Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
History of Bahrain

History of Bahrain

Discussion
Ask a question about 'History of Bahrain'
Start a new discussion about 'History of Bahrain'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
Bahrain is a island country in the Persian Gulf
Persian Gulf
The Persian Gulf, in Southwest Asia, is an extension of the Indian Ocean located between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula.The Persian Gulf was the focus of the 1980–1988 Iran-Iraq War, in which each side attacked the other's oil tankers...

. Although Bahrain
Bahrain
' , officially the Kingdom of Bahrain , is a small island state near the western shores of the Persian Gulf. It is ruled by the Al Khalifa royal family. The population in 2010 stood at 1,214,705, including 235,108 non-nationals. Formerly an emirate, Bahrain was declared a kingdom in 2002.Bahrain is...

 became an independent country in 1971, the history of these islands starts from ancient times. Bahrain's strategic location in the Persian Gulf has brought rule and influence from the Sumerians, Assyrians
Assyrian people
The Assyrian people are a distinct ethnic group whose origins lie in ancient Mesopotamia...

, Babylonia
Babylonia
Babylonia was an ancient cultural region in central-southern Mesopotamia , with Babylon as its capital. Babylonia emerged as a major power when Hammurabi Babylonia was an ancient cultural region in central-southern Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq), with Babylon as its capital. Babylonia emerged as...

ns, Persians
Persian people
The Persian people are part of the Iranian peoples who speak the modern Persian language and closely akin Iranian dialects and languages. The origin of the ethnic Iranian/Persian peoples are traced to the Ancient Iranian peoples, who were part of the ancient Indo-Iranians and themselves part of...

, Portuguese
Portuguese people
The Portuguese are a nation and ethnic group native to the country of Portugal, in the west of the Iberian peninsula of south-west Europe. Their language is Portuguese, and Roman Catholicism is the predominant religion....

, the Arab
Arab
Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

s, and the British
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

.

Ancient history


Bahrain has been proposed as the possible site of Dilmun
Dilmun
Dilmun or Telmun is a land mentioned by Mesopotamian civilizations as a trade partner, a source of the metal copper, and an entrepôt of the Mesopotamia-to-Indus Valley Civilization trade route...

, a land mentioned by Ancient Iraqi civilizations
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

 as a trade partner, source of raw material, copper, and entrepot
Entrepôt
An entrepôt is a trading post where merchandise can be imported and exported without paying import duties, often at a profit. This profit is possible because of trade conditions, for example, the reluctance of ships to travel the entire length of a long trading route, and selling to the entrepôt...

 of the Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

 and the Indus Valley Civilization
Indus Valley Civilization
The Indus Valley Civilization was a Bronze Age civilization that was located in the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent, consisting of what is now mainly modern-day Pakistan and northwest India...

 trade route. However, the exact location of Dilmun is unclear, it might be associated with the islands of Bahrain, Eastern Province, Qatar
Qatar
Qatar , also known as the State of Qatar or locally Dawlat Qaṭar, is a sovereign Arab state, located in the Middle East, occupying the small Qatar Peninsula on the northeasterly coast of the much larger Arabian Peninsula. Its sole land border is with Saudi Arabia to the south, with the rest of its...

 and nearby Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

ian coast in the Persian Gulf. One of the early settlements discovered in Bahrain suggests that Sennacherib, king of Assyria (707-681 BC) attacked northeast Arabia and captured the Bahrain islands.

From the 6th century BC to the 3rd century BC Bahrain was included in the Persian Empire by the Achaemenids
Achaemenid Empire
The Achaemenid Empire , sometimes known as First Persian Empire and/or Persian Empire, was founded in the 6th century BCE by Cyrus the Great who overthrew the Median confederation...

, an Iranian dynasty
Iranian peoples
The Iranian peoples are an Indo-European ethnic-linguistic group, consisting of the speakers of Iranian languages, a major branch of the Indo-European language family, as such forming a branch of Indo-European-speaking peoples...

. Bahrain was referred to by the Greeks as "Tylos
Tylos
Bahrain was referred to by the Greeks as Tylos, the centre of pearl trading, when Nearchus came to discover it serving under Alexander the Great. From the 6th to 3rd century BC Bahrain was included in Persian Empire by Achaemenians, an Iranian dynasty...

", the centre of pearl trading, when Nearchus
Nearchus
Nearchus was one of the officers, a navarch, in the army of Alexander the Great. His celebrated voyage from India to Susa after Alexander's expedition in India is preserved in Arrian's account, the Indica....

 discovered it while serving under Alexander the Great. From the 3rd century BC to the arrival of Islam in the 7th century AD, Bahrain was controlled by two other Iranian dynasties, the Parthians and the Sassanids. By about 130 BC, the Parthian dynasty brought the Persian Gulf under their control and extended their influence as far as Oman. Because they needed to control the Persian Gulf trade route, the Parthians established garrisons along the southern coast of the Persian Gulf.

In the 3rd century AD, the Sassanids succeeded the Parthians and held the area until the arrival of Islam four centuries later. Ardashir, the first ruler of the Iranian Sassanid dynasty marched to Oman and Bahrain and defeated Sanatruq (or Satiran), probably the Parthian governor of Bahrain. He appointed his son Shapur I
Shapur I
Shapur I or also known as Shapur I the Great was the second Sassanid King of the Second Persian Empire. The dates of his reign are commonly given as 240/42 - 270/72, but it is likely that he also reigned as co-regent prior to his father's death in 242 .-Early years:Shapur was the son of Ardashir I...

 as governor of Bahrain. Shapur constructed a new city there and named it Batan Ardashir after his father. At this time, Bahrain incorporated the southern Sassanid province covering the Persian Gulf's southern shore plus the archipelago of Bahrain. The southern province of the Sassanids was subdivided into three districts; Haggar (now al-Hafuf province, Saudi Arabia), Batan Ardashir (now al-Qatif province, Saudi Arabia), and Mishmahig (now Bahrain Island) (In Middle-Persian/Pahlavi it means "ewe-fish").

Islam


From the time when Islam emerged in the 7th century until the early 16th century, the name Bahrain referred to the wider historical region of Bahrain
Bahrain (historical region)
Bahrain is a historical region in eastern Arabia that was known as the Province of Bahrain until the 16th Century. It stretched from the south of Basra along the Persian Gulf coast and included the regions of Kuwait, Al-Hasa, Qatif, Qatar, and the Awal Islands, now known as Bahrain. The name...

 stretching from Basrah to the Strait of Hormuz
Strait of Hormuz
The Strait of Hormuz is a narrow, strategically important waterway between the Gulf of Oman in the southeast and the Persian Gulf. On the north coast is Iran and on the south coast is the United Arab Emirates and Musandam, an exclave of Oman....

 along the Persian Gulf coast. This was Iqlīm al-Baḥrayn, i.e. the Province of Bahrain, and the Arab inhabitants of the province were descendants of the Arab tribe Bani Abd al-Qais.

Bahrainis were amongst the first to embrace Islam. The Prophet Mohammed(Peace and Blessings upon Him) ruled Bahrain through one of his representatives, Al-Ala'a Al-Hadhrami. Bahrain embraced Islam in 629 (the seventh year of hijra). During the time of Umar I the famous companion of the Prophet(Peace and Blessings upon Him), Abu Hurayrah ,was the governor of Bahrain. Umar I also appointed Uthman bin Abi Al Aas as governor of the area. Al Khamis Mosque, founded in 692, was one of the earliest mosque
Mosque
A mosque is a place of worship for followers of Islam. The word is likely to have entered the English language through French , from Portuguese , from Spanish , and from Berber , ultimately originating in — . The Arabic word masjid literally means a place of prostration...

s built in Bahrain, in the era of Umayyad
Umayyad
The Umayyad Caliphate was the second of the four major Arab caliphates established after the death of Muhammad. It was ruled by the Umayyad dynasty, whose name derives from Umayya ibn Abd Shams, the great-grandfather of the first Umayyad caliph. Although the Umayyad family originally came from the...

 caliph Umar II
Umar II
Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz was an Umayyad caliph who ruled from 717 to 720. He was also a cousin of the former caliph, being the son of Abd al-Malik's younger brother, Abd al-Aziz. He was also a great-grandson of the companion of the Prophet Muhammad, Umar bin Al-Khattab.-Lineage:Umar was born around...

.

