Forgotten World (206): Bahrain

It’s been four months since I had one of my regular weeks of postings in my long-running series called Forgotten World – a look at parts of the world that hardly feature in our media or thoughts. You can check the previous 200 entries here.

But there are still some countries that haven’t been covered, so this week let’s look at five more.

Bahrain – a chain of 33 islands – is located in the Gulf of Arabia and has a population of 790,000. It was one of the first states in the Gulf to discover oil and to build a refinery; as such, it benefited from oil wealth before most of its neighbours.

In 2001 Bahrainis strongly backed proposals put by the emir – now the king – to turn the country into a constitutional monarchy with an elected parliament and an independent judiciary. Elections were duly held in 2002 for a 40-member parliament, the Council of Deputies. It was the first such poll in nearly 30 years. The new body included a dozen Shi’ite MPs.

The country has enjoyed increasing freedom of expression, and monitors say the human rights situation has improved. However, opposition groups and campaigners continue to press for political reforms, including greater powers for the elected assembly.


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