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Posted by motoman 04/09/2009 @ 08:07

Tags : manama, bahrain, arabian peninsula, world

News headlines
Nitro packed with power [Gulf Daily News, Manama, Bahrain] - TMCnet
(Gulf Daily News (Bahrain) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) May 23--Dodge is muscling in on a market crowded with mid-sized sport utility vehicles (SUVs), with the Nitro R/T. It is the first of its kind to be offered in Bahrain by the iconic brand and is...
Bahrain Lawmakers Call for Crackdown on Alcohol - FOXNews
MANAMA, Bahrain — Encouraged by a limited block on alcoholic drinks, conservative lawmakers in Bahrain are pressing for a wider ban in the tiny kingdom that's home to a major US naval base. It's the latest attempt to clamp down on alcohol and...
CrediMax and Gulf Air in discount deal - Gulf Daily News
MANAMA: CrediMax, Bahrain's leader in credit card business, and Gulf Air have launched a new promotion. It offers CrediMax cardholders added value for their travels. The promotion offers CrediMax cardholders 10 per cent discount on the purchase of any...
BD1bn market seeks investors - Gulf Daily News
By MOHAMMED AL A' ALI, Posted on » Saturday, May 23, 2009 INVESTORS will be soon asked to submit ideas on how to develop a BD1 billion Manama Central Market. The Manama Municipality and the Manama Municipal Council have agreed that bids should open...
Bahrain posts BD372 million budget surplus - Gulf Daily News
MANAMA: Bahrain's audited financial results for last year have revealed a net surplus of BD372.2 million. The consolidated fiscal results were announced at the weekly cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa at...
Manama fourth in Arab clash - Gulf Daily News
MANAMA finished fourth overall in the 22nd Arab Clubs Basketball Championship in Beirut losing their consolation match against Applied Science of Jordan 67-88. On the final day of this week-long tournament, hosts Al Riyadhi of Lebanon regained the...


A scenic view of the Manama skyline on clear night, with the Bahrain WTC visible on the right.

Manama (Arabic: المنامة , transliteration: al-Manāma) is the capital and largest city of Bahrain with an approximate population of 155,000 people. Manama has emerged as the capital of independent Bahrain after periods of domination by Portugal and Persians earlier in its history. Today, it is a modern capital with an economy based around the sales promotion industry as crude oil takes a less pronounced role in the economy. (See Economy of Bahrain). Because of its thriving economy, a Danish firm has proposed a skyscraper that would be over 1 km (3,281 ft) tall, called the Murjan Tower, currently only a concept, if built it would be the world's tallest man-made structure, even surpassing the supertall Burj Dubai skyscraper. Although it would be shorter than the Nakheel Tower in Dubai, if both are built.

Manama was mentioned in Islamic chronicles at least as far back as 1345. It was conquered by Portugal in 1521 and then by the Persians in 1602. Since it has been under the control of the Al-Khalifa dynasty. Manama was declared a free port in 1958, and in 1971 it became the capital of independent Bahrain.

The north of Bahrain’s main island which is dominated by Manama today has seen human activity for roughly 5,000 years, as is indicated from the remains around Bahrain Fort. The Dilmun Civilisation made this area their capital, burying their dead farther south at the tombs of A'ali. The islanders were soon, however, disturbed by a series of invaders that arrived here by sea, beginning with the Assyrians during the BC period and ending with the Arabs. During these many centuries Dilmun, as it was at first known before its name was changed many times by each new invading power, was a trading post whose importance fluctuated depending on which empire dominated. Manama and its inhabitants first discovered Islam during the 7th century and by the 9th century began to lean to a more conservative almost socialist belief system that caused considerable friction with the surrounding Muslim lands. The Qarmartians, as this group was known, ransacked Mecca in 930 during the sacred Hajj, killing hundreds before escaping with the much revered Black Stone. A feud with the Baghdad-based Abbasids less than 50 years later saw the Qarmartians run out of town. The next major foreign intervention in Bahrain came at the beginning of the 1500s when the Portuguese naval fleets arrived, quickly crushing the small local population in Manama and the surrounding areas. Bahrain Fort was built during this era, probably to keep out the Persians who nevertheless managed a series of invasions as the whole island swapped hands between the Portuguese, Persians and Oman for the proceeding two centuries. Once the Persians eventually triumphed, it wasn’t long before the Al Khalifa family appeared from nowhere, or at least from nearby Qatar, to take control of the whole of the island at the end of the 18th century. The new rulers, whose dynasty continues to this day, sought protection against the Persians from the now dominant, empire-building British as Manama entered a period of colonialism that increased over time, not least when oil was discovered 30 km (19 mi) south in the centre of the island and first extracted in 1931. After World War II, Bahrain moved slowly towards independence and eventually in 1971 the British pulled out leaving Manama in charge of its own affairs. This was the beginning of a period that has seen it grow and flourish mainly thanks to considerable wealth accumulated through oil production and processing.

