Bahrain (/bɑːˈreɪn/ ( listen); Arabic: البحرين
al-Baḥrayn IPA: [aɫ baħrajn] ( listen)), officially
the Kingdom of
Bahrain (Arabic: مملكة البحرين
Mamlakat al-Baḥrayn), is an
Arab constitutional monarchy in
the Persian Gulf. It is an island country consisting of a small
archipelago centered around
Bahrain Island, situated between the Qatar
peninsula and the north eastern coast of Saudi Arabia, to which it is
connected by the 25-kilometre (16 mi)
King Fahd Causeway.
Bahrain's population is 1,234,571 (c. 2010), including 666,172
non-nationals. It is 765.3 square kilometres
(295.5 sq mi) in size, making it the third-smallest nation
Asia after the
Maldives and Singapore.
Bahrain is the site of the ancient
Dilmun civilisation. It has
been famed since antiquity for its pearl fisheries, which were
considered the best in the world into the 19th century. Bahrain
was one of the earliest areas to convert to
Islam (AD 628).
Following a period of
Bahrain was occupied by the
Portuguese in 1521, who in turn were expelled in 1602 by
Shah Abbas I
Safavid dynasty under the Persian Empire. In 1783, the Bani
Utbah clan captured
Nasr Al-Madhkur and it has since been
ruled by the
Al Khalifa royal family, with Ahmed al Fateh as Bahrain's
first hakim. In the late 1800s, following successive treaties with the
Bahrain became a protectorate of the United Kingdom. In 1971,
Bahrain declared independence. Formerly an emirate,
declared a Kingdom in 2002. In 2011, the country experienced protests
inspired by the regional
Bahrain had the first post-oil economy in the Persian Gulf. Since
the late 20th century,
Bahrain has invested in the banking and tourism
sectors. Many large financial institutions have a presence in
Manama, the country's capital.
Bahrain has a high Human Development
Index and was recognised by the
World Bank as a high-income economy.
2.2 Time of Muhammad
2.3 Middle Ages
2.4 Early modern era
2.5 19th century and later
2.7 Bahraini protests 2011–13
4.1 Human rights
4.2 Women's rights
4.5 Foreign relations
7 Science and technology
7.1 Policy framework
7.2 New infrastructure for science and education
7.3 Investment in education and research
7.4 Trends in research output
8.1 Ethnic groups
10 See also
15 External links
A 1745 Bellin map of the historical region of Bahrain
Bahrayn is the dual form of Arabic bahr ("sea"), so al-Bahrayn
originally means "the two seas". However, the name has been
lexicalised as a feminine proper noun and does not follow the
grammatical rules for duals; thus its form is always Bahrayn and never
Bahrān, the expected nominative form. Endings are added to the word
with no changes, as in the name of the national anthem Bahraynunā
("our Bahrain") or the demonym Bahraynī. The mediaeval grammarian
al-Jawahari commented on this saying that the more formally correct
term Bahrī (lit. "belonging to the sea") would have been
misunderstood and so was unused.
It remains disputed which "two seas" the name Bahryan originally
refers to. The term appears five times in the Quran, but does not
refer to the modern island—originally known to the Arabs as
Awal—but, rather, to all of
Eastern Arabia (most notably al-Katif
Today, Bahrain's "two seas" are generally taken to be the bay east and
west of the island, the seas north and south of the island, or
the salt and fresh water present above and below the ground. In
addition to wells, there are areas of the sea north of
fresh water bubbles up in the middle of the salt water as noted by
visitors since antiquity. An alternate theory with regard to
Bahrain's toponymy is offered by the al-Ahsa region, which suggests
that the two seas were the Great Green Ocean (the Persian Gulf) and a
peaceful lake on the Arabian mainland.
Until the late Middle Ages, "Bahrain" referred to the region of
Eastern Arabia that included Southern Iraq, Kuwait, Al-Hasa, Qatif,
and Bahrain. The region stretched from
Iraq to the Strait of
Hormuz in Oman. This was Iqlīm al-Bahrayn's "Bahrayn Province". The
exact date at which the term "Bahrain" began to refer solely to the
Awal archipelago is unknown. The entire coastal strip of Eastern
Arabia was known as "Bahrain" for a millennium. The island and
kingdom were also commonly spelled Bahrein into the 1950s.
Main article: History of Bahrain
Map showing the locations of the ancient burial mounds. There are an
estimated 350,000 burial mounds.
Persian Empire in Sassanid era at its peak during the reign of
Khosrau II (590–628).
Bahrain was home to the
Dilmun civilization, an important Bronze Age
trade centre linking
Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley.
later ruled by the Assyrians and Babylonians.
From the 6th to 3rd century BC,
Bahrain was part of the Persian Empire
ruled by the
Achaemenian dynasty. By about 250 BC,
Parthia brought the
Persian Gulf under its control and extended its influence as far as
Oman. The Parthians established garrisons along the southern coast of
Persian Gulf to control trade routes.
During the classical era,
Bahrain was referred to by the ancient
Greeks as Tylos, the centre of pearl trading, when the Greek admiral
Nearchus serving under
Alexander the Great
Alexander the Great landed on Bahrain.
Nearchus is believed to have been the first of Alexander's commanders
to visit the island, and he found a verdant land that was part of a
wide trading network; he recorded: "That on the island of Tylos,
situated in the Persian Gulf, are large plantations of cotton trees,
from which are manufactured clothes called sindones, of strongly
differing degrees of value, some being costly, others less expensive.
The use of these is not confined to India, but extends to Arabia."
The Greek historian
Theophrastus states that much of
covered by these cotton trees and that
Bahrain was famous for
exporting walking canes engraved with emblems that were customarily
carried in Babylon.
Alexander had planned to settle Greek colonists on Bahrain, and
although it is not clear that this happened on the scale he envisaged,
Bahrain became very much part of the Hellenised world: the language of
the upper classes was Greek (although Aramaic was in everyday use),
Zeus was worshipped in the form of the Arabian sun-god
Bahrain even became the site of Greek athletic
The Greek historian
Strabo believed the
Phoenicians originate from
Herodotus also believed that the homeland of the
Phoenicians was Bahrain. This theory was accepted by the
19th-century German classicist Arnold Heeren who said that: "In the
Greek geographers, for instance, we read of two islands, named Tyrus
or Tylos, and Aradus, which boasted that they were the mother country
of the Phoenicians, and exhibited relics of Phoenician temples."
The people of Tyre in particular have long maintained Persian Gulf
origins, and the similarity in the words "Tylos" and "Tyre" has been
commented upon. However, there is little evidence of any human
settlement at all on
Bahrain during the time when such migration had
supposedly taken place.
Tylos is thought to be a Hellenisation of the Semitic Tilmun
(from Dilmun). The term
Tylos was commonly used for the islands
until Ptolemy’s Geographia when the inhabitants are referred to as
Thilouanoi. Some place names in
Bahrain go back to the
for instance the name of Arad, a residential suburb of Muharraq, is
believed to originate from "Arados", the ancient Greek name for
In the 3rd century, Ardashir I, the first ruler of the Sassanid
dynasty, marched on
Oman and Bahrain, where he defeated Sanatruq the
ruler of Bahrain. At this time,
Bahrain was known as Mishmahig
(which in Middle-Persian/Pahlavi means "ewe-fish").
Bahrain was also the site of worship of an ox deity called Awal.
Worshipers built a large statue to
Awal in Muharraq, although it has
now been lost. For many centuries after Tylos,
Bahrain was known as
Awal. By the 5th century,
Bahrain became a centre for Nestorian
Christianity, with the village Samahij as the seat of bishops. In
410, according to the Oriental Syriac Church synodal records, a bishop
named Batai was excommunicated from the church in Bahrain. As a
sect, the Nestorians were often persecuted as heretics by the
Byzantine Empire, but
Bahrain was outside the Empire's control,
offering some safety. The names of several
Muharraq villages today
reflect Bahrain's Christian legacy, with
Al Dair meaning "the
Bahrain's pre-Islamic population consisted of Christian Arabs (mostly
Abd al-Qays), Persians (Zoroastrians), Jews, and Aramaic-speaking
agriculturalists. According to Robert Bertram Serjeant,
Baharna may be the Arabised "descendants of converts from the
original population of Christians (Aramaeans), Jews and Persians
inhabiting the island and cultivated coastal provinces of Eastern
Arabia at the time of the Muslim conquest". The sedentary
people of pre-Islamic
Bahrain were Aramaic speakers and to some degree
Persian speakers, while Syriac functioned as a liturgical
Time of Muhammad
Main article: List of expeditions of Muhammad
Facsimile of a letter sent by
Muhammad to Munzir ibn-Sawa al-Tamimi,
Bahrain in AD 628
Muhammad's first interaction with the people of
Bahrain was the Al
Muhammad ordered a surprise attack on the Banu Salim
tribe for allegedly plotting to attack Medina. He had received news
that some tribes were assembling an army on
Bahrain and preparing to
attack the mainland. But the tribesmen retreated when they learned
Muhammad was leading an army to do battle with them.
