World and Its Peoples: Middle East, Western Asia, and Northern Africa - Vol. 1

By Paul Bernabeo | Go to book overview

MODERN HISTORY

An archipelago in the Persian Gulf east of Saudi Arabia, the small state of Bahrain
has been ruled by the Al-Khalifah family since 1783, when it took the islands from
Persia, which had controlled them since 1602.

Piracy in the Gulf triggered increasing intervention by Great Britain during the nineteenth century. In 1820, the ruler of Bahrain signed an agreement with the British that gave Great Britain control of the islands' defense. In 1861, a second treaty gave the British control of Bahrain's external affairs, and in 1880, Bahrain became a British protectorate, a status it retained for almost a century, until the emirate gained complete independence in 1971.


BEFORE INDEPENDENCE

The Al-Khalifah ruler remained on the throne of Bahrain, but he was advised by a British political agent. In 1928, Persia (modern Iran) renewed its historic territorial claim to Bahrain, and in the 1930s, the small emirate became a valuable prize when oil was discovered in commercial quantities. Although Bahraini proven oil reserves, petroleum production, and refining never paralleled those of neighboring Kuwait or Saudi Arabia, they nevertheless allowed the rapid economic development of the state. Oil revenues peaked at an unprecedented 80 percent of government income during the mid-1970s.


INDEPENDENCE AND AFTER

By 1970, Great Britain sought disengagement from the Gulf region. Bahrain gained complete independence in 1971. initially with a relatively democratic constitution. Post-independence governments sought to diversify the economy and to preserve the state's independence of action. Bahrain has. in the process, become a major regional financial center. An ongoing problem was a territorial dispute with Qatar over the llawar Islands, whose territorial waters were potentially rich in petrochemicals. In 1999. the dispute was settled in Bahrain's favor.

When Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, Bahrain joined I he collective military effort against Iraq by sending a small contingent of troops to the front lines in Saudi Arabia. Bahrain also permitted U.S. military forces to use its naval and air facilities in advance of signing a defense cooperation agreement with the U.S. government that allowed the United Stales to use Bahrain's military facilities.

The Iranian Revolution of 1979. as well as the subsequent Iran-Iraq War (1980–1988), increased tension in the region. During the 1980s, four separate plots to sabotage Bahrain's oil

Sheikh Isa (reigned 1961–1999), here opening a new stadium in
1964, began the modernization of Bahrain's infrastructure
.

installations were blamed on Iran and members of Bahrain's Shia majority. Instability grew in Bahrain between the ruling elite, who follow the Sunni branch of Islam, and the majority of Bahrainis, who follow the less common Shia branch. In the Muslim world, only Iran, Iraq, and Bahrain have a majority of Shiite Muslims. In the 1990s, although the emir conducted negotiations with Bahrain's Shia leaders, there were skirmishes and riots involving Shiite Bahrainis, some of whom were arrested and detained. Bahrain's majority community has often been perceived as potential dissidents.


THE KINGDOM

Emir Hamad (born 1950) came to the throne in 1999. He embarked on a program of reform and sought to improve relations with the country's Shia majority. In 2001. over 98 percent of participating Bahraini voters approved a new constitution that turned Bahrain into a kingdom with a directly elected legislature and an independent judiciary. Although the upper house of the new parliament is appointed, the kingdom of Bahrain—proclaimed in February 2002—has a more democratic system than any other nation in the region.

S. SAMY

-37-

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World and Its Peoples: Middle East, Western Asia, and Northern Africa - Vol. 1
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 1
  • Set Contents 3
  • Advisory Board 4
  • Introduction 5
  • Contents 7
  • Geography and Climate 8
  • The Land of Arabia 10
  • Geology of the Arabian Peninsula 14
  • Climate of the Arabian Peninsula 16
  • Flora and Fauna of the Arabian Peninsula 20
  • History and Movement of Peoples 24
  • The Prophet Muhammad 26
  • Ottoman Arabia 28
  • Peoples of the Arabian Peninsula 30
  • Bahrain 32
  • Government 36
  • Modern History 37
  • Cultural Expression 38
  • Daily Life 40
  • Manama 42
  • Economy 43
  • Oman 46
  • Government 50
  • Modern History 51
  • Cultural Expression 52
  • Daily Life 54
  • Muscat 56
  • Economy 57
  • Qatar 60
  • Government 64
  • Modern History 65
  • Cultural Expression 66
  • Daily Life 68
  • Doha 70
  • Economy 71
  • Saudi Arabia 74
  • Government 78
  • Modern History 79
  • Cultural Expression - Literature 82
  • Art and Architecture 84
  • Music and Performing Arts 86
  • Festivals and Ceremonies 87
  • Food and Drink 88
  • Daily Life - Religion 89
  • Family and Society 92
  • Welfare and Housing 94
  • Education 96
  • Riyadh 98
  • Mecca 100
  • Medina 102
  • Jiddah 103
  • Economy 104
  • United Arab Emirates 108
  • Government 112
  • Modern History 113
  • Cultural Expression 114
  • Daily Life 116
  • Abu Dhabi 118
  • Dubayy 119
  • Economy 120
  • Yemen 124
  • Government 128
  • Modern History 129
  • Cultural Expression 130
  • Daily Life 132
  • Sanaa 134
  • Economy 136
  • Further Research 140
  • Index 142
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