In common with the rest of Bahrain, Manama experiences extreme climatic conditions, with summer temperatures up to 48 °C (118 °F), and winter as low as 15 °C (59 °F) with even hail at rare occasions. Average temperatures of the summer and winter seasons are generally from 17 °C (63 °F) to about 45 °C (113 °F). The most pleasant time in Bahrain is autumn when sunshine is low, along with warm temperatures tempered by soft breezes.

Average temperature in Bahrain.

Average rainfall of Bahrain in mm.

Average hours of sunshine in Bahrain.

The city is located in the far north-eastern corner of Bahrain on a small peninsula, due to this fact the city obtains a pleasant and a reasonable waterfront. As in the rest of Bahrain, the land is generally flat (or gently rolling) and arid. Manama is served by Bahrain International Airport on the nearby island of Al Muharraq, to which it is connected via a causeway.

Manama is part of the Capital Governorate, one of five Governorates of Bahrain. Until 2002 it was part of the municipality of Al-Manamah. Councils exist within the governorates; eight constituencies are voted upon within Capital Governorate in 2006.

Manama is the focal point of the Bahraini economy. While oil has decreased in importance in recent years due to depleting reserves, petroleum is still the mainstay of the economy, while heavy industry (e.g. aluminum smelting, ship repair), banking and finance, and tourism are increasing in importance. Several multinationals have facilities and offices in and around Manama. The economic base for Manama itself is financial services, with over two hundred financial institutions and banks based in the CBD and the Diplomatic Area. There is also a large retail sector in the shopping malls around Seef, while the center of Manama is dominated by small workshops and traders.

Manama is the main hub of the country's road network. At the moment the city's road network is under a huge wave of development, as the Ministry of Works is taking all the pressure to improve the road network in Manama, due to the fact that it is the capital and the main city in the country, where most of the government and the commercial offices and facilities are established, along with the entertainment centers. The Ministry of Works has set several plans and projects to ameliorate the situation of traffic in the city; it is concluded with some potential points. Roundabouts considered as one of the busiest spots in Manama, for that it was necessary to remove most of the roundabouts in the city and replace them with traffic signalised junctions. In additions, some of the junctions on the main routes around the city are being replaced and improved to interchanges, tunnels, flyover bridges and exits. Besides the traffic-jams, the vehicle population is increasing rapidly, which makes it difficult for the authorities to cope with the traffic problem. The outline of the present road network was traced in the early 1930s, soon after the discovery of oil. 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 Manama with Muharraq Island, and another bridge joins Sitra to the main island. A four-lane highway atop a 24 km (15 mi) causeway, linking Bahrain with the Saudi Arabian mainland via the island of Umm an-Nasan was completed in December 1986, and financed by Saudi Arabia. In 2000, there were 172,684 passenger vehicles and 41,820 commercial vehicles. Bahrain's port of Mina Sulman can accommodate 16 oceangoing vessels drawing up to 11 m (36 ft). 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 city.

Manama has a comprehensive bus service which is far more economical than other modes of transport. A minimum fare of 150-200 fils allows you to travel by bus. There are bus routes to other towns such as Muharraq and Isa Town.

Bahrain International Airport is located on Muharraq Island, approximately 7 km (4 mi) from the CBD. It is a premier hub airport in the Middle East. Strategically located in the Northern Persian Gulf between the major markets of Saudi Arabia and Iran, the airport has one of the widest range and highest frequency of regional services with ideal connections to major international destinations in Europe, Asia and Africa.

Bahrain is not fully Islamic and Arabic, the country attracts a large number of foreigners and foreign influences, with just under ⅓ of the population hailing from abroad. Alcohol is legal in the country, with bars and nightclubs operating in the city. This is in contrast neighbouring Saudi Arabia, which bans alcohol under all circumstances. This is seen as a sign by most people that while both Manama and Bahrain are strongly Islamic, they are open-minded and tolerant with others and other cultures. Soccer is a popular sport, with three teams from Manama participating in the Bahraini Premier League.

The twin towers of the Bahrain Financial Harbor.

The twin towers of the Bahrain Financial Harbor.

A scenic view of the Manama skyline, with the twin towers of the Bahrain WTC and BFH in the background.

A scenic view of the Manama skyline on clear night, with the Bahrain WTC visible on the right.

The twin towers of the Bahrain WTC.

The twin towers of the Bahrain WTC under construction.

Scenic view of the twin towers of the Bahrain WTC, with the three wind turbines clearly visible.

Streets of Manama, with the NBB tower in the background.

Streets of Manama, with the NBB tower in the background (right).

Scenic view of the Almoayyed Tower, in Manama.

Scenic view of the Almoayyed Tower, in Manama.

The Al Fateh Mosque, one of the largest mosques in the world.

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Manama Souq

Manama Souq (Arabic: سوق المنامة) is the old bazaar (souk) of Bahrain's capital, Manama. It lies in the north of Manama Peninsula, in-between the old parts of the city and the CBD, to the east of Noaim and west of Ras Rumman.

