Bahrain Briefing

Last updated: Mar 2001

(Note: see below for a listing of today’s Bahrain islands)


The islands of Bahrain, positioned in the middle south of the Gulf, have attracted the attention of many invaders in history. Bahrain, meaning “Two Seas” refers to the fact that the islands contain the two sources of water, sweet water springs and salty water in the surrounding seas.

A strategic position between East and West, fertile lands, fresh water, and pearls diving made Bahrain a centre of urban (ie non-nomadic) settlement throughout history. Some 2300 years BC, Bahrain became a centre of one of the ancient empires trading Mesopotamia (now Iraq) and the Indus Valley (now the region near India). This was the civilization of Delmon that was linked to the Sumerian Civilization in the third millennium BC. Bahrain also became part of the Babylon empire about 600 BC. Historical records referred to Bahrain the “Life of Eternity”, “Paradise”, etc. Bahrain was also called the “Pearl of the Gulf”.

The indigenous population is called Baharnah. They are (mainly) descendants of the Arab tribe Abdul-Qais of “Rabe’a”. Nowadays Bahrain is a cosmopolitan society with mixed communities. The Financial Times of 31 may 1983 says in its survey on Bahrain page III “Bahrain is a polyglot state, both religiously and racially. Leaving aside the temporary immigrants of the past 10 years, there are at least eight or nine communities on the island”.

The present communities may be classified as Al-Khalifa, Arab tribes allied to Al-Khalifa, the Bahranah (Shia Arabs), the Howalla (Sunni Arabs from Persia), Sunni Arabs (from the mainland), Ajam (Persian Shia), Indians who traded with Bahrain and settled before the age of oil (used to be called Banyan), a tiny Jewish community, and a miscellaneous grouping.

[According to Ibrahim Nono who was appointed as a member of the unconstitutional Shura Council in October 2000, there are  35 Jews in Bahrain (four families). It is thought that the origins of Bahraini Jews are Yemen, Iraq and Iran. (Nono family is from Iraq, Parwin family is from Iran). Many of the Jews work in the gold market. One of them (Ezra Nono) owns the cinema-films distribution company. The Jews have a cemetery and a synagogue in Bahrain and are considered to be very affluent and close to the ruling family.]

Economically, the society is divided into several classes. The ruling class, which comprises the Al-Khalifa and their handpicked tribal allies. The upper class, which is made up of wealthy families, generally on good terms with the ruling class. The upper middle class: many in this class were artificially elevated to high life through the gaining of commissions on government’s projects and major trading activities. Those who are artificially elevated by the ruling class are parasitic elements rewarded with commissions in return for political loyalty. The middle class comprising self-made professionals. The lower-middle and downtrodden classes comprising the vast majority of the population. There is also the neglected class, comprising a small community called “bidon” that were denied citizenship.

Chronology & Summary

· Bahrain up until 1521 comprised the bigger region of Ahsa, Qatif (both are now the eastern province of Saudi Arabia) as well as Awal (now Bahrain Islands). The region strethched from what is now Kuwait to Oman. This was Iqlim Al-Bahrain (Province of Bahrain). In 1521, the Poteguese separated Awal (now Bahrain) from the rest and since then the name of Bahrain specifically referred to today’s Bahrain.

· Arab Tribes arrived in Bahrain around 1200 BC. Azd, Ayad and Tanokh tribes were the first to settle in Bahrain.

· Then three tribes settled in the early CE centuries, and these tribes are the forefathers of the today’s Shia of Bahrain, who are called Bahranah. The Baharnah belong to the following Arab Tribes: 1. Bakr bin Wa’el: They worshiped idols before Islam, and one of the idols was called Awal, and that is why the Bahrain Island was called Awal. 2. Tamim bin Morr. 3. Abdul Qais bin Ofsi. This was one of the biggest tribes that dominated Bahrain for a long time. Many of Bahrain’s previous leaders came from Abdul Qais. Nowadays, the children if the three tribes are called “Bahranah”, who are Shia Arabs.

· 627 CE: The people of Bahrain (the old bigger Bahrain) embraced Islam.

· 632 CE: Prophet Mohammed died. Most Bahrainis followed Ali, the cousin of the Prophet and since then they became staunch Shia people.

· 656-661 CE: Ali, the cousin of the Prophet ruled the Islamic World. The army of Ali contained many leaders and fighters from Bahrain.

· Ummayad Dynasty (661 – 750 CE): The Ummayad Dynasty hated the Bahraini because of their loyalty to Ali, the cousin of the Prophet Mohammed. Abdul Malik Bin Marwan (685-705 CE) attacked Bahrain and crossed to Awal (nowadays Bahrain) and destroyed spring water wells to punish trhe Baharnah.

· Abbasid Dynasty (750 – 1258 CE): many of theose who revolted against the Abbaside took refuge in Bahrain, thus making it at war with the Caliphs in Baghdad.

1. The Zenj Revolt of 863-883CE: The slaves revolted in Basra against the Abbasid. The leader of th rebelion (Taleqan) was based in Bahrain. Nowadys there is  a village in Bahrain called “Zenj”. 

2. Qaramitah Movement (899 CE): This was an extremist movement that challenged the Abbasids for 180 years. They built Al-Ahsa (now in Saudi Arabia) after destroying the old capital of the “old” Bahrain (Hajar). The leader who revolted against the Qarmitans was Abul-Bahlol, from the tribe of Abdul-Qais

· Between 1058 – 1238 CE: Bahrain was ruled by “Oyonion” who were from Abdul-Qais Tribe. In this period Bahrain became a prestigious center of philosophy and knowledge.

· Between 1238 and 1453 CE:  It was ruled by Al-Asfoor (from the tribe of Abdul-Qais). However, the rulers of Qais and Hormoz (in the Straight of Hormoz) also attacked and occupied Bahrain (Awal) for several periods during this time.

= The Great Philosopher Sheikh Maitham Al-Bahrani (born 1238, died  1299) and his grave is now in Mahooz in Bahrain. His books are considered of the highest philosophical standard of that time.

· Between 1453 – 1521 CE: Al-Jobor (cousins of al-Asfoor and from Abdul Qais) ruled Bahrain. This was a prosperous period and Bahrain became very wealthy from pearl trading and agricultural products.

· 1521 – 1602 CE: The Portuguese occupied Bahrain. They separated Awal from other parts (Al-Ahsa and Qatif). They appointed a person who was Sunni and Persian as ruler on their behalf. A Sunni , so that he hates the Shia, a Persian, so that he hates the Arabs. The Shia Arab (Bahranah) suffered a lot. The Portuguese also started changing the demography of the country by importing many people from other parts of the Gulf region and gave them power. The Bahranah revolted in 1602 and expelled the Portuguese.

· 1602 – 1783: Bahrain became under the Iranian Safawi State protection (1602-1722). However in 1700, the Iranian Safawi State was very weak, and the Arabian mainland was suffuring from starvation and hardship. Bahrain was very prosperous, and therefore became a target for Arab Tribes’ attacks and raides. The Utob (Al-Khalifa and Al-Sabah of Kuwait & Al-Jalahima) attacked Bahrain in 1700. They were repulsed after great damage to Bahrain. The Omanis attacked Bahrain three time between 1700 and 1730 and destroyed many of the residential areas. Before those attacks Bahrain comprised 360 villages. After the attacks, Bahrain was reduced to about 90 villages.