The expansion of Islam did not affect Bahrain's reliance on trade, and its prosperity continued to be dependent on markets in Mesopotamia. After Baghdad
Baghdad
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq, as well as the coterminous Baghdad Governorate. The population of Baghdad in 2011 is approximately 7,216,040...

 emerged as the seat of the caliph
Caliph
The Caliph is the head of state in a Caliphate, and the title for the ruler of the Islamic Ummah, an Islamic community ruled by the Shari'ah. It is a transcribed version of the Arabic word   which means "successor" or "representative"...

 in 750 and the main centre of Islamic civilization, Bahrain greatly benefited from the city's increased demand for foreign goods especially from China and South Asia.

Bahrain became a principal centre of knowledge for hundreds of years stretching from the early days of Islam in the 6th century to the 18th century. Philosophers of Bahrain were highly esteemed, such as the 13th century mystic, Sheikh Maitham Al Bahrani
Maitham Al Bahrani
Sheikh Maytham bin Ali Al Bahrani was a leading 13th Century Twelver Shi'a Islamic theologian who lived in Bahrain. Al Bahrani wrote on Twelver doctrine, affirmed free will, the infallibility of prophets and imams, the appointed imamate of `Ali, and the occultation of the Twelfth Imam...

 (died in 1299). (The mosque of Sheikh Maitham and his tomb can be visited in the outskirts of the capital, Manama
Manama
Manama is the capital and largest city of Bahrain, with an approximate population of 155,000 people.Long an important trading center in the Persian Gulf, Manama is home to a very diverse population...

, near the district of Mahooz
Mahooz
Mahooz is a neighborhood of Manama, Bahrain. The grave and shrine of the 13th century Shi'ite theologian Maitham Al Bahrani is located in Mahooz....

.).

The Qarmatian Republic



In the end of the 3rd Hijri
Islamic calendar
The Hijri calendar , also known as the Muslim calendar or Islamic calendar , is a lunar calendar consisting of 12 lunar months in a year of 354 or 355 days. It is used to date events in many Muslim countries , and used by Muslims everywhere to determine the proper day on which to celebrate Islamic...

 century, Abu Sa'id al-Hasan al-Janaby led the Revolution of al-Qaramita, a rebellion by a messianic
Messiah
A messiah is a redeemer figure expected or foretold in one form or another by a religion. Slightly more widely, a messiah is any redeemer figure. Messianic beliefs or theories generally relate to eschatological improvement of the state of humanity or the world, in other words the World to...

 Ismaili
Ismaili
' is a branch of Shia Islam. It is the second largest branch of Shia Islam, after the Twelvers...

 sect originating in Kufa
Kufa
Kufa is a city in Iraq, about south of Baghdad, and northeast of Najaf. It is located on the banks of the Euphrates River. The estimated population in 2003 was 110,000....

 in present day Iraq. Al-Janaby took over the city of Hajr, Bahrain's capital at that time, and al-Hasa
Al-Hasa
Al-Ahsa is the largest governorate in Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province, named after Al-Ahsa oasis. The name Al-Ahsa is also given to the biggest city in the region, Hofuf. In classic Arabic, Ahsa means the sound of water underground. It has one of the largest oases in the world with Date Palms of...

, which he made the capital of his republic. Once in control of the state he sought to create a utopian society.

The Qarmatians' goal was to build a society based on reason and equality. The state was governed by a council of six with a chief who was a first among equals. All property within the community was distributed evenly among all initiates. The Qarmatians were organized as an esoteric society but not as a secret one; their activities were public and openly propagated, but new members had to undergo an initiation ceremony involving seven stages. The Qarmatian world view was one where every phenomenon repeated itself in cycles, where every incident was replayed over and over again.

Even before taking over Bahrain, the Qarmatians had instigated what some scholars have termed a ‘century of terrorism’ in Kufa. From Bahrain they launched raids along the pilgrim routes crossing Arabia: in 906 they ambushed the pilgrim caravan returning from Mecca and massacred 20,000 pilgrims. Under Abu Tahir Al-Jannabi
Abu Tahir Al-Jannabi
Abū-Tāhir Sulaymān Al-Jannābī was the ruler of the Qarmatian state in Bahrain and Eastern Arabia, who in 930 led the sacking of Mecca.The son of ‘Abu Sa’id al-Jannabi, the founder of the Qarmatian state, Abu Tahir became leader of the state in 923...

 they came close to capturing Baghdad in 923 and sacked Mecca in 930. In the assault on Islam's holiest sites, the Qarmatians desecrated the Well of Zamzam
Zamzam Well
The Well of Zamzam is a well located within the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, east of the Kaaba, the holiest place in Islam...

 with corpses of Hajj pilgrims, and took the Black Stone
Black Stone
The Black Stone is the eastern cornerstone of the Kaaba, the ancient stone building towards which Muslims pray, in the center of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It is revered by Muslims as an Islamic relic, which according to Muslim tradition dates back to the time of Adam and Eve.The...

 from Mecca to Bahrain. The sack of Mecca followed millenarian
Millenarianism
Millenarianism is the belief by a religious, social, or political group or movement in a coming major transformation of society, after which all things will be changed, based on a one-thousand-year cycle. The term is more generically used to refer to any belief centered around 1000 year intervals...

 excitement among the Qarmatians (and in Persia) over the conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter in 928. Bahrain became the seat of the Qarmatian Mahdi-Caliph from Isfahan who abolished Sharīa
Sharia
Sharia law, is the moral code and religious law of Islam. Sharia is derived from two primary sources of Islamic law: the precepts set forth in the Quran, and the example set by the Islamic prophet Muhammad in the Sunnah. Fiqh jurisprudence interprets and extends the application of sharia to...

 law. The new Mahdi also changed the qibla
Qibla
The Qiblah , also transliterated as Qibla, Kiblah or Kibla, is the direction that should be faced when a Muslim prays during salah...

 of prayer from Mecca to that of fire, a specifically Zoroastrian
Zoroastrianism
Zoroastrianism is a religion and philosophy based on the teachings of prophet Zoroaster and was formerly among the world's largest religions. It was probably founded some time before the 6th century BCE in Greater Iran.In Zoroastrianism, the Creator Ahura Mazda is all good, and no evil...

 practice. Some scholars take the view that "they may not have been Isamailis at all at the outset, and their conduct and customs gave plausibility to the belief that they were not merely heretics but bitter enemies of Islam."

For much of the 10th century the Qarmatians were the most powerful force in the Persian Gulf and Middle East, controlling the coast of Oman, and collecting tribute from the Abbasid
Abbasid
The Abbasid Caliphate or, more simply, the Abbasids , was the third of the Islamic caliphates. It was ruled by the Abbasid dynasty of caliphs, who built their capital in Baghdad after overthrowing the Umayyad caliphate from all but the al-Andalus region....

 caliph in Baghdad and from the rival Ismaili Fatimid
Fatimid
The Fatimid Islamic Caliphate or al-Fāṭimiyyūn was a Berber Shia Muslim caliphate first centered in Tunisia and later in Egypt that ruled over varying areas of the Maghreb, Sudan, Sicily, the Levant, and Hijaz from 5 January 909 to 1171.The caliphate was ruled by the Fatimids, who established the...

 caliph in Cairo, whom they did not recognize. The land they ruled over was extremely wealthy with a huge slave-based economy according to academic Yitzhak Nakash:
The Qarmatians were defeated in battle in 976 by the Abbasids, which encouraged them to look inward to build their utilitarian society. Around 1058, a revolt on the island of Bahrain led by two Shi'a members of the Abd al-Qays tribe, Abul-Bahlul al-‘Awwam
Abu al-Bahlul al-Awwam
Abu al-Bahlul al-Awwam was a Shia member of the Abd al-Qays tribe in Bahrain who overthrew Qarmatian rule in the islands around 1058.Along with his brother, Abu’l-Walid Muslim, he had called for the khutba in Bahrain to be read in the name of the Abbasid caliph al-Qaim, a common way of expressing...

 and Abu’l-Walid Muslim, precipitated the waning of Qarmatian power and eventually the ascendancy to power of the Uyunids, an Arab dynasty belonging to the Abdul Qays tribe.

Uyunid, Usfurid, and Jabrid dynasties


The Uyunids ruled from 1076 to 1235, when the islands were briefly occupied by the Turkic Salgharid Atabeg of Fars. Supported by the Seljuk rulers of Iraq, the Uyunids relied on the power of the Banu 'Amir
Banu 'Amir
Banu 'Amir ibn Sa'sa'ah or Banu 'Amir were a large and ancient Arab tribal confederation originating from central and southwestern Arabia that dominated Nejd for centuries after the rise of Islam. The tribe is of North Arabian stock, tracing its lineage to Adnan through Hawazin, and its original...

 tribes such as the Banu Uqayl
Banu Uqayl
Banu Uqayl are an ancient Arab tribe that played an important role in the history of eastern Arabia and Iraq. They belonged to the Banu Ka'b branch of the large Banu 'Amir confederation....

