What Makes Bahrain Unique?

It is a question we can ask ourselves today, as we celebrate the 42nd National Day and the 14th Anniversary of His Majesty the King’s Accession to the Throne.

The answer to the question, however, cannot be short. This lovely island nation Bahrain is unique for a range of reasons. And they will not be easy to explain.

Economic situation, political stability, cultural openness, human development and international presence are just a few fields and measures that we can look at, for analysis. Just look at Bahrain’s rankings.

Bahrain ranked 8th out of 90 countries in the annual Economic Freedom of the World report published by Fraser Institute in September 2013. Being among the top 10 Freest Economies in the World, is no small achievement for this small nation.

Bahrain ranked 12th out of 177 economies worldwide in the annual Index of Economic Freedom, published by The Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal, in December 2013. Noteworthy is the fact that Bahrain is the only MENA (Middle East and North Africa) country to rank in the top 20.

Bahrain ranked 48th in the Human Development Index according to the UN report for 2013.

Are these rankings not a reflection of Bahrain’s relentless efforts to invest in its human resources – to make this nation move forward?

The Fraser Institute report states that, with a mature, well-established business environment and a trusted and transparent legal and regulatory environment, Bahrain is uniquely positioned as the natural gateway to the GCC market, which is worth over 1.5 trillion dollars.

Bahrain’s leadership we know is committed to sustaining and strengthening its core business fundamentals: a highly skilled workforce, stable and transparent regulation, an open business environment and sustainable growth.

Also, as I had written in this column a few weeks ago, the availability of excellent exhibition, conference, and hospitality facilities are making it an attractive venue for global events. Two United Nations events were held here, in this year alone, apart from the prestigious Manama Dialogue this month.

In this Islamic country, people of various nationalities and religions are peacefully living together, and giving it a unique multicultural and cosmopolitan outlook.

No wonder that Bahrain draws people to itself, not only as an ideal workplace, but also as an attractive tourist destination, especially for those in the GCC nations. The 2013 Expat Explorer survey released by HSBC in October 2013 found that Bahrain is the  second most sought after destination by migrant workers.

I highlighted Bahrain’s uniqueness – as a speaker in one of the  sessions – at the ten-day General Assembly of WCC (World Council of Churches) at Busan, located some 400 km away from South Korean capital Seoul.

Here, I was also able to stress the fact that Bahrain is the first and only country in the Gulf region which has an officially registered Migrant Workers Protection Society. It surprised many delegates. MWPS, I told them, also provides shelter for female migrant workers in distress.

Another uniqueness that Bahrain can be proud of is that it also brought domestic workers, including housemaids, under the protection of the new Labour Law.

Though an Islamic country, I have personally seen and experienced – during my more than 30 years of stay here – this country’s great tolerance of all other religions and faiths.

For the question, ‘What makes Bahrain unique’, the answer maybe be long-winding. But for the question, ‘Is Bahrain unique’, the simple, straight answer is – Yes. It is. And we love Bahrain.