Bahrain





Bahrain 4009
Photo by: Dr Ajay Kumar Singh

Basic Data

Bahrain

Official Country Name: State of Bahrain
Region (Map name): Middle East

Bahrain

Population: 634,137
Language(s): Arabic, English, Farsi, Urdu
Literacy rate: 85.2%

Bahrain ( Al Bahrayn ), its name meaning "two seas," is the principle island in an archipelago of some 36 islands that make up the Kingdom of Bahrain ( Al Mamlakah al Bahrayn — previous to February 14, 2002 the conventional form was the State of Bahrain and the local long form was Dawlat al Bahrayn . The local shortform remains unchanged as al Bahrayn ). The country boasts connection with the ancient civilization of Dilmun existing 5,000 some years ago when it was also considered an island paradise by the Sumerians; a kind of Valhalla or Elysian Fields where the wise and brave enjoyed eternal life. Bahrain is situated in the Persian Gulf about 28 kilometers northwest of the Qatar Peninsula and 24 kilometers east of Saudi Arabia. Bahrain became accessible by automobile as of November 1986 when it established a causeway with Saudi Arabia. A causeway with Qatar is also expected in the near future having become a possibility as of March 2001 when the International Court of Justice (ICJ), finding in favor of Bahrain, resolved a longstanding ownership dispute concerning the Hawar islands.

Febuary 14, 2002 Bahrain adopted a new constitution changing its status from emirate to monarchy. This fulfilled a portion of a referendum drafted in late December 2000 that has met with overwhelming public support. Other aspects of the referendum to be implemented by 2004 include an elected bicameral parliament and an independent judiciary. The referendum continued a trend toward increasing respect for human rights, religious tolerance, and freedom of expression in Bahrain. In May of 2000 the Emir (Sheikh Hamad Bin-Isa Al-Khalifah) appointed women and non-Muslims to the Consultative Council for the first time — a move welcomed by much of the international community — and immediately preceding the December referendum the Emir ordered the release of all political prisoners. In February 2001 the 1974 State Security Law and the 1995 State Security Court were abolished. As well, Bahrain has licensed the Bahrain Society for Human Rights, has promised NGO's increasing favor in the eyes of the government, and has granted citizenship to Shi'ite Muslims of Iranian descent who have had numerous generations living in Bahrain. This is especially important due to the ruling Al-Khalifah family, in power since 1783 upon expelling the Persians, being part of the Sunni Bani Utbah tribe while the majority of the population is Shi'ite.

Bahrain, the smallest of the Persian Gulf states, still has a commendable set of communications media that far precedes its political independence gained in 1971. The press began during the 1930s and maintained independent status until 1957 when the government curtailed all independent press functions due to their support of 1950s riots and labor group strikes. Then, the Bahrani government issued a press law in 1965 that allowed for newspaper production to begin again according to unambiguous regulations that essentially disallowed for criticism of state interests in the broadest sense. However, even under these stringencies the press began to reemerge.

In 1967, Akhbar al Khaleej , Bahrain's first Arabic daily opened under the possession of Abdulla Mardi. Today there are four dailies with a fifth that has offices in Manama (the capital), but originates in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The two Arabic dailies are Akhbar al Khaleej or Gulf News (circ. 17,000) and Al-Ayam or The Days (circ. 37,000). The two English dailies are the Bahrain Tribune (circ. 12,500) and the Gulf Daily News (circ. 50,000). The fifth daily originating in the UAE is the Khaleej Times (circ. 72, 565). There are also about eight weeklies that circulate and tend to have more pronounced political leanings than the dailies. Among the largest weeklies are Al-Adwhaa' or Lights (circ. 7,000), Al-Bahrain ath-Thaqafya and Huna al-Bahrain published by the Ministry of Information, Al-Mawakif (circ. 6,000), Oil and Gas News (circ. 5,000), and Sada al-Usbou' which circulates in various Gulf states (circ. 40,000).

There are 15 periodicals that circulate currently, many of which are business and tourism related. Some of these include Bahrain of the Month (monthly circ. 9,948), Discover Bahrain , Gulf Construction (monthly circ. 12,485), Gulf Panorama (monthly circ. 15,000), Al-Hayat at-Tijariyaor Commerce Review (monthly circ. 7,500), Al-Hidayah or Guidance (monthly circ. 5,000), Al-Musafir al-Arabi or Arab Traveller (bimonthly), Shipping and Transport News International (bimonthly circ. 5, 500), and Travel and Tourism News Middle East (montly circ. 6,333).

