Life Expectancy in Bahrain
The Kingdom of Bahrain is the island nation between Saudi Arabia and Qatar. This former British protectorate achieved its independence in 1971. Since the discovery of oil in the mid-20th century, Bahrain’s petroleum industry has been the backbone of the country’s economy and has become one of the wealthiest countries in the world. With its newfound wealth, the Bahraini government invested in public welfare, infrastructure and public sectors. This led to a steady increase in life expectancy in Bahrain.

9 Facts about Life Expectancy in Bahrain

  1. The life expectancy in Bahrain stood at 79.4 years as of 2019. The average life expectancy for women in Bahrain is 81.8 years, compared to 77.1 years for men. Bahrain ranks 52nd in terms of average life expectancy when compared to the entire world. The U.N. estimates that Bahrain’s life expectancy will increase to 81.16 years by 2050.
  2. The biggest increase in life expectancy in Bahrain occurred during the 1960s. After the country’s discovery of oil in 1931, Bahrain reported strong economic growth in the subsequent decades which positively impacted life expectancy. However, since the 1970s the rate of increase in life expectancy in Bahrain has slowed. The life expectancy in Bahrain is on par with countries such as the U.K., the U.S. and Australia.
  3. Bahrain has both universal and private health care. For Bahraini nationals, comprehensive care is provided free of charge, which contributes to the overall excellent life expectancy in Bahrain. The central government mainly finances the health care system. Still, some citizens prefer to participate in private healthcare options in order to overcome the challenge of longer wait times in public facilities.
  4. Bahrain’s immunization program largely eliminated childhood infectious diseases in the kingdom. The introduction of the measles vaccine in 1974 was the saving grace at a time when measles was the leading cause of death among children. After the introduction of the measles vaccine, the Bahraini government conducted a successful nationwide vaccination campaign. By 1999, more than 90 percent of children in Bahrain received vaccines. In 2009, the measles outbreak included only 0.27 cases per 100,000 compared to 1985 when there were 250 cases per 100,000.
  5. As of 2019, the Bahraini government passed a new law that mandates health insurance coverage for all citizens, residents and visitors. Under the new law, expatriate domestic workers, such as housemaids, drivers, gardeners and nurses, will be covered for free.
  6. The leading cause of death in Bahrain is ischemic heart disease. Ischemic heart disease, also known as coronary artery disease, refers to a heart condition where the major blood vessels to the heart become damaged or diseased. Obesity and smoking are the leading cause of ischemic heart disease. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that, as of 2016, 27 percent of Bahrain’s population smokes tobacco. WHO also reported that 29 percent of the adults in Bahrain were obese.
  7. The Bahraini government is set to finish the construction of a $32 million long-term health care center. Funded through the Saudi Fund for Development, this 100-bed facility aims to open in 2022. The facility will be equipped to treat patients who are afflicted with ailments that require long-term care.
  8. Bahrain’s suicide rate ranks 138th in the world. Bahrain is ranked relatively low on the suicide rate ranking out of the 183 countries ranked by the WHO. The data in 2016 shows that there were 5.9 people committing suicide for every 100,000 people in Bahrain. However, in 2019, the WHO also reported that Bahrain had the 5th highest rate of suicide among Arab Nations.
  9. In 2019, Bahrain is ranked as the most air-polluted country in the Middle East. Other countries such as Bangladesh, Pakistan, India and Afghanistan were among the top 10 countries on the list. Experts stated that emissions of oil refineries, power stations and fuel-powered transportation and burning of waste in open spaces are the major contributors to pollution in Bahrain. These pollutants in the air can cause a variety of respiratory complications.

Life expectancy in Bahrain is very much related to the country’s economy. Since the discovery of oil in the 1930s, the Bahraini government used their newfound wealth to bolster the country’s infrastructure and health care for its citizens. With the help of international funds such as the Saudi Fund for Development, Bahrain is further bolstering its health care system. However, the country’s declining oil industry and the pollution that they cause does give rise to concerns about the future of life expectancy in Bahrain

– YongJin Yi
Photo: Flickr

Common Diseases in Bahrain
People living with HIV/AIDS comprise only .01 percent of Bahrain’s total population. While Bahrain has a very low HIV/AIDS rate compared to other countries in the region, there are still other common diseases in Bahrain.

The Joint Mission found that cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancers and chronic respiratory diseases are all common diseases in Bahrain. Non-communicable diseases cause 78 percent of deaths in Bahrain. Many dietary behaviors are correlated with obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Diets high in sodium and fatty acids, for example, can contribute to future cardiovascular diseases.

