Bahrain – Best country in the world for expats

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According to two of the most comprehensive annual surveys of expats worldwide, Bahrain is the world’s most popular destination. The Expat Insider 2017 survey scored Bahrain particularly highly as being a welcoming nation for new arrivals and a great location for families. Although Bahrain has normally been among the top-twenty nations in Expat Insider surveys and similar polls, this year Bahrain soared into the top place.

Explaining Bahrain’s strong showing, Expat Insider stated: “Improvements across all indices that factor into the ranking have seen the Gulf state take pole position in 2017”.

The 2017 survey of thousands of expats around the world by the InterNations network also put Bahrain in the top position, with Bahrain scoring highly for cost of living, and being recognized for its “welcoming atmosphere, friendliness of locals and good wages”, being described as the “friendliest country in the world for expats”.

Here we look at the reasons why Bahrain is best in the world:

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Parliament updates - What's going on in Bahraini politics?

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This blog keeps track of significant developments inside Bahrain’s Parliament

MPs approve taxes for fizzy drinks and tobacco – 7 Nov

MPs have approved a bill for introducing selective taxation on certain goods as part of a GCC-wide initiative for increasing revenues – the first formal tax which has been imposed in Bahrain. The current measures just cover tobacco, energy drinks and fizzy drinks.

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President Trump’s refusal to certify that Iran is abiding by its obligations from the 2015 nuclear deal has thrown much of the world into confusion, with some commentators criticizing Trump for undermining an international agreement which reduced the chance of a nuclear-armed Tehran; while others praised the President for addressing Iran’s misbehavior in the region. Here we look at a range of different scenarios which could result from this decision and the implications of these for the Arabian Gulf region: 

A more confrontational Iran

Iran usually responds to these kind of threats by taking an even more confrontational and prevocational approach. This may take the form of anti-American statements by Iranian leaders; but Iran may also increase its trouble-making in regional states. For example, Tehran has often threatened the US naval base in Bahrain, so Iran may signal its ability to exert its regional influence by increased support for Shia militants in Bahrain who have been responsible for the deaths of many policemen in terrorist bombings.

Within a couple of days of Trump’s statement, Iran mobilized its allies in Iraq to capture the city of Kirkuk and other areas under Kurdish control. Iranian militants are also confronting American-backed forces in eastern Syria.

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Parliament has a year to prove itself ahead of elections

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Following the customary lengthy summer break, many of us were interested to closely follow this week’s parliamentary session; expecting MPs to come back with fresh energy and with a pile of pressing issues to get stuck into.

Instead we were treated to a session with few matters deserving of mention and circular discussion of issues which didn’t seem to go anywhere. For example, a number of MPs such as cleric Majid al-Majid took the time to praise the Government for rejecting a proposal which had been written discussed and agreed on by MPs during the previous year which sought to ban strike action by workers at the aluminium company Alba.

Time was also spent discussing proposals concerning the lack of car parking spaces in Manama, the increasing cost of beach chalets. Deputies also lamented the fact that the Government had repeatedly vetoed most of the private bills which Parliament had submitted, proposing additional spending on youth clubs, community centres and other suggestions. There was also a bizarre discussion led by MP Abdulhamid al-Najjar about what brands of cleaning products were used in mosques and why those leading the call to prayer should play a role in cleaning their own mosque. 

A rather more relevant discussion was had about wrongfully-dismissed employees. MP Jalal al-Kadhim raised the issue of 40 employees who had reportedly been dismissed by a company which had already been failing to pay them for four months. A Ministry of Labour official expressed sympathy but said that this was an issue for the courts. He disputed claims by MPs that poor enforcement of such phenomena was leading to an epidemic of wrongful dismissal incidents.

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