· In 1783, Al-Khalifa attacked Bahrain and killed five people from Sitra. The Al-Khalifa resided in Zubarah on the Qatari coast facing Bahrain so that they can attack. The Bahrainis attacked Zubarah to punish the Al-Khalifa. But the attacks failed after an initial victory.

· Inside Bahrain, there were lots of troubles and the country was unstable. The Al-Khalifa attacked Bahrain after a major offensive, helped by many other tribes, and occupied Bahrain in 1783.

· The Al-Khalifa were kicked out in 1800 by the Omanis. The Omanis occupied Bahrain from two years. The Al-Khalifa cooperated with the Wahabis and came back to Bahrain. In 1802, the Wahabi ruled until 1811. In 1811, the Al-Khaliofa cooperated with Omanis against the Wahabis. The Al-Khalifa returned in 1811.

· After 1811, the Al-Khalifa started confiscating the lands of the Shia (Baharnah) and forced them into serfdom.

· In 1820, the Al-Khalifa signed a treaty with Britain and since this date Britain guaranteed the survival of Al-Khalifa.

· In 1923, the Shia Baharnah revolted. The British intervened and stopped the enslavement of the Shia.

· In 1926, Britain introduced administrative reforms in Bahrain. The new Government of Bahrain was born. A British Advisor, Sir Charles Belegrave was appointed to run Bahrain. He managed Bahrain between 1926 and 1957. He went out after a 2-year national uprising.

· 1932: Oil was discovered. A new society began. Modern education started in 1919. Nationalism spread in the 1940s and 1950s.

Historical highlights:

In the first century AD, Bahrain was referred to by the Greeks as “Tylos”, the centre of pearls trading. Muharraq was referred to as “Arados” (now there is “Arad” in Muharraq). In the 4th century AD, Bahrain was annexed to the Sassanian Empire (now Persia). Christianity left its traces in Muharraq, and Christian names, like the village of Dair (ie parish), Samahij (used to be the name of a bishop) remain until today.

During the emergence of Islam in the sixth century (until early in the sixteenth century) Bahrain included a wider region stretching on the Gulf coast from Basrah to the Strait of Hormuz. This was “Iqleem Al-Bahrain”, ie Province of Bahrain, and the Arab inhabitants of the province were all called Baharnah, decendants of the Arab tribe Bani Abd al-Qais. The then Bahrain comprised three regions: Hajar (nowadays Al-Ahsa in Saudi Arabia), Al-Khatt (nowadays Al-Qatif in Saudi Arabia) and Awal (nowadays Bahrain). The name Awal remained in use, probably, for eight centuries. Awal was derived from the name of an idol that used to be worshipped (before Islam) by the inhabitants of the islands.

Bahrainis were amongst the first to embrace Islam. Prophet Mohammed (SAW) ruled Bahrain through one of his representatives, Al-Ala’a Al-Hadhrami. Bahraini embraced Islam in the eighth year of hijra.

Captain Ahmad bin Majid described Bahrain in 1489 as follows: “In Awal (Bahrain) there are 360 villages and sweet water can be found in a number of places. A most wonderful al-Qasasir, where a man can dive into the salt sea with a skin and can fill it with fresh water while he is submerged in the salt water. Around Bahrain are pearl fisheries and a number of islands all of which have pearl fisheries and connected with this trade are 1,000 ships”.

Bahrain became a principal centre of knowledge for hundreds of years stretching from the early days of Islam in the sixth century to the eighteenth century. Philosophers of Bahrain were highly esteemed. A postgraduate (MA) dissertation submitted in 1952 by M. G. Guriawala to the University of London described one of the great philosophers of Bahrain, Sheikh Maitham Al-Bahrani (died in 1299), as follows. “When Bahrani discusses the views of the opponents, he generally reproduces them with definite fairness. This is shown by comparing his account of these views with the original versions of such views as set forth by the authors in these classical works on Muslim theology and philosophy, such as Al-Asha’ari, Al-Baghdadi, Al-Ghazali, Ibn Sina, etc. He sets these views in order numbering in an exact way. Then he replies to them one by one in accordance with their numerical order. In his replies to the objections and doubts raised by his opponents, he may seldom write with passion, but rather proceeds to prove the falsity of these views with logical coolness”. The mosque of Sheikh Maitham together with his tomb can be visited in the outskirts of the Capital, Manama, near the district of Mahooz.

Bahrain historical sights are the scenes of tombs and remnants of schools that explain the importance of knowledge and knowledgeable persons in the history of Bahrain. This part of history is of great pride to the Bahrainis, but not to the present Al-Khalifa rulers.

In 1521, the Portuguese invaded Bahrain to take control of its wealth created by the pearl industry. The Portuguese commander Antonio Correia beheaded the then King Muqrin of Bahrain. The latter attacked Bahrain on the front that defended Bahrain coast (nowadays Karbabad) and took control of the fort “Qala’at Al-Bahrain”. The bleeding head of King Muqrin was later depicted on the Coat of Arms of Antonio Correia. The Portuguese continued to use brutal force against the inhabitants for eighty years, until their demise from the island in 1602. An uprising by the inhabitants coincided with regional rivalry between the Portuguese and their rival European powers. The Persian Empire under Shah Abbas-I was gaining strength and Bahrain’s external boundaries became under the Persian Empire control. Inside Bahrain, the inhabitants re-arranged their internal rule in accordance with their practice.

The age of “Kharab al-Bahrain”

The prosperity of Bahrain continued to attract the many powers and groups in the region. However, the age of “Kharab Al-Bahrain”, ie Ruining of Bahrain, began in 1700 when Bahrain continued to suffer (devastatingly) as a result of raids aimed at gaining possession of Bahrain’s wealth.

The great Sheikh Yousif bin Ahmad Al-Bahrani (born in 1695 and died in 1772) explains the situation in the early decades of 1700s in his book “Lu’luat Al-Bahrain”. He explains how in the year 1700, Bahrain was ransacked by the Utob tribes ( the present Al-Khalifa rulers belong to the Utob confedration of tribes). The year 1700 was witness to the first major attack on Bahrain by the Al-Khalifa. Sheikh Yousif said ” In 1700, when I was 5-year old, the Utob committed horrific atrocities while the ruler was weakened and unable to counter that attack. Sheikh-ul-Islam (head of the religeous authority), Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulla bin Majid, wrote to [and established a treaty with] the Howala (who lived on the coasts of Persia) for the defence of Bahrain. The Howala assisted Bahrain to repulse the attack of the Utob, but by then the country was in ruin”.

Following this devastating attack (1700) on the islands, the rulers of Muscat attacked Bahrain three times between 1717 and 1737. In each attack Bahrain suffered more destruction and many inhabitants migrated to neighbouring countries.

The long drought in the Arabian Peninsula in the year 1722 was accompanied by famine in the region of Najd where the Utob tribes (ie Al-Khalifa) come from. The Utob tribes intensified their search for another places to go to. Following their initial failure to seize the wealthy islands of Bahrain, they migrated to what is now Kuwait. Rivalry amongst the Utob pushed the Al-Khalifa towards Bahrain again. In 1766, the Al-Khalifa settled in Zubara (on the coast of Qatar facing Bahrain). From there, the Al-Khalifa kept watching Bahrain to seize the right opportunity for another attack.

