Bahrain has for long been a financial hub and thus banking and insurance have always been the get a huge boost, but now there are suggestions that Bahrain ought to diversify, said Khalil Ibrahim Mohammed Al Thawadi – Shura Council member and Former Ambassador of Bahrain to Egypt. He told the Bahrain News Agency (BNA) that there were also suggestions that Bahrain join hands with the neighbouring GCC countries. Many also want the country to enter into even more business partnership with Europe and the US. Suggestions were also made of turning Bahrain into an investors’ haven. Yet others suggest that the government look to turning Bahrain into an investors’ haven. At this point it is important to concentrate on the economy to fund the plans for Vision 2030, he added. The National Dialogue was an initiative in this direction, he said. One of the key benefits of the dialogue was connecting the youth to the societies and the committees to help address their needs and enhance their status said the Shura Council member. The social activities that sprung up as a result of the dialogue is a key benefit to the youth and may account for the primary benefit in the social sector. The Ministry of Social Development has made plans that will enhance the cooperation between the ministry and the youth societies and youth bodies. It is important for such committees to be keen on laying the foundation for the coordination and putting the ideas for developing the ideas for social growth. As a participant at the National Dialogue and coordinator on one of the social committees, al Thawadi saw the dialogue as being constructive. According to him many of the issues raised have met with approval. The dialogue and the aftereffect will form the foundation for improving the economy, achieving many benefits on the diplomatic side. “It is of utmost importance for the society to play a major role in helping to improve many more areas of life here. Some of these are the relationship between the committees and participation in decision making in laying the roadmap to enhancing Bahrain’s economy and politics,” said Al Thawadi. There are about 536 committess. It is important for these bodies to coordinate and cooperate to ideas become a reality, he added. Elaborating on this aspect, he said it is important to bring home to these socieities the importance of the freedom given in expression, freedom given in gathering, freedom in voicing the genuine needs and demands. These socieities must be able to gather the essence of these liberties given to them and translate them to tangible benefits for the population. It is important to act on these liberties and return to the voice of the people – the Shura council and the lower house of parliament. Asked to compare the sequence of events as they unfolded in Egypt and Bahrain, Al Thawadi, the former ambassador to Egypt, said Bahrainwas very different from the other countries. “This nation has seen political and other reforms over the past 10 years – a definite pointer to a more enlightened governance. We have a bicameral legislature – the Shura Council and Chamber of Deputies. In addition there is the process of dialogue that goes on between the societies – both political and social. Thus Bahrain is open. The economy is also on an upward growth,” he added. Bahrain’s foundation is built on healthcare, education and living standards. Each country, of course, has its own problems to solve and its distinct characteristics. It is for each country to look into its own problems and find problem solving measures, said the former diplomat. Look at Bahrain as we are evolving. His Majesty the King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa recently said that the road is not come to an end, it is only the beginning of a journey. This points to a lot of room for improvement. The dialogue itself has opened a big door for more negotiations, more interaction and more coordination and cooperation between the various bodies, the government and the civil societies. It is an ongoing process, said Al Thawadi. The sheer weightage of those participating is a clear indication, he added. There were 37 participants from the political spectrum at the talks, 36 social committees, 21 eminent personalities, 6 from the media. This shows Bahrain as a land of tolerance. It encourages dialogue in all respects. One ought to see Bahrain as a huge melting pot – with different cultures, different language groups, nationalities and what have you, he added.