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Looking towards 2018: Bahrain’s shifting priorities

At a time of rising global challenges towards the end of 2017, each country has a set of priorities which they are aiming to achieve over the years to come. In Bahrain we have seen a shift in the priorities for the country and its people due to major changes regionally and globally. Since 2011, Bahrain’s main priority was to settle political disputes and other issues arising from the 2011 unrest and achieve reconciliation through dialogue. Many steps were taken to overcome the challenges caused by the unrest, but changes in the region have reflected on Bahrain and today we see things differently.

The issue of reconciliation has shifted from the concept of dialogue to political participation during the parliamentary elections in 2014. Although the opposition boycotted the elections, it is fair to say that a wide spectrum of backgrounds are represented in both the elected and appointed houses of Parliament. On the social level, people from different sects are back to their comfort zones of interacting with each other and settling their political differences aside. 

Youth empowerment is on the rise in Bahrain, many initiatives have succeeded in bringing people from different backgrounds together away from politics and division. There are certain elements which feed on sectarian division, reject inclusion within society and choose the path of violence and vandalism. More steps need to be taken by the Government and civil society to overcome this challenge. 

With the rise in global security threats, security and stability come first for all. Countering extremist ideologies which lead to violence and terrorism in different communities is one of the main priorities in the country. Bahrain has witnessed a few major terror incidents during 2017, where a few policemen lost their lives. It is hence a priority to keep our country safe from terrorists and extremist ideologies that lead to growth in terror. 

Economic stability is the main concern to most Bahrainis. The current state of the economy is challenging while unemployment remains a main issue to Bahraini youth. People from different communities and backgrounds would all agree that sustaining a better life or maintaining the current economic situation is of utmost importance.   

Creating jobs, keeping the country secure and safe, promoting the tourism sector and diversifying the economy in a way that reflects on the daily lives of citizens is the main priority for Bahrain. The shift in our priorities is a result of the changes around us and the failure of some to understand and acknowledge these changes has led the country to move forward. 

Despite our issues and challenges, Bahrainis have chosen to shift their priorities and to move forward as a nation, as many of us understand that some will always choose the wrong path which instead of prosperity, leads to social unrest and division. 

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