In 1783, a quarrel between a group of Al-Khalifa who came to Bahrain for “trading” in Sitra was used as a pretext of a plundering raid. The Al-Khalifa attacked at night killing many people from Sitra. The ruler of Bahrain was urged by the population to take revenge. The ruler, Nasr bin Mathkoor, mobilized a naval force and attacked Zubara. That battle was lost at the end, when the naval siege took longer that it should, and when the initially winning forces refused to accept partial victory. The failure of the ruler and return of his troops ignited a civil conflict and disarray. The Al-Khalifa seized that opportunity by mobilizing its tribal allies and attacking Bahrain. The killing and destruction ended with the control of Bahrain by the Al-Khalifa. Thenceforward, the Al-Khalifa considered their attack as “Fateh” meaning “Conquer”. They also called their tribal chief as “Ahmad Al-Fateh”. On the basis of this medieval and backward concept, the Al-Khalifa considered the plundering, the killing and confiscation of properties belonging to the indigenous population, known as Bahranah, as legitimate.

The Al-Khalifa were evicted from Bahrain in the period 1799-1811. The Sultan of Muscat controlled the islands for 3 years and the rest of years came under the Wahhabi control. The Al-Khalifa re-attacked and invaded Bahrain from Zubara in 1811. By then 90 villages survived out of the original some 360 that were mentioned by Captain Ahmad bin Majid. Many people were killed or forced to leave. The remaining indigenous people continued to suffer ill treatment and semi-enslavement.

In 1820, Britain guaranteed the protection of the Al-Khalifa as part of the then colonial system established by the British. In this year (1820), the Al-Khalifa signed the General Treaty of Peace with the British, greeing not engage in piracy unless they were in an a declared state of war. In 1861 the Al-Khalifa signed the Perpetual truce of Peace and Friendship which included the issues of slavery, trade and maritime aggression.

Between 1870 and 1874, the Ottomans put forth claims to Bahrain. To counter these moves, further treaties were signed with the British in 1880 and in 1892. The ruler Sheikh Isa bin Ali Al-Khalifa agreed not to dispose of Bahraini holdings without British consent nor to establish relations with any foreign power without British consent. A British Political Agent was assigned to Bahrain in 1902. The British signed a convention witht he Ottomans in 1913 ensuring Bahrain’s independence from the Ottomans. In 1916, the British signed an agreement with Abdul Aziz Al-Saud (future king of Saudi Arabia) ensuring that he would not attempt to capture Bahrain.

In the years stretching from 1820 until 1923, the indigenous population was transferred from a dignified master of the land into a semi-enslaved nation. The uprising of 1923 ended that flagrant oppression, but the Al-Khalifa never relaxed their mentality towards Bahrain.

The British controlled Bahrain for 150 years, from 1820 up until 1971. Independence was declared on 15 August 1971. Britain controlled the island starting from 1820 through a series of treaties and laws issued via (Order-in-Council) that started with protection and management of external affairs to administering internal matters.

Tribal Culture

Bahrain, the ancient civil society, suffers from an alien culture that attempts to impose a tribal-mentality against the will of the people. The tribal system in the Arabian Peninsula predates Islam. Prophet Mohammed reformed many of its ugly features. But, history is witness to the fact that the tribal system returned whenever it managed to take control.

Tribal supremacy is founded on the possession of properties and land by a most powerful tribe. Other tribes must succumb to the overpowering one, otherwise they risk being attacked and destroyed. The tribal tradition believes in the theme “I and my brother against my cousin; and I and my cousin against the non-relative”.

The overpowering tribe considers itself the supreme core of the congregation. The allied tribes who assisted in overpowering other tribes are next in line in terms of favouritism. The overpowered groups are transformed into slaves or semi-slaves, as far as possible.

Before Islam, the tribes considered female as shame and infrequently buried women alive. The tribal chief establishes a “majlis” for his relatives to run the affairs of the congregation. No questions and no debates are encouraged. Instead poetry and statements of glorification for the chief are preferred. The best poets and the best persons in glorifying the chief receive gifts. Laws are implied.

Some features of tribalism

The Al-Khalifa ruling family is not a large one. This is contrary to common assumptions about their large numbers. Within Bahrain, the total Al-Khalifa population is estimated around 1000, most of whom live in an exclusive area, West Rifa’a. Outside Bahrain, there are about 200 Al-Khalifa members who have left the country following the inter-tribal clashes in the nineteenth century.

Since the discovery of oil, the then British Advisor, Charles Belgrave allocated one-third of oil revenue for the Al-Khalifa ruler, one-third for public spending and one-third for saving. In the days of the National Assembly, 1973-75, the question of funds received by the ruling family was raised several times. The first budget announced in 1974 totalled 29 million dinars, with 4 million dinars allocated for the Amir.

Revenue from oil remained a top secret. Bahrain and Saudi Arabia shared the oil revenue from the Abu-Sa’afa offshore oil field. While in-shore Bahrain’s oil production fluctuated around 40,000 barrels a day, the Abu-Sa’afa oil field production fluctuated around 140,000 b/d. Bahrain received the revenues from the 75,000 b/d but this amount somehow was kept out of sight. In the eighties Bahrain suffered from loss of revenues from oil due to lowering of prices in the international oil market. Hence, the revenue from the Abu-Sa’afa oil field was considered a rescuer for the state. Negotiations in 1996 with Saudi Arabia resulted in the allocation of the total amount of 140,000 b/d for Bahrain. Saudi Aramco oil company controls the production and access to the field, but Bahrain received the money from sales (minus cost of production of course). Saudi Arabia made a clever move by making this affair a public one to ensure that the fund is not diverted to local accounts in total. International institutions and debtors were made aware that Saudi Arabia is allocating the total amount to Bahrain. The ruling Al-Khalifa family was not happy for this as it limits their discretionary powers.

The Gulf’s royal families complain that monetary assistance to Bahrain does not go to the public budget, but rather ends up in the private purse of the receiver. For example, in 1993, the Amir of Kuwait donated 30 million Kuwaiti dinars to Bahrain, but this amount ended in one of the private accounts. When the Kuwaitis grumbled, the prime minister sent a letter to President Saddam Hussain on the occasion of his birthday.

Members of the ruling family are allocated salaries from their dates of birth. These salaries are preferentially distributed with those nearer to the ruler receiving more money.

Members of the ruling family deal with the public through the Ruling Family Council. If a member of the public has a dispute with a member of the ruling family, the Ruling Family Council intervenes to act on behalf of the Al-Khalifa person. They deal with the people as a corporate body.

Members of the Al-Khalifa family are exempt from paying duties, tax etc. They usually default on bills for utilities and municipality. At the end of the year, the various departments are ordered to write of the debts as “bad debts”.

Inter-marriage & Tribalism

Female members of the Al-Khalifa family are banned from marrying outside the tribe. Male members are allowed to marry outside the tribe provided that these women come from allied tribes. Those who violate these norms are punished in different ways.

For example, in the early nineties, Salwa Al-Khalifa (a lawyer) married Wahid Al-Khan (a musician). Both were forced to leave Bahrain. They are now in the UAE and have not been able to return home since they left.

Male members face different punishment. The father of the present interior minister (Khalifa Al-Khalifa) married a Shia woman. Her son (Isa) and daughters had been banned from using the title Al-Khalifa. Isa bin Khalifa used to write Bedouin poems in local press.

Land & Tribalism

Before 1923, all members of the Al-Khalifa used to acquire, confiscate, sell and re-sell lands as they wished. After 1923, the land registry was established. Since then, the principal members of the ruling family have carved most of Bahrain agriculturally fertile lands for their private use. Members of the Al-Khalifa family control around 80% of the agricultural plots in Bahrain. They had allocated to themselves virtually coastal zones for private use. At least 30% of sweat water in Bahrain is reserved for watering the gardens of Al-Khalifa.

