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Swearing-In Day, redux

Bahrain 101

   Ba-map Mr. & Mrs. Crab are only 5 weeks from moving to Bahrain. Some fun facts and figures about our new home:

  • The Kingdom of Bahrain (Arabic: مملكة البحرين‎, Mamlakat al-Barayn, literally: "Kingdom of the Two Seas"), is the smallest Arab country in the world. It's archipelago of 33 islands in the Persian Gulf (aka Arabian Gulf), situated between east coast of Saudi Arabia and Qatar peninsula. It's about 3.5 times larger than Washington, DC
  • Bahrain is approximately 7,000 miles from Washington, DC. It is 8 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time.
  • The capital and chief port of Bahrain is Manama
  • Bahrain is a constitutional monarchy, ruled by the Al Khalifa Royal Family.
  • Arabic is the official language of Bahrain, though English is widely used. Bahrain is a former British colony, hence English is common.
  • While Islam is the main religion, Bahrainis have been known for their tolerance, and churches, Hindu temples, Sikh Gurdwara and a Jewish synagogue can be found alongside mosques.
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  • Bahrain is considered one of the most liberal countries in the Middle East. Women have the right to vote, drive and currently serve in the government. Alcohol is widely available. American chains including McDonalds, KFC and other Pizza Hut are common.
  • Bahrain so liberal that it is often described as "Middle East Light."  A common saying is that Bahrain is located "In the Shadow of Allah."
  • Bahrain is home to a huge US Navy Base: The United States Fifth Fleet.
  • Favorite pastimes include horse racing, boating and Formula One racing. Bahrain was the first Middle Eastern country with a Formula One race track and hosts two major races every year. 
  • The population of Bahrain is about 1 million (estimates range from 650,000 to 1.1 million). Nearly half the population are expats from India, Pakistan, Philippines,  UK, US and elsewhere. 
  • Bahrain is 70% Shia Muslim, but is ruled by minority Sunni Muslims - a source of resentment that has escalated into growing but peaceful demonstrations.
  • Oil was discovered in Bahrain in 1932 but has very little compared to its neighbors. Facing declining oil reserves, Bahrain has turned to petroleum processing and refining and has transformed itself into an international banking center. Tourism is a small but growing part of Bahrain's economy, mainly driven by Saudis.
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  • Bahrain is connected to Saudi Arabia by the 17-mile long King Faud Causeway. A new 25-mile long bridge between Bahrain and Qatar is currently under construction; when completed it will be the longest fixed link in the world.
  • Bahrain is one of four Arab countries (including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar) in negotiation to launch a single, Euro-like currency.
  • Bahrain is only a 45 minute flight to Dubai (The Las Vegas of the Middle East) and 2.5 hours to Cairo, Egypt. 
  • United Airlines now has a non-stop, 15-hour flight from Dulles to Bahrain
  • Winters are pleasant (15°C-24°C / 15F-75F). Summers are very hot and humid (average temperature 36°C-50°C / 97F-122F).

Manama. Not to be confused with Manamana: