With a look back at the recent past, and with a thought forward into the near future, we can confidently affirm that Bahrain continues to be at the forefront, of this region’s development.
When it comes to progress in the Arab world, whether economic or political, whether social or cultural, Bahrain continues to stand out as a shining example; like a glistening pearl of the Arabian gulf, whose lustre keeps getting better, with each new year.
As we celebrate the National Day of Bahrain this year, soon after Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) 37th Summit, held here, we can recall and recount the ‘leading role’ Bahrain played in the transformation of this region, and of the six GCC member states.
Chairing the inaugural session of the summit at Al Sakhir Palace, His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa called for closer co-operation and integration among GCC countries. The GCC, he said, has become a regional monument that consecrates regional and international security and peace through its influential role in providing solutions and political initiatives for crises facing countries in the region and preventing foreign interference in their domestica affairs.
As in previous years, strategists from across the globe assembled in Bahrain last week for the Manama Dialogue, where regional and international security issues and strategies to confront the challenges facing the countries of the rgion were discussed.
For over two decades, Bahrain has been recognised as the freest economy in the Middle East and North Africa by the Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom; and it continues to remain in the same position in 2016.
In March 2016, Bahrain was ranked first, as the best country in the world which expatriates prefer to live in, according to a Worldwide Expats Survey, conducted by HSBC.
Over the decades, therefore, the progress that this small nation has made is by no means small. And the firsts, that it has to its credit, are by no means insignificant.
It was in Bahrain that oil from the Arab region first spurted, from Jebel Dukan’s oil well, in 1931. And that was full seven years before the first commercial oil well in Saudi Arabia, struck oil, in 1938.
Attracting global attention, and gathering technical expertise from the far corners of earth, our small island nation soon became a bustling cosmopolitan hub. And that was full many years before other neighbouring countries started emulating Bahrain’s social success.
Bahrain’s first telecommunications link to the rest of the world dates back to 1864, when the island was connected to the Indo-European undersea telegraphic cable. And it remained the only telecom medium until 1931.
The first telegraphic office in 1947, the first telecom company in 1949 (Imperial and International Telecommunications company, which later became Batelco), and the first satellite station in the entire middle east in 1969, show us that Bahrain still has many firsts to its credit.
In the 1970s too, Bahrain’s Gulf Air became the first airline company in the region. And it was the flag carrier for four states – Bahrain, Qatar, Abu Dhabi and Oman – before the other three pulled out their stake, after the formation of their own airline companies.
More recently, it was Bahrain that brought Formula 1 motor racing to this region, in 2001, with the building of the region’s first ever International racing circuit.
Whether scientific or technological, political or economic, social or cultural, there are rapid strides being made by this nation, towards the realization of its 2030 vision.
The expansion of Bahrain International Airport, Bapco and Alba are all indicative of the futuristic vision of the nation’s leadership.
And, we wish the leaders, the citizens and the residents of this beautiful country, a Happy National Day!