.


In 1253, the Bahrani dynasty of the Usfurids
Usfurids
The Usfurids were an Arab dynasty that in 1253 gained control of eastern Arabia, including the islands of Bahrain, They were a branch of the Banu Uqayl tribe of the Banu Amir group, and are named after the dynasty’s founder, Usfur ibn Rashid. They were initially allies of the Qarmatians and their...

 of Banu Uqayl — named after its founder, Usfur ibn Rashid — gained control over eastern Arabia, including the islands of Bahrain. The late Middle Ages were a time of chronic instability with local disputes allowing various Persian-based Arab Kingdoms based in Qais, Qishm and Hormuz to involve themselves in Bahrain's affairs. In 1330, the islands became tributary to the rulers of Hormuz
Hormuz Island
Hormuz Island , also spelled Hormoz, is an Iranian island in the Persian Gulf. It is located in the Strait of Hormuz and is part of the Hormozgān Province.-Geography:...

.

According to historian Juan Cole
Juan Cole
John Ricardo I. "Juan" Cole is an American scholar, public intellectual, and historian of the modern Middle East and South Asia. He is Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. As a commentator on Middle Eastern affairs, he has appeared in print and on...

 it was under Sunni rule that Twelver Shiaism became established in Bahrain, as Shia Bahrainis gradually moved away from the radical, egalitarian Ismaili Qarmatian sect to the more quietist Twelver or Imami branch, a process which the Sunni rulers encouraged. But even in the 14th century, the North African traveller Ibn Battuta
Ibn Battuta
Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Battuta , or simply Ibn Battuta, also known as Shams ad–Din , was a Muslim Moroccan Berber explorer, known for his extensive travels published in the Rihla...

 visiting Qatif around 1331, found it inhabited by Arabs whom he described as "extremist Shi`is" (rafidiyya ghulat
Ghulat
Ghulāt , is a term used in the theology of Shia Islam to describe some minority Muslim groups who either ascribe divine characteristics to a member of Muhammad's family , or hold beliefs deemed deviant by mainstream Shi'i theology...

), which Cole presumes is how a 14th century Sunni would describe Ismailis. Ibn Battuta also noted the great wealth of the area thanks to the pearling industry.

Until the late Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

, "Bahrain" referred to the larger historical region of Bahrain
Bahrain (historical region)
Bahrain is a historical region in eastern Arabia that was known as the Province of Bahrain until the 16th Century. It stretched from the south of Basra along the Persian Gulf coast and included the regions of Kuwait, Al-Hasa, Qatif, Qatar, and the Awal Islands, now known as Bahrain. The name...

. Ibn Battuta's 14th century account contains an early use of the term "Bahrain" to refer solely to the Awal islands. However, the exact date at which the term "Bahrain" began to refer solely to the Awal archipelago is unknown.

In the mid-15th century, another branch of the Banu Uqayl, led by Zamil ibn Jabir, wrested control of Bahrain, founding the dynasty of the Bedouin Jabrids
Jabrids
The Jabrids were a bedouin dynasty that dominated eastern Arabia in the 15th and 16th centuries. They were descendants of the tribe of Uqayl, a branch of Bani 'Amir.Their most prominent ruler was Ajwad ibn Zamil, who died in 1507...

. Based in al-Ahsa, the Jarbids ruled most of eastern Arabia and followed the Sunni Maliki
Maliki
The ' madhhab is one of the schools of Fiqh or religious law within Sunni Islam. It is the second-largest of the four schools, followed by approximately 25% of Muslims, mostly in North Africa, West Africa, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and in some parts of Saudi Arabia...

 rite, which they actively promoted within their domain.

Portuguese domination


Portuguese expansion
Portuguese Empire
The Portuguese Empire , also known as the Portuguese Overseas Empire or the Portuguese Colonial Empire , was the first global empire in history...

 into the Indian Ocean in the early 16th century followed Vasco da Gama
Vasco da Gama
Vasco da Gama, 1st Count of Vidigueira was a Portuguese explorer, one of the most successful in the Age of Discovery and the commander of the first ships to sail directly from Europe to India...

's voyages of exploration in which the Portuguese battled the Ottomans up the coast of the Persian Gulf. Reputedly, the first Portuguese traveller to visit Bahrain was Duarte Barbosa
Duarte Barbosa
Duarte Barbosa was a Portuguese writer and Portuguese India officer between 1500 and 1516–17, with the post of scrivener in Cannanore factory and sometimes interpreter of the local language...

 in 1485.

The Arabian navigator, Ahmad Bin Majid
Ahmad Bin Majid
Ahmad ibn Mājid , was an Arab navigator and cartographer born in 1421 in Julphar, which is now known as Ras Al Khaimah. This city makes up one of the seven emirates of the United Arab Emirates, but at that time it was classified as the coast of Oman. He was raised with a family famous for...

, visited Bahrain in 1489 and gave a contemporary account of the country that the first Portuguese would have seen: "In Awal (Bahrain) there are 360 villages and sweet water can be found in a number of places. A most wonderful al-Qasasir, where a man can dive into the salt sea with a skin and can fill it with fresh water while he is submerged in the salt water. Around Bahrain are pearl fisheries and a number of islands all of which have pearl fisheries and connected with this trade are 1,000 ships".

In 1521, a Portuguese force led by commander António Correia
António Correia
António Correia was a Portuguese commander who in 1521 conquered Bahrain, beginning eighty years of Portuguese rule in the Persian Gulf state.Correia was the son of merchant and explorer Aires Correia, who had gained notoriety during the Portuguese bombardment of Calicut a generation earlier...

 invaded Bahrain to take control of the wealth created by its pearl industry. The defeated King Muqrin was beheaded after Correia defeated his forces near present day Karbabad and took control of the fort "Qala'at Al-Bahrain". The bleeding head of King Muqrin was later depicted on the Coat of Arms of António Correia.

The Portuguese ruled through force against the inhabitants for eighty years, until they were driven out of the island in 1602, when an uprising was sparked by the governor's order of the execution of the island's richest traders. The uprising coincided with regional disputes between the Portuguese and rival European powers. The power vacuum that resulted was almost immediately filled by the Persian ruler, Shah Abbas I, who invaded the island and subsumed it within the Safavid Empire.

Safavid hegemony and the Beglarbegi of Kuhgilu


Under Persian Safavid rule (1602–1717), Bahrain fell under the administrative jurisdiction of the Beglarbegi of Kuhgilu centered at Behbahan
Behbahan
Behbahan is a city in and the capital of Behbahan County, Khuzestan Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 99,204, in 24,204 families....

 in southern Iran. In fact, the Safavids ruled Bahrain from a distance, seeking to control the islands not by force, but through ideology and the manipulation of local rivalries. Safavid rule was a period of intellectual flowering among the Shia theological elite
Ulema
Ulama , also spelt ulema, refers to the educated class of Muslim legal scholars engaged in the several fields of Islamic studies. They are best known as the arbiters of shari‘a law...

, with Bahrain's seminaries producing such theorists as Sheikh Yusuf Al Bahrani
Yusuf Al Bahrani
Yusuf ibn Ahmed al-Bahrani was a Bahraini theologian and a key figure in the intellectual development of Twelver Shia Islam.Al-Bahrani grew up in Safavid-ruled Bahrain, at a time of intellectual ferment between Akhbari and Usuli Shi'ah Islam. His family were Usuli clerics who also worked as pearl...

. The Safavid's used the clergy to buttress their rule, hoping that by firmly implanting Imami Shiaism they could secure the islands of Bahrain, with their centrality to trade routes and pearl wealth.

However, the Safavids' strategy was in many ways too successful: the power and influence of the religious class meant that they had a great deal of autonomy, and it was the subsequent tension between Safavid state and the clergy that drove Bahrain's theological vitality. Part of this flourishing was borne of the Bahraini clerics' adherence to conservative Akhbari
Akhbari
The Akhbārīs are Twelver Shī‘a Muslims who reject the use of reasoning in deriving verdicts, and believe only the Qur'an, aḥadīth, and consensus should be used as sources to derive verdicts . The term Akhbārī is used in contrast to Usūlī...