Traditional Islamic accounts state that
Al-Ala'a Al-Hadrami was sent
as an envoy during the Expedition of Zayd ibn Harithah (Hisma)
Bahrain region by the prophet
Muhammad in AD 628 and that
Munzir ibn Sawa Al Tamimi, the local ruler, responded to his mission
and converted the entire area.
In 899, the Qarmatians, a millenarian Ismaili Muslim sect, seized
Bahrain, seeking to create a utopian society based on reason and
redistribution of property among initiates. Thereafter, the Qarmatians
demanded tribute from the caliph in Baghdad, and in 930 sacked Mecca
and Medina, bringing the sacred
Black Stone back to their base in
Ahsa, in medieval Bahrain, for ransom. According to historian
Al-Juwayni, the stone was returned 22 years later in 951 under
mysterious circumstances. Wrapped in a sack, it was thrown into the
Great Mosque of Kufa
Great Mosque of Kufa in Iraq, accompanied by a note saying "By command
we took it, and by command we have brought it back." The theft and
removal of the
Black Stone caused it to break into seven
Following their 976 defeat by the Abbasids, the Qarmations were
overthrown by the
Uyunid dynasty of al-Hasa, who took over the
Bahrain region in 1076. The Uyunids controlled Bahrain
until 1235, when the archipelago was briefly occupied by the Persian
ruler of Fars. In 1253, the
Usfurids brought down the Uyunid
dynasty, thereby gaining control over eastern Arabia, including the
islands of Bahrain. In 1330, the archipelago became a tributary state
of the rulers of Hormuz, though locally the islands were
controlled by the Shi'ite Jarwanid dynasty of Qatif. In the
mid-15th century, the archipelago came under the rule of the Jabrids,
Bedouin dynasty also based in Al-Ahsa that ruled most of eastern
Early modern era
Main articles: Bani Utub invasion of Bahrain, History of Bahrain
(1783–1971), and Qatari–Bahraini War
Arad Fort in Arad; constructed before the Portuguese assumed control.
In 1521, the Portuguese allied with Hormuz and seized
Bahrain from the
Jabrid ruler Muqrin ibn Zamil, who was killed during the takeover.
Portuguese rule lasted for around 80 years, during which time they
depended mainly on
Sunni Persian governors. The Portuguese were
expelled from the islands in 1602 by Abbas I of the
Safavid dynasty of
Persia, which gave impetus to
Shia Islam. For the next two
centuries, Persian rulers retained control of the archipelago,
interrupted by the 1717 and 1738 invasions of the
Ibadhis of Oman.
During most of this period, they resorted to governing Bahrain
indirectly, either through the city of
Bushehr or through immigrant
Arab clans. The latter were tribes returning to the Arabian side
Persian Gulf from Persian territories in the north who were
Huwala (literally: those that have changed or
moved). In 1753, the
Huwala clan of Nasr Al-Madhkur
Bahrain on behalf of the Iranian Zand leader Karim Khan Zand
and restored direct Iranian rule.
In 1783, Al-Madhkur lost the islands of
Bahrain following his defeat
Bani Utbah tribe at the 1782 Battle of Zubarah.
Bahrain was not
new territory to the Bani Utbah; they had been a presence there since
the 17th century. During that time, they started purchasing date
palm gardens in Bahrain; a document shows that 81 years before arrival
of the Al-Khalifa, one of the shaikhs of the
Al Bin Ali tribe (an
offshoot of the Bani Utbah) had bought a palm garden from Mariam bint
Ahmed Al Sanadi in
Al Bin Ali were the dominant group controlling the town of Zubarah
Qatar peninsula, originally the center of power of the
Bani Utbah. After the
Bani Utbah gained control of Bahrain, the Al Bin
Ali had a practically independent status there as a self-governing
tribe. They used a flag with four red and three white stripes, called
the Al-Sulami flag in Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, and the Eastern
province of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Later, different
clans and tribes from
Qatar moved to
Bahrain to settle after the fall
Nasr Al-Madhkur of Bushehr. These families included the Al Khalifa,
Al-Ma'awdah, Al-Fadhil, Al-Mannai, Al-Noaimi, Al-Sulaiti, Al-Sadah,
Al-Thawadi and other families and tribes.
Al Khalifa family moved from
Bahrain in 1799. Originally,
their ancestors were expelled from
Umm Qasr in central
Arabia by the
Ottomans due to their predatory habits of preying on caravans in Basra
and trading ships in Shatt al-
Arab waterway until Turks expelled them
Kuwait in 1716, where they remained until 1766.
Around the 1760s, the
Al Jalahma and
Al Khalifa clans, both belonging
to the Utub Federation, migrated to
Zubarah in modern-day Qatar,
leaving Al Sabah as the sole proprietors of Kuwait.
19th century and later
In the early 19th century,
Bahrain was invaded by both the Omanis and
the Al Sauds. In 1802 it was governed by a 12-year-old child, when the
Omani ruler Sayyid Sultan installed his son, Salim, as
Governor in the
Arad Fort. In 1816, the British political resident in the Gulf,
William Bruce, received a letter from the Sheikh of
Bahrain who was
concerned about a rumour that Britain would support an attack on the
island by the Imam of Muscat. He sailed to
Bahrain to reassure the
Sheikh that this was not the case and drew up an informal agreement
assuring the Sheikh that Britain would remain a neutral party.
In 1820, the
Al Khalifa tribe were recognised by Great Britain as the
rulers ("Al-Hakim" in Arabic) of
Bahrain after signing a treaty
relationship. However, ten years later they were forced to pay
yearly tributes to
Egypt despite seeking Persian and British
Bahrain harbor, c. 1870
In 1860, the Al Khalifas used the same tactic when the British tried
to overpower Bahrain. Writing letters to the Persians and Ottomans, Al
Khalifas agreed to place
Bahrain under the latter's protection in
March due to offering better conditions. Eventually the Government of
Bahrain when the Persians refused to protect
it. Colonel Pelly signed a new treaty with Al Khalifas placing Bahrain
under British rule and protection.
Qatari–Bahraini War in 1868, British representatives
signed another agreement with the Al Khalifas. It specified that the
ruler could not dispose of any of his territory except to the United
Kingdom and could not enter into relationships with any foreign
government without British consent. In return the British
promised to protect
Bahrain from all aggression by sea and to lend
support in case of land attack. More importantly the British
promised to support the rule of the
Al Khalifa in Bahrain, securing
its unstable position as rulers of the country. Other agreements in
1880 and 1892 sealed the protectorate status of
Bahrain to the
Unrest amongst the people of
Bahrain began when Britain officially
established complete dominance over the territory in 1892. The first
revolt and widespread uprising took place in March 1895 against Sheikh
Issa bin Ali, then ruler of Bahrain. Sheikh Issa was the first of
Al Khalifa to rule without Persian relations. Sir Arnold Wilson,
Britain's representative in the
Persian Gulf and author of The Persian
Gulf, arrived in
Bahrain from Muscat at this time. The uprising
developed further with some protesters killed by British forces.
Before the development of petroleum, the island was largely devoted to
pearl fisheries and, as late as the 19th century, was considered to be
the finest in the world. In 1903, German explorer, Hermann
Bahrain and took many photographs of historical
sites, including the old Qaṣr es-Sheikh, photos now stored at the
Ethnological Museum of Berlin. Prior to the First World War, there
were about 400 vessels hunting pearls and an annual export of more
In 1911, a group of Bahraini merchants demanded restrictions on the
British influence in the country. The group's leaders were
subsequently arrested and exiled to India. In 1923, the British
introduced administrative reforms and replaced Sheikh Issa bin Ali
with his son. Some clerical opponents and families such as al Dossari
left or were exiled to
Saudi Arabia and Iran. Three years later
the British placed the country under the de facto rule of Charles
Belgrave who operated as an adviser to the ruler until 1957.
