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Minister hails Bahrain’s achievements, solid Saudi ties

Minister hails Bahrain’s achievements, solid Saudi ties

Minister of Information Affairs and Chairman of the
Board of Trustees of the Bahrain Institute for Political Development (BIPA), Ali
bin Mohammed Al‑Romaihi, has lauded the depth of the fraternal
deep‑rooted Bahraini‑Saudi relations in all fields and at all levels under the
leadership of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and the Custodian of
the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.

He stressed that the two kingdoms have set a model for GCC, Arab and
Islamic relations, as well as political and economic partnership, given their
bonds of kinship, shared religion, language and culture and common destiny.

In an interview with the “Al‑Majalla” magazine published recently, the minister
stressed the importance of strengthening the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)
media cooperation, exchanging information and expertise and coordinating at
international gathering.

He underscored the pivotal role played by the media, being a partner in
protecting the national security of GCC countries, in preserving GCC cultural
identity, consolidating its successful march towards development and political

and economic complementarity as the best means to achieve the ultimate
goal of the 36‑year old bloc of establishing the Gulf Union which is a
strategic necessity required by the current challenges and developments.

Tackling domestic issues, the Information Minister highlighted the
unprecedented democratic, development and civilisational achievements
attained by the kingdom since the approval of the National Action Charter by
a sweeping majority of 98.4 percent of votes 16 years ago, as part of the
country’s transformation into a constitutional monarchy.

Since then, Bahrain has become a role model for political and democratic
reform and economic freedom, as well as an example to be emulated in
religious and sectarian tolerance, he said.

He highlighted the consolidation of social participation in political and public
affairs through the Council of Representatives and the Shura Council, the
strengthening of the independence of the Judiciary, the establishment of 716
NGOs and 20 political societies, respect for human rights and dignity within a
framework of equality and fairness and promotion of the press and media
freedoms.
The National Action Charter was the first step within the pioneering Reform
Project spearheaded by HM King Hamad towards transforming the kingdom
into a civil and advanced constitutional monarchy, consolidating Bahrain’s
status as a role model for political and democratic reform, religious and
sectarian tolerance, intellectual and cultural pluralism, supporting and
empowering women, promoting the country’s cultural identity and wise foreign
policy.

Referring to Bahrain’s outstanding performance in information and
communication technology (ICT) and economy, the minister said that the
Measuring the Information Society Report for 2016, a global survey issued by
the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), showed that Bahrain had
topped all Arab countries for the 5th consecutive year, and ranked 29th in the
world and on the ICT Development Index (IDI).

The minister also said that Bahrain had ranked first at the Arab level and
18th at the global level, according to the Heritage Foundation Index of
Economic Freedom 2016, and was the fourth at the Arab level and 45th in
the world in the Human Development Index of the report issued by the UN

Development Programme (UNDP) for 2015.

Al‑Romaihi explained that the kingdom had shined in international indices
thanks to its advanced and integrated modern infrastructure.

The minister added that Bahrain has attained unprecedented democratic and
human rights achievements through the separation and of constitutional
branches and their cooperation, the consolidation of social participation in
political and public affairs through the bicameral National Assembly, women’s
ability to exercise their full political rights, the strengthening of the
independence and fairness of the Judiciary in achieving justice and ensuring
the rule of the law, the establishment of the Constitutional Court, the
inauguration of the National Audit Office, guaranteeing the right to establish
NGOs and trade unions in the presence of 617 NGOs, including 20 women
association and 20 political societies.

He highlighted the major strides made by the kingdom in respecting human
rights and dignity in accordance with the Constitution and the National Action
Charter, noting that all political, civil, cultural and social rights, equal
opportunities and equality are guaranteed for the citizens without

discrimination.

He also affirmed that religious freedom and the freedom to practise religious
rituals and hold religious events are guaranteed for the followers of all
religions and beliefs without any restrictions of any kind, in addition to the
existence of houses of worship for all, which, he said, reflects Bahrain’s
commitment to the provisions of more than 24 conventions which it had
ratified, as well as to the voluntary pledges within the UN Human Rights
Council.