The Al-Khalifa imposed a ban on the employment of any Bahraini in the plots of land they allocated to themselves. The private beach of the Amir is open to white Europeans/Westerners only. All Bahrainis and non-white person are turned away or arrested if they come near the gates of the beach, south west of Bahrain.

During the National Assembly sessions (1973-75) the ruling family was alarmed when some members proposed that the government takes over the ownership, allocation and distribution of lands to citizens and national purposes. This discussion was considered by the ruling family as crossing a red line.

In August 1997, an internal order was issued to all members of the Al-Khalifa not to sell any of their controlled lands to any person outside the ruling family. Similarly, Shia land owners around East Rifa’a are being encouraged to sell and leave that area. West Rifa’a is the place where most Al-Khalifa members live.

Revenge & Tribalism

The tribes are great believers in REVENGE. Take the following example: On 26 February 1997, Al-Ayam newspaper announced that “Sendooq Al-Ta’amin ala Al-Murakabat” (Vehicles Insurance Fund) has been dissolved as a result of the “large financial losses”. In fact the storey of this insurance company is indicative of the culture of the tribal ruling system. The original formation of the company came as a result of the strike of taxi drivers’ ion in 1954. Pro-democracy leaders, such as Abdul-Rahman Al-Bakir, mediated ion the crisis and convinced the taxi drivers to accept the insurance premium to be paid on all vehicles. In return, Al-Bakir, proposed a co-operative insurance company (Sendooq Al-Ta’weedat Al-Ijtemaei) made up by the subscriptions of the drivers. He became the head of that company.

Powered by this success, the people started converging on the offices of the newly formed company. Al-Bakir preached the ideals of the democratic movement and how it could solve national problems. The then advisor of the government, Sir Charles Belgrave, attacked Al-Bakir, withdrew his Bahraini nationality and accused him of organising anti-government meetings. Thus igniting a united response from the population. This was one of the main events of the 1950s.

The Al-Khalifa rulers never forget to revenge and all the laws that were issued were aimed at restricting and then driving this company into liquidation. (In 1982, the company was forced to change its old name and acquire a name that does not remind the rulers of the name they hate!)

Other examples relating to such revenge behaviour is the banning of mentioning of the words “Labour Unions”. Because the uprising in the 1950s raised the demand for Labour Unions, the local press, the laws and all the writings avoid any mention of Unions.

Another example is when Mr. Abdul Aziz Al-Shmalan died few years ago. Al-Shamlan was the assistant of Al-Bakir. In early 1970, Al-Shamlan returned to Bahrain and later joined the government as ambassador in Cairo and in Tunis. When he died, his family wanted to announce for a commemoration ceremony in local press. The interior ministry prevented them. When his family met the interior minister to enquire why an ambassador of Bahrain is prevented from receiving an honour, the reply came. “Do not you ever think that we (Al-Khalifa) forgot what he did to us in the 1950s”!!! The family was stunned. A similar ban was imposed on the 40th day commemoration of Ms. Aziza Al-Bassam on 1 October 1997. Aziza was one of the leading women who had co-sponsored pro-democracy petitions and was one of those who were dismissed from employment because of their political views.

Rights & Tribalism:

The notion of “rights” is alien to the tribal tradition. There is no right fort anyone. Everything must come from the chief and all people must be thankful to whatever the chief offers. The chief has the right over everyone. He can kill, he can withhold properties, and he can prevent undesired marriages between male from lower ranks to ladies from the upper ranks. If the chief does not kill you, then you, as a subject must recognise that this as generosity and you must say “thank you for allowing me to stay alive”. These are highlights of the alien culture that the Al-Khalifa attempts to impose on the civil society in Bahrain.

Bahrainis of all strands and social groups, including enlightened members of the Al-Khalifa family, aspire for the return of civilised rule to Bahrain. Their aspiration was manifested by a series of petitions and uprising during all the decades of this century. Bahrain nowadays is more cosmopolitan and enjoys one the best civil structures in the region. The majority of the population wants to achieve civil rights through peaceful means. The ruling establishment responded with brutal force and continues to ignore the wishes of the advanced society. The struggles for civil rights cannot be halted by force a fact that is now evident to all.

Tribal rule:

Tibal rule is a complex “private” affair.  Tribal dominance is acieved throught accurate “marriage planning”. The governing elite within the ruling family is primarily governed through close kinship. The tribal rule is run from the “bedrooms”, rather than the “cabinet”. It all depends who married the son or the daughter of who. The Al-Khalifa is a typical tribal case. The present rulers are decendants of Ahmad (termed as the Conquerer) who ruled between 1783 and 1996. Inter-tribal fightings and British intervention resulted in the following linage of rulership numbered starting from 2. (2) Salman bin (meaning son of) Ahmad (1796-1825), (3) Khalifa bin Salman (1825-34), (4) Mohammed bin Khalifa (1834-68), (5) Ali bin Khalifa (1868-69), (6) Isa bin Ali, installed directly by the British and then removed by them after 54 years (1869-1923), (7) Hamad bin Isa (1923-42), (8) Salman bin Hamad (1942-61) and (9) Isa bin Salman (1961- present ). Examples ftom the present (as in 1998) distribution of main power are as follows:

  1. The Amir is Sheikh Isa bin Salman. He is No. (9) in the linage of Al-Khalifa rulers. (Died on 6 March 1999)
  2. Amir’s son, Hamad bin Isa, is the future designated ruler (Crown Prince) (Became Amir on 6 March 1999)
  3. Khalifa bin Salman, elder brother of Amir, is Prime Minister
  4. Ali bin Khalifa, son of Prime Minister, is Minister of Transport. He is married to Zayn bint (meaning daughter of) Khalid bin Abdulla, the Housing Minister
  5. Khalid bin Abdulla is Housing Minister (see item No. 4 for more details). He is married to Maryam bint Salman, sister of both the Amir and the Prime Minister.
  6. Abdulla bin Khalid, Juastice Minister, father of the Housing Minister. He is more related to the Crown prince from the mother side. Hence, they are termed Khawalid.
  7. Mohammed bin Khalifa, Interior Minister. He is also brother-in-law the prime minister. Also, he is a diect cousin of both the Amir and the prime minister.
  8. Rashid bin Khalifa, Undersecretary of Interior Ministry for Passports & Immigration. He is half-brother of the Interior Minister and son-in-law of the Prime Minister (ie he is married to Lolwa bint Khalifa).
  9. Isa bin Ali, Minister of Oil and Development. He is direct cousin of the Amir and Prime Minister. He is also son-in-law of the Amir.

   (see below for more information on members of the ruling family)

Background data on Bahrain

Bahrain is an archipelago of more than 36  islands roughly located in the middle-south of the Gulf, 22 km off the east coast of Saudi Arabia and slightly further from the western coast of Qatar. It lies between latitude 25 degrees 32 seconds & 26 degrees and 20 seconds North and longitude 50 degrees 20 seconds & 50 degrees 50 seconds. A causeway (opened in 1986) links the two countries. Bahrain is the smallest amongst its neighbours with a total area of 695 sq. km (about 270 sq. miles) versus 674 sq. km in 1976. The slight increment in size is due to land reclamation.