 Shiaism, while the Safavids encouraged the more state-centric, Usulism. Attempts by the Persians to reign in the Bahraini ulema were often counterproductive, and ended up strengthening the clerics against their local land-owning Bahraini rivals who challenged the clerics' control over the lucrative pearl trade. Cleric-landowner conflict was usually contained within very limited parameters given that the senior ulema were usually the sons of the land-owning class.

Omani invasion and subsequent instability


An Afghan invasion of Iran at the beginning of the 18th century resulted in the near collapse of the Safavid state. In the resultant power vacuum, Oman invade Bahrain in 1717
1717 Omani invasion of Bahrain
In 1717 the Sultanate of Oman invaded Bahrain bringing an end to a 115 year rulership by the eroding Safavid dynasty. Following the Afghan invasion of Iran at the beginning of the eighteenth century which weakened the stronghold of the Safavids, the Omani forces were able to undermine Bahrain and...

, ending over a hundred years of Persian hegemony. The Omani invasion began a period of political instability and a quick succession of outside rulers took power with consequent destruction. According to a contemporary account by theologian, Sheikh Yusuf Al Bahrani, in an unsuccessful attempt by the Persians and their Bedouin allies to take back Bahrain from the Kharijite Omanis, much of the country was burnt to the ground. Bahrain was eventually sold back to the Persians by the Omanis, but the weakness of the Safavid empire saw Huwala
Huwala
The Huwala meaning "Those that have changed or moved". Originally the "Huwala" word is Arabic, but since Persian does not contain the pharyngeal fricative "ح" present in Arabic, it pronounced it Huwala...

 tribes seize control.

In 1730, the new Shah of Persia, Nadir Shah, sought to re-assert Persian sovereignty in Bahrain, bring the island back under central rule and to challenge Oman in the Persian Gulf. He sought help from the British and Dutch, and he eventually recaptured Bahrain in 1736. In 1753, Bahrain was occupied by the Arabs of Abu Shahr of the Bushire-based Al Madhkur family, who ruled Bahrain in the name of Persia and paid allegiance to Karim Khan Zand.

The years of almost constant warfare and instability in the period led to a demographic collapse - German geographer Carsten Niebuhr
Carsten Niebuhr
Carsten Niebuhr or Karsten Niebuhr , a German mathematician, cartographer, and explorer in the service of Denmark, is renowned for his travels on the Arabian peninsula.-Biography:...

 found in 1763 that Bahrain's 360 towns and villages had, through warfare and economic distress, been reduced to only 60. The influence of Iran was further undermined at the end of the 18th century when the ideological power struggle between the Akhbari-Usuli strands culminated in victory for the Akhbaris in Bahrain.

Al Khalifa and British Protectorate


In 1782, war broke out between the Zubarah-based Bani Utbah
Bani Utbah
The Bani Utbah is a tribe, or tribal federation of Alrab lans that originated from the region of Najd in central Arabia. The tribe is thought to have been formed when a group of disparate clans migrated from Najd to the Persian Gulf coast sometime in the late seventeenth century.Utub is the...

 tribe and the army of Nasr Al-Madhkur
Nasr Al-Madhkur
Sheikh Nasr Al-Madhkur was the 18th century local governor of what was described by a contemporary account as an "independent state" in Bushire and Bahrain. The account by German geographer Carsten Niebuhr who visited the region at the time describes Sheikh Nasr as "the sole Monarch of the isle of...

, Ruler of Bahrain and Bushire. The prosperity of Zubarah
Zubarah
Zubarah is a ruined and deserted town located in the northwestern coast of the Qatar peninsula about 105 km from the Qatari capital of Doha, part of Madinat ash Shamal municipality...

, which is in modern Qatar, had brought it to the attention of the two main powers at the time, Persia and Oman, which were presumably sympathetic to Sheikh Nasr's ambitions. At the same time, Bahrain offered great potential wealth because of the extensive pearls found in its waters.


In 1783, after defeat in the battle of Zubarah
Zubarah
Zubarah is a ruined and deserted town located in the northwestern coast of the Qatar peninsula about 105 km from the Qatari capital of Doha, part of Madinat ash Shamal municipality...

, Nasr Al-Madhkur
Nasr Al-Madhkur
Sheikh Nasr Al-Madhkur was the 18th century local governor of what was described by a contemporary account as an "independent state" in Bushire and Bahrain. The account by German geographer Carsten Niebuhr who visited the region at the time describes Sheikh Nasr as "the sole Monarch of the isle of...

 lost the islands of Bahrain to the Bani Utbah
Bani Utbah
The Bani Utbah is a tribe, or tribal federation of Alrab lans that originated from the region of Najd in central Arabia. The tribe is thought to have been formed when a group of disparate clans migrated from Najd to the Persian Gulf coast sometime in the late seventeenth century.Utub is the...

 tribe. Fourteen years later in 1797 the Al Khalifa
Al Khalifa
The Al Khalifa family is the ruling family of Bahrain. The Al Khalifa profess Sunni Islam and belong to the Anizah tribe that migrated from Najd to Kuwait in the early 18th century. They are also from the Utub tribe...

 family, a clan
Clan
A clan is a group of people united by actual or perceived kinship and descent. Even if lineage details are unknown, clan members may be organized around a founding member or apical ancestor. The kinship-based bonds may be symbolical, whereby the clan shares a "stipulated" common ancestor that is a...

 of the tribe, moved from Zubarah to Bahrain, where they initially settled in Jaw
Jaw
The jaw is any opposable articulated structure at the entrance of the mouth, typically used for grasping and manipulating food. The term jaws is also broadly applied to the whole of the structures constituting the vault of the mouth and serving to open and close it and is part of the body plan of...

 and later moved to Riffa. The first ruler of the Al Khalifa was Shaikh Ahmed Al-Fateh.



In the early 19th century, Bahrain was invaded by the Omanis and by the Al Sauds. In 1802 it was governed by a twelve-year-old child, when the Omani ruler Sayyid Sultan installed his son, Salim, as Governor in the Arad Fort
Arad Fort
Arad Fort is a 15th century fort in Arad, Bahrain. Arad Fort was built in the typical style of Islamic forts during the 15th century A.D. before the Portuguese invasion of Bahrain in 1622 A.D. This fort is one of the compact defensive forts in Bahrain. In its present location, it overlooks various...

.

Treaties with Britain


In 1820 Al Khalifa power in Bahrain was buttressed when it entered into a treaty relationship with Britain, which was by then the dominant military power in the Persian Gulf. This treaty granted the Al Khalifa the title of Rulers of Bahrain. It was the first of several treaties including the 1861 Perpetual Truce of Peace and Friendship
Perpetual Truce of Peace and Friendship
The Perpetual Truce of Peace and Friendship was a treaty that went into effect in 1861 between the United Kingdom and Bahrain. According to its terms, the United Kingdom would provide protection from naval assault and assistance for land assaults in return for pledges from Bahrain to only dispose...

, which was further revised in 1892 and 1951.

In the 19th century, the Al-Khalifas controlled the main archipelago of Bahrain, the Hawar Islands and the section of the Qatar peninsula around Zubarah called the Zubarah Bloc. Between 1869 and 1872 Midhat Pasha brought the islands nominally under the authority of the Ottoman Empire in coordination with the British. Ottoman ships starting appearing in the area as well.

This treaty was similar to those entered into by the British Government with the other Persian Gulf principalities. It specified that the ruler could not dispose of any of his territory except to the United Kingdom and could not enter into relationships with any foreign government without British consent. In return the British promised to protect Bahrain from all aggression by sea and to lend support in case of land attack. More importantly, the British promised to support the rule of the Al Khalifa in Bahrain, securing its unstable position as rulers of the country. According to School of Oriental and African Studies
School of Oriental and African Studies
The School of Oriental and African Studies is a public research university located in London, United Kingdom and a constituent college of the University of London...

 academic, Nelida Fuccaro, this treaty relationship with Britain was one aspect of an evolving polity:

Economic and social development


Peace and trade brought a new prosperity. Bahrain was no longer dependent upon pearling, and by the mid-19th century, it became the pre-eminent trading centre in the Persian Gulf, overtaking rivals Basra, Kuwait, and finally in the 1870s, Muscat. At the same time, Bahrain's socio-economic development began to diverge from the rest of the Persian Gulf: it transformed itself from a tribal trading centre in to a modern state. This process was spurred by the attraction of large numbers of Persian, Huwala, and Indian merchant families who set up businesses on the island, making it the nexus of a vast web of trade routes across the Persian Gulf, Persia and the Indian sub-continent. A contemporary account of Manama
Manama
Manama is the capital and largest city of Bahrain, with an approximate population of 155,000 people.Long an important trading center in the Persian Gulf, Manama is home to a very diverse population...

 in 1862 found:
Palgrave's description of Manama's coffee houses in the mid-19th century portrays them as cosmopolitan venues in contrast to what he describes as the ‘closely knit and bigoted universe of central Arabia’. Palgrave describes a people with an open – even urbane – outlook: "Of religious controversy I have never heard one word. In short, instead of Zelators and fanatics, camel-drivers and Bedouins, we have at Bahrain [Manama] something like ‘men of the world, who know the world like men’ a great relief to the mind; certainly it was so to mine."

The great trading families that emerged during this period have been compared to the Borgias and Medicis and their great wealth - long before the oil wealth for which the region would later be renowned - gave them extensive power, and among the most prominent were the Persian Al Safar family, who held the position of Native Agents of Britain in 19th Century. The Al Safar enjoyed an 'exceptionally close' relationship with the Al Khalifa clan from 1869, although the al-Khalifa never intermarried with them - it has been speculated that this could be related to political reasons (to limit the Safars’ influence with the ruling family) and possibly for religious reasons (because the Safars were Shia).

As a result of Bahrain's trade with India, the cultural influence of the subcontinent grew dramatically, with styles of dress, cuisine, and education showing a marked Indian influence. According to Exeter University's James Onley "In these and countless other ways, eastern Arabia's ports and people were as much a part of the Indian Ocean world as they were a part of the Arab world."

Bahrain underwent a period of major social reform between 1926 and 1957, under the de facto rule of Charles Belgrave
Charles Belgrave
Charles Dalrymple Belgrave was a British citizen and adviser to the rulers of Bahrain from 1926 until 1957. He first served under Shaikh Hamad ibn Isa Al Khalifa , and subsequently under Shaikh Salman ibn Hamad Al-Khalifa ....

, the British advisor to Shaikh Hamad ibn Isa Al-Khalifa (1872-1942). The country's first modern school was established in 1919, with the opening of the Al-Hiddaya Boys School, while the Persian Gulf's first girls school opened in 1928. The American Mission Hospital, established by the Dutch Reform Church, began work in 1903. Other reforms include the abolition of slavery
Slavery
Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...

, while the pearl diving industry developed at a rapid pace.

These reforms were often opposed vigorously by powerful groups within Bahrain including sections within the ruling family, tribal forces, the religious authorities and merchants. In order to counter conservatives, the British removed the Emir, Isa bin Ali Al Khalifa, replacing him with his son in 1923. Some Sunni tribes such as the al Dosari
Dawasir
The Al Dawasir is an Arabian bedouin tribe divided into clans and families. The word Dawasir is plural for Dosari...

 left Bahrain to mainland Arabia, while clerical opponents of social reforms were exiled to Saudi and Iran, and the heads of some merchant and notable families were likewise exiled. Britain's interest in pushing Bahrain's development was motivated by concerns about Saudi-Wahabbi and Iranian ambitions.

The Dawsari Tribe in Bahrain


The Dosari tribe which originate from Wadi Al-Dawasir ( Valley of Dawasir (plural for Dosari)) in Saudi Arabia came to Bahrain in the second quarter of the 1800’s looking for new areas of food and business. They arrived to Bahrain using wooden wind boats from Al-Qatif and Al-Oqair Ports in the eastern province of Saudi Arabia and settled in both the western north side and western south side of Bahrain, they named the area of the northern side “Bodaya” on the name of a city in Wadi Al-Dawasir and the southern city was named “Al-Zalaq”. Al-Dawasir tribe knew farming and cattle skills very well since Wadi Al-Dawasir is famous for date trees and cattle. Upon their arrival was the time of true ruling of Al-Khalifa of the island of Bahrain. Due that farming is labor intensive Al-Dawasir recruited labor form Al-Qatif, Taroot and Al-Hasa which are areas famous for Shi’ite farmers in Saudi Arabia, and settled them in areas near to the farms in Bodaya. These areas were named by the Shi’ite labor after the same cities they came from like Dra, Snabis, Samaheej, Al-Deer and Al-Jish. This is one of the reasons Shi’ite exist in the island of Bahrain today. The other reason why Shi’ite exists in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain is because of the Ottoman Empire recruitment of Shi’ite farmers form the Basra District in Iraq to run the farms already existing in Al-Qatif, Al-Hasa and Al-Madina Al-Monawarah. This was an important and strategic move by the Ottoman Empire to shorten the route of supplies for their army in Arabia from Al-Basra to the local areas. Further, in the mid 1950s a lot of revolutions swept the Arabian nations including Bahrain, which was a Sunni driven revolution, which made the Bahraini government make a lot of arrests and deportation to the heads of the revolution. The British advisor also suggested to the Bahraini government to import Arab Shi’ite to make the balance with the Sunnis and accordingly the Bahraini government recruited forty thousand of Arab Shi’ite from Iran whom in 2011 are calling for the fall of the government.

Later on the Dawsari tribe moved on to the business of diving for pearl and left the farming to the Shi’ite farmers. The Dawsari tribe was one of the most powerful tribes in Bahrain at the time (1870-1939) and lived in Bodaya city north and south sections. The north section was ruled by Ahmed Bin Abdullah Al-Dosari and south Bodaya was ruled by Essa bin Ahmed Al-Dosari. At that time (1910-1922) it was estimated that there were two thousand members belonging to the Dosari tribe living in Bodaya. The Dosari tribe exercised self rule in the city of Bodaya and did not follow the Bahraini government due that the Bahraini Sheikh Hamad Bin Essa Al-Khalifa was a close friend to the Dosari Family and allowed them to rule their own matters and territory.

In 1921 the British advisor started to introduce political changes to Bahrain including the centralization of the law which was opposed by the Dosari tribe and others. As a result, and to guarantee the British success in their reforms the British advisor called to deport all those whom stood in the way of reforms to the island of Sri Lanka which is one exile used by the British Government at the time to send all those who apposed their ideas. Since Sheikh Hamad bin Essa is close to both the British Advisor and Essa Bin Ahmed he wrote to Essa informing him of the advisor intentions and advised him to leave the country immediately till things calm down. This was the start of the tension between the Dawsari tribe and the British advisor in Bahrain.

On one day one of the Dosari tribesmen was in the Thursday Market in Manama where he accidentally tripped and broke some clay vases belonging to a Shi’ite merchant; because it was by accident he apologized but the merchant asked him to pay for the vase. The tribesman did not have any money on him to pay for the broken vase. As a result, the Shi’ite merchant and his friends started hitting the man till he was beaten badly. The man ran back to Bodaya and informed the heads of the tribe of what has happened. Essa Bin Ahmed and Abdullah bin Ahmed did not take this instance easily and retaliated the same night with invading their neighboring Jamra tribe whom are mostly of Shi’ite immigrants. Upon morning the Jamra tribesmen went to court, which was near Bawabat al-Bahrain in Manama, where the judge is Sheikh Hamad Bin Essa himself and sitting next to him was the British advisor. Once the court received the Shi’ite complaint about the raid the British Advisor sent for the head of the Dosari tribe, Abdullah Bin Ahmed, whom was imprisoned for 15,000 rupees bail which is equivalent to 1,500,000 Bahraini Dinars nowadays. Immediately all the Dosari tribesmen gathered the money required for bail and Abdullah was released. Due to this instance Abdullah Bin Ahmed made his mind about leaving Bahrain to the eastern shores of Saudi Arabia, and Essa bin Ahmed followed him as well. This was the break the British Advisor was looking for to get rid of the Dawsari tribe who were a thorn in his way for reforms. Once Sheikh Hamad Bin Essa Al-Khalifa heard of the intention of both Abdullah and Essa to leave to Saudi he called for Essa and asked him to let Abdullah leave and stay, which was answered by Essa that it is not right for him to leave the tribe behind. Immediately the British advisor asked that the Dawsari tribe take everything they own otherwise it would be compensated by the government. The Dawsari tribe did so, and also left some personnel in Bodaya to look after their belonging claiming that they didn’t want to leave to Saudi Arabia. This was their return strategy in case things didn’t work out well in Saudi. Upon their arrival in Saudi Arabia King AbdulAziz bin Saud offered them to settle near to Al-Qatif but they elected not to, and they settled in other areas which are nowadays named Khobar and Dammam. They are the pioneers of both the Khobar and Dammam cities. King Abdulaziz gave many land to the Dawsari tribe in Al-Qatif, Taroot and Dhahran. In the summer of 1923 the british Advisor did not like the fact that the Dawsari tribe were cursing from Saudi to Bahrain as they wish and ordered his navy to shoot them upon sight on the shores of Dammam, however, this was not possible due to the shallow waters in those areas that hindered the movement of the navy ships ( Reference to the British Government Exterior Ministry Files). In 1926 part of the Dawsari tribe returned to Bodaya and stayed till today and the Bahraini government did not drop the Bahraini nationality from the Dawsari tribe because they are one of the pioneers of the country of Bahrain.

Discovery of oil


The discovery of oil in 1932
First Oil Well, Bahrain
As its name suggests, it is the first oil well in the Persian Gulf and is located in Bahrain. The well is situated below Jebel Dukhan. It was operated by Bahrain Petroleum Company. Oil first spurted from this well on 16 October 1931, and the well finally began to blow heads of oil on the morning of...

 made Bahrain the first location in the Persian Gulf to have oil wells sunk. Oil production required thousands of workers, attracting peasants and enfranchised slaves who had become free men thanks to the end of slavery and debt bondage. As the first oil wells were being drilled, the pearl diving industry, hitherto the main source of income for the country, collapsed because of competition from cultured pearl
Cultured pearl
A cultured pearl is a pearl created by a pearl farmer under controlled conditions.-Development of a pearl:A pearl is formed when the mantle tissue is injured by a parasite, an attack of a fish or another event that damages the external fragile rim of the shell of a molluc shell bivalve or gastropod...

s produced in Japan. This provided a further pool of labour needed by the new oil industry. It was the bringing together of all these disparate groups that prompted the emergence of an indigenous working class
Working class
Working class is a term used in the social sciences and in ordinary conversation to describe those employed in lower tier jobs , often extending to those in unemployment or otherwise possessing below-average incomes...

 and the Leftist politics they adopted was to have important repercussions for the development of Bahraini society over the next fifty years.

During the Second World War, Bahrain fought on the side of the Allies, declaring war on Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 on September 10, 1939. It was a key base for the Allies to safeguard oil supplies in the Persian Gulf and was the subject of Italian air raids on its oil refineries on October 20, 1940 from bases in East Africa. The Bahraini provided two divisions to join the war in North Africa just before the Second Battle of El Alamein
Second Battle of El Alamein
The Second Battle of El Alamein marked a major turning point in the Western Desert Campaign of the Second World War. The battle took place over 20 days from 23 October – 11 November 1942. The First Battle of El Alamein had stalled the Axis advance. Thereafter, Lieutenant-General Bernard Montgomery...

: the First Cavalry, led by General Benjamin Segal, and the Second Infantry, led by General Aaron Landberg. Both divisions were mentioned in dispatches in late 1942.

The leftist movement



The National Union Committee (NUC), a leftist nationalist movement associated with the labour unions, was formed in 1954 calling for the end of British interference and political reforms. Work sites were plagued with frequent strikes and occasional riots (including several fatalities) during this period. Following riots in support of Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 defending itself against the tripartite invasion during 1956 Suez Crisis
Suez Crisis
The Suez Crisis, also referred to as the Tripartite Aggression, Suez War was an offensive war fought by France, the United Kingdom, and Israel against Egypt beginning on 29 October 1956. Less than a day after Israel invaded Egypt, Britain and France issued a joint ultimatum to Egypt and Israel,...

, the British decided to put an end to the NUC challenge to their presence in Bahrain. The NUC and its offshoots were declared illegal. Its leaders were arrested, tried and imprisoned. Some fled the country while others were forcibly deported.

Strikes and riots continued during the 1960s, now under the leadership of underground cells of the NUC, namely the communist National Liberation Front
National Liberation Front - Bahrain
The National Liberation Front—Bahrain is a clandestine Marxist-Leninist party in Bahrain. It was founded on 15 February 1955, the first left party in the Arab states of the Gulf region...

 and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Bahrain
Popular Front for the Liberation of Bahrain
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Bahrain was an underground political party in Bahrain with origins in the Arab Nationalist Movement. Its members were inclined towards the leftist Marxist trend within the ANM...

, the Bahraini section of the Arab Nationalist Movement
Arab Nationalist Movement
The Arab Nationalist Movement , also known as the Movement of Arab Nationalists and the Harakiyyin, was a pan-Arab nationalist organization influential in much of the Arab world, most famously so within the Palestinian movement.-Origins & Ideology:The Arab Nationalist Movement had its origins in a...

.

In March 1965, an uprising broke out, called the March Intifada
March Intifada
The March Intifada was an uprising that broke out in Bahrain in March 1965. The uprising was led by the Leftist groups, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Bahrain and the National Liberation Front - Bahrain, calling for the end of the British presence in Bahrain...

, against the British presence in Bahrain. The spark of the riots was the laying off of hundreds of Bahraini workers at the Bahrain Petroleum Company. Several people died in the sometimes violent clashes between protesters and police.

Independent Bahrain


After World War II, Bahrain became the centre for British administration of the lower Persian Gulf. In 1968, when the British Government announced its decision to end the treaty relationships with the Persian Gulf sheikdoms, Bahrain joined with Qatar
Qatar
Qatar , also known as the State of Qatar or locally Dawlat Qaṭar, is a sovereign Arab state, located in the Middle East, occupying the small Qatar Peninsula on the northeasterly coast of the much larger Arabian Peninsula. Its sole land border is with Saudi Arabia to the south, with the rest of its...

 and the seven Trucial States (which now form the United Arab Emirates
United Arab Emirates
The United Arab Emirates, abbreviated as the UAE, or shortened to "the Emirates", is a state situated in the southeast of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia on the Persian Gulf, bordering Oman, and Saudi Arabia, and sharing sea borders with Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, and Iran.The UAE is a...

) under British protection in an effort to form a union of Arab emirates. By mid-1971, however, the nine sheikhdoms still had not agreed on the terms of union. Accordingly, Bahrain sought independence as a separate entity declaring independence on August 15, 1971, and becoming formally independent as the State of Bahrain on December 16, 1971.

At independence, the permanent Royal Navy presence in Bahrain ended and the United States Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

 moved onto the 10 acres (40,000 m2) previously occupied by British operations. The installation later grew into Naval Support Activity Bahrain
Naval Support Activity Bahrain
Naval Support Activity Bahrain is a United States Navy base, situated in the Kingdom of Bahrain and is home to U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and United States Fifth Fleet. It is the primary base in the region for the naval and marine activities in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and...

, headquarters for the United States Fifth Fleet.

The emirate emerged just as the price of oil sky rocketed after the 1973 Arab-Israeli war; while Bahrain's own reserves were being depleted the high oil price meant there was massive capitalisation in the Kingdom's neighbours. The Kingdom was able to exploit the situation thanks to another war in the Levant in 1975: the Lebanese Civil War
Lebanese Civil War
The Lebanese Civil War was a multifaceted civil war in Lebanon. The war lasted from 1975 to 1990 and resulted in an estimated 150,000 to 230,000 civilian fatalities. Another one million people were wounded, and today approximately 350,000 people remain displaced. There was also a mass exodus of...

. Beirut
Beirut
Beirut is the capital and largest city of Lebanon, with a population ranging from 1 million to more than 2 million . Located on a peninsula at the midpoint of Lebanon's Mediterranean coastline, it serves as the country's largest and main seaport, and also forms the Beirut Metropolitan...

 had long been the financial centre of the Arab world, but the outbreak of hostilities in the country had an immediate impact on the banking industry. Bahrain offered a new location at the centre of the booming Persian Gulf with a large educated indigenous workforce and sound fiscal regulations. Realizing the opportunity to become a financial centre resulted in growth in other industry in the country.

This bolstered the development of the middle class and gives Bahrain a very different class structure from its tribal dominated neighbours. Although there had long been a large Indian presence in Bahrain, it was at this time that mass migration to the Kingdom began to take off with subsequent consequences for the Kingdom's demographics, as large numbers of third world immigrants from countries such as the Philippines
Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

, Pakistan, Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 and Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 were attracted by better salaries than at home.

The constitutional experiment



Based on its new constitution
Constitution of Bahrain
Bahrain has had two constitutions in its modern history. The first one was promulgated in 1973, and the second one in 2002.-Constitution of 1973:* Full text of the 1973 constitution...

, Bahraini men elected its first National Assembly
National Assembly of Bahrain
The National Assembly is the name of both chambers of the Bahraini parliament when sitting in joint session, as laid out in the Constitution of 2002....

 in 1973 (although Article 43 of the 1973 Constitution states that the Assembly is to be elected by "universal suffrage
Universal suffrage
Universal suffrage consists of the extension of the right to vote to adult citizens as a whole, though it may also mean extending said right to minors and non-citizens...

