Bahrain – The Middle of the Middle East
Bahrain is a small island country in the Persian Gulf. It is a center of activity for the Middle East, a worldwide banking center, and a popular tourist destination for the area. Political tensions result in periodic uprisings, but Bahrain continues to grow and thrive in the face of them.
As with all Middle Eastern countries, politics and religion clash in a major way in Bahrain. The country is ruled by a Constitutional Monarchy, which means that a king rules Bahrain, but is subject to do so within the confines of a constitution. This is a democratic form of government, giving the people the opportunity to vote on policy and officials, but it also gives a few select leaders a lot of power.
The current reigning king is a member of the Khalifa family, who have been in power since 1783. The Khalifa family are Sunni Muslim and the majority of the population in Bahrain are Shia Muslim. This gives way to all kinds of political tension, with the people uprising into protest from time to time, demanding better representation in the government.
Bahrain was the first country in the region to set up an oil refinery and begin exporting this valuable resource. Oil production is a major source of income for the island. They don’t produce as much oil as other countries in the region though, and their supplies are becoming more scarce.
Bahrain has been forced to diversify their economy, and have been very successful in doing so. They are a major aluminum exporter, and serve as a major Muslim banking center, and as a worldwide offshore banking center. Financial Harbor, located in the capital of Manama is home to branches of financial institutions from all over the world, and provides job opportunities for many citizens of Bahrain.
This and the tourism industry provide financial stability in Bahrain that many other Middle Eastern countries are lacking. The Bahraini Dinar is strong currency and a favorite on the global trade market.
Manama is a regional shopping district and attracts tourists from all over the world. There are over 350 shops there, and over 50 restaurants, all located in the same mall. The Bahrain City Center is also home to an enormous water park, called Wahooo! that features 162,000 square feet of slides, pools, and fun.
Other tourist attractions in Bahrain include the Al Areen Wildlife Park and Reserve, and the Bahrain National Museum. The Unesco World Heritage Site is an archaeological discovery of an ancient (2,300 BC) city that is open for public viewing.
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