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Bahrain at a Glance

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Capital:

Manama

Land:

665 sq km

Currency (code):

Bahraini dinar (BHD)

Exchange rates:

Bahraini dinars per US dollar - 0.376 (2007), 0.376 (2006), 0.376 (2005), 0.376 (2004), 0.376 (2003)

Population:

718,306

Age structure:

  • 0-14 years: 26.4% (male 95,709/female 93,747)
  • 15-64 years: 69.8% (male 288,957/female 212,706)
  • 65 years and over: 3.8% (male 14,224/female 12,963) (2008 est.)

Population growth rate:

1.337% (2008 est.)

Religions:

Muslim (Shi'a and Sunni) 81.2%, Christian 9%, other 9.8% (2001 census)

Climate:

The climate is hot and humid. Summer months often see temperatures above 100°F (38°C). The country is cooler between late December and February, when temperatures fall to 54°F (12°C). Trace amounts of rain may fall in this cooler season. The arid climate, drought, and dust storms have led to the loss of productive land to the desert; only about 1 percent of Bahrain is arable

Language:

The official language of Bahrain is Arabic. English is also widely used, especially in business and banking. Farsi, a Persian dialect, is spoken by many Shi‘i Muslims, but it is not officially recognized.

General Attitudes:

Bahrainis are proud of their country and its image as a nation of warm and friendly inhabitants. Bahrain’s citizens are among the best educated in the Gulf. Most view their country as a key trading and banking center. As such, Bahrain is exposed to many foreign cultures and depends upon this interaction for its economic success. Bahrainis are also proud of their country’s relatively low crime rate.

Although the population as a whole is familiar with the material ways of the West, Bahrainis remain dedicated to traditional values. The extended family remains the most important social institution. People fiercely defend their family’s name and honor. After a death, relatives are close at hand to help with the grieving process. They also come to the aid of one another in other times of need or financial hardship.

Greetings:

Assalam alikum (The peace of Allah be upon you) is the most common way to say “Hello.” The usual reply is Alikum essalam, which means nearly the same thing. Bahrainis say Saba al-khair (Good morning) and respond with Saba alnur; the reply to Masa al-khair (Good evening) is Masa al-nur. People respond to “How are you?” (Eshloanak used to address a man, Eshloanich for a woman) with Zain, al-Humdulillah (Good, thanks be to Allah). “Good-bye” is Ma’assalameh.

Handshakes are common and may last the length of the conversation. A handshake or a hand lightly grasping the person’s arm shows friendliness. Good friends of the same sex sometimes kiss a number of times on the right and left cheeks. It is socially unacceptable for a man to greet a woman, unless the greeting is part of business protocol. Bahraini women, especially those from traditional rural families, look down in the presence of men.

When conducting business or shopping in Bahrain, people customarily exchange greetings and converse politely before getting down to details. Many messages important to the transaction are conveyed in the context of this conversation.

Nicknames, formal and informal, are common. Abu means “father of” when it is used before the given name of the oldest son. For example, Abu Mohammed is the father of Mohammed. Bin and ibn both mean “son of.” So, Ibn Khuldoon is the son of Khuldoon. Informal nicknames used among friends are often adapted forms of a person’s given name: Aboud for Abdulla, Hamoud for Mohammed, Fatoum for Fatima, Abbasi for Abbas, Salmano for Salman, and so on.

One customarily greets the clergy or a member of the royal family with the title Shaikh (for a man) or Shaikha (for a woman). For instance, Mohammed bin Rashid al-Khalifa would be addressed as Shaikh Mohammed or Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Khalifa.

Labor force:

363,000

Labor force - by occupation:

  • agriculture: 1%
  • industry: 79%
  • services: 20% (1997 est.)

Unemployment rate:

15% (2005 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

3.5% (2007 est.)

Natural resources:

oil, associated and nonassociated natural gas, fish, pearls

Exports:

$13.16 billion (2007 est.)

Exports – commodities:

petroleum and petroleum products, aluminum, textiles

Exports - partners:

Saudi Arabia 3.2%, US 3%, Japan 2.3%
note: data exclude oil exports (2006)

Imports:

$9.784 billion (2007 est.)

Imports – commodities:

crude oil, machinery, chemicals

Imports - partners:

Saudi Arabia 37.2%, Japan 6.8%, US 6.2%, UK 6.1%, Germany 6%, UAE 4.2% (2006)

 

References:

Bahrain.” CultureGrams World Edition. 2008. ProQuest. <http://online.culturegrams.com>.

Bahrain.” THE WORLD FACTBOOK. 2008. CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY. <https://www.cia.gov>.

Bahrain.” Factsheet. May, 2007. Economist Intelligence Unit. <http://www.economist.com>

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