About Bahrain

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The Journey of Bahrain

Bahrain previously described Southern Iraq, Kuwait, Qatif, Al-Hasa, and current Bahrain. In the classical era, Bahrain gained popularity as the pearl city. It was renowned for trading pearls all around the Arab and Europe. Bahrain was also well known for cotton made clothes, which were called ‘Sindones.’ Alexander, the Great, planned to settle Greek colonies in Bahrain. Though the plan wasn’t fully executed, it had a large impact on Bahrain. The upper castes of Bahrain spoke in Greek. Even Zeus was worshipped by the name of ‘Shams.’

Muslims took control over Bahrain in 1076 AD. As Bahrain was moving through an Islamic revolution, the Portuguese Empire gained control in 1521. From then there were wars and collisions between Muslims and Portuguese, Ottoman empires for a very long time. Bahrain went under British protection in the 19th Century. With continuous public outbursts over British rule, Bahrain gained its independence on 15th August 1971 through a referendum by the United Nations.

While the pearl industry was not enough for the country’s economy, Bahrain started exploring its oil industry. Independent Bahrain’s economy was growing smoothly and they were also diversifying the economy. On one side, Bahrain was gaining profit from the Lebanese Civil war by replacing the Middle East’s financial centers to Bahrain. On the other side, Bahrain’s Shia-Sunni conflict was going on the rise.

The shia-Sunni conflict has been a long term conflict since the dawn of Islam. Bahrain is one of the countries that suffered the most due to this conflict. The conflict that started in 1994 continued till 2002.
In the meantime, Bahrain supported the NATO alliance in anti-Taliban military actions and gained their trust. Bahrain also invested in the relationship with its neighboring states. If we are talking about the biggest political ally of Bahrain since 2001, it should be the United States of America. Eventually, it had created an Free Trade Agreement with the USA back in 2004.
The last protest that shook Bahrain was the Arab spring. In early 2011, Bahrain’s Shia majority started protesting against the Sunni rulers. Soon, the protest turned violent and a lot of people lost their lives. With support from its ally nations, Bahrain turned down the protest in 2013.
Bahrain has seen almost all types of wars, ruling systems, and civilizations. As many have come and many have left, they have left their footsteps. Bahrain contains the historical signs of civilization from the Alexander era to the British era. Bahrain’s diversified economic plans, well-planned allyship, and good reputation all around the globe helped it raise despite all the pressures and conflicts.

People of Bahrain

Bahrain has been ruled by different ethnicities. Currently, though it is an Islamic state, it has its own ethnic and ideological diversities. Catholics and Orthodox churches can be found beside Masjids. There are Hindu temples and a Jewish Synagogue in Bahrain Island.
Looking into the Muslim residents, you’ll find different ethnic groups in Shia and Sunnis. Bahrani Shias are the pre-Islamic residents of Bahrain, while Ajam Shias are the ones who have migrated from other Persian countries. Bahraini Shias, also known as Baharna, have a different dialect of Arabic that is called Bahrani Arabic. Ajams also have different cultures and languages.
Sunni Bahrainis are also divided into 2 ethnicities- Urban Arabs and Huwala. Urban Arabs, also know as al Arabs, were merchants and businessmen during the pre-oil era. On the other end, Huwalas are ethnically Persians or Sunni Arabs.
There are also Afro Arabs, Indians, Balochis, and tribal people in Bahrain. In recent times, Palestinian refugees and Arab immigrants have also increased in Bahrain.

Traditions and Cultures of Bahrain

Bahrain is a culturally diverse nation. It has a good number of Christians and the Jewish population compared to other GCC countries. The official language of Bahrain is Arabic though the lingua franca is English. Bahrainis have also knowledge about Hindi and Urdu.

The traditional attire for Bahraini women is abaya with hijab. Abaya is long-loose apparel while the hijab mainly covers the head, ears, and neck. Men traditionally wear thobe with agal, ghutra, and keffiyeh. Thobe is a long dress that reaches from neck to the ankle. Bahraini men wear a white thobe in summer and black thobe in winter. Bahraini people also wear a cloak made with wool during occasions. This is known as bisht.

Along with Islamic occasions, Bahrain celebrates Qarqean biannually. On this day children wear traditional dresses and travel from door-to-door for receiving sweets and nuts. Though it has some similarities with Halloween, there is no horror associated with it. In fact, it has been rooted in the Gulf culture for centuries.

Quran recitation is one of the most large practiced arts of Bahrain. Additionally, their culture has a strong influence of the Arabs. They play Khaleeji, which is a Persian Gulf area based on Arab folk music. Male pearl divers sing songs while diving which is popularly known as fidjeri. Fidjeri includes singing, drumming, clapping, and dancing with earthen water jars.

Bahrain people have their traditional instruments- rebab and oud. Rebab is a one-stringed musical instrument, while oud has some similarities with lute. Sword dancing is a traditional dance for men.
Even with the rich culture and heritage, Bahrain lacks behind in the film industries. It has produced only a few films since 1990.