Belgrave brought a number of reforms such as establishment of the
country's first modern school in 1919, the Persian Gulf's first girls'
school in 1928 and the abolition of slavery in 1937. At the
same time, the pearl diving industry developed at a rapid pace.
In 1927, Rezā Shāh, then
Shah of Iran, demanded sovereignty over
Bahrain in a letter to the League of Nations, a move that prompted
Belgrave to undertake harsh measures including encouraging conflicts
Sunni Muslims in order to bring down the uprisings
and limit the Iranian influence. Belgrave even went further by
suggesting to rename the
Persian Gulf to the "Arabian Gulf"; however,
the proposal was refused by the British government. Britain's
interest in Bahrain's development was motivated by concerns over Saudi
and Iranian ambitions in the region.
A photograph of the First Oil Well in Bahrain, with oil first being
extracted in 1931
Bahrain Petroleum Company
Bahrain Petroleum Company (Bapco), a subsidiary of the Standard
Oil Company of California (Socal), discovered oil in 1931 and
production began the following year. This was to bring rapid
modernisation to Bahrain. Relations with the
United Kingdom became
closer, as evidenced by the British
Royal Navy moving its entire
Middle Eastern command from
Bahrain in 1935.
In the early 1930s,
Bahrain Airport was developed. Imperial Airways
flew there, including the
Handley Page HP42
Handley Page HP42 aircraft. Later in the
same decade the
Bahrain Maritime Airport was established, for
flying-boats and seaplanes.
Bahrain participated in the Second World War on the Allied side,
joining on 10 September 1939. On 19 October 1940, four Italian SM.82s
Dhahran oilfields in Saudi
Arabia, targeting Allied-operated oil refineries. Although
minimal damage was caused in both locations, the attack forced the
Allies to upgrade Bahrain's defences, an action which further
stretched Allied military resources.
After World War II, increasing anti-British sentiment spread
Arab World and led to riots in Bahrain. The riots
focused on the Jewish community. In 1948, following rising
hostilities and looting, most members of Bahrain's Jewish
community abandoned their properties and evacuated to Bombay, later
Israel (Pardes Hanna-Karkur) and the United Kingdom. As of
2008[update], 37 Jews remained in the country. In the 1950s, the
National Union Committee, formed by reformists following sectarian
clashes, demanded an elected popular assembly, removal of Belgrave and
carried out a number of protests and general strikes. In 1965 a
month-long uprising broke out after hundreds of workers at the Bahrain
Petroleum Company were laid off.
Manama souq in 1965
On 15 August 1971, though the
Iran was claiming
historical sovereignty over Bahrain, he accepted a referendum held by
United Nations and eventually
Bahrain declared independence and
signed a new treaty of friendship with the United Kingdom. Bahrain
United Nations and the
Arab League later in the year.
The oil boom of the 1970s benefited
Bahrain greatly, although the
subsequent downturn hurt the economy. The country had already begun
diversification of its economy and benefited further from the Lebanese
Civil War in the 1970s and 1980s, when
Beirut as the
Middle East's financial hub after Lebanon's large banking sector was
driven out of the country by the war.
Following the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran, in 1981 Bahraini Shia
fundamentalists orchestrated a failed coup attempt under the auspices
of a front organisation, the Islamic Front for the Liberation of
Bahrain. The coup would have installed a
Shia cleric exiled in Iran,
Hujjatu l-Islām Hādī al-Mudarrisī, as supreme leader heading a
theocratic government. In December 1994, a group of youths threw
stones at female runners for running bare-legged during an
international marathon. The resulting clash with police soon grew into
A popular uprising occurred between 1994 and 2000 in which leftists,
Islamists joined forces. The event resulted in
approximately forty deaths and ended after Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa
became the Emir of
Bahrain in 1999. He instituted elections for
parliament, gave women the right to vote, and released all political
prisoners. A referendum on 14–15 February 2001 massively
supported the National Action Charter. As part of the adoption of
the National Action Charter on 14 February 2002,
Bahrain changed its
formal name from the State (dawla) of
Bahrain to the Kingdom of
The country participated in military action against the
October 2001 by deploying a frigate in the Arabian Sea for rescue and
humanitarian operations. As a result, in November of that year,
US president George W. Bush's administration designated
Bahrain as a
"major non-NATO ally".
Bahrain opposed the invasion of
Saddam Hussein asylum in the days prior to the
invasion. Relations improved with neighbouring
Qatar after the
border dispute over the
Hawar Islands was resolved by the
International Court of Justice
International Court of Justice in
The Hague in 2001. Following the
political liberalisation of the country,
Bahrain negotiated a free
trade agreement with the
United States in 2004.
Bahraini protests 2011–13
Main articles: Bahraini uprising of 2011, Saudi-led intervention in
Inspired by the regional
Arab Spring, Bahrain's
Shia majority started
large protests against its
Sunni rulers in early
2011.:162–3 The government initially allowed protests
following a pre-dawn raid on protesters camped in Pearl
Roundabout.:73–4, 88 A month later it requested security
Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Cooperation Council
countries and declared a three-month state of emergency.:132–9
The government then launched a crackdown on the opposition that
included conducting thousands of arrests and systematic
torture. Almost daily clashes between
protesters and security forces led to dozens of deaths. Protests,
sometimes staged by opposition parties, were
ongoing. More than 80 civilians and 13
policemen have been killed as of March 2014. According to
Physicians for Human Rights, 34 of these deaths were related to
government usage of tear gas originally manufactured by U.S.-based
Federal Laboratories. The lack of coverage by
Arab media in
the Persian Gulf, as compared to other
Arab Spring uprisings, has
sparked several controversies.
Iran is alleged by
United States and
others to have a hand in the arming of Bahraini militants.
Main article: Geography of Bahrain
Bahrain map 2014
A beach in Muharraq
Bahrain is a generally flat and arid archipelago in the Persian Gulf.
It consists of a low desert plain rising gently to a low central
escarpment with the highest point the 134 m (440 ft)
Mountain of Smoke
Mountain of Smoke (Jabal ad Dukhan).
Bahrain had a total
area of 665 km2 (257 sq mi) but due to land
reclamation, the area increased to 765 km2 (295 sq mi),
which is slightly larger than
Hamburg or the Isle of Man.
Often described as an archipelago of 33 islands, extensive land
reclamation projects have changed this; by August 2008 the number of
islands and island groups had increased to 84.
Bahrain does not
share a land boundary with another country but does have a 161 km
(100 mi) coastline. The country also claims a further 22 km
(12 nmi) of territorial sea and a 44 km (24 nmi)
contiguous zone. Bahrain's largest islands are
Bahrain Island, the
Muharraq Island, Umm an Nasan, and Sitra.
mild winters and very hot, humid summers. The country's natural
resources include large quantities of oil and natural gas as well as
fish in the offshore waters.
Arable land constitutes only 2.82% of
the total area.
About 92% of
Bahrain is desert with periodic droughts and dust storms,
the main natural hazards for Bahrainis. Environmental issues
Bahrain include desertification resulting from the degradation
of limited arable land, coastal degradation (damage to coastlines,
coral reefs, and sea vegetation) resulting from oil spills and other
discharges from large tankers, oil refineries, distribution stations,
and illegal land reclamation at places such as Tubli Bay. The
agricultural and domestic sectors' over-utilisation of the Dammam
Aquifer, the principal aquifer in Bahrain, has led to its salinisation
by adjacent brackish and saline water bodies. A hydrochemical study
identified the locations of the sources of aquifer salinisation and
delineated their areas of influence. The investigation indicates that
the aquifer water quality is significantly modified as groundwater
flows from the northwestern parts of Bahrain, where the aquifer
receives its water by lateral underflow from eastern Saudi Arabia, to
the southern and southeastern parts. Four types of salinisation of the
aquifer are identified: brackish-water up-flow from the underlying
brackish-water zones in north-central, western, and eastern regions;
seawater intrusion in the eastern region; intrusion of sabkha water in
the southwestern region; and irrigation return flow in a local area in
the western region. Four alternatives for the management of
groundwater quality that are available to the water authorities in
Bahrain are discussed and their priority areas are proposed, based on
the type and extent of each salinisation source, in addition to
groundwater use in that area.
