Other Arab countries are bigger, more powerful, and have far more impact on the direction of the Middle East and the world.
But after crisscrossing the Arab/Muslim world for several decades – from Morocco in the West to Afghanistan in the East – none is more attractive than Bahrain.
With a civilization that dates back 4,000 years, Bahrain is an archipelago comprised of 33 natural islands.
And it really has a “island vibe.”
It’s gorgeous. Peaceful. Laid back. Friendly. Hospitable not only to Muslims but to Christians and Jews and people of all faiths, nationalities and backgrounds.
Imagine a Caribbean country with oil, money – and camels.
While it may not be crazy, super rich like many of its neighbors, this is not an impoverished country.
But its leaders do realize that while Bahrain was the first Middle East country in which oil was discovered – and 85% of the government’s budget is paid for with oil revenues – it has to steadily diversify its economy to prepare itself for the day when the oil will run out.
SMALL BUT SCRAPPY
Bahrain’s population is only 1.6 million.
Roughly half are citizens while the other half are foreign workers and their families.
By contrast, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has a population of 10 million, Saudi Arabia has a population of 35 million, and both have high percentages of expat workers and their families.
Bahrain’s Gross Domestic Product in 2021 was approximately $40 billion.
By contrast, the UAE’s GDP is ten times larger at $415 billion.
Saudi Arabia’s GDP is some twenty times larger at $833 billion.
Bahrain has a sovereign wealth fund – “Mumtalakat” – with roughly $20 billion in deployable capital.
The country uses the fund to help build the country’s infrastructure as well as to co-invest in financially lucrative projects in its neighboring countries.
Yet while Bahrain is smaller than almost every other Arab country, it is certainly scrappy.
One example that has intrigued me is that it has chosen to position itself as a tourist destination.
#UAE decision to have Holocaust education in state schools met with mixed responses, anti-Israel rhetoric
Holocaust exhibition at Dubai museum has made dents in taboo on the subject in the UAE, but Holocaust denial remains widespread in the Arab world https://allarab.news/uae-decision-to-have-holocaust-education-in-state-schools-met-with-mixed-responses-anti-israel-rhetoric/
Tourism to beautiful #Bahrain surged to 10 million visitors in 2022 – now the @F1 Grand Prix will drive even more growth
@JoelCRosenberg With Dr. Nasser Qaedi CEO of @tourismbh
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