IF YOU operate in the education, health care or precision engineering sectors, Bahrain wants you.

That was the message from one of the country's leading business advocates here.

Ms Vivian Jamal, business development executive director at Bahrain's Economic Development Board, told The Straits Times this week that the similarities between her country and Singapore have created "synergies" in a range of sectors.

"Both Bahrain and Singapore are small nations with limited natural resources in terms of land and energy, with ports and an open economy," she said.

Bahrain, like Singapore, has one of the most liberal business environments in its region, with The Wall Street Journal ranking it first for economic freedom in the Middle East and 13th globally in its Index of Economic Freedom this year. This puts it ahead of Britain, Germany and Sweden. Singapore ranks second on the index.

Firms in Bahrain do not pay corporate, income or profit taxes and can be fully owned by foreigners. There are around 400 registered financial institutions there.

Bahrainis are also interested in Singapore's education and health-care landscape, said Ms Jamal. "We are looking at K-12 schools, and Singapore has a very developed private education sector. There are also medial centres that cover specific diseases, which Bahrain is also looking at," she added.

Interest in Bahrain is slowly growing. Ms Jamal said she is organising 20 meetings with various companies here with several visiting the country from next week to scout for opportunities.

She noted that familiar Singapore names such as CapitaLand, BreadTalk and Charles & Keith have set up in Bahrain. DBS Bank also has a presence there under a joint venture, The Islamic Bank of Asia. Bahrain exports almost a third of its oil production to Singapore. In 2011, US$219 million (S$275 million) worth of goods excluding crude oil were traded between the two countries, up 33 per cent from the previous year.