Bahrain island accounts for 85% of the total area. Muharraq island is 3.25%, Sitra 2.07%, Nabih Saleh 0.11%, Um Naasan 2.72 % [the island has been taken away by the Amir (ruler) for private use], Jiddah 0.05% [the island has been taken away by the prime minister (brother of the Amir) for private use], Um-Subban [the island has been taken away by the younger brother of the Amir (Mohammed) for private use]. Hawar group of islands is off the coast of Qatar. Qatar and Bahrain are disputing the sovereignty of the uninhabited (but potentially oil and gas-rich) islands.

Bahrain land is composed of sand and bare rock. Most of the islands are surfaced with hard limestone rock. The north and west of Bahrain are suitable for agriculture. Sweet spring water has been depleting at a fast rate in recent years. Government policies have resulted in the conversion of agricultural lands to compounds of buildings and flats forcing Bahrain to import more than 90% of its foodstuff needs.

Population is 585,400 (68% citizens, 32% foreign residents). Citizens make up about 400,000 (1997 estimates). The citizens concentrations (residents in areas) are approximately as follows (based on 1990 estimates): Manama 24.4%, Muharraq 20.1%, Jidhafs 12.5%, Isa Town 8.4%, Sitra 8.2%, North-Western Region 7%, South (including Riffaa) 6.3%, Western Region 5.4%, Central Region 5.4%, Hidd 2.3%.

Gross Domestic Product GDP is $5.0bn (1995). Per capita is $8,100. Currency is Dinar=$2.63.

The climate is hot in summer and mild in winter. From November to April, the period is very pleasant, with temperatures ranging from 15 to 24 degrees centigrade. Average temperature is 36 degrees centigrade with high humidity. The annual average rainfall is approximately 77 millimetres.

According to official figures (see Asharq Al-Awsat of 8 May 1997) the total workforce in 1995 was 258,900. Only 39.3% of these were nationals (ie 101,800 citizens are in the labour market). Unemployment amongst the Shia community is politically driven. There are some 35,000-40,000 unemployed. At the same time, and on every day, an average 80 new labourers (2400 per month, 28,800 per year) from the Sub-Indian Continent are imported into Bahrain to work in all types of activities.

The Economist said on 19 July 1997 that “unemployment has reached 40%” and that demands for political reforms have not been responded to. The article expressed its concern for the death of guest worker, which the opposition deplored

Many influential members of the ruling Al-Khalifa family are involved in the importation of cheap labour from the Indian sub-continent. Most of these labourers are imported on a “Free-Visa” arrangement, whereby the labourer is dumped in the labour market for chasing any job opportunity. The importer (agent) charges a percentage of whatever income the labourer earns. According to official figures (see Asharq Al-Awsat, 1 May 1997), there is 150,000 foreign work-force. On 8 May 1997, Asharq Al-Awsat revealed that 7% of the private sector work-force (ie 2479) earn salaries less than 100 dinars per month ($267/month). This compares to the lowest salary in the public sector of 105 dinar/month. There are 9 Bahraini citizens whose salaries are less than 50 dinars/month. The percentage of national labour has fallen from 43% in 1981 to 39.3% in 1995. As for the Free-Visa Labourers, every month an average of 2400 new foreign labourer is allowed into the country, making a total of 28,800 new vacancies every year filled-up by foreign cheap workers. (see Asharq Al-Awsat of 8 May 97).

Many thousands of foreigners are employed in the military and security services. Estimates are based on the Military balance 1996/7 issued by the IISS: army (8,500 personnel), navy (1,000), air force (1,500), coast guard (250), police (9,000), and recently the National Guard, a unit designated for suppressing internal dissent (number not known).

The Intelligence department in Bahrain was created in 1957 by the British to counter opposition forces. Since 1965, the British officer, Ian Henderson has headed the intelligence apparatus. At least 30 British officers are with in Henderson in the top level of the intelligence department.

By 1997, the ruling family has imported 40,000 Bedouins from the Syrian desert. These are descendants of “Shemmar” tribes who are related to Al-Khalifa. These were granted full (dual) citizenship and were provided with generous facilities and grants. Virtually all of these imported groups have been recruited in the security service and the so-called National Guard.

The Economist said on 19 July 1997 (commenting on arrest of citizens) that the methods for rounding-up suspects and the production of confession within hours ensure that the friction continues. “Houses of suspected troublemakers are broken into, valuables often pocketed by the Baluchi mercenaries who make up the bulk of this lightly armed force. Relatives are detained at police stations until the wanted brother, son or father gives himself up. Women report being threatened with rape by their Bahraini jailers. With no resident western journalist left on the island (a German correspondent was recently expelled) and little public accountability, Bahrain’s courts and prisons have a pretty free hand”.


MANAMA, Aug 3, 1997 (Reuter) – Bahrain’s population grew 3.6 percent in the year to end-June mainly due to an increase in the number of foreigners in the Gulf Arab state, official figures showed on Sunday.

Data from the Central Statistic Organisation (CSO) showed Bahrain’s population expanded to 620,378 on June 30, 1997 from 598,625 a year earlier…. (Of these, 379,955 locals or 61.5%). Foreigners — mainly from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Philippine– make up almost 39 percent of the population.

The figures show the number of foreigners in the island state grew 4.8 percent to 240,423 and the number of nationals rose 2.9 percent to 379,955 in the year to June 30, 1997. “It is no secret the rate of growth in population in Bahrain is among the highest in the world and we must ensure that we plan our families,” CSO president Sheikh Mohammed Atiyatullah al-Khalifa said in remarks published last week. “It is…important to note that the burden of the government to provide services…is increasing,” Sheikh Mohammed said.

Bahrain’s government last month gave foreigners staying illegally in the island until October 31 to legalise their stay or leave without any penalty. Foreign workers, mainly low-paid and unskilled from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Philippines, hold around 130,000 jobs in Bahrain out of a total workforce of 239,000.


31 Aug 97, AKHBAR ALKHALEEJ said ” The number of Bahraini workers in the private sector has increased to 37,773 in 1996 from 21,974 in 1986, official data shows”.


Official estimates end of 2000:

 Foreign labour force = 203,259  (64% of total labour force)

National labour force = 116,132 (36% of total labour force)

Total labour force =  319,391

Unemploed Bahrainis are around 20,000


Foreign labour increased as follows:

1995 = 160,817

1996 = 168,530

1997 = 176,612

1998 = 185,082

1999 = 193,957

2000 = 203,259


According to 1991 official census, total population was: 508,037, of which 323,305 locals Jidhas: 44,769 Northern 33,763 Sitra 36,755 Central 34,304 Western 22,034 Easten 3,242 Hamad 29,055 Hidd 8,610 Manama 136,999 Muharraq 74,245 Isa Town 34,509 Riffa 49,752


From IISS Military Balance 1997-98:

GDP $5.1bn (BD1.9bn). Per Capita $8,300.

Defence expenditure $273m (1995), $285m (1996), $290m (1997)

Reserve: $1.4bn (1992) to $1.32bn (1996)

Debt: $2.3bn (1992) to $3.17bn (1996).

No of Armed Forces: 11,000

No of Security Forces: 9,250


“Al-Quds Al-Arabi” said on 2 January 1998 said that the “National Guard” established by the Bahraini Crown Prince in January 1997 will be ready by end of 1998. The Crown Prince heads about 12,000-strong defence forces equipped and trained by the USA. These forces posses about 100 (M60) tanks, 500 armoured vehicles, 100 artillery equipment, other military equipment, various types of missiles, 24 jet fighters (12 off F16 Falcon, 4 off F5 Tiger), 12 Helicopters (Copra), 12 other types of helicopters, a frigate (Perry).

