Bahrain Culture

Bahrain Culture and Mass Media

Newspapers in Bahrain

According to PHARMACYLIB.COM, Bahrain is a country located in Asia. The distribution of newspapers in Bahrain is limited (113 newspaper ex. Per 1,000 residents, 2000). There are four daily newspapers. The largest are English-language Khaalej Times (edition: 70,000 copies) and Gulf Daily News (50,000 copies), followed by Arabic al-Ayam (35,000 copies). The press in Bahrain has traditionally been freer than in neighboring countries, but criticism of the regime is forbidden.

The state-owned company Bahrain Radio and Television Corporation (BRTC, founded in 1955) broadcasts in Arabic and English on three radio and five TV channels; inter alia forwarded to BBC World Service and an Egyptian satellite channel. There are 576 radio and 402 TV receivers per 1,000 residents (2000).


According to ANIMALERTS, while in the capital Manama there is a modern, international metropolitan culture, other parts of Bahrain have a more traditional Arabic feel.

English-language entertainment is increasingly spread through radio and TV. Traditional Arabic crafts are still practiced in some quarters: fishing boats built by hand, home-woven fabrics or ceramics. The goldsmith, who was a Bahrainian specialty, has now largely moved to other countries. In wealthy circles, traditional upper-class fun still exists as falconry.

The capital Manama was chosen as “Arab Capital of Culture” in 2012 under UNESCO’s Capital of Culture Program. On UNESCO’s World Heritage List there are three attractions in Bahrain: a citadel, a traditional pearl fishing spot and burial mounds from an approximately 4,000 year old culture when Bahrain became a center of trade.



Activist drops in HD

December 31st

Nabil Rajab, a Shiite leader who led popular protests against the Sunni Muslim royal house during the Arab Spring of 2011, loses in the Supreme Court where he appealed against a five-year prison sentence. Rajab, who is accused of spreading false information about the regime via social media, is already serving a two-year sentence punished on other charges (see February 21). Among other things, he has criticized Saudi Arabia and its war in Yemen.


Contested choices are made

November 24

Parliamentary elections are held. Sympathizers to the opposition parties, who are not allowed to stand, have called for boycotts. 293 people, including 41 women, are allowed to run for office. Municipal elections take place simultaneously. The Minister of Justice has tentatively stated voter turnout at 67 percent, but banned al-Wifaq claims it has been achieved through coercion in that case. The election confirms almost all previously elected members – they are allowed to stay in their seats – and the government’s composition changes only on one point: the finance minister is replaced.

Elections with politically active in prison

November 21st

Five people are arrested, accused of disrupting the order for the parliamentary elections to be held on November 24. The largest opposition parties – Shi’a Muslim al-Wifaq and secular Waad – are banned and hundreds of democracy activists are imprisoned, some of whom have even been deprived of their citizenship. The Sunni Muslim house accuses Iran of inciting Bahrain’s Shi’a population against the governing body.

US signs arms deal with Bahrain

November 15

The US Congress Senate votes down a request to stop arms sales to Bahrain. Senator Rand Paul wants to stop arms deals as Bahrain participates in the Saudi-led warfare that is ongoing in Yemen. But the majority of the Senate says yes: the country is an important ally to the United States. 7,800 U.S. military personnel are stationed at a naval base in Bahrain, where the United States wants to be in place because the country is strategically located between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Lifetime of opposition leaders

November 4th

Opposition leader Ali Salman, imprisoned since 2015, is sentenced to life imprisonment by a court that believes he has been guilty of spying for Qatar. Amnesty International claims that Salman has only made use of his freedom of expression and describes the trial as “a parody of justice”. Ali Salman has led the now banned al-Wifaq party. Two other political leaders, Hasan Sultan and Ali al-Aswad, also received lifetime sentences. Since the Arab Spring of 2011, authorities have claimed that the opposition, with Qatar in the back, has incited popular protests against the Al Khalifa royal house.


The US is settling with Bahrain to release designated IS fighters

October 29th

A Saudi American, arrested in Iraq as a suspected IS warrior, is released 13 months after being surrendered to US forces. As the man is an American citizen, he is not allowed to be released to Saudi Arabia, according to the US court. But the US government also does not want him to be returned to the United States and have a judicial review there. It could also have legal consequences for military American activity in the war in Syria. So now the man has been released instead in Bahrain after a secret settlement between the countries.

Severe punishment for oil sabotage

15 October

Seven people are sentenced to prison sentence accused of blowing up an oil pipeline (see November 10, 2017). Five of them get life, six lose their citizenship. The possibility of depriving some of the citizenship has been introduced after the protests that began during the Arab Spring of 2011 and it is mainly Shia Muslims who are punished. Bahrain’s Sunni royal house sees Iranian involvement in both demonstrations and violent events classified as terrorism.

Support packages from neighboring countries

October 4th

Bahrain receives budget support from neighboring Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait – a $ 10 billion aid package – and thus hopes to achieve balance in the city budget in 2022. Falling oil prices have weakened Bahrain’s economy. A lot of measures will now be implemented to reduce public spending, including voluntary retirement benefits for government employees.


Choices advertised for toothless lower house

September 10

King Hamad announces parliamentary elections until November 24. It will be a choice for the lower house without regime critics, as opposition movements – both Shiite and secular – have been banned with the support of decrees and many members have been imprisoned. Some have even been deprived of their citizenship. The election does not apply to members of Parliament’s upper house, which, like the lower house, has 40 seats: the representatives of the upper house are appointed directly by the royal house (see June 11, 2018).


Call for imprisoned protest leaders

August 29th

Frige Nabil Rajab immediately, calls for 127 organizations to protect a Shiite leader imprisoned for government-critical statements. Rajab was one of the leaders of popular protests against the Sunni Muslim royal house in 2011, when activists demanded that the country be led by a democratically elected government. He has also criticized the Saudi-led Alliance of Sunni states for waging war in Yemen.


Regime critics are excluded from elections

June 11

This autumn, Parliament will have new members. But members of the now banned al-Wifaq political movements, which are Shiite, and Waad, who are secular, will not be allowed to stand in elections. This applies – after a decision by the Regent announced through the BNA news agency – to all who were members of parties dissolved by the authorities. The Sunni Muslim House is particularly suspicious of Shi’a groups and is accusing Iran of trying to raise concerns in Bahrain by Shi’ite Muslims.


British naval base opens

April 5

Britain opens new fleet base south of Manama. Around 300 British military will be stationed on what will be the first permanent base established by Britain in the Middle East in decades.


Over 100 arrested for ties to Iran

March 3rd

Authorities say 116 people have been arrested on suspicion of belonging to a “terrorist cell” with ties to the Revolutionary Guard in Iran.


Well-known activist gets new prison sentence

February 21st

Nabil Rajab, who is already serving a prison sentence (see July 2017), is sentenced to a further five years in prison. Rajab is convicted of tweeting about torture in Bahrain’s prisons and of civilians being killed by the Saudi-led alliance in Yemen.


Mass arrest of suspected terrorists

January 21st

Police say 47 people have been arrested for terrorist crimes, including murder plans against “public figures”. In addition, the Prosecutor’s Office has received information on 290 other persons suspected of similar crimes.

Bahrain Culture

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