The Kingdom of Bahrain is a Middle Eastern archipelago in the Persian Gulf, tucked into a pocket of the sea flanked by Saudi Arabia and Qatar. It displays relative social liberalism compared with more conservative neighbouring countries, where Islamic law is applied in a much stricter way. Case in point: alcohol is legal here. Although Bahrain has a heavily petroleum-based economy, its political, social, and cultural peculiarities helped it develop a fairly cosmopolitan middle class and a politically conscious working class.
Bahrain is the smallest of the independent Persian Gulf states, and has often had to walk a diplomatic tightrope in relation to its larger neighbours. The country has few oil reserves, but it has established itself as a hub for refining and for international banking, while also achieving a socially liberal monarchy. That said, a string of political unrest (culminating in the demonstrations in 2011 and the subsequent government crackdown) exposed significant discomfort as well as sectarian and social cleavages.
- Image by @charlesadrienf