Cancer in Bahrain also contributes to a small percentage of deaths. Bronchial and lung cancers are the most common among the population of Bahrain. Tobacco use is very common among adults and children daily: one-third of men in Bahrain use tobacco.

Furthermore, much of the population is not physically active and does not eat enough fruits and vegetables. One-third of the population is hypertensive and 15 percent are diabetic. Diabetes has many effects on the population. Diabetic retinopathy, diabetic neuropathies and heart diseases related to diabetes are prevalent in the population.

The government is in the process of coming up with preventative measures to decrease the cardiovascular disease rate and those of other common diseases in Bahrain. The National Health Strategy 2015-2018 will provide health insurance, and an executive committee has been established for a national health insurance program. The committee is currently looking for ways to improve efficiency in using scarce health resources.

Only a small amount of the nation’s budget is allocated for public health each year. In 2014, only 4.98 percent of the budget was spent on healthcare. The density of physicians and nurses has been fairly low over the past few years.

However, there has been some progress made in recent years. For example, the national medicine policy has been updated by the Directorate of Materials Management, and some government sectors have collaborated through the national purchasing committee.

Bahrain has a good economy and relatively low rates of disease compared to other countries in its area. With the proper treatment and education, Bahrain’s cardiovascular disease rate can decrease a small amount at a time. With the help of the government and its people, the country can work to continue to educate everyone on preventative measures.

Treasure Shepard

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Bahrain
The road to and away from poverty is rarely an uncomplicated one. Poverty in Bahrain is one such nuanced phenomenon. The country officially reports that zero percent of people live below the poverty line, and the country excels in many social and political sectors. However, impoverished people do exist in Bahrain, albeit in small numbers. The following are nine important facts about Bahrain, concerning both its causes of poverty and its successes.

  1. The Al Khalifa family created Bahrain in 1782 when they captured land from the Persians. Throughout the 19th century until independence in 1971, Bahrain existed as a British protectorate in an effort to ensure security over its lands.
  2. Sheikh Hamad came to power in 1999. In 2002 he pronounced Bahrain a constitutional monarchy, changing his status from amir to king. Now, Bahrain has one of the best political participation systems in the Persian Gulf, with a well-balanced elected parliament.
  3. Economically, the country once depended on oil reserves, but as those declined, petroleum processing and refining took on a more central role.
  4. The attempt to diversify the economy lost footing, and now oil comprises 86 percent of Bahraini budget revenues. In 2016, low oil prices generated a budget deficit of $4 billion (14 percent of the nation’s GDP).
  5. Despite economic strife, Bahrain’s unemployment rate is at a low of 5.3 percent.
  6. The causes of poverty in Bahrain have spared education. Bahrain’s education system is one of the best in the Persian Gulf, as it was the region’s first country to create a public school system and allow females into all education levels. Education is free for all children in Bahrain.
  7. Thanks to Bahrain’s outstanding education system, the literacy rate is 95.7 percent of the total population.
  8. Access to safe water and sanitation facilities is more than favorable. One hundred percent of the population has access to improved drinking water sources, and 99.2 percent of the population has access to sanitation facilities.
  9. Women’s rights in Bahrain are the most advanced in the Persian Gulf. Women have the right to run for public office, work alongside men in both the public and private sector and wear what they wish without restriction, such as wearing the veil.

If these facts say anything, it’s that a country’s poverty rate does not necessarily speak to the quality of basic human rights like education, water, sanitation, political participation and job security. A fluctuating oil industry is one of the main causes of poverty in Bahrain. However, with aluminum production, finance, construction, banking and tourism all gaining economic momentum, Bahrain may be within range of economic stability and a decrease in poverty.

Sophie Nunnally

Photo: Flickr

Diseases in Bahrain
Bahrain is a nation in the Arabian Gulf consisting of a small archipelago. With a population of just over 1.3 million, Bahrain may seem small, but it has some large health issues. Cardiovascular diseases, cancers and diabetes pose the largest threat to health in Bahrain. These non-communicable diseases share many common risk factors that can be controlled in order to prevent disease.

Cardiovascular diseases are common in Bahrain. Twenty-six percent of all deaths in Bahrain can be linked to cardiovascular diseases. Cancer and diabetes are also prevalent diseases in Bahrain and each account for 13% of all deaths. Lung and bronchial cancers as the most common cancers in Bahrain.

Poor dietary behaviors are the largest contributing risk factor for all health issues in Bahrain. Eating a diet high in sodium and trans fats and low in whole grains, fruits and vegetables puts Bahranians at risk for cardiovascular diseases, obesity and diabetes. These diseases are also risk factors for one another, but all have links to poor diet.