Bahrain's television and radio media are respectively run by an agency with state ties — previously state-owned, in 1993 ruled an independent corporation to be committee-run by the Emir — and a commercial agency: Bahrain Radio and Television Corporation (BRTC) and Radio Bahrain. The BRTC operates on five terrestrial TV Channels, broadcasting in Arabic and English. The main Arabic and English channel each accept advertising. BRTC's signals are strong enough to cover eastern Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE. For its radio programs the BRTC utilizes two 10-kilowatt transmitters and also broadcasts in Arabic and English. Radio Bahrain broadcasts in English and Arabic 24 hours a day. Its programming includes news, music, the arts, sports, and religion. There are two other factors which play into the traditional electronic media situation in Bahrain. First, English language TV and radio programs can be received by Bahrani's from Saudi Arabian Saudi Aramco and from the U.S. Air Force in Dharan. And, while satellite TV is officially banned, as of 1999 roughly 6 percent of the country's 230,000 homes had access. Statistically, people owning televisions in 2000 was 402 per 1,000 and owning radios was 545 per 1,000.

In 2000 there were an estimated 40,000 Bahraini internet subscribers representing nearly 6 percent of the population as compared with 2,000 in 1995. In 2000 there were approximately 138.7 personal computers per 1,000 people, while there had only been 50.3 in 1995. The government maintains an official Web site and has links leading to newspapers, periodicals, radio, and television stations also available on the internet. Routing of all traffic occurs on only seven secure servers.

Bahrain maintains positive relations with foreign agencies. Agence France-Presse (AFP), Associated Press (AP), Reuters, and Gulf News Agency all maintain offices in Manama. As well, contributing to strong ties with the foreign press and maintaining the governmental trend toward increasing press respect, the Bahrain Journalists Association was allowed and founded in 2000 and maintains a membership of 250 members.

Though the press and the country as a whole are experiencing relaxed government control there are a few issues that have caused concern as of late. First, in November 2001, Hafez El Sheikh Saleh, a journalist with the daily Akhbar al Khaleej was charged by the justice minister as betraying national unity and creating writings antithetical to the National Charter and the constitution. Nabil Yacub al-Hamer, the information minister, banned Saleh from traveling abroad or practicing journalism. Second, in November 2001, Bahrain prohibited the London published Arabic daily Azzaman from being printed in the country because it had been accused of criticizing the emir of Qatar therefore breaking the press and publications law. Third, at the end of March 2002 the Bahraini government blocked at least five Web sites said to have offensive content, lies and questionable information. Sites blocked included one run by Islamic fundamentalist Abdel Wahab Hussein, one by the Bahrain Freedom Movement — a political opposition group, and Al-Manama —an online newspaper. Finally, in May of 2002, Bahrain refused to let Qatari based Al-Jazeera TV cover municipal elections. Al-Hamer said Al-Jazeera was "trying to harm Bahrain" and was "infiltrated by Zionists." Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontiéresRSF) wrote that it was suggested that Al-Jazeera was refused due to earlier unauthorized coverage of Bahraini protests in Manama against Israeli incursions into the West Bank.

While the material presented here sounds a somber note, overall the future appears positive for Bahrain. King Al-Khalifah has worked extraordinarily hard to facilitate reform while maintaining political stability in the country. Bahraini Political trends, technological development, and public desire all suggest expanding frameworks for freedom of the press, freedom of expression, and inclusive citizenship.

Bibliography

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Al-Alyam (The Days). Available: http://www.alayam.com

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Radio Bahrain. Available: http://tv.gna.gov.bh/radiobahrain.asx

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Wheatcroft, Andrew. The Life and Times of Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa: Ruler of Bahrain 1942-61. London: Kegan Paul Intl., 1995.

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Clint B. Thomas Baldwin



Also read article about Bahrain from Wikipedia

User Contributions:

FAZLUR- RAHMAN
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Aug 11, 2007 @ 7:07 am
VERY GOOD ARTCLE, AND I REQUEST TO WRITE SOME MORE ARTCLES LIKE THIS
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Jun 21, 2011 @ 1:01 am
I'm listening to radio 1 in my car.Will it be possible to audio stream this satation on my computer?I'm living in Manama Bahrain.Thank you.

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