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Geography Now! Bahrain


Ba-“H”-rain not Ba-rain not Buh-ran not Bar-ann Not Bob Saget, BaHrain pronounce the H and now we can begin. [Geography Now intro] Hey peeps, I’m your host Paul Barbato We’re moving on up to the east side of Saudi Arabia. We are gonna cover Bahrain. But first, you know the drill, let’s dissect the flag. The flag is made up of two parts The white side and the red side with the serrated triangle border between them. The triangles on the white serrated stripe represent the 5 pilars of Islam the color red is supposed to represent the Kharijite sect of Islam By the way, keep in mind the flag of Bahrain is very similar to the flag of Qatar That’s right, that’s how you pronounce it Kuh-ter, not Ka-tar Not Kwa-tare, not Bob Saget, but ”Kuh-ter” Like a grass cutter or Bon Qui Qui at a King Burger when you piss her of she becomes a ”cutter” However, Qatar’s flag is much wider and has maroon instead of red and has 9 points not 5. Let’s ”cut” to the next segment. [Political Geography] Not many people know where Bahrain is and partially that’s because it’s kinda small If you look at the Arabian Gulf you will see the big guys like Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait. And then you get to the small archipelago right above Qatar. And then you realize you’ve reached Bahrain. Bahrain is made up of 33 natural islands however, extensive land reclamation projects have actually increased the size of Bahrain by about 40 square miles or 100 square kilometers and has technically increased the island count to about 84 with artificially constructed islands and islets nonetheless, the entire country at its longest is only about 48 kilometers long and sixteen kilometers wide The largest island Bahrain Island makes up about 83% of the entire country’s land mass. It contains the country’s capital Manama, a modern day architectural metropolis with tall and trancing skyscrapers each one almost competing with the other to show superior design and elegance. The country is divided up into 12 different municipality and 5 different governorates. The vast majority of people live the north, specifically in the capital Manama and the adjacent towns right next to it. The south governorate is barely populated and has less than 100 thousand inhabitants. The government wants to change that though, and it has been developing civil engineering projects and try to allure the population to spread throughout the outer secluded regions of the country. For example constructing a water park in the middle of the desert and a massive 6 billion dollar project called the Durrat Al Bahrain, the largest artificial island residence located right at the southern most tip of the country. The most confusing part though would have to be Hawar Islands part of the southern governorate. These islands are a group of islands that although at the closest less than 2 kilometers from Qatar were source of lots of territorial disputes and these islands belong to Bahrain. Basically this is how it went down: Bahrain: “Ok Qatar, we’ll take these 16 islands and you can take that small little Jinan island, alright?” Qatar: “No.” Bahrain: “Thanks, it was great negotiating with you.” Now although Bahrain is an island, they do have access to Saudia Arabia by the King Fahd Causeway built in 1986. The bridge was a huge deal in which prior to its construction, the only way people could get to Bahrain was by a 30-minute flight or a long ferry. Since then the two countries have never been closer together, both literally and figuratively. Now Bahrain is in the process of building another bridge between them and Qatar currently referred to as the friendship bridge. Talks are still going on, but both countries seem to be excited to start up on. But you know what I’m excited about? [Physical Geography] Now looking at a satellite map you would think that Bahrain doesn’t really have much to offer other than sand. I mean it’s generally flat, dry, no forest either.. However, there is a Tree of life standing the south governorate, all alone by itself, it’s the oldest and only major tree growing in the entire area and it’s actually kind of a tourist destination. However Bahrain is one of the 18 countries in the world that doesn’t have any rivers, no natural lakes and it rarely ever rains here. So you would think: Okay, then how do these people like..not die from thirst? Well yes about 92% of the country is desert. However they do have a few somewhat wetter and milder areas along the west coast, but where does the water come from? Well the short answer is there’s generally two sources: underground water springs and just like we studied in the Antigua and Barbuda video, desalinization plants. Now Bahrain is lucky because it’s located on the Dammar Aquifer, a region that soaks up water in the porous rocks and sands and distributes that water underground through springs in multiple regions around the Gulf area, such as Saudia Arabia and Kuwait and Bahrain being one of those regions. This where I’d like to remind you viewers that this is Geography Now, not Geology Now. Even I don’t understand the phenomena behind aquifers and underwater tectonics. All you have to know that it’s a thing, it’s real, it’s kind of awesome and that’s how Bahrain gets some of the water. However drought is a common problem for the country and it’s not uncommon for a huge dust storms to engulf the entire region. However Bahrain isn’t one of those countries that kind of puts all their hopes in oil… Angola. Over the past few decades they have diversified their revenue sources to various categories including banking, finance, machinery and even tourism. In fact according to the economic index of freedom, Bahrain has the freest economy in the Middle East, especially after signing a free trade agreement with the U.S. in 2005 and in 2006 the UN cited Bahrain as the fastest growing economy in the Arab world, even passing the United Arab Emirates… take that Dubai with you world’s tallest buildings and indoor skiing resorts! You know I’ve heard it said that trading involves people, people that we’ll find out