It is a bustling marketplace with numerous traditional as well as modern shops. The souq (marketplace) is located in the heart of the city, near Bab Al Bahrain. The souq stretches from Isa Al Kabeer Avenue on the east side, Government Avenue on the north and Shaikh Hamad Avenue on the west. One can see and buy all kinds of spices, fabrics, kaftans, thobes, handicrafts, souvenirs, dry fruits, nuts, and any other thing one can imagine.

The crowd as well as the traders in Manama souq consist of Bahrainis as well as expatriates from countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Egypt and neighbouring Gulf countries. The souq is frequented by tourists from all over the world to experience the traditional setting of the marketplace which has been preserved over the years.

The Gold souk is also worth visiting and all the gold is hallmarked and pure. One can only find 18K and 21K gold items. 10K and 14K are not usually acceptable as 'gold' jewelry. The Bahraini pearls are the only natural pearls in the world today and they are one of a kind. They are not cultured but natural.

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Manama Club


Manama Club (Arabic: المنامة‎) is a Bahraini football club based in Manama. They play in the top division in Bahraini football.

From the inception of the Bahrain league in 1957 till the start of 90s, Manama did not make an important impact on the national stage. While rivals Al Ahli were winning three national titles, Manama were struggling to maintain their status among the elite.

Last season saw Manama finally reward the patience of their long suffering fans by clinching automatic promotion. And they did it in style by winning all but one of their 14 games. They also reached the quarterfinals of the FA Cup where they lost by the odd goal in three to Al Shabab. Manama finally had something to shout about.

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Bahrain World Trade Center & Financial Harbour Towers.JPG

The Kingdom of Bahrain, in Arabic: مملكة البحرين‎, transliteration: Mamlakat al-Baḥrayn, literally Kingdom of the Two Seas).

Bahrain is an Arabic island microstate in the Persian Gulf ruled by the Al Khalifa royal family. Saudi Arabia lies to the west and is connected to Bahrain by the King Fahd Causeway, which officially opened on 25 November 1986. Qatar is to the southeast across the Gulf of Bahrain. The planned Qatar–Bahrain Friendship Bridge will link Bahrain to Qatar as the longest fixed link in the world.

Bahrain is the Arabic term for "two seas", referring to the freshwater springs that are found within the salty seas surrounding it. Bahrain has been inhabited since ancient times. Its strategic location in the Persian Gulf has brought rule and influence from the Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, and the Arabs, under whom the island became Islamic. Bahrain may have been associated with Dilmun which is mentioned by Mesopotamian civilizations. During its history it was called by different names such as Awal, then Mishmahig, when it was a part of the Persian Empire. From the 3rd to 6th century BC, Bahrain was included in Persian Empire by Achaemenians, an Iranian dynasty. From the 3rd century BC to the arrival of Islam in the 7th century AD, Bahrain was controlled by two other Iranian dynasties of Parthians and Sassanids. By about 250 BC, the Parthian dynasty brought the Persian Gulf under its control and extended its influence as far as Oman. Because they needed to control the Persian Gulf trade route, the Parthians established garrisons in the southern coast of Persian Gulf. In the 3rd century AD, the Sasanids succeeded the Parthians and held the area until the rise of Islam four centuries later. Ardashir, the first ruler of the Iranian Sassanian Dynasty marched forward on Oman and Bahrain, and defeated Sanatruq. At this time, Bahrain incorporated the southern Sassanid province covering the Persian Gulf's southern shore plus the archipelago of Bahrain. The southern province of the Sassanid empire was subdivided into the three districts of Haggar (now al-Hafuf province, Saudi Arabia), Batan Ardashir (now al-Qatif province, Saudi Arabia), and Msihmahig (Which in Middle-Persian/Pahlavi means "ewe-fish"). Until Bahrain adopted Islam in 629 AD, it was a center of Nestorian Christianity. Early Islamic sources describe it as being inhabited by members of the Abdul Qays, Tamim, and Bakr tribes, worshiping the idol Awal.

In 899 AD, a millenarian Ismaili sect, the Qarmatians, seized the country and sought to create a utopian society based on reason and the distribution of all property evenly among the initiates. The Qarmatians caused disruption throughout the Islamic world; they collected tribute from the caliph in Baghdad, and in 930 AD sacked Mecca and Medina, bringing the sacred Black Stone back to their base in Ahsa, in medieval Bahrain where it was held to ransom. According to the historian Al-Juwayni, the Stone was returned twenty-two years later, in 951, under somewhat mysterious circumstances; wrapped in a sack, it was thrown into the Friday Mosque of Kufa accompanied by a note saying "By command we took it, and by command we have brought it back." The Black Stone's abduction and removal caused further damage, breaking the stone into seven pieces.