", the conditional clause "in accordance with the provisions of the electoral law" allowed the regime to prevent women from participating). Although the Assembly and the then emir Isa ibn Salman al-Khalifa quarreled over a number of issues: foreign policy; the U.S. naval presence
United States 5th Fleet
The Fifth Fleet of the United States Navy is responsible for naval forces in the Persian Gulf, Red Sea, Arabian Sea, and coast off East Africa as far south as Kenya. It shares a commander and headquarters with U.S. Naval Forces Central Command . The commander of the 5th Fleet is currently Vice...

, and the budget, the biggest clash came over the State Security Law
State Security Law of 1974
Following Bahrain’s independence from the British in 1971, the government of Bahrain embarked on an extended period of political suppression under a 1974 State Security Law shortly after the adoption of the country’s first formal Constitution in 1973...

 (SSL). The Assembly refused to ratify the government-sponsored law, which allowed, among other things, the arrest and detention of people for up to three years, (renewable) without a trial. The legislative stalemate over this act created a public crisis, and on August 25, 1975, the emir dissolved the Assembly. The emir then ratified the State Security Law by decree, and suspended those articles in the constitution dealing with the legislative powers of the Assembly. In that same year, the emir established the State Security Court, whose judgments were not subject to appeal.

Iranian Revolution and social and political change


The tide of political Islam that swept the Middle East in the 1970s culminating in the Iranian Revolution
Iranian Revolution
The Iranian Revolution refers to events involving the overthrow of Iran's monarchy under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and its replacement with an Islamic republic under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the...

 in 1979 was to have profound implications for Bahrain's social and political development.

There were a number of factors that had caused Bahrain to be more liberal than its neighbours, but these were challenged by the zeitgeist of religious fundamentalism. Bahrain's pluralist traditions were to a large extent a result of the complex confessional and demographic make up of the state, which required Shias, Sunnis, Southern Persians (i.e. Huwala
Huwala
The Huwala meaning "Those that have changed or moved". Originally the "Huwala" word is Arabic, but since Persian does not contain the pharyngeal fricative "ح" present in Arabic, it pronounced it Huwala...

 and Ajams
Ajam (Bahrain)
The Iranians in Bahrain or Ajam are a community of Persians in Bahrain. They have traditionally been merchants living in a specific quarters of Manama and Muharraq. They mostly adhere to the Shia sect of Islam, while a very small minority follow the Bahai faith...

) and a plethora of minority faiths to live and work together; this tolerance had been buttressed by the prominence of Arab nationalism
Arab nationalism
Arab nationalism is a nationalist ideology celebrating the glories of Arab civilization, the language and literature of the Arabs, calling for rejuvenation and political union in the Arab world...

 and Marxism
Marxism
Marxism is an economic and sociopolitical worldview and method of socioeconomic inquiry that centers upon a materialist interpretation of history, a dialectical view of social change, and an analysis and critique of the development of capitalism. Marxism was pioneered in the early to mid 19th...

 as the main modes of dissent, both of which were socially progressive and downplayed religious affiliations; while the country's traditional dependence on trade further encouraged openness.

Even before Iran's revolution in 1979, there was a noticeable conservative trend growing, with the traditional abaya
Abaya
The abaya "cloak" , sometimes also called an aba, is a simple, loose over-garment, essentially a robe-like dress, worn by some women in parts of the Islamic world including in Turkey, North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula....

 being donned by women in preference to the then popular mini-skirt. But it was the political earthquake represented by the Shah
Shah
Shāh is the title of the ruler of certain Southwest Asian and Central Asian countries, especially Persia , and derives from the Persian word shah, meaning "king".-History:...

's fall that changed the dynamics of Bahrain's politics. The prelude and aftermath of the Iranian Revolution
Iranian Revolution
The Iranian Revolution refers to events involving the overthrow of Iran's monarchy under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and its replacement with an Islamic republic under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the...

 in 1979 encouraged Shia Islamist dissent across the Middle East. Ayatollah Khomeini's Iran immediately saw their co-religionists in Bahrain, who had grown more conscious of their own religious identity during this period, as prime agents to export the revolution. The failure of the Left to offer a political or philosophical challenge to the Islamists allowed them quickly to dominate the avenues of dissent.

In 1981, an Iranian front organisation, the Islamic Front for the Liberation of Bahrain
Islamic Front for the Liberation of Bahrain
The Islamic Front for the Liberation of Bahrain was a Shia resistance group active from the 1970s to the 1990s, that advocated democracy in Bahrain and the overthrow of the ruling Sunni Al Khalifa family. It was responsible for the failed 1981 coup attempt inspired by the Iranian revolution two...

 attempted a coup d'état through a plan involving the assassination of Bahrain's leadership and an Islamist uprising. The aim was to install a clerical leadership with Iraqi cleric Hādī al-Mudarrisī
Hadi al-Modarresi
Ayatollah Sayed Hadi Almodarresi or al-Modarresi - Early life :Born to a family with a long line of top-ranking scholars that dominated the Hawza for many years in Karbala, Iraq...

 as supreme leader, but the coup was detected after a tip off from a friendly intelligence source.

The failed coup and the outbreak of the Iran–Iraq War led to the formation of the Gulf Cooperation Council which Bahrain joined with Kuwait
Kuwait
The State of Kuwait is a sovereign Arab state situated in the north-east of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south at Khafji, and Iraq to the north at Basra. It lies on the north-western shore of the Persian Gulf. The name Kuwait is derived from the...

, Oman
Oman
Oman , officially called the Sultanate of Oman , is an Arab state in southwest Asia on the southeast coast of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by the United Arab Emirates to the northwest, Saudi Arabia to the west, and Yemen to the southwest. The coast is formed by the Arabian Sea on the...

, Qatar
Qatar
Qatar , also known as the State of Qatar or locally Dawlat Qaṭar, is a sovereign Arab state, located in the Middle East, occupying the small Qatar Peninsula on the northeasterly coast of the much larger Arabian Peninsula. Its sole land border is with Saudi Arabia to the south, with the rest of its...

, Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

 and the United Arab Emirates
United Arab Emirates
The United Arab Emirates, abbreviated as the UAE, or shortened to "the Emirates", is a state situated in the southeast of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia on the Persian Gulf, bordering Oman, and Saudi Arabia, and sharing sea borders with Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, and Iran.The UAE is a...

. The sense of regional uncertainty was further heightened when Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti was the fifth President of Iraq, serving in this capacity from 16 July 1979 until 9 April 2003...

's Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

 invaded Kuwait followed by the 1991 Persian Gulf War
Gulf War
The Persian Gulf War , commonly referred to as simply the Gulf War, was a war waged by a U.N.-authorized coalition force from 34 nations led by the United States, against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait.The war is also known under other names, such as the First Gulf...

.

1990s


Years of political stasis, the collapse of the price of oil, and growing frustration at the lack of democracy exploded into an uprising in 1994. While previous advocacy of reforms had been secular in character, the uprising was specifically Islamist, beginning with the stoning of female competitors in a marathon race for wearing 'inappropriate' clothing. There was also a strong sense of grievance due to perceived discrimination against the majority Shia population of Bahrain by the Al Khalifa rulers.

In the 1990s, a group consisting mainly of clerics and businessmen led by Islamist leader Abdul Amir Al Jamri, drew up two petitions that were then signed by Shia, Sunni and secular nationalist individuals. They asked for reforms such as restoration of the National Assembly
National Assembly of Bahrain
The National Assembly is the name of both chambers of the Bahraini parliament when sitting in joint session, as laid out in the Constitution of 2002....

 and the constitution of 1975, and participation by the population in decision making. To pre-empt the delivery of the petition to the emir, the regime arrested several of the leading Shia clerics who were organising the petition, including Ali Salman
Ali Salman
Ali Salman is the president of the Al-Wefaq political society in Bahrain. He is a Twelver Shi'a cleric educated in Qom. In January 1995 the Bahraini government forcibly exiled him to Dubai for leading a popular campaign demanding the reinstatement of the constitution and the restoration of...

.

The political impasse continued over the next few years during which time the regime dealt with its opponents using severe repression. Bomb attacks and police brutality marked this period in which over forty people were killed in violence between the two sides. Although the violence was never entirely stopped by the security measures, it was contained and continued as low-level intermittent disturbances.