Referring to media, Al‑Romaihi asserted that the Bahrain media is flourishing
thanks to freedom and progress achieved during HM the King’s prosperous
era thanks to the expansion of the scope of freedom of expression, the right
to have access to information and disseminate news and ideas within respect
for cultural and intellectual pluralism, national legislation and laws and the
international conventions and covenants ratified by the kingdom, and without
prejudice to national unity, security and the freedom and reputation of others.

Highlighting Bahrain’s leading status in ICT, Al‑Romaihi said tha the Bahraini
media has made quantum leaps, noting that today there are seven daily

newspapers, 15 weekly newspapers and magazines, 38 monthly magazines,
as well as nine websites for newspapers and magazines.

Regarding audio‑visual media, he said that there are 15 radio stations and
five HD TV channels, noting that the new TV facilities have been inaugurated
recently in the presence of His Royal Highness Prime Minister Prince Khalifa
bin Salman Al Khalifa.

He stressed unwavering to develop the Bahraini media professionally,
technically and in terms of legislation in accordance with an ambitious
strategic plan that copes with the progress boom witnessed by the kingdom
in various fields, as well as the latest technological developments.

He also voiced keenness to encourage investment in the media sector in
partnership with the private sector, improve professionalism, promote
responsible media freedoms in accordance with professional and ethical
norms and regulations and enhance partnership with GCC and Arab media
outlets to promote ethical and effective media that disseminate lofty human
values on the bases of impartiality, competitiveness and sustainability, rejects
hate and division calls, and safeguards the Nation’s accomplishments and

cultural and civilisational identity.

Among the ambitious projects, the minister said, are the National
Communication Centre (NCC), established as per a royal decree to unify the
official media discourse and consolidate communication with local and
external media, and the draft Press and Electronic Media Law which was
submitted to the Cabinet.

The Information Affairs Minister stressed has set the example in its robust
resolve to carry on the political reform and economic and social development
through strengthening the prerogatives of the Legislature, as stipulated in the
constitutional amendments of 2012, holding the fourth straight parliamentary
elections in 2014 with the participation of 52.6 of votes from various social
segments, the activation of the role of the National Institution for Human
Rights, the Office of the Ombudsman at the Interior Ministry, the Special
Investigation Unit at the Public Prosecution and the Prisoners and Detainees
Rights Commission (PDRC), among others.

He stressed that Bahrain had succeeded in attaining its milestone
achievements despite the attempts by terrorist organisations to impede the

democratic process through acts of violence and sabotage, attacking public
and private property, misleading youth, disseminating fallacies via suspicious
foreign media outlets and websites with well‑known sectarian tendencies.

Al‑Romaihi emphasised Bahrain’s strong resolve to carry on its national
efforts to eliminate the powers of evil and apply the law on terrorists and
those who incite and fund them in accordance with human rights standards
out of its belief that reinforcing security and stability is essential for optimising
the continuous democratic, development and reform achievements within the
state of law and institutions.

In this regard, he said that the security authorities had dismantled many
espionage and terrorism cells, foiled criminal plots, tracked down inciters, and
arrested many perpetrators whose relations with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard
and the Hizbullah terrorist organisation have been proved by security
investigation and court verdicts.

Responding to a question about the misleading media campaigns targeting
the kingdom, the minister said that those campaigns are driven by sectarian
and political motives and aim to spark sedition, impede the democratic and
development march in the kingdom and distort its achievements.

He said that Bahrain responds to the smear campaigns according to scientific
programmes that go beyond reactions, including providing the public opinion
with information and facts through media outlets and social media networks,
monitoring what is published about Bahrain using cutting‑edge technology,
debunking false information and harmful or biased reports through providing
evidence and press releases containing facts, and taking legal and official
measures against channels that fuel sedition and spread rumours and
fallacies.

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