Lucite International (LI) has had a regional representative office in the Middle East for more than 40 years. Originally located in Dammam, Saudi Arabia, the current office relocated to Manama in Bahrain in 2009.

Bahrain has an amazing history and was one of the first Middle East countries to find and exploit oil and gas reserves. But, with those reserves now depleted, the country found itself having to diversify and has now developed a thriving banking sector as well as a number of service industries connected to the oil and gas sector.

Having spent ten years experiencing the very best that Bahrain has to offer, including the ease of doing business and its comparatively liberal lifestyle, Alan Gallagher, Sales & Marketing Director, gave us more insights into the culture, people and business style of Bahrain.

What was the reason LI has decided to open a representative office in Bahrain?

“Our business always viewed the Middle East as an important market and this intensified over the years as our relationships and appreciation of the region grew. In theory, our physical office location could be in a number of places but Bahrain has met our business and individual needs very well. As local economies and opportunities develop, we remain open-minded about where we should have our regional base.

“The office is actually a legacy of our ICI heritage and dates back to the 1970s. It was a local representative office for ICI selling a wide range of chemicals and polymers. LI retained the office post-divestment and focused the activity on developing acrylic in the region.”

Sometimes people tend to shy away from making business in the Middle East because they are not familiar with business style and etiquette. What is different in Bahrain and how can the Middle East office support here?

“Business in the Middle East is based on building long-lasting relationships – today LI in Bahrain is trading with customers who have been partners for over 20 years. Our local presence and easy access to the market is fundamental to our success here. Middle Eastern economies are very dynamic and present some exciting opportunities which the Bahrain office can help to access.”

Can you describe some success stories?

“Our 40-year existence in itself is a success story. For five years the office was home to the Alpha II project (the construction of MCC’s latest MMA plant utilising LI’s proprietary production process), allowing the project team to work together and be resident in the region, with easy access to Saudi Arabia. Business revenue also doubled over the five-year period up to 2018.”

Who are the people in the Bahrain office?

“I visit only occasionally now as I am based in the UK. The office is staffed by Saleem Khan (Sales Manager), Sara Axtell (Office Administrator), Fowzia Aidok (PMMA Administrative Assistance) and Hisanori Yamada (PMMA Project Manager). The office is also still utilised by the Alpha II project team (SAMAC). Ben Harris (Executive General Manager SAMAC) is resident in Bahrain and uses the office regularly.”

Pictured: Bahrain office staff with Ansgar Pohl. L-R: Sara Axtell, Alan Gallagher, Ansgar Pohl, Saleem Khan, Fowzia Aidok and Ben Harris.

Ansgar Pohl, President & CEO of Mitsubishi Chemical Europe, summarised:

“The office in Bahrain, with many years of experience and resources, offers excellent opportunities to develop new business in the Middle East for LI and other group companies of Mitsubishi Chemical. It is well located at the Gulf with direct access to Saudi Arabia and within easy reach of other countries in the region. Bahrain itself, with a trading history dating back over two thousand years, is a pleasant, welcoming place to live and work for everyone.”