Main article: Climate of Bahrain
Zagros Mountains across the
Persian Gulf in
Iran cause low-level
winds to be directed toward Bahrain. Dust storms from
Iraq and Saudi
Arabia transported by northwesterly winds, locally called shamal wind,
cause reduced visibility in the months of June and July.
Summers are very hot. The seas around
Bahrain are very shallow,
heating up quickly in the summer to produce very high humidity,
especially at night. Summer temperatures may reach up to 50 °C
(122 °F) under the right conditions. Rainfall in
minimal and irregular. Rainfalls mostly occur in winter, with a
recorded maximum of 71.8 mm (2.83 in).
Climate data for Manama
Average high °C (°F)
Average low °C (°F)
Average precipitation mm (inches)
Average precipitation days
World Meteorological Organisation
World Meteorological Organisation (UN)
Greater flamingos (Phoenicopterus roseus) are native to Bahrain.
Wildlife of Bahrain
Wildlife of Bahrain and List of birds of Bahrain
More than 330 species of birds were recorded in the Bahrain
archipelago, 26 species of which breed in the country. Millions of
migratory birds pass through the
Persian Gulf region in the winter and
autumn months. One globally endangered species, Chlamydotis
undulata, is a regular migrant in the autumn. The many islands
and shallow seas of
Bahrain are globally important for the breeding of
the Socotra cormorant; up to 100,000 pairs of these birds were
recorded over the Hawar islands.
Only 18 species of mammals are found in Bahrain, animals such as
gazelles, desert rabbits and hedgehogs are common in the wild but the
Arabian oryx was hunted to extinction on the island. Twenty-five
species of amphibians and reptiles were recorded as well as 21 species
of butterflies and 307 species of flora. The marine biotopes are
diverse and include extensive sea grass beds and mudflats, patchy
coral reefs as well as offshore islands.
Sea grass beds are important
foraging grounds for some threatened species such as dugongs and the
green turtle. In 2003,
Bahrain banned the capture of sea cows,
marine turtles and dolphins within its territorial waters.
Hawar Islands Protected Area provides valuable feeding and
breeding grounds for a variety of migratory seabirds, it is an
internationally recognised site for bird migration. The breeding
Socotra cormorant on
Hawar Islands is the largest in the
world, and the dugongs foraging around the archipelago form the
second-largest dugong aggregation after Australia.
Bahrain has five designated protected areas, four of which are marine
environments. They are:
Mashtan Island, off the coast of Bahrain.
Arad bay, in Muharraq.
Al Areen Wildlife Park, which is a zoo and a breeding centre for
endangered animals, is the only protected area on land and also the
only protected area which is managed on a day-to-day basis.
Main article: Politics of Bahrain
Shaikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, the
King of Bahrain
Bahrain under the Al-Khalifa is a constitutional monarchy headed by
the King, Shaikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.
King Hamad enjoys wide
executive powers which include appointing the Prime Minister and his
ministers, commanding the army, chairing the Higher Judicial Council,
appointing the parliament's upper house and dissolving its elected
lower house.(p15) The head of government is the unelected Prime
Minister, Shaikh Khalīfa bin Salman Al Khalifa, the uncle of the
current king who has served in this position since 1971, making him
the longest-serving prime minister in the world. In 2010, about
half of the government was composed of the
Al Khalifa family.
Bahrain has a bicameral National Assembly (al-Jam'iyyah al-Watani)
consisting of the Shura Council (Majlis Al-Shura) with 40 seats and
the Council of Representatives (Majlis Al-Nuwab) with 40 seats. The
forty members of the Shura are appointed by the king. In the Council
of Representatives, 40 members are elected by absolute majority vote
in single-member constituencies to serve four-year terms. The
appointed council "exercises a de facto veto" over the elected,
because draft acts must be approved so they may pass into law. After
approval, the king may ratify and issue the act or return it within
six months to the National Assembly where it may only pass into law if
approved by two thirds of both councils.(p15)
In 1973, the country held its first parliamentary elections; however,
two years later, the late emir dissolved the parliament and suspended
the constitution after parliament rejected the State Security Law.
The period between 2002 and 2010 saw three parliamentary elections.
The first, held in 2002 was boycotted by the opposition, Al Wefaq,
which won a majority in the second in 2006 and third in 2010. The
2011 by-election was held to replace 18 members of
Al Wefaq who
resigned in protest against government crackdown.
The opening up of politics saw big gains for both Shīa and Sunnī
Islamists in elections, which gave them a parliamentary platform to
pursue their policies. It gave a new prominence to clerics within
the political system, with the most senior
Shia religious leader,
Sheikh Isa Qassim, playing a vital role. This was especially
evident when in 2005 the government called off the
Shia branch of the
"Family law" after over 100,000
Shia took to the streets. Islamists
opposed the law because "neither elected MPs nor the government has
the authority to change the law because these institutions could
misinterpret the word of God". The law was supported by women
activists who said they were "suffering in silence". They managed to
organise a rally attended by 500 participants. Ghada
Jamsheer, a leading woman activist said the government was using
the law as a "bargaining tool with opposition Islamic groups".
Analysts of democratisation in the
Middle East cite the Islamists'
references to respect human rights in their justification for these
programmes as evidence that these groups can serve as a progressive
force in the region. Some Islamist parties have been particularly
critical of the government's readiness to sign international treaties
such as the United Nations' International Convention on Civil and
Political Rights. At a parliamentary session in June 2006 to discuss
ratification of the Convention, Sheikh Adel Mouwda, the former leader
of salafist party, Asalah, explained the party's objections: "The
convention has been tailored by our enemies, God kill them all, to
serve their needs and protect their interests rather than ours. This
why we have eyes from the American Embassy watching us during our
sessions, to ensure things are swinging their way".
Main article: Human rights in Bahrain
Bahraini protesters shot by security forces, February 2011
The period between 1975 and 1999 known as the "State Security Law
Era", saw wide range of human rights violations including arbitrary
arrests, detention without trial, torture and forced exile.
After the Emir Hamad
Al Khalifa (now king) succeeded his father Isa Al
Khalifa in 1999, he introduced wide reforms and human rights improved
significantly. These moves were described by Amnesty
International as representing a "historic period of human
Human rights conditions started to decline by 2007 when torture began
to be employed again. In 2011,
Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch described the
country's human rights situation as "dismal". Due to this,
Bahrain lost some of the high International rankings it had gained
Bahrain was criticised for its crackdown on the
uprising. In September, a government appointed commission confirmed
reports of grave human rights violations including systematic torture.
The government promised to introduce reforms and avoid repeating the
"painful events". However, reports by human rights organisations
Amnesty International and
Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch issued in April 2012 said
the same violations were still happening.
Bahraini protests against the ruling
Al Khalifa family
The documentary TV film Bahrain: Shouting in the Dark which was
produced by the Qatari channel Al Jazeera, talks about the Bahraini
protests during 2011. This TV film showed all the violations that have
been taken against the rights of Bahraini citizens during the
uprising. It also caused some problems between the Bahraini and the
Qatari governments. Relations between
Bahrain and Qatar
improved following a meeting of the
Gulf Cooperation Council
Gulf Cooperation Council in
November 2014 in which it was announced
Bahrain diplomats would return
Amnesty International's 2015 report on the country points to continued
suppression of dissent, restricted freedom of expression, unjust
imprisonment, and frequent torture and other ill-treatment of its
Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch in its 2015 report described the
situation of a
Shia majority as more than tragic.
Freedom House labels
Bahrain as "not free" in its 2016 report. On 7 July 2016, the European
Parliament adopted, with a large majority, a resolution condemning
human rights abuses performed by Bahraini authorities, and strongly
called for an end to the ongoing repression against the country’s
human rights defenders, political opposition and civil society.