In addition to the army, there are 9,000 security forces and police personnel.

The new National Guard will be formed from a 500 to 600-strong unit armed with light equipment. The National Guard will be used for internal security as a special unit of commandos for defending the ruling family, the political and military leaders well as guarding sensitive locations. The National Guard will then be increased to 1000-1500 and will have heavier equipment.

Al-Quds Al-Arabi also said “contrary to the way the defence forces is equipped and trained, the National Guard will be equipped and trained by British SAS personnel”. The paper added that the deal with the UK is expected to be finalized in the coming weeks.


MANAMA, Nov 8, 1999 (Reuters) – Filipinos in Bahrain are to be given identity cards to help monitor their numbers in the Gulf Arab state, a local newspaper said on Monday. “We want to know how many Filipinos are living and working here,” Chito Marino, the labour attache at the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), told the Gulf Daily News daily. “To find this out we will need the cooperation of all our fellow men and women,” he added. The identity cards will be issued by OWWA through the Philippines Embassy, the paper said. The embassy estimates that there are about 30,000 Filipinos in Bahrain, it added.

Foreign workers, mainly low-paid and unskilled, make up around 62 percent of the total workforce in the island.


Gulf Daily news 23 Dec 2000

Bahrains population is also the smallest in the GCC and stands at an estimated 683,000 by the end of this year, says the study. Sixty-seven pc, or 455,000 are Bahrainis, while expatriates are estimated at 228,000. This compares to figures given in Bahrains 1991 National Census of a total population of 518,243, of which 322,276 were Bahrainis and expatriates totalled 195,967. This showed an expatriate population of 37.8pc, compared to 33pc today.


 “Business Middle East” Newsletter of 1-15 June 1998 (Part of the “Economist” magazine)

Bahrain: he Unemployment dilemma

The article reveals the following:

Official figure from the Bahraini Labour Minister says unemployment is 1.87% (less than 2%). That’s 5318 Bahrainis unemployed. The Labour Minister also said that 8349 persons found jobs in 1997.

In 1997: Total workforce is 238,270. Bahrainis represent 40%, around 113,000.

Foreign estimate (says the newsletter) put the unemployment rate at 15-18%.

Private sector employs 38,415 Bahrainis, representing 31% of the total, 4.2% higher than 1996.

The average monthly salary for a Bahraini is BD376 ($997), compared with BD193 ($512) for the cheaper section of foreign labour (imported into Bahrain by special agencies).

Bahrain’s population growth is 3.5%. Nearly 40% of the population is under 15 years old. Some 4,500 enter the job market every year.

The newsletter said “by suggesting that the jobless rate is below 2%, officials are still failing to acknowledge the scale of the problem”.


Amiri decree links budget for 2 years (26 December 2000)

His Highness the Amir, Shaikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, has issued law by decree No 37 for 2000, linking the State’s general budget for 2001 and2002 . The decree estimated the State’s revenues for 2001 and 2002 at BD1.344 billion, of which revenues for 2001 will be BD669 million and for 2002 BD675 million. The total expenditure for the two years is estimated at BD1.658 billion – BD823 million for 2001, and BD835 million for 2002. The recurrent State expenditure for the two years is estimated at BD1.338 billion – BD663 million for 2001 and BD675 million for 2002. The expenditure on State projects is estimated at BD320 million – BD160 million for 2001 and a similar amount for 2002. The budget deficit for the two years is estimated at BD314 million – BD154 million for 2001 and BD160 million for 2002. The deficit will be covered by local loans.


MANAMA, April 22, 1999 (Reuters) – Remittances of foreign workers in Bahrain, who represent 62 percent of the total workforce, stood at 165 million dinars ($438 million) in 1998, the labour and social affairs minister was on Thursday quoted as saying.

“Foreigners transferred 165 million dinars to their home countries last year. This continued out-flow of funds from the country is hurting the economy,” local newspapers quoted Abdel-Nabi al-Shula as saying. He gave no comparative figures.

Shula said his ministry had issued 43,556 new work permits for foreign workers and renewed 42,102 permits. It also issued work permits for 15,610 housemaids and renewed 6,613 last year.

Official figures showed that from a workforce of about 294,700 in 1998, Bahrainis accounted for just 38 percent, or about 109,650. The rest are foreign workers, mainly low-paid and unskilled from the Indian subcontinent.

Shula said earlier this month there were 6,796 Bahrainis registered with his ministry as unemployed, representing 2.4 percent of the total workforce, or more than six percent of the Bahraini workforce.

Diplomats put Bahrain’s unemployment figure at around 10 percent of the Bahraini workforce, including those who are unemployed but were not


Bahrain 2001 Census Main Results 1-Bahrain  population  totalled  650,604  persons,  of  whom  405,667 were Bahrainis  and  244,937  were  non-Bahrainis (with percentages of 62.4% and 37.6%, respectively) and with a growth rate of 2.7% per annum. 2-The  illiteracy  rate among Bahrainis was 7.5% for males, 17% for females and 12.3% for both sexes. 3-The  economically  active population (working & unemployed) and with ages 15  years  or older totalled 308,341 persons of whom 127,121 were Bahrainis and 181,220 were non-Bahrainis. 4-The number of working Bahrainis population is 110,985 in 2001. 5-Employed  Bahraini  women  accounted  for  23.5%  of  the  total  working Baharaini population. 6-The  labour  force  participation rate of Bahraini women was 25.6% of the total  Bahraini  female economically active population (15 years or older). 7-The  rate  of unemployment of the population with ages 15 years and older was 5.5% (4.1% males & 10.5% females) in 2001. 8-The  number of housing units in Bahrain totalled 105,686 of these housing unit,  private  villas  accounted  for  18.8%, conventional houses /housing villas were 25.9%and traditional houses accounted for 15.7%. 9-Ninety-seven percent of all housing units in Bahrain have at least one TV set. Around 9.9% of all housing units had four or more TV sets. 10-More than half of all housing units have satellite dishes (62.2%). 11-Around  73%  of all housing units were owners at least one car, of which 3.8% had four or more cars. 12-The percentage of housing units with at least one personal computer (PC) was 33.4%. Only around one percent of all housing units owned three or more PCs. 13-The  percentage  of  all  housing  units who have Internet connection is 18.2%. 14-Fifty-six  percent  of all housing units have daily newspapers available to them.


SOURCES: Burke’s Royal Families of the World II Africa & The Middle East, London, 1980; R.F.Tapsell, Monarch Rulers Dynasties and Kingdoms of the World, Thames and Hudson, London, 1983; Who’s Who in the Arab World

SHORT HISTORY: The present al Khalifa Arab dynasty from the al Utub clan in Kuwait conquered the islands of Bahrain from the Persians in 1783 and was successful to drive out the short rule of the Sayyid of Muscat in 1800-1801.


