Mr. Jaap W Vaandrager, Honorary Consul(Netherlands) speaks to Gulf Insider

Mr. Jaap W Vaandrager, Honorary Consul of Netherlands
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You have probably never realized it, but a lot of the products being sold or used in Bahrain have their origin in the Netherlands. In 2017 the Netherlands ranked 18th as the most significant import partners of Bahrain with a total amount of 70 million Bahraini Dinar. Agro-food products comprise an important part of this trade, followed by machinery and chemicals. If you stroll around in one of Bahrain’s many supermarkets, a lot of the fresh products you see will have Holland – our nickname – stamped on it as a place of origin. This is not surprising if you know that the tiny Netherlands is the second-largest agricultural exporter in the world in spite of being one of the most densely populated countries in the world!

Not only the products that are being used in daily life have their origin in the Netherlands, but the geographical shape of Bahrain itself also has a Dutch touch. Renowned Dutch dredging companies, such as Royal Boskalis Westminster and Royal Van Oord, have played a crucial role in one of Bahrain’s many fascinating land reclamation projects. Those who have driven to Saudi Arabia via the King Fahd Causeway, have also experienced firsthand the marvels of Dutch civil engineering.

The highlight of the bilateral relations this year was the Dutch Healthy Food Week that was organized in October for the first time to promote a healthy diet and a healthy lifestyle in Bahrain. In cooperation with the Al Jazira Supermarket and the renowned Capital Club, the Embassy organized a series of events to raise awareness of this issue and to promote healthy products. It was such a success that the Dutch Healthy Food Week 2019 will have a successor the upcoming year. 

One interesting fact about the Dutch community in Bahrain is that a large portion of them are resident in Bahrain, but are employed just across the border in Saudi Arabia. These expatriates have found themselves living in Bahrain due to its relaxed atmosphere and high standard of living.

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