Bahrain, a nation comprising more than 30 islands in the Persian Gulf, has been at the center of major trade routes since antiquity. In its modern capital, Manama, the acclaimed Bahrain National Museum showcases artifacts from the ancient Dilmun civilization that flourished in the region for millennia. The city's thriving Bab el-Bahrain souk offers wares from colorful handwoven fabrics and spices to pearls.
Dialing code: 973
Currency: Bahraini dinar
King: Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa
Arabic is the official language of Bahrain, though English is widely used.Bahrani Arabic is the most widely spoken dialect of the Arabic language, though this differs slightly from standard Arabic. Arabic plays an important role in political life, as, according to article 57 (c) of Bahrain's constitution, an MP must be fluent in Arabic to stand for parliament Among the Bahraini and non-Bahraini population, many people speak Persian, the official language of Iran, or Urdu, the official language of Pakistan. Nepali is also widely spoken in the Nepalese workers and Gurkha Soldiers community. Malayalam and Hindi are spoken among significant Indian communities.Many commercial institutions and road signs are bilingual, displaying both English and Arabic.
Women's rights in BahrainWomen's political rights in Bahrain saw an important step forward when women were granted the
right to vote and stand in national elections for the first time in the 2002 election. However, no women were elected to office in that year's polls. Instead, Shī'a and Sunnī Islamists dominated the election, collectively
winning a majority of seats.In response to the failure of women candidates, six were appointed to the Shura Council, which also includes representatives of the Kingdom's indigenous Jewish and Christian communities.Dr. Nada Haffadh became the country's first female cabinet minister on her appointment as Minister of Health in 2004. The quasi-governmental women's group, the Supreme Council for Women, trained female candidates to take part in the 2006 general election. When Bahrain was elected to head the United Nations General Assembly in 2006 it appointed lawyer and women's rights activist Haya bint Rashid Al Khalifa President of the United Nations General Assembly, only the third woman in history to head the world body. Female activist Ghada Jamsheer said "The government used women's rights as a decorative tool on the international level." She referred to the reforms as "artificial and marginal" and accused the government of "hinder[ing] non-governmental women societies".
In 2006, Lateefa Al Gaood became the first female MP after winning by default.The number rose to four after the 2011 by-elections. In 2008, Houda Nonoo was appointed ambassador to the United States making her the first Jewish ambassador of any Arab country. In 2011, Alice Samaan, a Christian woman was appointed ambassador to the UK.