The Qarmatians were defeated in 976 AD by the Abbasids. The final end of the Qarmatians came at the hand of the Arab Uyunid dynasty of al-Hasa, who took over the entire Bahrain region in 1076. They controlled the Bahrain islands until 1235, when the islands were briefly occupied by the ruler of Fars. In 1253, the bedouin Usfurids brought down the Uyunid dynasty and gained control over eastern Arabia, including the islands of Bahrain. In 1330, the islands became tributary to the rulers of Hormuz, though locally the islands were controlled by the Shi'ite Jarwanid dynasty of Qatif. Until the late Middle Ages, "Bahrain" referred to the larger historical region of Bahrain that included Ahsa, Qatif (both now within the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia) and the Awal Islands (now the Bahrain Islands). The region stretched from Basrah to the Strait of Hormuz in Oman. This was Iqlīm al-Bahrayn "Bahrayn Province". The exact date at which the term "Bahrain" began to refer solely to the Awal archipelago is unknown. In the mid-15th century, the islands came under the rule of the Jabrids, a bedouin dynasty that was also based in al-Ahsa and ruled most of eastern Arabia. The Portuguese invaded Bahrain in 1521 in alliance with Hormuz, seizing it from the Jabrid ruler Migrin ibn Zamil, who was killed in battle. Portuguese rule lasted for nearly 80 years, during which they depended mostly on Sunni Persian governors. The Portuguese were expelled from the islands in 1602 by Abbas I of the Safavid dynasty of Iran, who instituted Shi'ism as the official religion in Bahrain. The Iranian rulers retained sovereignty over the islands, with some interruptions, for nearly two centuries. For most of that period, they resorted to governing Bahrain indirectly, either through Hormuz or through local Sunni Arab clans, such as the Huwala. During this period, the islands suffered two serious invasions by the Ibadhis of Oman in 1717 and 1738. In 1753, the Huwala clan of Al Madhkur invaded Bahrain on behalf of the Iranians, restoring direct Iranian rule.

The Al Bin Ali Tribe are the original descendants of Bani Utbah tribe being that they are the only tribe to carry the last name Al-Utbi in their Ownership's documents of Palm gardens in Bahrain as early as the year 1699 - 1111 Hijri . They are specifically descendants of their great grand father Ali Al-Utbi who is a descendant of their great grand father Utbah hence the name Bani Utbah which means sons of Utbah. Utbah is the great grandfather of the Bani Utbah which is a section of Khafaf from Bani Sulaim bin Mansoor from Mudhar from Adnan. The plural word for Al-Utbi is Utub and the name of the tribe is Bani Utbah.

In 1783, Nasr Al-Madhkur lost the islands of Bahrain to Bani Utbah tribe whom which Shaikh Isa Bin Tarif, Chief of Al Bin Ali belongs to. Shaikh Isa Bin Tarif was a desecendant of the original uttoobee conquereres of Bahrain This took place after the defeat of Nasr Al-Madhkur to the Bani Utbah in the battle of Zubarah that took place in the year 1782 between the Al Bin Ali from the Bani Utbah Tribe and the Army of Nasr Al-Madhkur Ruler of Bahrain and Bushire. Zubarah was originally the center of power of the Bani Utbah in which the Al Bin Ali Tribe in Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and U.A.E derives from. The Al Bin Ali were the Arabs that were occupying Zubarah , they were the original dominant group of Zubara .

The Islands of Bahrain wasn't something new to the Bani Utbah, they were always connected to this island, whether by settling in it during summer season or by purchasing date palm gardens. The Al Bin Ali were a politically important group that moved backwards and forwards between Qatar and Bahrain . The Bani Utbah had been present in the banks of Bahrain in the seventeenth century . During that time, they started purchasing date palm gardens in Bahrain. One of the documents which belongs to Shaikh Salama Bin Saif Al Utbi one of the Shaikh's of the Al Bin Ali backs this statement about the presence of the Bani Utbah in Bahrain in the seventeenth century. It states that Mariam Bint Ahmed Al Sindi, a shia women has sold a Palm Garden in the Island Of Sitra at Bahrain to Shaikh Salama Bin Saif Al Utbi dating to the year 1699 - 1111 Hijri before the arrival of Al-Khalifa to Bahrain by more than 90 years. .

After the Bani Utbah gaining power in 1783, the Al Bin Ali were a practically independent status in Bahrain as a self governed tribe. They carried a distinguished flag with four red stripes with three white stripes called the Al-Sulami flag as they call it in Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, and Eastern province in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.It was raised on their ships during wartime and in the pearl season and on special occasions such as weddings and during Eid and in the “ Ardha of war ” . Al Bin Ali were known for their courage, persistence, and abundant wealth . Later, different Arab families and tribes mostly from Qatar moved to Bahrain to settle there since the Persians have been expelled from the Island   . These families and tribes were Al Khalifa, Al-Ma'awdah, Al-Fadhil, Al-Mannai, Al-Noaimi, Al-Sulaiti, Al-Sadah, Al-Thawadi, and other families and tribes. Most of these tribes settled in Muharraq, the capital of Bahrain and the center of power at that time since the Al Bin Ali lived there. There is a neighborhood in Muharraq city named Al Bin Ali and it is the oldest and biggest neighborhood in Muharraq, members of this tribe lived in this area for more than three centuries.