In August 2017,
United States Secretary of State
Rex Tillerson spoke
against the discrimination of Shias in Bahrain, saying, "Members of
Shia community there continue to report ongoing discrimination in
government employment, education, and the justice system," and that
Bahrain must stop discriminating against the
Shia communities." He
also stated that “In Bahrain, the government continue to question,
detain and arrest
Shia clerics, community members and opposition
politicians." However, in September 2017, the U.S. State
Department has approved arms sales packages worth more than $3.8
Bahrain including F-16 jets, upgrades, missiles and patrol
boats. In its latest report the Amnesty International
accused both, US and the UK governments, of turning a blind eye to
horrific abuses of human rights by the ruling Bahraini
regime. On 31 Jan 2018,
Amnesty International reported that
Bahraini government expelled four of its citizens after having
revoked their nationality in 2012; turning them into stateless
Main article: Women's rights in Bahrain
Women's political rights in
Bahrain increased when women were granted
the right to vote and stand in national elections for the first time
in the 2002 election. However, no women were elected to office in
that year's polls. In response to the failure of women
candidates, six were appointed to the Shura Council, which also
includes representatives of the Kingdom's indigenous Jewish and
Christian communities. Dr.
Nada Haffadh became the country's
first female cabinet minister on her appointment as Minister of Health
in 2004. The quasi-governmental women's group, the Supreme Council for
Women, trained female candidates to take part in the 2006 general
Bahrain was elected to head the
United Nations General
Assembly in 2006 it appointed lawyer and women's rights activist Haya
Al Khalifa President of the
United Nations General
Assembly, only the third woman in history to head the world body.
Ghada Jamsheer said "The government used women's
rights as a decorative tool on the international level." She referred
to the reforms as "artificial and marginal" and accused the government
of "hinder[ing] non-governmental women societies".
Lateefa Al Gaood became the first female MP after winning by
default. The number rose to four after the 2011
by-elections. In 2008,
Houda Nonoo was appointed ambassador to
United States making her the first Jewish ambassador of any Arab
country. In 2011, Alice Samaan, a Christian woman was appointed
ambassador to the UK.
Bahraini journalists risk prosecution for offenses which include
"undermining" the government and religion.
widespread. Journalists were targeted by officials during
anti-government protests in 2011. Three editors from opposition daily
Al-Wasat were sacked and later fined for publishing "false" news.
Several foreign correspondents were expelled.
Most domestic broadcasters are state-run. An independent commission,
set up to look into the unrest, found that state media coverage was at
times inflammatory. It said opposition groups suffered from lack of
access to mainstream media, and recommended that the government
"consider relaxing censorship".
Bahrain will host the Saudi-financed
Alarab News Channel, expected to launch in December 2012. It will be
based at a planned "Media City". An opposition satellite station,
Lualua TV, operates from London but has found its signals
By June 2012,
Bahrain had 961,000 internet users. The platform
"provides a welcome free space for journalists, although one that is
increasingly monitored", according to Reporters Without Borders.
Rigorous filtering targets political, human rights, religious material
and content deemed obscene. Bloggers and other netizens were among
those detained during protests in 2011.
Bahrain Defence Force
Peninsula Shield Force
Peninsula Shield Force and Naval Support Activity Bahrain
RBNS Sabha of the
Royal Bahraini Navy
Royal Bahraini Navy taking part in a
multilateral sea exercise
The kingdom has a small but well equipped military called the Bahrain
Defence Force (BDF), numbering around 13,000 personnel. The
supreme commander of the Bahraini military is
King Hamad bin Isa Al
Khalifa and the deputy supreme commander is the Crown Prince, Salman
bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.
The BDF is primarily equipped with
United States equipment, such as
the F-16 Fighting Falcon, F-5 Freedom Fighter, UH-60 Blackhawk, M60A3
tanks, and the ex-USS Jack Williams, an Oliver Hazard Perry class
frigate renamed the RBNS Sabha.
The Government of
Bahrain has close relations with the United States,
having signed a cooperative agreement with the
United States Military
and has provided the
United States a base in
Juffair since the early
1990s, although a US naval presence existed since 1948. This is
the home of the headquarters for Commander,
United States Naval Forces
Central Command (COMUSNAVCENT) /
United States Fifth Fleet
(COMFIFTHFLT), and around 6,000
United States military
Bahrain participates in the Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen
Houthis and forces loyal to former President Ali
Abdullah Saleh, who was deposed in the 2011
uprising. Many civilians have died and large parts of the
infrastructure in this region were destroyed.
Main article: Foreign relations of Bahrain
Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa
Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa greets U.S. Secretary of State John
Kerry, 14 March 2015
Bahrain is the headquarters of the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet responsible
for naval forces in the Persian Gulf.
Bahrain established bilateral relations with 190 countries
worldwide. As of 2012[update],
Bahrain maintains a network of 25
embassies, 3 consulates and 4 permanent missions to the
United Nations and European Union respectively.
hosts 36 embassies.
Bahrain plays a modest, moderating role in
regional politics and adheres to the views of the
Arab League on
Middle East peace and Palestinian rights by supporting the two state
Bahrain is also one of the founding members of the Gulf
Cooperation Council. Relations with
Iran tend to be tense as a
result of a failed coup in 1981 which
Iran for and
occasional claims of Iranian sovereignty over
ultra-conservative elements in the Iranian public.
Saudi Arabian troops were sent into
Bahrain to crush a pro-democracy
protests in 2011.
Governorates of Bahrain
The first municipality in
Bahrain was the 8-member
which was established in July 1919. Members of the municipality
were elected annually; the municipality was said to have been the
first municipality to be established in the
Arab world. The
municipality was in charge of cleaning roads and renting buildings to
tenants and shops. By 1929, it undertook road expansions as well as
opening markets and slaughterhouses. In 1958, the municipality
started water purification projects. In 1960,
four municipalities: Manama, Hidd, Al Muharraq, and Riffa. Over
the next 30 years, the 4 municipalities were divided into 12
municipalities as settlements such as
Hamad Town and Isa Town
grew. These municipalities were administered from
Manama under a
central municipal council whose members are appointed by the
The first municipal elections to be held in
Bahrain after independence
in 1971, was in 2002. The most recent was in 2010. The
municipalities are listed below:
1. Al Hidd
3. Western Region
4. Central Region
5. Northern Region
7. Rifa and Southern Region
8. Jidd Haffs
Hamad Town (not shown)
10. Isa Town
11. Hawar Islands
After 3 July 2002,
Bahrain was split into five administrative
governorates, each of which has its own governor. These
1. Capital Governorate
2. Central Governorate
4. Northern Governorate
5. Southern Governorate
The Central Governorate was abolished in September 2014, its territory
divided between the Northern Governorate, Southern Governorate, and
1 – Capital Governorate
3 – Northern Governorate
4 – Southern Governorate
United States designated
Bahrain a major non-NATO ally in
2001. As of October 2014[update],
Bahrain is ruled by an
"authoritarian regime" and is rated as "Not Free" by the U.S.-based
non-governmental Freedom House.
Main article: Economy of Bahrain
The skyline of Manama, Bahrain
According to a January 2006 report by the
United Nations Economic and
Social Commission for Western Asia,
Bahrain has the fastest-growing
economy in the
Bahrain also has the freest economy in
Middle East and is twelfth-freest overall in the world based on
Index of Economic Freedom published by the Heritage
Foundation/Wall Street Journal.
Bahrain was named the world's fastest-growing financial
center by the City of London's Global Financial Centres
Index. Bahrain's banking and financial services sector,
particularly Islamic banking, have benefited from the regional boom
driven by demand for oil. Petroleum production and processing is
Bahrain's most exported product, accounting for 60% of export
receipts, 70% of government revenues, and 11% of GDP. Aluminium
production is the second-most exported product, followed by finance
and construction materials.
Manama skyline as viewed from Juffair
Economic conditions have fluctuated with the changing price of oil
since 1985, for example during and following the
Persian Gulf crisis
of 1990–91. With its highly developed communication and transport
Bahrain is home to a number of multinational firms and
construction proceeds on several major industrial projects. A large
share of exports consist of petroleum products made from imported
crude oil, which accounted for 51% of the country's imports in
Bahrain depends heavily on food imports to feed its growing
population; it relies heavily on meat imports from
Australia and also
imports 75% of its total fruit consumption needs. Since only
2.9% of the country's land is arable, agriculture contributes to 0.5%
of Bahrain's GDP. In 2004,
Bahrain signed the Bahrain–US Free
Trade Agreement, which will reduce certain trade barriers between the
two nations. In 2011, due to the combination of the global
financial crisis and the recent unrest, the gdp growth rate decreased
to 1.3%, which was the lowest growth rate since 1994.
