‘Virtual mall’ in Bahrain opens for shoppers on lockdown

The online hub will allows shoppers in Bahrain to purchase from more than 100 brands.

al-monitor A man walks past closed shops as government restrictions were introduced following the coronavirus outbreak in Manama, Bahrain, March 26, 2020.  Photo by REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed.

Apr 28, 2020

The government of Bahrain has launched a “virtual mall,” allowing local businesses to sell their products online to shoppers who are isolating at home. 

Featuring items from more than 100 brands, the site launched April 23 with a range of products, including clothes, home goods and electronics and is meant to be a central hub for Bahrainis to shop online amid the pandemic. 

According to Bahrain’s state-run news outlet, the portal was created “in response to COVID-19 market disruptions, which has motivated local enterprises to reconsider how they transact business online.” 

Compared with the rest of the Gulf region, Bahrain has reported a relatively low number of coronavirus infections. The kingdom’s Ministry of Health has confirmed 2,810 cases of the coronavirus, and a death toll of eight. 

Beginning April 9, shopping malls and some nonessential shops were allowed to resume business as long as employees and customers wear face masks and adhere to social distancing practices. 

Last week, Bahrain became the latest Gulf state to announce spending cuts to offset the economic impact of COVID-19 and crashing oil prices worldwide. 

The Bahraini government said it would reduce spending by 30% at government agencies, and postpone a number of construction and consulting projects to allow for virus-related emergency spending. 

Earlier this month, Oman slashed its state budget by $1.3 billion and told all government agencies to reduce their operating budgets by 10%. Saudi Arabia announced a $13.3 billion stimulus package to support the private sector and has also indicated that it has plans to cut government expenditures. 

In a recent interview with the Financial Times, Qatar’s finance minister said the country’s sovereign wealth fund will be “very active,” focusing on health and tech deals during the pandemic. 

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