Fourteen years later after gaining power of Bani Utbah, the Al Khalifa family moved to Bahrain in 1797 as settlers, in which they settled in Jaww and later moved to Riffa. They were originally from Kuwait and have left it in 1766. According to a tradition preserved by the Al-Sabah family, the reason why the ancestors of their section and those of the Al-Khalifa section came to Kuwait was that they had been expelled by the Turks from Umm Qasr upon Khor Zubair, an earlier seat from which they had been accustomed to prey as brigands upon the caravans of Basra and as pirates upon the shipping of the Shatt Al Arab.

In the early nineteenth centuriy, Bahrain was invaded by both the Omanis and the Al Sauds, and in 1802 it was governed by a twelve year old child, when the Omani ruler Sayyid Sultan installed his son, Salim, as Governor in the Arad Fort.

The great trading families that emerged during this period have been compared to the Borgias and Medicis and their great wealth - long before the oil wealth the region would later be renown for - gave them extensive power, and among the most prominent were the Persian Al Safar family, who held the position of Native Agents of Britain in 19th Century. The Al Safar enjoyed an 'exceptionally close' relationship with the Al Khalifa clan from 1869, although the al-Khalifa never intermarried with them - it has been speculated that this could be related to political reasons (to limit the Safars’ influence with the ruling family) and possibly for religious reasons (because the Safars were Shia).

Bahrain underwent a period of major social reform between 1926 and 1957, under the de facto rule of Charles Belgrave, the British advisor to Shaikh Hamad ibn Isa Al-Khalifa (1872-1942). The country's first modern school was established in 1919, with the opening of the Al-Hiddaya Boys School, while the Arab Persian Gulf's first girls school opened in 1928. The American Mission Hospital, established by the Dutch Reform Church, began work in 1903. Other reforms include the abolition of slavery, while the pearl diving industry developed at a rapid pace.

These reforms were often opposed vigorously by powerful groups within Bahrain including sections within the ruling family, tribal forces, the religious authorities and merchants. In order to counter conservatives, the British removed the Emir, Isa bin Ali Al Khalifa, replacing him with his son in 1923. Some Sunni tribes such as the al Dossari were forcibly removed from Bahrain and sent to mainland Arabia, while clerical opponents of social reforms were exiled to Saudi and Iran, and the heads of some merchant and notable families were likewise exiled. The Britain’s interest in pushing Bahrain’s development was motivated by concerns about Saudi-Wahabbi and Iranian ambitions.

Oil was discovered in 1932 and brought rapid modernization to Bahrain. This discovery made relations with the United Kingdom closer, as evidenced by the British establishing more bases there. British influence would continue to grow as the country developed, culminating with the appointment of Charles Belgrave as an advisor; Belgrave established modern education systems in Bahrain. After World War II, increasing anti-British sentiment spread throughout the Arab World and led to riots in Bahrain. The riots focused on the Jewish community, which counted among its members distinguished writers and singers, accountants, engineers and middle managers working for the Oil Company, textile merchants with business all over the peninsula, and free professionals. Following the events of 1947, most members of Bahrain's Jewish community abandoned their properties and evacuated to Bombay, later settling in Palestine (later Israel - Tel Aviv's Pardes Chana neighborhood) and the United Kingdom. As of 2007, 36 Jews remained in the country. The issue of compensation was never settled. In 1960, the United Kingdom put Bahrain's future to international arbitration and requested that the United Nations Secretary-General take on this responsibility. In 1970, Iran laid claim to Bahrain and the other Persian Gulf islands. However, in an agreement with the United Kingdom it agreed "not to pursue" its claims on Bahrain if its other claims were realized. The following plebiscite saw Bahrainis confirm their Arab identity and independence from Britain. Bahrain to this day remains a member of the Arab League and Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf. The British withdrew from Bahrain on 16 December 1971, making Bahrain an independent emirate. The oil boom of the 1970s greatly benefited Bahrain, but its downturn hurt. However, the country had already begun to diversify its economy, and had benefited from the Lebanese civil war that began in the 1970s; Bahrain replaced Beirut as the Middle East's financial hub as Lebanon's large banking sector was driven out of the country by the war. After the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran, Bahraini Shī'a fundamentalists in 1981 orchestrated a failed coup attempt under the auspices of a front organization, the Islamic Front for the Liberation of Bahrain. The coup would have installed a Shī'a cleric exiled in Iran, Hujjatu l-Islām Hādī al-Mudarrisī, as supreme leader heading a theocratic government. In 1994, a wave of rioting by disaffected Shīa Islamists was sparked by women's participation in a sporting event. During the mid-1990s, the Kingdom was badly affected by sporadic violence between the government and the cleric-led opposition in which over forty people were killed. In March 1999, King Hamad ibn Isa Al Khalifah succeeded his father as head of state and instituted elections for parliament, gave women the right to vote, and released all political prisoners. These moves were described by Amnesty International as representing an "historic period of human rights". The country was declared a kingdom in 2002. It formerly was considered a State and officially called a "Kingdom".