Unemployment, especially among the young, and the depletion of both
oil and underground water resources are major long-term economic
problems. In 2008, the jobless figure was at 4%, with women over
represented at 85% of the total. In 2007
Bahrain became the first
Arab country to institute unemployment benefits as part of a series of
labour reforms instigated under Minister of Labour, Dr. Majeed Al
Tourism in Bahrain
The cities of
Muharraq (foreground) and
As a tourist destination,
Bahrain received over eight million visitors
in 2008 though the exact number varies yearly. Most of these are
from the surrounding
Arab states although an increasing number hail
from outside the region due to growing awareness of the kingdom's
heritage and its higher profile as a result of the Bahrain
International F1 Circuit.
The kingdom combines modern
Arab culture and the archaeological legacy
of five thousand years of civilisation. The island is home to forts
including Qalat Al
Bahrain which has been listed by
UNESCO as a World
Heritage Site. The
Bahrain National Museum has artefacts from the
country's history dating back to the island's first human inhabitants
some 9000 years ago and the Beit Al
Quran (Arabic: بيت
القرآن, meaning: the House of Qur'an) is a museum that holds
Islamic artefacts of the Qur'an. Some of the popular historical
tourist attractions in the kingdom are the Al Khamis Mosque, which is
one of the oldest mosques in the region, the
Arad fort in Muharraq,
Barbar temple, which is an ancient temple from the Dilmunite period of
Bahrain, as well as the A'ali Burial Mounds and the Saar temple.
The Tree of Life, a 400-year-old tree that grows in the
with no nearby water, is also a popular tourist attraction.
Bird watching (primarily in the Hawar Islands), scuba diving, and
horse riding are popular tourist activities in Bahrain. Many tourists
Saudi Arabia and across the region visit
for the shopping malls in the capital Manama, such as the
Seef Mall in the
Seef district of Manama. The
and Gold Souq in the old district of
Manama are also popular with
Bahrain annually hosts a festival in March, titled Spring
of Culture, which features internationally renowned musicians and
artists performing in concerts.
Manama was named the
of Culture for 2012 and Capital of
Tourism for 2013 by the Arab
League. The 2012 festival featured concerts starring Andrea Bocelli,
Julio Iglesias and other musicians.
Main article: Transport in Bahrain
Bahrain has one main international airport, the
Airport (BIA) which is located on the island of Muharraq, in the
north-east. The airport handled more than 100,000 flights and more
than 8 million passengers in 2010. Bahrain's national carrier,
Gulf Air operates and bases itself in the BIA.
King Fahd Causeway
King Fahd Causeway as seen from space
Bahrain has a well-developed road network, particularly in Manama. The
discovery of oil in the early 1930s accelerated the creation of
multiple roads and highways in Bahrain, connecting several isolated
villages, such as Budaiya, to Manama.
To the east, a bridge connected
Muharraq since 1929, a new
causeway was built in 1941 which replaced the old wooden bridge.
Currently there are three modern bridges connecting the two
locations. Transits between the two islands peaked after the
construction of the
Bahrain International Airport in 1932. Ring
roads and highways were later built to connect
Manama to the villages
Northern Governorate and towards towns in central and southern
The four main islands and all the towns and villages are linked by
well-constructed roads. There were 3,164 km (1,966 mi) of
roadways in 2002, of which 2,433 km (1,512 mi) were paved. A
causeway stretching over 2.8 km (2 mi), connect
Muharraq Island, and another bridge joins
Sitra to the main island.
King Fahd Causeway, measuring 24 km (15 mi), links
Bahrain with the Saudi Arabian mainland via the island of Umm
an-Nasan. It was completed in December 1986, and financed by Saudi
Arabia. In 2008, there were 17,743,495 passengers transiting through
Bahrain's port of
Mina Salman is the main seaport of the country and
consists of 15 berths. In 2001,
Bahrain had a merchant fleet of
eight ships of 1,000 GRT or over, totaling 270,784 GRT. Private
vehicles and taxis are the primary means of transportation in the
Bahrain and Internet in Bahrain
The telecommunications sector in
Bahrain officially started in 1981
with the establishment of Bahrain's first telecommunications company,
Batelco and until 2004, it monopolised the sector. In 1981, there were
more than 45,000 telephones in use in the country. By 1999, Batelco
had more than 100,000 mobile contracts. In 2002, under pressure
from international bodies,
Bahrain implemented its telecommunications
law which included the establishment of an independent
Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA). In 2004, Zain (a
rebranded version of MTC Vodafone) started operations in
in 2010 VIVA (owned by STC Group) became the third company to provide
Bahrain has been connected to the internet since 1995 with the
country's domain suffix is '.bh'. The country's connectivity score (a
statistic which measures both Internet access and fixed and mobile
telephone lines) is 210.4 percent per person, while the regional
Arab States of the
Persian Gulf is 135.37 percent. The
number of Bahraini internet users has risen from 40,000 in 2000
to 250,000 in 2008, or from 5.95 to 33 percent of the population.
As of August 2013, the TRA has licensed 22 Internet Service
Science and technology
The Bahraini Economic Vision 2030 published in 2008 does not indicate
how the stated goal of shifting from an economy built on oil wealth to
a productive, globally competitive economy will be attained. Bahrain
has already diversified its exports to some extent, out of necessity.
It has the smallest hydrocarbon reserves of any Gulf state, producing
48,000 barrels per day from its one onshore field. The bulk of
the country’s revenue comes from its share in the offshore field
administered by Saudi Arabia. The gas reserve in
Bahrain is expected
to last for less than 27 years, leaving the country with few sources
of capital to pursue the development of new industries. Investment in
research and development remained very low in 2013.
Apart from the Ministry of Education and the Higher Education Council,
the two main hives of activity in science, technology, and innovation
are the University of
Bahrain (established in 1986) and the Bahrain
Centre for Strategic, International, and Energy Studies. The latter
was founded in 2009 to undertake research with a focus on strategic
security and energy issues to encourage new thinking and influence
New infrastructure for science and education
Bahrain hopes to build a science culture within the kingdom and to
encourage technological innovation, among other goals. In 2013, the
Bahrain Science Centre was launched as an interactive educational
facility targeting 6–18-year olds. The topics covered by current
exhibitions include junior engineering, human health, the five senses,
Earth sciences and biodiversity.
In April 2014,
Bahrain launched its National Space Science Agency. The
agency has been working to ratify international space-related
agreements such as the Outer Space Treaty, the Rescue Agreement, the
Space Liability Convention, the Registration Convention and the Moon
Agreement. The agency plans to establish infrastructure for the
observation of both outer space and the Earth.
In November 2008, an agreement was signed to establish a Regional
Centre for Information and Communication Technology in
the auspices of UNESCO. The aim is to establish a knowledge hub for
the six member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council. In March 2012,
the centre hosted two high-level workshops on ICTs and education. In
Bahrain topped the
Arab world for internet penetration (90% of
the population), trailed by the United
Arab Emirates (86%) and Qatar
(85%). Just half of Bahrainis and Qataris (53%) and two-thirds of
those in the United
Arab Emirates (64%) had access in 2009.
Investment in education and research
In 2012, the government devoted 2.6% of GDP to education, one of the
lowest ratios in the
Arab world. This ratio was on a par with
investment in education in
Lebanon and higher only than that in Qatar
(2.4% in 2008) and
Sudan (2.2% in 2009).
Bahrain invests little in research and development. In 2009 and 2013,
this investment reportedly amounted to 0.04% of GDP, although the data
were incomplete, covering only the higher education sector. The lack
of comprehensive data on research and development poses a challenge
for policy-makers, as data inform evidence-based policy-making.
The available data for researchers in 2013 only cover the higher
education sector. Here, the number of researchers is equivalent to 50
per million inhabitants, compared to a global average for all
employment sectors of 1,083 per million.
The University of
Bahrain had over 20,000 students in 2014, 65% of
whom are women, and around 900 faculty members, 40% of whom are women.
From 1986 to 2014, university staff published 5 500 papers and books.
The university spent about US$11 million per year on research in 2014,
which was conducted by a contingent of 172 men and 128 women. Women
thus made up 43% of researchers at the University of
Bahrain was one of 11
Arab states which counted a majority of female
university graduates in science and engineering in 2014. Women
accounted for 66% of graduates in natural sciences, 28% of those in
engineering and 77% of those in health and welfare. It is harder to
judge the contribution of women to research, as the data for 2013 only
cover the higher education sector.
