“Ignorance is the enemy of peace. It is, therefore, our duty to learn, to share, and to live together, by the tenets of faith in the spirit of mutual respect and love.” - His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. 

The article appearing in the Washington Times, written by the King of Bahrain, sets out a fresh and new vision which we are not accustomed to hearing in today’s Middle East. 

From the outset, the King of Bahrain states: “Our noble ancestors began this Bahraini tradition of churches, synagogues and temples being built next to our mosques, so there is no ignorance about others’ religious rites or practices. We all live together in peaceful coexistence in the spirit of mutual respect and love, and we believe it is our duty to share this with the world. We believe ‘ignorance is the enemy of peace,’ and that true faith illuminates our path to peace.”

The King stressed the importance of the recent “Kingdom of Bahrain Declaration”. This Declaration is a remarkable document, affirming the importance of a tolerant, diverse and multicultural society. This vision was drafted in consultation with Jewish and Christian scholars, along with Shia and Sunni clerics. 

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The 2014 Bahraini Parliament resumed on 8 October, for its final year of service prior to the 2018 elections. Here’s a snapshot of views expressed by Bahrainis about what they expect during the last round of this existing Parliament:

“The economy - and only the economy”

“Bahrain is lucky to have one of the most progressive parliamentary systems in the region. But Bahrainis now have to see why this matters. Deputies will get more support from the public when it becomes obvious what deputies do for them… Bahrainis spend a lot of time moaning about their deputies, which is perhaps fair, but it’s also rather unfair because they moan and moan without bothering to find out what is happening;” said Mona, aged 33 from Riffa.

“Every year, life seems to get more and more difficult. Prices are getting higher and wages stay the same, and more young people don’t have jobs – even some of the best graduates. It’s not like ten or 20 years ago. Deputies should deal with one issue and one issue only – the economy and only the economy;” said Ali, aged 23, from Manama.

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Analysis: Why Bahrain is best for expats

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In a recent survey held by Expat Insider, Bahrain was ranked as best country in the world for expats to live in. Bahrain is known to be a country which caters to different segments of society, including expats who find it very comfortable to live here. Below is an analysis of why Bahrainis think expats prefer Bahrain to other countries.

“Levels of freedom”

“Many expats consider Bahrain as their home. The expat community in Bahrain lived alongside Bahrainis even at the times of political unrest. They even feel safer today as they were protected on this land even during the peak of security threats;” said Maryam, aged 28, from Isa Town.

“The levels of freedom enjoyed are key to the success of Bahrain in attracting expats. It is easy to create a safe and welcoming environment for people of different communities;” said Sarah, aged 28, from Muharraq.

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Bahrain’s independent Ombudsman’s Office has issued its 2016-17 annual report detailing its performance over the past year in investigating complaints against detention personnel and other government departments.

Case studies of Ombudsman investigations illustrate the important role the Ombudsman Office is playing in bringing abuses and shortcomings to light. It was notable that many of the successful investigations relied heavily on CCTV evidence which on many occasions upheld complaints by providing incontrovertible evidence of personnel acting improperly. The Ombudsman’s efforts provided a starting point for criminal investigations and legal measures against prison staff and government employees. CCTV was installed throughout all detention centres, police centres and interrogation rooms after 2011 as a core recommendation of the Bahraini Independent Commission of Inquiry.

CCTV has been used for both relatively minor complaints and accusations that detention staff used physical force. The Ombudsman’s effective and professional role in investigating such complaints and, where appropriate, passing investigations on for legal measures, demonstrates how important this office is in improving accountability across Bahrain’s detentions system and the public sector in general.

During late 2016, Amnesty International commended the Ombudsman’s important role: “The Ombudsman’s office appears generally to have fulfilled its mandate to investigate alleged human rights violations, make recommendations and refer relevant cases to the SIU [Special Investigations Unit] or other authorities while also taking steps to increase its accessibility, improve its procedures and enhance transparency. It also claims to have resolved various issues related to the treatment of prisoners and detainees.”

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