Bahrain is a constitutional monarch headed by the King, Shaikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa; the head of government is the Prime Minister, Shaikh Khalīfa bin Salman al Khalifa, who presides over a cabinet of twenty-five members, where 80% of its members are from the royal family. Bahrain has a bicameral legislature with a lower house, the Chamber of Deputies, elected by universal suffrage and an upper house, the Shura Council, appointed by the king. Both houses have forty members. the first round of voting in the 2006 parliamentary election took place on 25 November 2006, and second round Islamists hail huge election victory], Gulf News, 27 November 2006</jhru67ef> The opening up of politics has seen big gains for both Shīa and Sunnī Islamists in elections, which have given them a parliamentary platform to pursue their policies. This has meant parties launching campaigns to impose bans on female mannequins displaying lingerie in shop windows, sorcery, and the hanging of underwear on washing lines, as well as change the building by laws to fit one-way glass to houses to prevent residents being able to see out. Analysts of democratization in the Middle East cite the Islamists' references to respect for human rights in their justification for these programmes as evidence that these groups can serve as a progressive force in the region. Islamist parties have been particularly critical of the government's readiness to sign international treaties such as the United Nation's 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". Both Sunnī and Shī'a Islamists suffered a setback in March 2006 when 20 municipal councillors, most of whom represented religious parties, went missing in Bangkok on an unscheduled stopover when returning from a conference in Malaysia. After the missing councillors eventually arrived in Bahrain they defended their stay at the Radisson Hotel in Bangkok, telling journalists it was a "fact-finding mission", and explaining: "We benefited a lot from the trip to Thailand because we saw how they managed their transport, landscaping and roads". Bahraini liberals have responded to the growing power of religious parties by organizing themselves to campaign through civil society in order to defend basic personal freedoms from being legislated away. In November 2005, al Muntada, a grouping of liberal academics, launched "We Have A Right", a campaign to explain to the public why personal freedoms matter and why they need to be defended.

Women's political rights in Bahrain saw an important step forward 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 and instead Shī'a and Sunnī Islamists dominated the election, collectively winning a majority of seats. 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. The country's first female cabinet minister was appointed in 2004 when Dr. Nada Haffadh became Minister of Health, while the quasi-governmental women's group, the Supreme Council for Women, trained female candidates to take part in the 2006 general election. When Bahrain was elected to head the United Nations General Assembly in 2006 it appointed lawyer and women's rights activist Haya bint Rashid Al Khalifa as the President of the United Nations General Assembly, only the third woman in history to head the world body. The king recently created the Supreme Judicial Council to regulate the country's courts and institutionalize the separation of the administrative and judicial branches of government; the leader of this court is Mohammed Humaidan.

On 11–12 November 2005, Bahrain hosted the Forum for the Future, bringing together leaders from the Middle East and G8 countries to discuss political and economic reform in the region. The near total dominance of religious parties in elections has given a new prominence to clerics within the political system, with the most senior Shia religious leader, Sheikh Isa Qassim, playing what’s regarded as an extremely important role; according to one academic paper, “In fact, it seems that few decisions can be arrived at in Al Wefaq – and in the whole country, for that matter – without prior consultation with Isa Qassim, ranging from questions with regard to the planned codification of the personal status law to participation in elections. In 2007, Al Wefaq-backed parliamentary investigations are credited with forcing the government to remove ministers who had frequently clashed with MPs: the Minister of Health, Dr Nada Haffadh (who was also Bahrain’s first ever female cabinet minister) and the Minister of Information, Dr Mohammed Abdul Gaffar.

The majority of the royal family members excluding the King Hamad Al Khalifa, the Prime minister Khalifa Al Khalifa, the Crown prince Salman Al Khalifa, royals engage in these ministries: First Deputy Prime minister Mohammed Bin Mubarak Al Khalifa, Second Deputy and Transportations & Communications Minister Ali Bin Khalifa Al Khalifa, Foreign Minister Khalid Bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, Interior minister Rashid Bin Abdulla Al Khalifa, Justice Minister Khalid Bin Ali Al Khalifa, Information and Media minister Mey Al Khalifa, Housing minister Ibrahim Bin Khalifa Al Khalifa, Financing minister Ahmed Bin Mohamed Al Khalifa, Defence minister Khalifa Bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, Defence Affairs Minister Mohamed Bin Abdulla Al Khalifa, Cabinet Affairs Minister Ahmed Bin Ateyatallah Al Khalifa, Prime Minister Office minister Khalid Bin Abdulla Al Khalifa, King's Court Affairs Minister ALi Bin Isa Al Khalifa, Electricity & Water Minister Abdalla Bin Isa Al Khalifa, Attorney General Abderahman Bin Jaber Al Khalifa, Bahrain National Security Director Khalifa Bin Abdalla Al Khalifa. Royals also engage in most of other ministries affairs and also in the largerst companies which the government has a big share in..