Trends in research output
In 2014, Bahraini scientists published 155 articles in internationally
cataloged journals, according to Thomson Reuters' Web of Science
(Science Citation Index Expanded). This corresponds to 15 articles per
million inhabitants, compared to a global average of 176 per million
inhabitants in 2013. Scientific output has risen slowly from 93
articles in 2005 and remains modest. By 2014, only
Palestine had a smaller output in this database among Arab
Between 2008 and 2014, Bahraini scientists collaborated most with
their peers from
Saudi Arabia (137 articles), followed by
United Kingdom (93), the
United States (89) and
Demographics of Bahrain
Demographics of Bahrain and Freedom of religion in
Bahrainis observing public prayers in Manama
In 2010, Bahrain's population grew to 1.2 million, of which 568,399
were Bahraini and 666,172 were non-nationals. It had risen from
1.05 million (517,368 non-nationals) in 2007, the year when Bahrain's
population crossed the one million mark. Though a majority of the
population is Middle Eastern, a sizeable number of people from South
Asia live in the country. In 2008, approximately 290,000 Indian
nationals lived in Bahrain, making them the single largest expatriate
community in the country.
Bahrain is the fourth most densely
populated sovereign state in the world with a population density of
1,646 people per km2 in 2010. The only sovereign states with larger
population densities are city states. Much of this population is
concentrated in the north of the country with the Southern Governorate
being the least densely populated part. The north of the country is
so urbanised that it is considered by some to be one large
Bahraini people and Ethnic, cultural and religious
groups of Bahrain
Bahraini people are ethnically diverse.
Shia Bahrainis are divided
into two main ethnic groups:
Baharna and Ajam. Most
Shia Bahrainis are
ethnic Baharna. The Ajam are ethnic Persian Shias.
Shia Persians form
large communities in
Manama and Muharraq. A tiny minority of Shia
Bahrainis are ethnic Hasawis from Al-Hasa.
Sunni Bahrainis are mainly divided into two main ethnic groups: Arabs
(al Arab) and Huwala.
Sunni Arabs are the most influential ethnic
group in Bahrain, they hold most government positions and the Bahraini
Sunni Arabs have traditionally lived in
areas such as Zallaq, Muharraq, Riffa and Hawar islands. The Huwala
are descendants of
Sunni Iranians; some of them are Sunni
Persians, while others
Sunni Arabs. There are also
Sunnis of Baloch origin. Most Bahrainis of African origin come from
Africa and have traditionally lived in
Muharraq Island and
Religion in Bahrain, 2010 (Pew Research)
The state religion of
Islam and most Bahraini citizens are
Muslim. The majority of Muslims are Shiites, although there are no
official figures for the proportion of
Sunni among the
Muslims of Bahrain.
The Muslim population is numbered 866,888 according to the 2010
There is a native Christian community in Bahrain. Non-Muslim Bahraini
residents numbered 367,683 per the 2010 census, most of whom are
Christians.[a] Expatriate Christians make up the majority of
Christians in Bahrain, while native Christian Bahrainis (who hold
Bahraini citizenship) make up a smaller community. Alees Samaan, a
former Bahraini ambassador to the
United Kingdom is a native
Bahrain also has a native Jewish community numbering
thirty-seven Bahraini citizens. Various sources cite Bahrain's
native Jewish community as being from 36 to 50 people.
Gudaibiya mosque, in Manama
Due to an influx of immigrants and guest workers from southern Asian
countries, such as India, the
Philippines and Sri Lanka, the overall
percentage of Muslims in the country has declined in recent
years. According to the 2001 census, 81.2% of Bahrain's
population was Muslim, 10% were Christian, and 9.8% practised Hinduism
or other religions. The 2010 census records that the Muslim
proportion had fallen to 70.2% (the 2010 census did not differentiate
between the non-Muslim religions).
Bahrain government officials
rejected reports from
Bahraini opposition that the administration was
trying to alter the country's demographics by naturalizing Sunni
Syrians. Baha'is constitute approximately 1% of Bahrain's total
Arabic is the official language of Bahrain, though English is widely
Bahrani Arabic is the most widely spoken dialect of the
Arabic language, though it differs widely from standard Arabic, like
all Arabic dialects. Arabic plays an important role in political life,
as, according to article 57 (c) of Bahrain's constitution, an MP must
be fluent in Arabic to stand for parliament. Among the Bahraini
and non-Bahraini population, many people speak Persian, the official
language of Iran, or Urdu, an official language in
Pakistan and a
regional language in India. Nepali is also widely spoken in the
Nepalese workers and
Gurkha Soldiers community. Malayalam, Tamil and
Hindi are spoken among significant Indian communities. All
commercial institutions and road signs are bilingual, displaying both
English and Arabic.
Languages of Bahrain
Arabic (Bahrani, Gulf)
Arabic Sign Language
Main article: Education in Bahrain
See also: List of universities in Bahrain
Female students at the University of
Bahrain dressed in traditional
Education is compulsory for children between the ages of 6 and
14. Education is free for Bahraini citizens in public schools,
with the Bahraini Ministry of Education providing free textbooks.
Coeducation is not used in public schools, with boys and girls
segregated into separate schools.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Qur'anic schools (Kuttab) were
the only form of education in Bahrain. They were traditional
schools aimed at teaching children and youth the reading of the
Qur'an. After World War I,
Bahrain became open to western influences,
and a demand for modern educational institutions appeared. 1919 marked
the beginning of modern public school system in
Bahrain when the
Al-Hidaya Al-Khalifia School for boys opened in Muharraq. In
1926, the Education Committee opened the second public school for boys
in Manama, and in 1928 the first public school for girls was opened in
Muharraq. As of 2011[update], there are a total of 126,981
students studying in public schools.
King Hamad ibn Isa
Al Khalifa introduced the "
Schools of Future" project that uses Information Communication
Technology to support
K–12 education in Bahrain. The project's
objective is to connect all schools within the kingdom with the
Internet. In addition to British intermediate schools, the island
is served by the
Bahrain School (BS). The BS is a United States
Department of Defense school that provides a K-12 curriculum including
International Baccalaureate offerings. There are also private schools
that offer either the
IB Diploma Programme
IB Diploma Programme or United Kingdom's
Bahrain also encourages institutions of higher learning, drawing on
expatriate talent and the increasing pool of
returning from abroad with advanced degrees. The University of Bahrain
was established for standard undergraduate and graduate study, and the
King Abdulaziz University College of Health Sciences, operating under
the direction of the Ministry of Health, trains physicians, nurses,
pharmacists and paramedics. The 2001 National Action Charter paved the
way for the formation of private universities such as the Ahlia
Manama and University College of
Bahrain in Saar. The
Royal University for Women (RUW), established in 2005, was the first
private, purpose-built, international university in
solely to educating women. The
University of London
University of London External has
appointed MCG (Management Consultancy Group) as the regional
representative office in
Bahrain for distance learning
programmes. MCG is one of the oldest private institutes in the
country. Institutes have also opened which educate South Asian
students, such as the
Bahrain and the Indian
School, Bahrain. A few prominent institutions are DePaul University,
Bentley University, the Ernst & Young Training Institute, New York
Institute of Technology and the Birla Institute of Technology
International Centre. In 2004, the Royal College of Surgeons in
Ireland (RCSI) set up a constituent medical university in the country.
In addition to the Arabian Gulf University, AMA International
University and the College of Health Sciences, these are the only
medical schools in Bahrain.
Main article: Health in Bahrain
Bahrain has a universal health care system, dating back to 1960.
Government-provided health care is free to Bahraini citizens and
heavily subsidised for non-Bahrainis. Healthcare expenditure accounted
for 4.5% of Bahrain's GDP, according to the World Health Organization.
Bahraini physicians and nurses form a majority of the country's
workforce in the health sector, unlike neighbouring Gulf states.
The first hospital in
Bahrain was the American Mission Hospital, which
opened in 1893 as a dispensary. The first public hospital, and
also tertiary hospital, to open in
Bahrain was the
Complex, in the
Salmaniya district of Manama, in 1957. Private
hospitals are also present throughout the country, such as the
Hospital of Bahrain.
The life expectancy in
Bahrain is 73 for males and 76 for females.
