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Bahrain economy lost up to $2 bln due to unrest-report

Bahrain economy lost up to $2 bln due to unrest-report

Bahrain's economy has lost up to $2 billion due to political unrest that hit the Gulf Arab state in February, the head of the country's chamber of commerce was quoted on Monday as saying.

August 9, 2011 8:41 by

The small non-OPEC oil producer was thrown into turmoil in February when protesters, mostly majority Shi’ites, took to the streets demanding democratic reforms in the Sunni-ruled state.

The island kingdom’s worst unrest since the 1990s was put down in March in a government crackdown that called in troops and police from neighbouring Arab countries.

The unrest forced the cancellation in June of a Formula One Grand Prix, a major sporting event in Bahrain, and British newspapers reported last week that there would be no European Tour golf event in the Gulf state early next year.

“The damages are between $1.5 and $2 billion, and I don’t think this amount is exaggerated, but things are getting back to normal,” Esam Fakhro, chairman of the Bahrain chamber of commerce, was quoted as saying by the pan-Arab Asharq al-Awsat newspaper.

Bahrain’s government actions had contributed to a return in confidence and re-assured investors, Fakhro said.

On Sunday, Bahrain said it had released a group of detainees, including two former members of parliament, charged over the anti-government protests.

Standard & Poor’s last month removed Bahrain ratings from credit watch negative, citing an easing of political tensions and expectations that increased public spending would lift economic growth next year.

Analysts polled by Reuters in June expect the country’s economy to expand by 2.7 percent this year.             (Reporting by Martina Fuchs; editing by Patrick Graham)

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