Another key risk factor contributing to both cancers and cardiovascular diseases in Bahrain is tobacco use. More than 5,000 children and 185,000 adults use tobacco every day in the country. Four men and one woman are killed by tobacco-related diseases every week.

The Bahrain Cancer Society recognizes the importance of education about risk factors and taking preventative health measures. The government also has active plans and programs that are helping reduce tobacco use and promote healthy diets.

Landmark Group’s Beat Diabetes initiative, for example, is a program launched to help people recognize and prevent diabetes, which is also linked to cardiovascular diseases and shares many of the same risk factors. The initiative was started in 2009, and by 2015 it had reached over six million people throughout the Gulf states.

With preventative measures in place to combat non-communicable diseases and reduce risk factors for disease, Bahrain can reduce the prevalence of some of its most common diseases. Government programs and nongovernmental organizations’ initiatives aimed at preventing and recognizing early signs of disease already point to a hopeful future for Bahrain.

Rilee Pickle

Photo: Flickr

The Kingdom of Bahrain is a group of islands located in the southern waters of the Persian Gulf in the Middle East. Comprising 40 islands, Bahrain was ranked as the second-largest user of water per square centimeter of land in the world, according to the Bahrain Economic Development Board, which is a disproportionately large level of water consumption for its size. Water quality in Bahrain continues to be a prominent problem despite efforts toward water security.

In the early 1900s, a majority of Bahrain’s water came from freshwater springs that flowed through the northern part of the country. After 1980, freshwater stopped flowing while the demand for drinkable water increased alongside population size.

Bahrain was listed among the top 10 countries that are the most likely to suffer from a water crisis in the next 25 years in a report released by the World Resources Institute. According to the study of 167 countries, 33 countries, half of which are in the Middle East, are at risk of facing a severe water crisis by 2040.

Water quality in Bahrain is further affected by the extremely high salinity of its accessible water. In 2008, AQUASTAT, a program measuring water quality within the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization, reported that “over-utilization of the Dammam aquifer, the principal aquifer in Bahrain, by the agricultural and domestic sectors has led to its salinization through water coming from adjacent brackish and saline water bodies.”

Salinization refers to the toxic buildup of salt content within a natural resource. Bahrain relies heavily on unconventional sources of water, including its four desalination plants. Water desalination plays a crucial role in water security for the nation. A possible solution to a lack of freshwater would be to extract it from the surrounding sea.

According to a study done in 2013, records reveal that the rate of growth of water demand has been on average four percent per year. Despite the implementation of increased desalination efforts, the Kingdom of Bahrain continues to suffer from the water shortage due to population increase, industrial development, commercial growth and tourism projects.

One solution appears to be the creation of water storage facilities throughout the country. As a large part of its water security system, storage tanks of potable water are used to ensure supply during crisis situations. In 2013, the storage tanks held a water capacity that could ensure the survival of the nation for two days in case of extreme emergency conditions, leading to improvement of water quality in Bahrain.

Ninety percent of water in Bahrain is secured through desalination processes. Water security remains a high priority, with the government seeking the aid of the Water Resources Council of the Kingdom of Bahrain. In the council’s most recent meeting in February, Abdul Rahman Al Mahmoud, Water and Science Technology Association (WSTA) President, briefed Sheikh Khalid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa, the Deputy Prime Minister of Bahrain.

The council encourages interest in the science of water, training programs, the development of local capacity and contribution to public awareness programs that achieve the optimal use of water. It also encourages the use of scientific methods for the development of various water sources, according to a press release by the WSTA. Despite current efforts, improving water quality in Bahrain remains one of the country’s top national concerns.

Riley Bunch

Photo: Flickr

Bahrain is a small Muslim country located in the Persian Gulf off the coast of Saudi Arabia. Bahrain has only been independent of imperial governance for 42 years. It has been governed by a Sunni-led constitutional monarchy since its release from British rule and Iranian influence in 1971. Although many of the violent conflicts in the Middle East dwarf the issues in Bahrain, the country’s refugee problem has grown since 2011. Shia refugees in Bahrain today face displacement, religious segregation and suppression of free speech.

Until recently, Sunni and Shia Muslims have lived in relative peace since Bahrain’s formal independence. In comparison to many other Islamic countries in the Middle East, Bahrain experienced little violence along religious lines. Whether this was because the nation is in its infancy, or because of the absolute rule of the government, remains to be seen. However, it is clear that a stark divide between the two sects of Islam was revived in light of recent political turmoil.