Compared to many countries in the region, the prevalence of AIDS and
HIV is relatively low.
Malaria and tuberculosis (TB) do not
constitute major problems in
Bahrain as neither disease is indigenous
to the country. As a result, cases of malaria and TB have declined in
recent decades with cases of contractions amongst Bahraini nationals
becoming rare. The Ministry of Health sponsors regular
vaccination campaigns against TB and other diseases such as hepatitis
Bahrain is currently suffering from an obesity epidemic as 28.9% of
all males and 38.2% of all females are classified as obese.
Bahrain also has one of the highest prevalence of diabetes in the
world (5th place), with more than 15% of the Bahraini population
suffering from the disease, and accounting for 5% of deaths in the
country. Cardiovascular diseases account for 32% of all deaths in
Bahrain, being the number one cause of death in the country (the
second being cancer). Sickle-cell anaemia and thalassaemia are
prevalent in the country, with a study concluding that 18% of
Bahrainis are carriers of sickle-cell anaemia while 24% are carriers
Main article: Culture of Bahrain
Shia Muslims in
Bahrain strike their chests during
remembrance of Imam Hussain
Islam is the main religion, and Bahrainis are known for their
tolerance towards the practice of other faiths. Intermarriages
between Bahrainis and expatriates are not uncommon—there are many
Filipino-Bahrainis like Filipino child actress Mona Marbella
Rules regarding female attire are generally relaxed compared to
regional neighbours; the traditional attire of women usually include
the hijab or the abaya. Although the traditional male attire is
the thobe which also includes traditional headdresses such as the
keffiyeh, ghutra and agal, Western clothing is common in the
Bahrain legalized homosexuality in 1976, many homosexuals
have since been arrested.
Main article: Bahraini art
A wind tower in Bahrain.
The modern art movement in the country officially emerged in the
1950s, culminating in the establishment of an art society.
Expressionism and surrealism, as well as calligraphic art are the
popular forms of art in the country.
Abstract expressionism has gained
popularity in recent decades. Pottery-making and textile-weaving
are also popular products that were widely made in Bahraini
villages. Arabic calligraphy grew in popularity as the Bahraini
government was an active patron in Islamic art, culminating in the
establishment of an Islamic museum, Beit Al Quran. The Bahrain
national museum houses a permanent contemporary art exhibition.
The architecture of
Bahrain is similar to that of its neighbours in
the Persian Gulf. The wind tower, which generates natural ventilation
in a house, is a common sight on old buildings, particularly in the
old districts of
Manama and Muharraq.
Main article: Literature of Bahrain
Literature retains a strong tradition in the country; most traditional
writers and poets write in the classical Arabic style. In recent
years, the number of younger poets influenced by western literature
are rising, most writing in free verse and often including political
or personal content. Ali Al Shargawi, a decorated longtime poet,
was described in 2011 by Al Shorfa as the literary icon of
Bahrain was the site of the ancient land of Dilmun
mentioned in the Epic of Gilgamesh. Legend also states that it was the
location of the Garden of Eden.
Main article: Music of Bahrain
The music style in
Bahrain is similar to that of its neighbors. The
Khaliji style of music, which is folk music, is popular in the
country. The sawt style of music, which involves a complex form of
urban music, performed by an
Oud (plucked lute), a violin and mirwas
(a drum), is also popular in Bahrain.
Ali Bahar was one of the
most famous singers in Bahrain. He performed his music with his Band
Al-Ekhwa (The Brothers).
Bahrain was also the site of the first
recording studio amongst the
Persian Gulf states.
Main article: Sport in Bahrain
Poster of 2017 Brave International Combat Week, Bahrain
Brave International Combat Week 2017 will take place during 12
November till 19 November in the Kingdom of Bahrain. The event
will consist of a premium edition of Brave Combat Federation, 2017
IMMAF World Championships and a series of expos focused on business,
combat sports and sports based initiatives.
Bahrain is the first
nation other than
United States of America to host International Mixed
Martial Arts Federation World Championships of Amateur MMA.
Bahrain have recorded an influx in global athletes visiting the nation
for Mixed Martial Arts training during 2017.
In 2018, Cricket was introduced in
Bahrain under initiative of KHK
Sports and Exelon.
Bahrain Premier League 2018 comprised six
franchise squads of 13 resident cricketers competing in the T20
format. The teams were SRam MRam Falcons, Kalaam Knight-Riders, Intex
Bahrain Super Giants, Four Square Challengers and Awan
Association football is the most popular sport in Bahrain.
Bahrain's national football team has competed multiple times at the
Arab Nations Cup and played in the FIFA World Cup
qualifiers, though it has never qualified for the World Cup.
Bahrain has its own top-tier domestic professional football league,
the Bahraini Premier League. Basketball, rugby and horse racing are
also widely popular in the country. The government of Bahrain
also sponsors a
UCI WorldTeam cycling team, Bahrain–Merida, which
participated in the 2017 Tour de France.
Brave Combat Federation
Brave Combat Federation is a Bahrain-based Mixed Martial Arts
promotion which has hosted events in Bahrain, United
Brazil, Kazakhstan, and India.
Bahrain MMA Federation (BMMAF) has been
set up under the patronage of Sheikh Khalid bin Hamad
Al Khalifa and
the jurisdiction of the Sports Minister, Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad Al
Khalifa. The development of MMA in the nation is convened through
KHK MMA, which owns
Brave Combat Federation
Brave Combat Federation which is the largest Mixed
Martial Arts promotion in the Middle East.
Bahrain will be
hosting Amateur World Championships 2017 in association with
International Mixed Martial Arts Federation.
Bahrain will be the first
Arab country to host the amateur MMA championship.
The podium ceremony at the 2007
Bahrain Grand Prix
Bahrain has a Formula One race-track, which hosted the inaugural Gulf
Bahrain Grand Prix on 4 April 2004, the first in an
This was followed by the
Bahrain Grand Prix in 2005.
the opening Grand Prix of the 2006 season on 12 March of that year.
Both the above races were won by
Fernando Alonso of Renault. The race
has since been hosted annually, except for 2011 when it was cancelled
due to ongoing anti-government protests. The 2012 race occurred
despite concerns of the safety of the teams and the ongoing protests
in the country. The decision to hold the race despite ongoing
protests and violence has been described as "controversial" by Al
Jazeera English, CNN, AFP and Sky News. The
Independent named it "one of the most controversial in the history of
Bahrain also hosted its inaugural Australian V8 Supercar
event dubbed the "Desert 400". The V8s returned every November to the
Sakhir circuit until 2010, in which it was the second event of the
series. The series has not returned since. The
Circuit also features a full-length dragstrip where the
Racing Club has organised invitational events featuring some of
Europe's top drag racing teams to try to raise the profile of the
sport in the Middle East.
On 1 September 2006,
Bahrain changed its weekend from being Thursdays
and Fridays to Fridays and Saturdays, in order to have a day of the
weekend shared with the rest of the world. Notable holidays in the
country are listed below:
Local (Arabic) name
New Year's Day
رأس السنة الميلادية
The Gregorian New Year's Day.
Locally called "Eid Al Oumal" (Workers' Day).
National Day of Bahrain.
Accession Day for the late Amir Sh. Isa Bin Salman Al Khalifa
Islamic New Year
رأس السنة الهجرية
Islamic New Year
Islamic New Year (also known as: Hijri New Year).
9th, 10th Muharram
Day of Ashura
Represented on the 9th and 10th day of the Hijri month of Muharram.
Coincided with the memory of the martyrdom of Imam Hussein.
12th Rabiul Awwal
Prophet Muhammad's birthday
Prophet Muhammad's birthday, celebrated in most parts of
the Muslim world.
1st, 2nd, and 3rd Shawwal
Commemorates the end of Ramadan.
Commemoration of Muhammad's final sermon and completion of the message
10th, 11th, 12th, and 13th Zulhijjah
Feast of the Sacrifice
Commemorates Ibrahim's willingness to sacrifice his son. Also known as
the Big Feast (celebrated from the 10th to 13th).
List of tallest structures in Bahrain
List of towns and villages of Bahrain
Outline of Bahrain
List of tourist attractions in Bahrain
Middle East portal
^ 2010 Census shows only two religion categories: "Muslim" and
"Other". Reasonably assuming majority of "Other" Bahraini citizens is
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