Since its independence in 1971, the Kingdom of Bahrain has accomplished many distinguished developments. When His Majesty King Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa ascended the throne in 1999, the Kingdom has entered a new era of reform and witnessed a comprehensive and sustainable development in many sectors. The National Action Charter was put forward by His Majesty the King. It was approved in a national referendum in 2001, in which 98.4% of the voters voted in favor of the Charter. Following that, many constitutional amendments were made and the Kingdom became a constitutional monarchy, based on the principles of freedom, equality, social justice and equal opportunities among citizens.
Through the optimum use of its human resources, the Kingdom of Bahrain was able to overcome many economic challenges due to the scarcity of natural resources and the high population density. Political, economic, social, media and cultural accomplishments were made as part of the ongoing reform process and the establishment of the rule of law and institutions, in line with the Economic Vision 2030. The most important of these achievements are:
Continuation of political and constitutional reform in accordance with the Constitution and the National Action Charter, under which the powers between the Executive, Legislative and Judicial Authorities are separated, in the presence of an impartial and independent judiciary, and the legislative and supervision role of both the Shura Council and Council of Representatives, after conducting parliamentary and municipal elections for three terms in the years 2002, 2006 and 2010.
Respect for human rights and the fundamental and personal rights of all citizens. This is reflected in the Kingdom’s accession to 24 international human rights conventions, most notably: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1990), Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (2002), Convention on the Rights of the Child, Convention Against Torture, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
The Establishment of independent human rights institutions such as: the National Institution for Human Rights in 2009; the establishment of the General Secretariat for Grievances in 2012, the first of its kind in the Gulf region. It started its business officially in July 2013 as an independent department administratively and financially office that works within the Ministry of Interior; the Prisoners’ and Detainees’ Rights Commission; a Special Investigation Unit at the Public Prosecution; The Shura Council and the Council of Representatives Committees on Human Rights.
In September 2013 in its 140th session, the Council of the Arab League approved on the Bahraini proposal to set up an Arab Court for Human Rights in Manama.
Freedom of religion and the right to practise religious rituals and celebrations without any government restrictions. Bahrain has the highest number of mosques in the world in relation to its population and size (368 Sunni Waqf mosques; 734 and 604 Jaafari Waqf mosques and Matams, respectively). It also has 110 churches, of which 19 are registered churches, and one Jewish Synagogue built in the centre of Manama in 1930. People of Bahrain enjoy peaceful co-existence between all religious communities and beliefs.
The adoption of a rational foreign policy that supports international security and peace, respects the sovereignty of other countries, and calls for resolving regional and international conflicts in a peaceful manner.
Freedom of press and media. Bahrain has 12 daily and weekly newspapers, tens of magazines, and hundreds of websites. Audiovisual media is very advanced too. There are 6 TV channels and 9 radio stations. The High Authority for Information and Communication was founded as an independent body in July 2013. The new Media Law, referred to the Legislative Authority, will enhance the freedom, impartiality and independence of media and communication. Bahrain was chosen as the Capital of Arab Media 2013-2014 by the Arab Media Forum in Kuwait in cooperation with the Media and Communication sector at the Arab League.
Manama as the Capital of Arab Culture in 2012, the Capital of Arab Tourism in 2013 and the Capital of Asian Tourism in 2014, has many archeological, historical and touristic sites. In 2013, the headquarters of the Arab Regional Centre for World Heritage under the auspices of UNESCO was founded in Bahrain. During the 10 years of His Majesty reign (2000-2010), almost 1750 books and scientific, literary, intellectual and political research papers were published, exceeding the 1502 books published in the past 100 years (1900-1990). This has placed Bahrain at the forefront of Arab countries in ratio to the total population.
Development of civil society. There are 617 civil, political, women, social and cultural societies, sports and foreign clubs, of which 24 are women societies, 10 human rights societies and 20 political societies.
Bahrain is a leading commercial, financial, investment and tourism centre in the Middle East. It occupies the forefront of Arab countries in economic freedom, and a leading position in human development.
The Constitution and national legislation have ensured that Bahraini women enjoy equality and social justice. Headed by Her Royal Highness, Shaikha Sabika Al Khalifa, the wife of His Majesty, the King, the Supreme Council for Women since its establishment in 2001 has exerted great efforts to ensure that full political and constitutional rights are extended to woman.
The Bahraini woman has participated actively in the process of reform and sustainable development. The representation of woman in both chambers of Parliament is 19% and the number of women in the current government is 17% (three female ministers). There are 17 females in senior positions in the judiciary occupying various posts by almost 5%. The presence of the Bahraini woman is also noticeable in the diplomatic corps and international organizations as an ambassador and a member of international committees. The percentage of women in the national workforce is 35% of which 47% is in the public sector. The Kingdom has also adopted a comprehensive Family Law, promulgated by Legislative Decree No (19) of 2009 (Personal Status Law – Part I).
Bahrain has carried out major labour market and employment reforms, under the Labour Law for the Private Sector promulgated by Legislative Decree No. (36) of 2012, the Civil Service Law of 2010, the Trade Union Law promulgated by Legislative Decree No. (33) of 2002, the Labor Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) and Tamkeen Labour Fund in 2006. These reforms have succeeded in reducing unemployment rate from 16% in 2006 to 4% in 2014, one of the lowest international rates. In an unprecedented step in the Arab world, the government of Bahrain has also adopted an unemployment insurance scheme, where the employed is given 360 U.S. dollars monthly, under Decree-Law No. (78) of 2006. The rights of migrant workers are also protected by granting them the freedom to move from one employer to another in August 2009, not to work during the peak hours of heat at noon time on construction sites or to travel in open vehicles. Bahrain also implements Decree-Law number (1) of 2008 against human trafficking, ensures that health and humanitarian standards are met in both its residential and work environments.