The dominant sect of Shia Muslims began a series of protests in 2011 which have occurred through to the present day. Dissatisfied with their representation in the government since independence, protesters hope to galvanize political reform. The royal family’s militant suppression of free speech caused most protests to subside and created a mass of Shia refugees.

Government analysts noted the possibility that the religious divide between Sunni and Shia has been rehashed as a political tactic to suppress dissenters. Bahraini dissenters are displeased with the lack of democratic representation in the government. As local Bahraini historians and politicians suggested, pitting the two sects of Islam against each other appears to be an attempt to consolidate power within the royal family.

Civil unrest in Bahrain and the royal family’s purported desire to consolidate power within the country led to the marginalization of Shia Muslims. Below are ten facts about Shia refugees in Bahrain which indicate the disenfranchisement, poverty and exploitation they suffer.

10 Facts About Shia Refugees in Bahrain

  1. Most Bahraini refugees are Shia Muslims. Unlike most instances of political scapegoating, the situation in Bahrain is peculiar in that the Shia sect of Islam is the religious majority.
  2. The official reason for the exile of many Shia Muslims is the sect’s purported allegiance to Iran’s political agenda. However, there is no hard evidence that Bahraini Shia Muslims are advancing an Iranian political agenda. Furthermore, the overwhelming majority of Bahraini exiles are noted political dissenters who are critical of Bahrain’s royal family.
  3. Shia refugees live in ghettos which are becoming increasingly common in Bahrain. The slums are often purposely masked by new infrastructure. This infrastructure is funded by donations from Arab nations seeking to quell the civil unrest boiling beneath the surface.
  4. Political dissidents in Bahrain can receive sentences of up to five years in prison, which may include torture depending on the dissident’s level of cooperation. The Security Law of Bahrain, which passed in 1975, states that any political prisoner may be imprisoned for up to three years if the ruling party deems the dissident a threat to the ultimate goals of the nation.
  5. Routine and institutionalized discrimination against Shia Muslims bars the religious group from easily obtaining the most basic human necessities, such as food, shelter and water.
  6. Since 2012, the Sunni ruling family has been tinkering with the citizen naturalization process to disrupt the demographics of Bahrain and weaken the voice of the Shia in the nation’s political institutions.
  7. The right to fair trial is regularly kept from Shia Muslims, which serves to exacerbate the injustices which cause extreme poverty in ghettos.
  8. Health care for Shia refugees is minimal, but there is an even more chronic lack of medical care for persons living with HIV/AIDS, posing a serious threat to public health.
  9. While the egregious human rights violations carried out against the Shia in Bahrain have subsided somewhat recently, the institutions which facilitated these abuses of power remain intact. Work must still be done in order to alleviate the poverty and oppression of Shia Muslims in Bahrain.
  10. Bahrain has not agreed to the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons or the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness. This means that the treatment of refugees in Bahrain is not monitored, and information concerning refugees in Bahrain is disorganized and largely missing.

Linford Spencer

Photo: Flickr

Education in Bahrain
The island country of Bahrain, officially the Kingdom of Bahrain, is known primarily for its small size and successful finance industry. However, Bahrain also has a progressive and highly valued education system. Here at 10 facts about education in Bahrain:

  1. Bahrain’s public school system was founded in 1932 and is the oldest in the Arabian Peninsula. The average person in Bahrain will receive 6.1 years of education.
  2. While Bahrain has a number of private schools, public education in Bahrain is free until secondary school for both boys and girls. Education is also compulsory for kids aged 6-14.
  3. The majority of the country, 95.7 percent, is literate. Bahrain also has the highest female literacy rate, 93.5 percent, in the Arabian Peninsula.
  4. Bahrain does not spend much on education relative to other countries. Approximately 2.6 percent of the country’s GDP goes toward education costs, meaning Bahrain ranks 153 out of 173 countries on education spending.
  5. Prior to the 20th century, Quranic schools, which were dedicated primarily to Qur’an studies, were the only type of school in Bahrain.
  6. Education in Bahrain is changing in order to better prepare students for careers. The country is splitting secondary education into two tracks, unified and vocational. The unified track is aimed more at university preparation while the vocational track is meant to prepare students for technical careers directly after finishing school.
  7. In Bahrain, girls are educated at roughly the same rate as boys. Approximately 97 percent of girls and 98 percent of boys are enrolled in primary school, while 91 percent of girls and 87 percent of boys attend secondary school.
  8. Approximately 25.2 percent of Bahrainis will go on to post-secondary education. Of these students, the majority are women, as Bahrain has one of the highest university gender parity indexes at 2.52.
  9. Despite women receiving roughly equal education to men in Bahrain, the number of women in the workforce is low. Only 32 percent of women aged 15 and above are in the workforce, compared to 85 percent of men. This is significantly lower than the rest of the world, as globally 52 percent of women are active in the workforce.
  10. Many Bahraini students participate in exchange programs, such as the U.S. government’s Student Leaders Program, a summer program where Bahraini university students study at U.S. universities.

