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Friday 24th May
Bahrain Information - Page 2
The island of Bahrain, the largest island in the archipelago, is the site of the Bronze Age seaport of Dilmun. Dilmun was eventually absorbed into the Mesopotamian civilizations.

Greeks, from the time of Alexander the Great, arrived in the archipelago around 300 BC.

Islam was brought to the islands in the seventh century AD.

The Portuguese colonized Bahrain in the sixteenth century but were forced out in 1602. The islands then came under the control of the Persians until they were ousted by the Al-Khalifa family in 1783.

In the nineteenth century Bahrain signed treaties with Britain which gave Bahrain British naval protection.

Bahrain became independent from Britain in 1971.

To help lower growing unemployment, especially among young Bahraini nationals, Bahrain reduced sponsorship for expatriate labour and increased the costs of employing foreign workers.

Bahrain experienced slower economic growth as the global financial crisis caused the funding for many non-oil ventures to dry up, along with growth in government debt through the financing of large government projects and debt restructuring, including the bail out of Gulf Air.

Bahrain was the first in the Middle East to discover oil, but this only accounts for 15% of the economy with banking and tourism now dominating. The 2011 demonstrations, influx of Saudi troops and violent crackdown by police are having a damaging effect on these two important sectors. Two of the biggest foreign banks, HSBC and Standard Chartered, closed all their branches in Bahrain and the February 2011 Formula One season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix has been cancelled. (2011)

Boat building is a traditional craft in Bahrain. Wooden fishing boats, known as dhows, are still built today. Other crafts include pottery and weaving.

Examples of Bahraini arts and crafts can be seen in the Bahrain National Museum and the Pearl Diving Museum.

Football is the most popular team game played in Bahrain. Basketball is also a favourite sport.

Horse racing events are well attended. Other traditional sports such as camel racing and falconry and are still enjoyed.

Swimming, scuba diving, sailing, water-skiing, and fishing are available along the coast.

All religious holy days are celebrated. Independence Day is on 15 August (1971 from the UK).

News from Bahrain is available in Newslink.

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