Head of the Sovereign Family: HH The Emir of Bahrain

Heir: HH The Crown Prince

Other Members of the Sovereign Family: Shaikh, Shaikha … al Khalifa

HEAD OF THE SOVEREIGN FAMILY: HH Shaikh Isa (II) bin Salman al Khalifa, Shaikh then Emir (15/8/1971) of Bahrain since 2/11/1961, Crown Prince 1958, KCMG, KCIE, O.Rafidain (Iraq), 3/7/1933, X 1949 Shaikha Hasa, 1933 …..(DIED ON 6 March 1999. His son Hamad assumed power)

CHILDREN (9 children among whom):

1 HH Shaikh Hamad bin Isa al Khalifa, Crown Prince 1957, Founder and Cdr in Chief (1969-1971) of the Bahrain Nat Guard, Head of Defence Dept 1968-1971, Vice-Chm of the Administrative Council 1970-1971, Min of State for Defence 1971-1988, Chm of the Irrigation Council, Chm of the Manama Municipal Council 1956-1961, Pres of the Bahrain Scientific Society, educ Secondary School in Manama, Applegarth College in Godalming, Surrey, England, Mons Offr Cadet School in Aldershot, Hants, England, US Army Cmdr and Gen Staff College in Leavenworth, Kansas, 28/1/1950, X 1968 Shaikha Sabika bint Ebrahim al Khalifa. Father of:

1.1 Shaikh Sulman bin Hamad al Khalifa

1.2 Shaikh Abdulla bin Hamad al Khalifa

1.3 …

2 Shaikh Rashid bin Isa al Khalifa

3 Shaikh Abdullah bin Isa al Khalifa

4 Shaikh Mohamad bin Isa al Khalifa

5 Shaikh Ali bin Isa al Khalifa


1 HE Shaikh Khalifa bin Sulman al Khalifa, Prime Min since 1973, Chm of the Bahrain Monetary Agency, Head of the Supreme Defence Council 1978, Pres of the State Council 1/1970-1973, Chm of the Joint Cttee for Economic and Financial Studies, Chm of the Ctee for the Register of Commerce, Chm of the Administrative Council 1966-1970, Director of Finance and Pres Electricity Board 1961, Head of the Dpt of Finance 1960-1966, first Pres of the Education Council 1957-1960, O.Khalifa 19/12/1979, 1936, (PO Box 1000, Manama, Bahrain). Father of 3 children,

2 Shaikh Mohamed bin Sulman al Khalifa, Pres of the Harbour Advisory Board, Pres of the Education Council 1960, Chief of Police and Public Security 1961, Judge at the Appeal Court 1966-1967, 1940, (PO Box 450, Manama, Bahrain). Father of:

2.1 Shaikh Isa bin Mohamed al Khalifa, Lawyer


Sons (brothers of HH Shaikh Salman (II)) and descendants of HH Shaikh Hamad:

1 Shaikh Mubarak bin Hamad al Khalifa, Pres of the Health Council, X … bint Abdullah al Dosari, daughter of Abdullah bin Jabr al Dosari and sister of Yusuf Rahma al Dosari (Head of HH The Emirs Court). Father of:

1.1 HE Shaikh Mohamed bin Mubarak al Khalifa, Min of Foreign Affairs since 1971, mbr of the State Council 1970, Head of the Political Bureau 1968 renamed Dpt of Foreign Affairs 1969, Dir of Information 1962, educ American Univ of Beirut, Oxford Univ, dipl international law at Univ of London, 1935 (PO Box 547, Manama, Bahrain). Father of 2 children,

2 Shaikh Abdullah bin Hamad al Khalifa

3 Shaikh Ali bin Hamad al Khalifa. Father of:

3.1 Shaikh Isa bin Ali al Khalifa, Labour Commissioner

3.2 Shaikh Salman bin Ali al Khalifa, Director of Land Registration

4 Shaikh Ebrahim bin Hamad al Khalifa, Director of Agriculture

5 Shaikh Khalifa bin Hamad al Khalifa. Father of:

5.1 HE Shaikh Mohamed bin Khalifa bin Hamad al Khalifa, Min of Interior since 1973, Deputy Dir Gen of the Public Security Dpt 1970, Dir of Immigration and Passports 1966, Police Inspector at the Public Security Dpt 1959, educ Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst, 1937, X 1959 …, (PO Box 13, Manama, Bahrain). Father of:

5.1.1 Shaikh Fawaz bin Mohamed al Khalifa

5.1.2 Shaikh Talal bin Mohamed al Khalifa

5.1.3 Shaikha Lamia bint Mohamed al Khalifa

5.1.4 Shaikha Amani bin Mohamed al Khalifa

5.2 Shaikh Rashid bin Khalifa al Khalifa, Asst Under Secretary for Tourism and Archaeology since 1988, Chm of the Bahrain Art Society, Chm of the Tourism Projects Co, Dir of Tourism and Archaeology 1984, dipl Art and Design at Univ of Hastings, 1952 (PO Box 29229, Manama, Bahrain). Father of:

5.2.1 Shaikha Noor bint Rashid al Khalifa

5.2.2 Shaikh Khalifa bin Rashid al Khalifa

5.2.3 Shaikha Hessa bint Rashid al Khalifa

5.2.4 Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Khalifa

6 Shaikh Daij bin Hamad al Khalifa, Pres of the Courts

7 Shaikh Ahmed bin Hamad al Khalifa


1 HE Shaikh Khalifa bin Ahmad al Khalifa, Brigadier Gen, Min of Defence, educ Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst

2 HE Shaikh Khalid bin Abdullah al Khalifa, Min of Housing since 8/1975, Chm of the Housing Bank, Acting Min of Commerce and Agriculture 1975-1976, Min of Municipalities and Agriculture 1971-1974, Head of the Dpt of Municipalities and Agriculture and mbr of the State Council 1970, Pres of the Manama Municipality 1967, Pres of the Rifaa Municipality ….-1967, 1922 (Diplomatic Area, PO Box 802, Manama, Bahrain). Father of:

2.1 Shaikh … bin Khalid al Khalifa

3 HE Shaikh Abdullah bin Khalid al Khalifa, Min of Justice and Islamic Affairs since 9/1975, 1922 (PO Box 450, Manama, Bahrain). Son of Shaikh Khalid bin … al Khalifa and father of 10 children,

4 HE Shaikh Khalifa bin Sulman bin Mohamed al Khalifa, Min of Labour and Social Affairs

5 Shaikh Abdullah bin Sulman bin Khalid al Khalifa, Brigadier Gen, Chief of Staff of the Bahrain Defence Force, educ Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst, Staff College Course in the UK, al Muharraq 1945 (PO Box 245, West Rifaa, Bahrain)

6 Shaikh Abdulrahman bin Mohamed al Khalifa, Under-Secretary at the Ministry of Justice and Islamic Affairs, Editor of the al Hidaya Islamic Magazine, Vice Pres of the Pilgrimage Directorate, fmr Chm of the

Bahrain Islamic Bank, Chm of Delmon Gulf Construction, Judge 1960, Pres of the High Civil Court, educ Faculty of Law at Cairo Univ, 1942 (PO Box 5786, Manama, Bahrain)

7 Shaikh Daij bin Khalifa al Khalifa, Asst Under Secretary at the Ministry of Finance and Nat Economy, Chm of the Arab Shipbuilding Repair Yard, Dir Gen of Customs and Ports, educ Nautical College in the UK, 1938 (PO Box 15, Manama, Bahrain)


Shaikh Khalifa, of the al Utub clan in Kuwait, mid 18th century. Father of:

Shaikh Ahmad bin Khalifa, Shaikh of Bahrain 1783-1796, +1796. Father of:

Shaikh Sulman (I) bin Ahmad al Khalifa, Shaikh of Bahrain 1796-1825, driven out by the Sayyid of Muscat 1800-1801, reconquered Bahrain with

Wahhabi aid 1801, detained in Dariya 1801-1810, +1825. Brother of:

Shaikh Abdulla bin Ahmad al Khalifa, Shaikh of Bahrain 1796-1843, driven out by the Sayyid of Muscat 1800-1801, reconquered Bahrain with Wahhabi aid 1801, detained in Dariya 1801-1810, +1843,

