|Life before and after the discovery of oil|
Page 6 of 6
Of course, Bahrain has maintained this profile and is aiming to capitalize on this position with the building of the Financial Harbour. This is intended to be the premier financial centre in the Gulf for offshore, investment and Islamic banking as well as insurance. There has been an estimate of USD 1.3 trillion of regional private wealth. Add to this the fact that the Bahraini Dinar is a fully convertible and stable currency and the Island is perfectly situated as far as time zones go, and is perfectly placed with a winning formula.
During the eighties there was further development, sometimes from projects started in the late seventies such as Isa Town and the formation of ALBA (the aluminium smelting plant) and the opening of the University and Museum in 1985 followed swiftly in the following year (Sheikh Isa’s Silver Jubilee) by the completion of the 25km Bahrain – Saudi Arabia causeway.
Sheikh Isa died in 1999 and was succeeded by his son Hamad. With his instigation there has been a strong movement towards democracy in Bahrain. He introduced the National Charter which allowed all citizens to vote on a number of issues, one of the categories being whether the people wanted a parliament. The result was an overwhelming 98.4 % vote in favour. Parliament was established along with the right to vote and the freedom of the press. On April 3rd 2002, the Kingdom of Bahrain was created in order to reinforce the parliamentary process.
The Kingdom of Bahrain has propelled itself fully into the modern, national arena with its successful bid to host Formula 1. At the instigation of the Crown Prince, it has been proved that this small island can build, finance and host world class events. With the first race safely and successfully tucked under its belt, Bahrain can continue to establish its place in the international spotlight.
Over one hundred years Bahrain has changed in almost every way. Of course there are regrets but Aqeel Al Modaweb is very positive and the future,
“Change is inevitable, Bahrain has been positioning itself slowly but firmly on the world map. Old habits and cultures will be diluted naturally and will fade away. As long as there are good Muslims we will continue to have good family principles anyway” He believes in working for his own and his children’s future “Our kids will have their own world, this is why you have tomorrow”.
Saleh Al Tarradah used the analogy of sailing “Bahrain is like a boat, maybe it will go too deep or too shallow. It always depends on who is at the helm”. As the fifth ruler of the Al Khalifa family to rule in the last 100 years, King Hamad has shown by example and carried forward the inheritance of his forefathers to show that with a good captain, the boat can surely sail into better and better waters.