Growth Strategies

Five Steps To Build Your Entrepreneurial Community In The MENA

Entrepreneurs should be clear on their networking goals, and pay attention to what others say, using the tools available to ensure each interaction is intentional and meaningful.