Bahrain Table of Contents Section Page History 3 Cultural and Societal 5 Education 10 Business Climate 12 Government and Military 16 OVERVIEW OF BAHRAIN History of Bahrain Bahrain was once part of the ancient civilization of Dilmun and served as an important link in trade routes between Sumeria and the Indus Valley as much as 5000 years ago. Since the late 18th century Bahrain has been governed by the Al-Khalifa family, which created close ties to Britain by signing the General Treaty of Peace in 1820. A binding treaty of protection, known as the Perpetual Truce of Peace and Friendship, was concluded in 1861 and further revised in 1892 and 1951. This treaty was similar to those entered into by the British Government with the other Persian Gulp principalities. It specified that the ruler could not dispose of any of his territory except to the United Kingdom and could not enter into relationships with any foreign government other than the United Kingdom without British consent.
The British promise to protect Bahrain from all aggression by sea and to lend support in case of land attack. After World War II, Bahrain became the center for British administration of treaty obligations in the lower Persian Gulf. In 1968, when the British Government announced its decision (reaffirmed in March 1971) to end the treaty relationships with the Persian Gulf sheikdoms, Bahrain joined the other eight states (Qatar and the seven Trucial Sheikhdoms, which are now called the United Arab Emirates) under British protection in an effort to form a union of Arab emirates. By mid-1971, however, the nine sheikhdoms still had not agreed on terms of union. Accordingly, Bahrain sought independence as a separate entity and became fully independent on August 15, 1971, as the State of Bahrain.
Cultural and Societal To truly understand the society and culture of Bahrain it is necessary to know what it is based on. Society and culture in Bahrain is based on Islamic religious beliefs. These beliefs are not only the moral standards for the country, but they are also the legal standards for all commerce, criminal, civil, and political codes. From a western standpoint this can be very confusing and different to comprehend. To alleviate some confusion the following is a small summary of Islamic beliefs. The following is by no means a complete summary and many beliefs, laws, and other religious criteria has been left out for expediencies sake.
Islam One of Islam’s literal meanings is the “True Religion”. An Islamic follower, or Muslim, believes that all people practice Islam even though they do not acknowledge it. They claim that their God, Allah, is the same as the Jewish and Christian God Ellohim. Their religion was founded near the sixth century by a cleric named Muhammad (Please note that his name is spelled many different ways and this is the one chosen for this report). Muhammad claimed to have had revelations from Allah dictating how a follower of Islam should act.
Since those days sixth century Islamic morals have dominated the Middle East. This can be very confusing for a westerner at first. Instead of being just part of life, as many people view religion in the west, Islamic followers believe it is everything to them. Based on its linguistic origin, the Arabic word ‘Islam’ means to achieve peace–peace with God, peace within oneself, and peace with the creations of God through submission to God and commitment to His guidance. Islam is not a new religion but the final culmination and fulfillment of the same basic truth that God revealed through all His prophets to every people.
For a fifth of the world’s population, Islam is not just a personal religion but a complete way of living. Over a billion people from all races, nationalities and cultures across the globe are Muslim–from the rice farms of Indonesia to the deserts in the heart of Africa; from the skyscrapers of New York to the Bedouin tents in Arabia. Only 18% of Muslims live in the Arab world; a fifth are found in Sub-Saharan Africa; and the world’s largest Muslim community is in Indonesia. Substantial parts of Asia are Muslim, while significant minorities are to be found in the Central Asian Republics, India, China, North and South America, Eastern and Western Europe. Muslims believe in the One, Unique, Incomparable, Merciful God–the Sole Creator, Sustainer and Cherisher of the Universe; in the Angels created by Him; in the Prophets through whom His revelations were brought to humankind; in the Day of Judgment and in individual accountability for actions; in God’s complete authority over destiny, be it good or bad; and in life after death. What do they believe in? Muslims believe that God sent his messengers and prophets to all people beginning with Adam (Adam) and including Noah (Nuh), Abraham (Ibrahim), Lot (Lut), Ishmael (Isma’il), Isaac (Ishaq), Jacob (Ya’qub), Joseph (Yusuf), Job (Ayb), Moses (Musa), Aaron (Harun), David (Dawud), Solomon (Sulayman), Elias (Ilyas), Jonah (Yunus), John the Baptist (Yahya), and Jesus (‘Isa); peace be upon them all. God’s final message to humanity, a reconfirmation of the eternal message and a summing up of all that has gone before, was revealed to the Last Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) through the Archangel Gabriel.
