Iran Making its Move on Bahrain

For anyone who gets out of Bahrain’s airport or the U.S Naval facility on the island, it’s hard not to fall in love with the country. While many of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries have difficulty defining themselves as more than “tribes with flags,” Bahrain was actually host to an ancient civilization. Geoffrey Bibey’s Looking for Dilmun, about the Danish archaeological mission’s efforts to identify the original of the grave mounds which at one point occupied ten percent of Bahrain’s territory, is a fascinating read for anyone interested in archaeology, ancient civilizations, and the Middle East. It’s a common assumption that everyone in the Persian Gulf is rich in oil and gas; this also is not true for Bahrain. The small island might have been host to the first oil well in the Arab world, but its oil fields are long since depleted and it extracts only about 50,000 barrels per day, putting it below Bolivia, Italy, and Germany in terms of oil production. While Bahrain receives an allotment of oil from Saudi Arabia to refine and sell, the poverty of its own fields have meant that Bahrain years ago diversified its economy, transforming itself into a regional banking hub and manufacturer. The more diverse economy has meant that Bahrainis — even wealthy ones — tend to be more down to earth and have more of a work ethic than many of their peers in other Gulf Cooperation Council countries. Bahrain has its share of expatriate labor, but it is no Saudi Arabia, Qatar, or the United Arab Emirates.