Let’s take a look at some of the important facts about Bahrain. However, before going deep into details let’s dissect the flag of Bahrain. The Bahraini flag is made up of two parts, the white side and the red side with the serrated triangle border between them. The triangles on the white serrated stripe represent the five pillars of Islam, the color red represent the Kharijite sect of Islam. Note that the flag of Bahrain is very similar to the flag of Qatar however the Qatari flag is much wider and has maroon color instead of red and has nine points not five.
Not many people know where Bahrain is and partially that’s because it’s kind of small. If you look at the Arabian gulf, you’ll see the big countries like Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait and then you get to the small archipelago right above Qatar and then you realize you’ve reached Bahrain. Bahrain is made up of 33 natural islands however extensive land reclamation projects have actually increased the size of Bahrain by about 40 square miles or 100 square kilometers and has technically increased the island count to about 84 with artificially constructed islands and islets.
Nonetheless the entire country at its longest is only about 48 kilometers long and 16 kilometers wide. The largest island “Bahrain island” makes up about 83% of the entire country’s landmass and contains the country’s capital Manama a modern-day architectural metropolis with tall entrancing skyscrapers each one almost competing with the other to show superior design and elegance. Bahrain is divided up into 12 different municipalities and five different governance.
The vast majority of people in Bahrain live in the north specifically in the capital Manama and the adjacent towns next to it. In the South it is barely populated and has less than a hundred thousand inhabitants. The government wants to change that dawn has been developing civil engineering projects and try to allure the population to spread throughout the outer secluded regions of the country. For example, constructing a water park in the middle of the desert and a massive six-billion-dollar project called the Dirac Alba crane the largest artificial island residents located right at the southernmost tip of the country. The most confusing part though would have to be the Hawara Islands part of the southern governance. These islands are a group of islands that although at the closest less than 2 kilometers from Qatar were a source of lots of territorial disputes and these islands belong to Bahrain.
Although Bahrain is an island, they do have access to Saudi Arabia by the kingdom fahd causeway built in 1986. The bridge was a huge deal in which prior to its construction the only way people could get to Bahrain was by a 30-minute flight or a long ferry. Since then the two countries have never been closer together both literally and figuratively. Bahrain is in the process of building another bridge between them and Qatar currently referred to as the friendship bridge. Talks are still going on but both countries seem to be excited to start up.
Looking at a satellite map you would think that Bahrain doesn’t really have much to offer other than sand as it generally seems to be flat, dry with no forests either. However, there is a tree of life standing in the South government all alone by itself. It’s the oldest and only major tree growing in the entire area and its actually kind of a tourist destination. Bahrain is one of the 18 countries in the world that doesn’t have any rivers, no natural lakes and it rarely ever rains there. About 92 percent of the country is desert however they do have a few somewhat wetter and mild weather along the west coast but where does the water come from?
Well the short answer to this is that there’s generally two sources, the main been the underground spring water and the other been desalinization. Bahrain is lucky because it is located on the Dammam aquifer a region that soaks up water in the porous rocks and sands and distributes the water underground through Springs and multiple regions around the Gulf area such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait and Bahrain being one of those regions.
Drought is a common problem for the country and it’s not uncommon for huge dust storms to engulf the entire region. Bahrain isn’t one of those countries that kind of puts all their hopes in oil. Over the past few decades they’ve diversified their revenue sources to various categories including banking, finance machinery and even tourism. In fact, according to the economic index of freedom, Bahrain has the freest economy in the Middle East and especially after signing a free trade agreement with the USA in 2005 and in 2006 the UN cited Bahrain as the fastest growing economy in the Arab world even passing the United Arab Emirates.
When it comes to the population, Bahrain is pretty strange because it’s one of the few countries in the world in which expatriates actually outnumber the Nationals with about 1.2 million people, Bahraini nationals only make up about 46 percent of the population and expats make up the remaining 55. The most common nationalities of expats being Indian, Bengali, Pakistani, Filipinos and Indonesians. The funny thing is that although Arabic is the official language most of the population has to learn English as a universal language in order for nationals and expats and even tourists to communicate with each other this makes Bahrain a very English friendly country.
Freedom of religion is allowed in Bahrain however if one were to apply for Bahraini citizenship it would be much easier for a Muslim as the country is still mostly predominantly run by a Muslim Parliament and a Sunni Muslim royal family. Bahrain is a monarchy currently under the rule of King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa and it’s kind of like a really new monarchy like it started in 2002. Some people have argued that the Bahraini monarchy is a constitutional monarchy while some will tell you that it’s an absolute monarchy, however, lets clarify this. Hamad Bin Isa comes from a long line of people known as the Al-khalifa family which has kind of had a dynasty over the country for three centuries however each head of state only gave themselves the title of “HAKIM” which means something like national caretaker or Emir which means chief. After his father died, Hamad Bin Isa took over the rule as the second Emir as his father was the first Emir but then three years later, he kind of decided to change things up a little bit and then he was the first one to officially proclaim himself as the King of Bahrain. This was taken with mixed reviews, some people liked it while some didn’t like it. Ones that particularly didn’t like it most were the Shia Muslims which make up the slight majority of the country’s Muslim population.
Complaints about the king and how he administered national affairs started to boil. After the spring uprising in Egypt many Bahraini citizens jumped in and things got a little heated and the country saw some of the worst clashing and protesting that it had ever seen in years. It got so bad that eventually they had to tear down the famous Pearl Monument a common meeting spot for the protesters during the rallies. Bahrain loves Formula One racing. It made history in 2004 as they open the first Formula One Grand Prix in the Middle East and every year, they hold the event which draws in huge international audiences.
Bahrain is one heck of a country that it is kind of crazy that Dubai gets all the attention. For what it’s worth though pretty much all the countries represented by the expats have good relations with Bahrain like India and Pakistan and Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines. When it comes to business, Bahrain knows how to play their cards. Turkey and the US are among their top business partners for Bahrain. They’ve even allowed the U.S fifth fleet to stationed themselves in the Bahraini territory. Bahrain was kind of under British protectorate status for a period of time and although the British did do some great development projects such as building various schools and hospitals and roads and so on Bahraini were tired of the British occupation and finally in 1971 the UK relinquished Bahrain and to this day despite the history they still get along relatively well.
Iran had really wanted Bahrain to become a part of its territory, in 2007 Hossein Shariatmadari advisor to the Ayatollah called for a stance to incorporate Bahrain as another province of Iran. Bahrainis were a little weirded out by this because its kind of sounded like what Saddam Hussein said about Kuwait back in the 90s. To make things worse a lot of Bahrainis were torn between alliances for one the slight majority of the Muslims are Shia so theologically the affirm Iran’s view however a lot of the Shias are actually Arab and not Persian which causes a whole new set of drama and to make things even more confusing a lot of the Sunni Muslims in Bahrain specifically the politicians and businessmen actually have ties to or even came from Iran many of which actually speak Farsi at home. This caused a weird state in Bahrain.
When it comes to their best friends, Bahrain would more or less probably consider Saudi Arabia, however the only issue is that Saudi Arabia is kind of like the friend that doesn’t quite know how to stop partying. Bahrain is kind of seen as like the Disneyland of Saudi Arabia and every weekend tons and tons of Saudis come over to party and they kind of go a little nut.