In 1999 Shaykh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa became Emir after the death of his father, Shaykh Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa, and carried out some social and political reforms.

2000s


King Hamad tried to end the political repression that had defined the 1990s by scrapping security laws, releasing all political prisoners, instituting elections, giving women the vote and promising a return to constitutional rule. The move brought an end to political violence, but did not initially bring about a reconciliation between the government and most of the opposition groups, because the changes are seen as largely superficial and do not address the true issues facing Bahrainis today.

The country participated in military action
War in Afghanistan (2001–present)
The War in Afghanistan began on October 7, 2001, as the armed forces of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Afghan United Front launched Operation Enduring Freedom...

 against the Taliban in 2001 with its ships patrolling the Arabian Sea searching for vessels, but opposed the invasion of Iraq. Relations improved with neighbouring Qatar
Qatar
Qatar , also known as the State of Qatar or locally Dawlat Qaṭar, is a sovereign Arab state, located in the Middle East, occupying the small Qatar Peninsula on the northeasterly coast of the much larger Arabian Peninsula. Its sole land border is with Saudi Arabia to the south, with the rest of its...

 after the border dispute over the Hawar Islands
Hawar Islands
The Hawar Islands are a group of islands situated off the west coast of Qatar in the Gulf of Bahrain of the Persian Gulf.Despite their proximity to Qatar , the islands...

 was resolved by the International Court of Justice
International Court of Justice
The International Court of Justice is the primary judicial organ of the United Nations. It is based in the Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands...

 in The Hague
The Hague
The Hague is the capital city of the province of South Holland in the Netherlands. With a population of 500,000 inhabitants , it is the third largest city of the Netherlands, after Amsterdam and Rotterdam...

 in 2001. Following the political liberalization Bahrain negotiated a free trade agreement with the United States in 2004.

Qatar and Bahrain have made plans to build the Qatar-Bahrain Friendship Bridge to link the countries across the Persian Gulf, which would be the longest fixed-link bridge in the world if completed.

On 14 February 2011, inspired by the 2010-2011 Arab world protests, demonstrators took to the streets to call for greater political freedoms and an end to discrimination. After initially firing on the protesters, Bahrain's military withdrew, allowing the protesters to occupy Pearl Roundabout in Manama
Manama
Manama is the capital and largest city of Bahrain, with an approximate population of 155,000 people.Long an important trading center in the Persian Gulf, Manama is home to a very diverse population...

.

See also


  • Ahmed Al-Fateh
  • Al-Khalifa
  • Bahrain National Museum
    Bahrain National Museum
    The Bahrain National Museum is the largest and one of the oldest museums in Bahrain. It is constructed near the King Faisal Highway in Manama and opened in December 1988. The museum complex covers 27,800 sq meters and consists of two buildings...

  • Bandargate scandal
    Bandargate scandal
    The Al Bandar report refers to an alleged political conspiracy by the certain government officials in Bahrain to foment sectarian strife and marginalize the majority Shia community in the country...

  • Bahrain
    Bahrain
    ' , officially the Kingdom of Bahrain , is a small island state near the western shores of the Persian Gulf. It is ruled by the Al Khalifa royal family. The population in 2010 stood at 1,214,705, including 235,108 non-nationals. Formerly an emirate, Bahrain was declared a kingdom in 2002.Bahrain is...

  • Bahrain (historical region)
    Bahrain (historical region)
    Bahrain is a historical region in eastern Arabia that was known as the Province of Bahrain until the 16th Century. It stretched from the south of Basra along the Persian Gulf coast and included the regions of Kuwait, Al-Hasa, Qatif, Qatar, and the Awal Islands, now known as Bahrain. The name...

  • Dilmun
    Dilmun
    Dilmun or Telmun is a land mentioned by Mesopotamian civilizations as a trade partner, a source of the metal copper, and an entrepôt of the Mesopotamia-to-Indus Valley Civilization trade route...

  • History of Asia
    History of Asia
    The history of Asia can be seen as the collective history of several distinct peripheral coastal regions such as, East Asia, South Asia, and the Middle East linked by the interior mass of the Eurasian steppe....

  • History of the Jews in Bahrain
    History of the Jews in Bahrain
    Bahraini Jews constitute one of the world's smallest Jewish communities. Bahrain was, at one time, home to as many as 1,500 Jews. Today the community has a synagogue and small Jewish cemetery and numbers thirty-seven persons.- Early history :...

  • History of Kuwait: The Anazia and Bani Utub (Early Migration and Settlement)
  • History of the Middle East
    History of the Middle East
    This article is a general overview of the history of the Middle East. For more detailed information, see articles on the histories of individual countries and regions...

  • History of Qatar
    History of Qatar
    Qatar has been inhabited for several millennia. The Al Khalifa family of Bahrain dominated the area from the mid 1850s until 1868 when, at the request of Qatari sheikhs, the British negotiated the termination of the Bahraini claim, except for the payment of tribute. The tribute ended when the...

  • King of Bahrain
    King of Bahrain
    The King of Bahrain ‎ is the monarch and head of state of Bahrain. Between 1783 and 1971, the Bahraini monarch held the title of Hakim, and, from 1971 until 2002, the title of Emir...

  • Murair
    Murair
    Qal'at Murair is a ruined and deserted fortified castle located a mile and a half to the south eastern part of the town of Zubarah.- Al-Khalifa built the Fort of Murair :...

  • Politics of Bahrain
    Politics of Bahrain
    Politics of Bahrain takes place in a framework of a constitutional monarchy, with an executive appointed by the King of Bahrain, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and a bi-cameral legislature, with the Chamber of Deputies elected by universal suffrage, and the Shura Council appointed directly by the king...

  • Rahmah bin Jabir al-Jalahimah
    Rahmah bin Jabir al-Jalahimah
    Rahmah ibn Jabir al-Jalahimah was an Arab ruler in the Persian Gulf and was described by his contemporary, the English traveller and author, James Silk Buckingham, as ‘the most successful and the most generally tolerated pirate, perhaps, that ever infest any sea.’As a pirate his reputation was for...

  • Zubarah
    Zubarah
    Zubarah is a ruined and deserted town located in the northwestern coast of the Qatar peninsula about 105 km from the Qatari capital of Doha, part of Madinat ash Shamal municipality...



Further reading

  • Rival Empires of Trade and Imami Shiism in Eastern Arabia, 1300-1800, Juan Cole
    Juan Cole
    John Ricardo I. "Juan" Cole is an American scholar, public intellectual, and historian of the modern Middle East and South Asia. He is Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. As a commentator on Middle Eastern affairs, he has appeared in print and on...

    , International Journal of Middle East Studies
    International Journal of Middle East Studies
    The International Journal of Middle East Studies is a scholarly journal published by the Middle East Studies Association of North America , a learned society.-See also:* Edinburgh Middle East Report* Middle East Research and Information Project...

    , Vol. 19, No. 2, (May, 1987), pp. 177–203
  • Mahdi Abdalla Al-Tajir (1987). Bahrain, 1920-1945: Britain, the Shaikh, and the Administration. ISBN 0-7099-5122-1
  • Talal Toufic Farah (1986). Protection and Politics in Bahrain, 1869-1915 ISBN 0-8156-6074-X
  • Emile A Nakhleh (1976). Bahrain: Political development in a modernizing society. ISBN 0-669-00454-5
  • Andrew Wheatcroft (1995). The Life and Times of Shaikh Salman Bin Hamad Al-Khalifa : Ruler of Bahrain 1942-1961. ISBN 0-7103-0495-1
  • Fuad Ishaq Khuri (1980). Tribe and state in Bahrain: The transformation of social and political authority in an Arab state. ISBN 0-226-43473-7
  • Fred H. Lawson (1989). Bahrain: The Modernization of Autocracy. ISBN 0-8133-0123-8
  • Mohammed Ghanim Al-Rumaihi (1975). Bahrain: A study on social and political changes since the First World War. University of Kuwait.
  • Fakhro, Munira A. 1997. "The Uprising in Bahrain: An Assessment." In The Persian Gulf at the Millennium: Essays in Politics, Economy, Security, and Religion, eds. Gary G. Sick and Lawrence G. Potter: 167-88. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-17567-1
  • Abdulla, Khalid M. 1999. "The State in Oil Rentier Economies: The Case of Bahrain." In Change and Development in the Gulf, ed. Abbas Abdelkarim: 51-78. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-21658-0
  • Curtis E. Larsen. 1984. Life and Land Use on the Bahrain Islands: The Geoarchaeology of an Ancient Society University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0226469069

External links