One becomes a Muslim by believing and proclaiming that There is none worthy of worship except God, and that Muhammad is the Messenger of God. By this declaration the believer announces his or her faith in all God’s messengers, and the Scriptures (in their pristine original form) that these messengers brought. What effect did Islam have on the world? The Muslim community expanded rapidly after the Prophet’s death. Within a few decades, the territory under Muslim rule had extended onto three continents–Asia, Africa and Europe. Over the next few centuries this Empire continued to expand and Islam gradually became the chosen faith of the majority of its inhabitants. Among the reasons for the rapid and peaceful spread of Islam was the simplicity of its doctrine–Islam calls for faith in only One God worthy of worship.
Islam also repeatedly instructs human beings to use their powers of intelligence and observation. As Muslim civilization developed, it absorbed the heritage of ancient civilizations like Egypt, Persia and Greece, whose learning was preserved in the libraries and with the scholars of its cities. Some Muslim scholars turned their attention to these centers of learning and sought to acquaint themselves with the knowledge taught and cultivated in them. They, therefore, set about with a concerted effort to translate the philosophical and scientific works available to them, not only from the Greek and Syriac languages (the languages of eastern Christian scholars), but also from Pahlavi, the scholarly language of pre-Islamic Persia, and even from Sanskrit, an ancient Indian language. Most of the important philosophical and scientific works of Aristotle; much of Plato and the Pythagorean school; and the major works of Greek astronomy, mathematics and medicine such as the Almagest of Ptolemy, the Elements of Euclid, and the works of Hippocrates and Galen, were all rendered into Arabic. Furthermore, important works of astronomy, mathematics, and medicine were translated from Pahlavi and Sanskrit.
As a result, Arabic became the most important scientific language of the world for many centuries and the depository of much of the wisdom and the sciences of antiquity. The achievement of scholars working in the Islamic tradition went far beyond translation and preservation of ancient learning. These scholars built upon and developed the ancient heritage before passing it on to the West. Muslims excelled in art, architecture, astronomy, geography, history, language, literature, medicine, mathematics, and physics. Many crucial systems such as algebra, the Arabic numerals, and the very concept of the zero (vital to the advancement of mathematics), were formulated by Muslim scholars and shared with medieval Europe. Sophisticated instruments that would make possible the later European voyages of discovery were invented or developed, including the astrolabe, the quadrant and navigational charts and maps.
What does this mean? This means that when a westerner enters an Islamic nation they are going to face some new ordeals. Here are a few of the differences from western culture: Hospitality- Hospitality is very different in Bahrain than a westerner might be used to. You can walk down the street, and if you are hungry more often than not you can find someone willing to take you to their house and fix a meal for you, and if you happen to know the person at all it will be free. This also works for when you have no place to stay. Sometimes they will let you stay at their house with their family.
Music- The music that you will hear in this country will be different than what westerners are used to. While there is freedom there, you cannot drive down the street with your music loud in most areas, and the music that you do hear will rarely ever have any profanity or graphic lyrics. Dress- In Bahrain you might find western clothes readily available. However, most of the older generation will be wearing the customary robes. They wear these not only at home, but also out in public and business areas.
The younger generation, however, is now westernized and normally wears western style dress. Female- This might be the strangest custom that a westerner will encounter. In this culture woman, for the most part, are unseen and unheard. Women do not hold jobs as in western cultures, nor are they allowed to conduct business on a regular basis. In this culture woman are said to be cherished and therefore are not allowed full rights under the Bahrain system of government. While these are not the only differences that a westerner need be aware of, they …