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Monday, July 13, 2009

COUNTRY #13: BAHRAIN

Over a red base, there are five white serrations, each representing the five pillars of Islam.

 

BAHRAIN


Bahrain is an island, with Saudi Arabia to the West and Qatar to the East.  The al-Khalifa clan took away Bahrain from the Persians in 1783, leading to treaties making the country a British protectorate.  Independence was gained in 1971. King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa came to power in 1999. 

 

A look at the Gulf map shows that the Kingdom of Bahrain, a constitutional monarchy, is a very tiny island, about three times the size of Washington, D.C.  You never heard of the capital:  Manama.  Oil is important, with a production of almost 50,000 barrels/day, but this is expected to run out in 10 to 15 years.  Thus, the country has also become an international banking center and tourist site.  It also exports pearls. 

 

Bahrain has a population of 728,000, with almost a third being non-nationals.  The life expectancy is 75 and GDP/capita is $37,200. 

 

There is a simmering problem related to the fact that the ruling family is Sunni Muslim and 60% of the inhabitants are Shiite.  At one point Google Earth was blocked to prevent the masses viewing the royal palaces.  This was reversed, and the world wide web effectively flattened the walls. This Sunni-Shiite situation is not a major problem, but something to watch.

 

Only 1% of the land can be cultivated.  There are droughts and desertification is increasing.  Human-trafficking is a concern.  The Iranian Parliament has made a few noises that Bahrain was their 14th province during the reign of the Shah, profoundly disturbing Bahrain. 

 


On the plus side, while the above welcome to Bahrain tourism photo seems modernistic, women are covered from head to foot in public.  However, in 2002, Bahrain became the first Arab country to allow them to vote and run for office.  No woman was elected, but six were appointed to the Shura Council, which also has Jewish and Christian representation. 

Two million tourists visit Bahrain every year, and the Grand Prix is an important annual event.  The ancient civilization of Dilmun was centered on this island.  Click on What’s On in Bahrain to learn more about daily doings

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The Dow Jones Industrials jumped 185 (+2.27%) to 8331.  Is the economy recovering?  Asian markets all dropped an average of 2% and European markets mostly increased by 2%.  Crude oil inched back into the $60/barrel level and gold went up $7/toz to $920.


By the way, how many of you know that President Ronald Reagan, in 1981, signed a $750 billion stimulus plan in response to an economic downturn caused by the then highest ever price of crude following the 1979 second oil crisis?  Interestingly enough, a year ago oil goes up to $147/barrel, and the economy crashes again.  Do you know what $750 billion is worth today?  $1.8 trillion.

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Oh, oh!  There are two more disturbances in the Pacific (see above), one in the East and one in the West.  The Western (Orient) tropical events are relatively minor.  Behind Carlos to the East, though, is Invest 96, and it just happened.  The term "invest" means that information is being gathered to make a possible future determination.  Tropical Storm Carlos has diminished to 50 MPH, but is expected to maintain that strength and continue moving West towards current speculation South of the Big Island.  However, most models show an eventual dissipation in five days or so.

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1 comment:

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