Shaikh Khalifa bin Sulman al Khalifa, Shaikh of Bahrain 1825-1834, +1834. Son of Shaikh Sulman (I) and father of:

Shaikh Mohammed (I) bin Khalifa al Khalifa, Shaikh of Bahrain 1834-1867, +1867. Brother of:

Shaikh Ali bin Khalifa al Khalifa, Shaikh of Bahrain 1867-1869, +1869,

Shaikh Mohammed (II) bin Abdulla al Khalifa, Shaikh of Bahrain 1869 (exiled), 1813, + in Hijaz 1890. Son of Shaikh Abdulla,

Shaikh Sir Isa (I) bin Ali al Khalifa, Shaikh of Bahrain 1869-1933, 1848, +1933. Son of Shaikh Ali and father of:

Shaikh Sir Hamad bin Isa al Khalifah, Shaikh of Bahrain 1933-20/2/1942, Deputy Ruler from 1925, KCIE 1935, CSI 1921, 1872, +20/2/1942. Father of:

Shaikh Sulman (II) bin Hamad al Khalifah, Shaikh of Bahrain 20/2/1942-2/11/1961, KCIE 1943, KStJ, O.Rafidain (Iraq), GrCr O.Danebrog (Denmark), +2/11/1961, X Latifa. Father of:

Shaikh Isa (II) bin Sulman al Khalifa, Shaikh then Emir (15/8/1971) of Bahrain since 2/11/1961 (see above, Head of the Sovereign Family).



Bahrain Archipelago


Area is 695 km2

Bahrain Island

The biggest island (between 84-85%)


Citizens are not allowed in the South of Bahrain (About 40% of the area).







Nabih Saleh





Confiscated by prime minister for private use

Um Na’asan


Confisacted by Amir for private use

Um Sobban


Confiscated by uncle of the Amir for private use

Howar islands


Total of about 16 islands. Dispute with Qatar settled by the ICJ on 16 March 2001


Part of Howar islands (belongs to Bahrain)

Eastern Rabadh

Part of Howar islands (belongs to Bahrain)

Western Rabadh

Part of Howar islands (belongs to Bahrain)


Part of Howar islands (belongs to Bahrain)

Northern Hejjeyah

Part of Howar islands (belongs to Bahrain)

Southern Hejjeyah

Part of Howar islands (belongs to Bahrain)

Northern Sawad

Part of Howar islands (belongs to Bahrain)

Southern Sawad

Part of Howar islands (belongs to Bahrain)


Part of Howar islands (belongs to Bahrain)


Part of Howar islands (belongs to Bahrain)


Part of Howar islands (belongs to Bahrain)

Umm Hazura

Part of Howar islands (belongs to Bahrain)

Janan & Hadd Jenan

Part of Howar islands (now belongs to Qatar)

Wakoor islands

Part of Howar islands (belongs to Bahrain)


Part of Howar islands (belongs to Bahrain)









Um Al-Shajar






Al-Baynah Al-Kabeerah

Unknown sovereignty issues with Saudi Arabia

Al-Baynah Al-Sagheerah


Um Jaleed





Reserved for a military club (near Nabih Saleh)



Jazirat Al-Sheikh


Al Dar Unihabited

Others (reefs/shaols/etc)


Unknown sovereignty issues with Saudi Arabia

Abu-Sa’afa offshore oil field

Unknown sovereignty issues with Saudi Arabia

Qasar Noon

Halat Noon

Qasar Khasifah

Qasar Jarda

Halat Al-Saltah

Halat Al-Nu’aim

Qasar Abu-Shahin

Qita’at Jaradah

Dispute with Qatar

(belongs to Bahrain)

Fash Al-Dibel

Dispute with Qatar (now belongs to Qatar)

Fash Al-Adham

Fasht Bu-Thor

Qasar Al-Qulai’ah


Khor Fasht

12 July 2000 CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. (AP) — A princess from Bahrain fell in love with a U.S. Marine, fled the Persian Gulf using fake documents and married him. Now, she is seeking asylum here, saying she faces persecution if she returns to her island nation. “I did the worst thing possible in my country, to fall in love with a non-Muslim,” said Mariam Al Khalifa, 19. “To make it even worse, he’s an American.” Al Khalifa’s hearing before the Immigration and Naturalization Service is scheduled for Monday. The State Department wants her deported. According to an account in the Los Angeles Times, Al Khalifa and Lance Cpl. Jason Johnson at first hid their courtship from her parents. When their relationship was revealed, she was confined to the house but spoke with Johnson by telephone. “We had to see each other behind my family’s back,” she told the newspaper. “When they found out, they were very angry.” She declined to comment further to The Associated Press except to say she hoped to eventually repair relations with her family. Al Khalifa carries the title of sheika because her father, Sheik Abdullah Al Khalifa, is a cousin of the head of state, Emir Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. Bahrain is a small island off the eastern coast of Saudi Arabia that also is the regional base for the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet. Johnson, 25, was assigned to a unit providing security for Americans there. He met Al Khalifa at a mall in the country’s capital of Manama and a romance blossomed, the newspaper reported Monday. As his deployment was ending late last year, he didn’t want to leave without her. She dressed in baggy clothes and a New York Yankees cap to hide her long hair, and hopped a ride on a commercial airplane using U.S. military documents that Johnson had forged, the newspaper reported. In Chicago, INS officials discovered the ruse. Al Khalifa immediately requested political asylum. The INS granted her request for a hearing and in the meantime, the couple married in Las Vegas. “I think they’d kill her if she ever returned,” her husband said. “She embarrassed the royal family. To keep their reputation clean, they would have to take vengeance.” For his part, Johnson was demoted to private first class and given extra duty. The couple currently live on the military base. The newspaper quoted an unidentified spokesman for the Bahraini Embassy in Washington as saying that Al Khalifa shouldn’t worry about returning home because “the family still loves her very much and would love her to go back.” But Al Khalifa says she fears right-wing clergy in Bahrain might encourage others to attack her if she returns. Some Middle East experts doubted that Al Khalifa faces any real danger in Bahrain, though she may be socially ostracized for dishonoring her family and country. “If her family forgives her, I don’t think there is much the clerics would do,” said Richard Dekmejian, a Middle East expert at the University of Southern California.

14 suburbs renamed for Manama (14 July 2000) The Director-General of the Central Municipal Council said the new names will be as follows: 1. Al Souk suburb will include Blocks 301 , 302, 304, 305. 2. Al Noaim suburb will include Blocks 303 , 312, 313, 314. 3. Al Hoora suburb will include Blocks 306 , 307, 318, 320. 4. Al Gudaibiya suburb will include Blocks 308 , 321, 325, 326, 338. 5. Al Adliya suburb will include Blocks 309 , 327, 336. 6. Al Salmaniya suburb will include Blocks 310 , 311, 328, 329. 7. The Marina suburb will include Blocks 315 , 316, 317, 346 (eastern part). 8. Al Fateh suburb will include Blocks 324 , 340, 341, 342. 9. Abu Asheera suburb will include Blocks 330 , 331, 332, 334. 10. Um Al Hassam suburb will include Blocks 333 , 335, 337, 339. 11. Mina Salman industrial will suburb include Block 343. 12. Al Seef suburb will include Blocks 346 (western part), 351, 408, 410, 428, 430. 13. Adari suburb will include Blocks 373. 14. Al Jazirah suburb will include Blocks 380 , 381, 382.

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