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What Next For Bahrain?

May 26, 2008
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. 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.

Bahrain has been proposed to be at list part of Dilmun, a land mentioned by Mesopotamian Civilizations as a trade partner, source of raw material, copper, and entrepot of the Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley Civilization trade route. Bahrains trade with India saw the cultural influence of the subcontinent grow dramatically, with styles of dress, cuisine, and education all showing a marked Indian influence. Bahrain is actively pursuing the diversification and privatization of its economy to reduce the country's dependence on oil.

Bahrain is an archipelago of 36 islands located off the eastern coast of Saudi Arabia. Bahrain's development as a major financial center has been the most widely heralded aspect of its diversification effort. Bahrain-Iran relations have been strained since the discovery in 1981 of an Iran-sponsored coup plot in Bahrain. Bahrain assesses heavy fines on visitors who fail to depart Bahrain at the end of their authorized stay.

Bahrain established closer ties with other Persian Gulf states, particularly Saudi Arabia, in the early 1980s, and Bahraini territory was used by coalition forces during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Bahrain's economy is very free for the Middle East, with higher scores than the world average in eight of the 10 factors of economic freedom. A strategic position between East and West, fertile lands, fresh water, and pearl diving made Bahrain historically a center of urban settlement. The Portuguese invaded Bahrain in 1521 in alliance with Hormuz, seizing it from the Jabrid ruler Migrin ibn Zamil, who was killed in battle.

As a result, most of the Dawasir were compelled to leave Bahrain and settle on the Arabian mainland as subjects of Ibn Saud. 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. This unique socioeconomic development in the Persian Gulf has meant that Bahrain is generally more liberal than its neighbours. 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 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.
About the Author
Gordon Warre writes about world at large read more at cycling crazy and low fat foods.
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