In a region experiencing an oil boom, Bahrain has the fastest growing economy in the Arab world, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia found in January 2006. Bahrain also has the freest economy in the Middle East according to the 2006 Index of Economic Freedom published by the Heritage Foundation/Wall Street Journal, and is twenty-fifth freest overall in the world. In 2008, 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. In Bahrain, petroleum production and processing account for about 60% of export receipts, 60% of government revenues, and 30% of GDP. Economic conditions have fluctuated with the changing fortunes of oil since 1985, for example, during and following the Persian Gulf crisis of 1990-91. With its highly developed communication and transport facilities, Bahrain is home to multinational firms. A large share of exports consists of petroleum products made from imported crude oil. Construction proceeds on several major industrial projects. In 2004, Bahrain signed the US-Bahrain Free Trade Agreement, which will reduce certain barriers to trade between the two nations. 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 a 3.8%, but women are over represented at 85% of the total. Bahrain in 2007 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 Alawi.

Bahrain is a generally flat and arid archipelago, consisting of a low desert plain rising gently to a low central escarpment, in the Persian Gulf, east of Saudi Arabia. The highest point is the 134 m (440 ft) Jabal ad Dukhan. Bahrain has a total area of 665 km2 (257 sq mi), which is slightly larger than the Isle of Man, though it is smaller than the nearby King Fahd International Airport near Dammam, Saudi Arabia (780 km2 (301 sq mi)). As an archipelago of thirty-three islands, Bahrain does not share a land boundary with another country but does have a 161 km (100 mi) coastline and claims a further 22 km (12 nmi) of territorial sea and a 24 km (13 nmi) contiguous zone. Bahrain's largest islands are: Bahrain Island, Muharraq Island, Umm an Nasan, and Sitrah. Bahrain has mild winters and very hot, humid summers. Bahrain's natural resources include large quantities of oil and natural gas as well as fish stocks. Arable land constitutes only 2.82% of the total area. Desert constitutes 92% of Bahrain, and periodic droughts and dust storms are the main natural hazards for Bahrainis. Environmental issues facing 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-utilization of the Dammam Aquifer, the principal aquifer in Bahrain, has led to its salinization by adjacent brackish and saline water bodies.

Bahrain is an Island located in west to the mainland of Saudi Arabia. Jabal ad Dukhan is the highest point in Bahrain with hills up to 134 m (440 ft) above sea level. The Zagros hills in Iraq cause low level winds to be directed to the Bahrain Island and create a pressure pattern. The dust bowls from Iraq and Saudi Arabia make fine dust particles easily transported by northwesterly winds which cause visibility reductions in the months of June and July. The summer is very hot since the Persian Gulf waters provide low levels of moisture supply. Seas around Bahrain are very shallow, heat up quickly in the summer, and produce high humidity, especially in the summer nights. In those periods, summer temperatures may reach about 35 °C (95 °F). Rainfall in Bahrain is minimal and irregular. Most rainfalls occur in the winter season, recorded maximum of 71.8 mm (7.2 cm).

Average temperature in Bahrain.

Average rainfall in Bahrain in mm.

Average hours of sunshine in Bahrain.

Bahrain is sometimes described as the "Middle East lite" because it combines modern infrastructure with a Persian Gulf identity and, unlike other countries in the region, its prosperity is not solely a reflection of the size of its oil wealth, but is also related to the creation of an indigenous middle class. This unique socioeconomic development in the Persian Gulf has meant that Bahrain is generally more liberal than its neighbours. While Islam is the main religion, Bahrainis have been known for their tolerance, and Churches, Hindu temples, Sikh Gurdwara and a Jewish synagogue can be found alongside mosques. The country is home to several communities that have faced persecution elsewhere. It is too early to say whether political liberalisation under King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa has augmented or undermined Bahrain's traditional pluralism. The new political space for Shia and Sunni Islamists has meant that they are now more able to pursue programmes that often seek to directly confront this pluralism, yet political reforms have encouraged an opposite trend for society to become more self critical with more willingness to examine previous social taboos. It is now common to find public seminars on once unheard of subjects such as marital problems and sex and child abuse. Another facet of the new openness is Bahrain's status as the most prolific book publisher in the Arab world, with 132 books published in 2005 for a population of 700,000. In comparison, the average for the entire Arab world is seven books published per one million people in 2005, according to the United Nations Development Programme. Ali Bahar is the most famous singer in Bahrain. He performs his music with his Band Al-Ekhwa (The Brothers). On 20 October 2005, it was reported that Michael Jackson intended to leave the United States permanently in order to seek a new life in Bahrain. Jackson has reportedly told friends that he feels "increasingly Bahraini", after buying a former PM's mansion in Sanad, and is now seeking another property by the seashore. Jackson reportedly moved to Las Vegas, Nevada, in 2006. Other celebrities associated with the Kingdom include singer Shakira, and Grand Prix driver Jenson Button, who owns property there. In Manama lies the new district of Juffair, predominantly built on reclaimed land. This is the location of the U.S. Naval Support Activity which hosts the headquarters for U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and U.S. Fifth Fleet. The concentration of restaurants, bars and nightlife make this area a magnet for U.S. service members and Saudi weekend visitors.

Arabic is the official language of Bahrain though English is widely used. Some speak a dialect of Persian languages. Bahrain's primary religion is Islam.