about in…! [Demographics] Now when it comes to the population, Bahrain is pretty strange because it’s one of the few countries in which expatriates actually outnumber the nationals. With about 1,2 million people, Bahraini nationals only make up about 46% of the population and expats make up the remaining 54% The most common nationalities of expats being Indian, Bengali, Pakistani, Phillipinos and Indonesians. Now the funny thing is that although Arabic is the official language, most of the population has to learn English as a universal language in order for nationals and expats and even tourists to communicate with each other, this makes Bahrain a very English friendly country. Now freedom of religion is allowed, however if one were to apply for Bahraini citizenship, it would be much easier for a Muslim as the country is still mostly predominantly run by a Muslim parliament, and a Sunni muslim royal family. Oh yeah that’s the thing, Bahrain is a monarchy, currently under the rule of king Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa. And it’s kind of like a really new monarchy, like it started in 2002. Some people will tell that it’s a constitutional monarchy, some will tell you that it’s an absolute monarchy.. Here’s the reason why: Hamad Bin Isa comes from a long line of people known as the Al Khalifa family which has kinda had a dynasty over the country for three centuries. However each head of state only gave himself the title of “Hakim” which means someting like national caretaker or “Emir” which means chief. After his father died, Hamad Bin Isa took over the role as the second Emir as his father was the first Emir, but then three years later he kinda decided to change this up a little bit and then he was the first one to officialy proclaim himself as the king of Bahrain. This was taken with mixed reviews, some liked it, some didn’t like it. Ones that particularly didn’t like it most were the Shia muslims which make up the slight majority of the country’s muslim population. Complaints about the king and how he administered national affairs started to boil. After the spring uprising in Egypt many Bahraini citizens jumped in and things got a little heated and the country saw some of the worst clashing and protesting that it had ever seen years. It got so bad that eventually they had to tear down the famous Pearl monument, a common meeting spot for the protestors during the rallies. Today however most of the drama is kind of settled and cooled off, however you still get some people that throw rocks here and there. This is very complicated and hard to explain so let’s just move on. Oh, and Bahrainis love Formula One racing, Bahrain made history in 2004 as they opened the first Formula One Grand Prix in the Middle East and every they hold the event which draws a huge international audiences. Oh, and another thing – alcohol is totally allowed in Bahrain, which is why a lot of their dry neighbors keep an eye on them and visit frequently. Neighbors that we’ll discuss in.. [Friend Zone] Bahrain is one heck of a guy isn’t he, it’s kind of crazy that Dubai gets all the attention. For what it’s worth though, pretty much all the countries represented by the expats have good relations with Bahrain like India and Pakistan and Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines. But when it comes to business though Bahrain knows how to play their cards. Turkey and the U.S. are among their top business partners and they’ve even allowed the U.S.’s fifth fleet to station themselves in the Bahrain territory Now when it comes to the UK, things are kind of… well, let’s just say.. Bahrain was kind of under British protectorate status for a period of time and although the British did do some great development projects such as building various schools and hospitals and roads and so on, the Bahrainis were tired of the British occupation and finally in 1971 the UK relinquished Bahrain and to this day despite the history they still get along relatively well. Now if there was ever a case of a country actually friend-zoning another country it would have to be Bahrain and Iran. When it comes to Iran, things are kind of awkward… Iran really really really wants Bahrain to become a part of Iran. In 2007, Hossein Shariatmadari advisor to the Ayatolla called for a stance to incorporate Bahrain as another province of Iran. Bahrainis were a little weirded out by this because it kind of sounded like what Saddam Hussein said about Kuwait back in the 90’s. To make things worse, a lot of Bahrainis were torn between alliances. For one, the slight majority of the Muslims are Shia, so theologically they affirm Iran’s view, however a lot of the Shias are actually Arab and not Persian which causes a whole new set of drama. And to make things even more confusing a lot of the Sunni Muslims in Bahrain, specifically the politicians and businessmen, actually have ties to or even came from Iran. Many of which actually speak Farsi at home. This causes a weird state in Bahrain in which they’re kind of like: “Look Iran, I’m trying really really hard to be cool with you and I like you, but you need to kind of just give me some space because you’re kinda creeping me out.” However when it comes to their best friends, Bahrain would more or less probably consider Saudi Arabia. However the only issue is that Saudi Arabia is kind of like the friend that doesn’t quite know how to stop partying. Bahrain is kind of seen as like the Disneyland of Saudi Arabia and every week and tons and tons of Saudis come over to party and they kind of go a little nuts. Bahrain is kind of like: “Look Saudia Arabia, I love you guys, you know we have so much fun together, but seriously you need to stop trashing my apartment.” Saudi Arabia: “Oh my, no, I’m so sorry, no no, like, seriously, here here here, just take 14 million dollars, just buy yourself a whole new apartment.” Bahrain: “That’s not what… okay fine, thank you.” In conclusion, I’m not saying Dubai is so 2000-late but what I am saying is, Bahrain is so right now. Stay tuned, Bangladesh is coming up next! [Geography Now Outro]

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