Despite Bahrain’s small size, high literacy rates, mandatory schooling and a push for higher education reveal how education in Bahrain is continuing to strengthen and grow.

Alexi Worley

Photo: Flickr

Bahrain’s government, which until now has maintained good relations with the United States despite being accused of widespread human rights violations over the past three years, has expelled U.S. Assistant Secretary of the State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Tom Malinowski from the nation. Bahrain’s expulsion came after Malinowski’s recent meeting with the opposition group, Al Wefaq. The group is fighting for more representation for the Shiite majority in Bahrain’s politics.

The ministry claimed that Malinowski “met with a particular party to the detriment of other interlocutors,” and deemed the meeting as interference with the nation’s internal affairs. Over the past few years, the Bahrain government has used extreme forces to inhibit protests against the Sunni royal family, including beating and jailing dissidents and calling in help from the Saudi Arabian army. Nevertheless, Malinowski attributes his expulsion to the government’s attempt at “undermining dialogue,” and urges opposition groups to continue toward reconciliation.

Scheduled to last for three days, Malinowski’s stay in Bahrain has been cut short thanks to his removal. While he is still on their grounds, he will not be meeting with government officials. Though Malinowski’s stance may seem surprising to some, his previous experience may shed further light.

Malinowski, who served as the director for Human Rights Watch’s Washington, D.C. branch, wrote a dispatch in 2012 titled “Bahrain: Prison Island,” in which he highlighted many of the crackdowns on Arab Spring protests. “Police torture and abuse have simply moved from police stations to the alleyways and back lots of Shiite villages,” he wrote. “Though their convictions were based on nothing more than the content of their speeches and participation in meetings and rallies challenging the monarchy.”

The visit, which was coordinated in advance and was meant to strengthen ties between the two countries, has “deeply concerned” the United States government. Noting these recent actions are “inconsistent” with their previous relationship, the United States insists the Bahraini government was “well aware” that the U.S. met with all officially-recognized political societies, including Al Wefaq. Nevertheless, their decision to expel the Assistant Secretary remains adamant, causing many to question the future of the two countries’ relationship.

– Nick Magnanti

Sources: Think Progress, Yahoo News, ABC News
Photo: El Venezolano

bahrain protests
In order to mark the three-year anniversary of failed attempts to bring about democratic change in Bahrain, tens of thousands of people demonstrated peacefully on February 15. The al-Wefaq party, a Shia opposition group in support of democratic change, organized the Bahrain protests.

Although the majority of Bahrainis are Shia Muslims, a minority of Sunni Muslims rules the small island in the Persian Gulf. Thousands of Shi’as gathered to call for peaceful democratic change, political reform and the release of political prisoners. The King of Bahrain, Shaikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, has refused to concede to the demands for political change by the Shi’ites.

In 2011, Bahraini authorities brutally crushed protests inspired by the Arab Spring with the help of Saudi Arabia. The monarchy and the Saudis view Shi’a demands for change as Iranian subversion, and its tactics in dispersing protesters and not listening to citizens’ demands have caused tension between the United States and Bahrain, which hosts the Fifth Fleet of the United States Navy.

The Bahrain protests were largely peaceful, with limited clashes between the police and the demonstrators in smaller rural villages. The Interior Ministry claimed that there had been unprovoked attacks on police officers by groups who detonated two bombs and used guerilla-like homemade weapons against the officers. On February 14, one policeman died in a bomb blast, three were wounded and 26 arrests were made.

Concern has been growing over the treatment of Shi’a Bahrainis; there is a fear that they will resort to increasingly violent means of demonstrating their discontent unless a legitimate political solution is arrived at soon. Shi’as claim the current government does little to adequately address their concerns and that discrimination against their religious affiliation is rife.

Although a third-round of dialogue between the ruling family and the opposition has started, the opposition group has boycotted the dialogue for the past four months over incitement charges of two of its leaders brought by the monarchy against the opposition. Royal Court Minister Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmed al-Khalifa has met with opposition leaders informally, but a more formal arrangement has yet to be made, and progress seems far away.

Jeff Meyer

Sources: BBC News, Reuters
Photo: Totally Cool Pix