Bahrain has a Formula One race-track, hosting the first Gulf Air Grand Prix on 4 April 2004, the first for an Arab country. The race was won by Michael Schumacher of Scuderia Ferrari. This was followed by the Bahrain Grand Prix in 2005. Bahrain has successfully hosted the opening Grand Prix of the 2006 season on 12 March. Both the above races were won by Fernando Alonso of Renault. The 2007 event took place on April 13, 14th and 15th resulting in victory of Ferrari's Felipe Massa. On Sunday 6 April 2008, Ferrari's Felipe Massa once again took the Bahrain Grand Prix victory, with BMW Sauber's Robert Kubica being the first Polish driver on pole position, and BMW's first pole as well. In 2006, Bahrain also hosted its inaugural Australian V8 Supercar event dubbed the "Desert 400". The V8s will return every November to the Sakhir circuit. The inaugural round was won by Ford Performance Racing's Jason Bright. The Bahrain International Circuit also features a full length drag strip, and the Bahrain Drag Racing Club has organised invitational events featuring some of Europe's top drag racing teams to try and raise the profile of the sport in the Middle East. There has been much speculation about Bahrain hosting a round of the FIA European Drag Racing Championship, but as yet this has not come to fruition due to problems with the track gaining the necessary licence.

The kingdom has a small but well equipped military called the Bahrain Defense Force (BDF). The BDF is primarily equipped with U.S. equipment, such as F16 Fighting Falcon, F5 Freedom Fighter, UH60 Blackhawk, M60A3 tanks, and the ex-USS Jack Williams (FFG-24), an Oliver Hazard Perry class frigate renamed the RBNS Sabha. The Government of Bahrain has a cooperative agreement with the United States Military and has provided the United States a base in Juffair since the early 1990s. This is the home of the headquarters for Commander, United States Naval Forces Central Command (COMUSNAVCENT) / United States Fifth Fleet (COMFIFTHFLT), and about 1500 U.S. and coalition military personnel.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Quranic 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 Al-Hidaya Al-Khalifia School for boys was 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. In 2004 King Hamad ibn Isa Al Khalifa introduced a project that uses Information Communication Technology (ICT) to support K–12 education in Bahrain. This project is named King Hamad Schools of Future. The objective of this project is to connect and link 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 or UK A-Levels. In 2007, St. Christopher's School Bahrain became the first school in Bahrain to offer a choice of IB or A-Levels for students. Numerous international educational institutions and schools have established links to Bahrain. A few prominent institutions are DePaul University, Bentley College, Ernst & Young Training Institute, NYIT and Birla Institute of Technology International Centre (See also: List of universities in Bahrain). Schooling is paid for by the government. Primary and secondary attendance is high, although it is not compulsory. Bahrain also encourages institutions of higher learning, drawing on expatriate talent and the increasing pool of Bahrain Nationals returning from abroad with advanced degrees. The University of Bahrain has been established for standard undergraduate and graduate study, and the College of Health Sciences; operating under the direction of the Ministry of Health, trains physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and paramedics. The national action charter, passed in 2001, paved the way for the formation of private universities. The first private university was Ahlia University, situated in Manama. In 2005, The Royal University for Women (RUW) was established. RUW is the first private, purpose-built, international University in the Kingdom of Bahrain dedicated solely to educating women. The University of London External has appointed MCG as the regional representative office in Bahrain for distance learning programs. MCG is one of the oldest private institutes in the country. Institutes have also been opened which educate Asian students, such as the Pakistan Urdu School, Bahrain, the Indian School, Bahrain, The Asian School, Bahrain and the New Indian School, Bahrain.

Bahrain is a popular tourist destination with over eight million tourists a year. Most of the visitors are from the surrounding Arab states but there is an increasing number of tourists from outside the region due to a growing awareness of the kingdom’s heritage and its higher profile with regards to the Bahrain International F1 Circuit. The Lonely Planet describes Bahrain as "an excellent introduction to the Persian Gulf", because of its authentic Arab heritage and reputation as relatively liberal and modern. The kingdom combines Arab culture, gulf glitz and the archaeological legacy of five thousand years of civilization. The island is home to castles including Qalat Al Bahrain which has been listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The Bahrain National Museum has artifacts from the country's history dating back to the island's first human inhabitatants 9000 years ago.

Bahrain as seen from space.

Scenic view of the Bahrain WTC at night.

The Dual Towers of the Bahrain Financial Harbor.

The Al Fateh Grand Mosque.

A distant view of the financial district of Manama.

A 123 m (404 ft) high fountain off the coast of Manama. The mechanism is contained in a barge, anchored to the seabed.

A boatyard in Manama, the capital of Bahrain.

The Bahrain Royal Flight (Boeing 747SP).

Sunset at the King Fahd Causeway.

For dependent and other territories, see Dependent territory.

1 Partly or significantly in Europe.  2 The Republic of China (Taiwan) is not officially recognized by the United Nations; see Political status of Taiwan. 3 Partly or significantly in Africa.  4 Partly or wholly reckoned in Oceania.

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Source : Wikipedia