|Tunisian Ambassador, HE Mohammed bin Youssef, hopes that Bahrain’s involvement in a staggering USD3 billion project will bring the countries closer than ever before.
Bahrain has a special place in the heart of Tunisian Ambassador, HE Mohammed bin Youssef. The Kingdom is his first posting as ambassador and he aims to make a lasting impression by affirming bi-lateral relations between the two countries.
When His Excellency arrived, it took two months before he was able to present his credentials to His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. During that time, the ambassador made the most of the opportunity to explore the country and get to know its people better.
Ambassador bin Youssef says that on his last assignment, he was told about the warmth and hospitality of Bahrain and its people and was eager to experience it himself.
“Before I came here in 2013, I had a good idea about Bahrain as a country and people in the diplomatic community told me Bahrainis are very friendly. However, when I arrived and experienced it for myself, I was overwhelmed,” he says.
“It confirmed the good idea I had of Bahrain and the first thing I noticed was the people are so open and warm. It is very important to me that my family and I are in a country that is open and safe.”
Safety is a very reasonable request after he endured the Tunisian revolution in 2011. The experience was a source of angst for Ambassador bin Youssef, but he maintains he was not afraid.
“I wasn’t afraid, I believe in my country and the people. Still, we have issues to address, such as our economy, but we are making progress and going in the right direction,” he says.
The country held its first Parliamentary elections since the Arab Spring on October 26, 2014, and its Presidentials on November 23, 2014. Tunisia is now a constitutional republic with a president serving as head of state, prime minister as head of government, a unicameral parliament and a civil law court system.
Since then, Tunisia has been consolidating democracy and is firmly on track thanks to a political shuffle and an influx of foreign investment in the Tunis Financial Harbour.
Forming part of that investment is Gulf Finance House (GFH), the Bahrain-based financial group, which recently announced that three leading US universities have agreed to establish a new USD103 million American University at the USD3 billion Tunis Financial Harbour (TFH) project.
Once fully developed, TFH will feature residential and retail spaces, an 18 hole championship golf course, a beach community, souq, education facilities, hotels, financial centre, marina and shopping malls which all together will create more than 16,000 jobs and accommodate 110,000 residents.
There are around 1,500 Tunisians in Bahrain and Ambassador bin Youssef believes that number has the potential to grow as trade between the countries prospers.
“We have some Tunisians who came to Bahrain for two year contract and ended up staying for 30 years,” he says. “Some have even become Bahraini. I don’t think they would stay such a long time if they didn’t love this country.
“Business and trade relations are not as expected but we’re trying and we can work on that, it’s the beginning of a new chapter in our relationship. We want to be closer, have more meetings, I want the relationship to develop and grow.”
Ambassador bin Youssef says he is extremely thankful for the support of His Majesty King Hamad, His Royal Highness Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa and His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Premier.