Bahrain has been one of the Gulf's most important commercial crossroads for over 4,000 years.
The word Bahrain means 'two seas' in Arabic, indicating how the country's geographic position as a collection of islands has been important throughout its history.
As the land of the ancient Dilmun civilization, Bahrain has long been a trading center linking east and west. The country has benefited from its position at the center of the Gulf's trade routes and rich pearl diving industry.
By the mid-19th century, the country was the Gulf's pre-eminent trade hub, emerging as a modern state. Merchants from countries across the Gulf and beyond established themselves on the islands.
Bahrain was the first Gulf state to discover oil, in 1932, and in the past 40 years has led the regional transition to a modern economy. Subsequently, as the first Gulf state to move away from dependence on oil, we have become the region's most diversified economy.
In particular, our country has become the region's leading financial centre since the 1980s. Since then manufacturing, logistics, communications, professional services and real estate have also become important sectors. Throughout this period, we have taken great care to build up the skills and talents of the Bahraini people.
In 2002, Bahrain became a constitutional monarchy, and a democratically elected parliament was established. This marked the beginning of a period of on-going reform. The country also has an established legal framework and respected regulatory system.
Bahrain has grown successfully over the past 10 years, due to its liberal economic policies, and has a clear roadmap for achieving the prosperity of all in society.
With regards to cultural and tourism activities, the Ministry of Culture organizes a number of annual festivals, such as the Spring of Culture in March and April, the Bahrain Summer Festival and Ta'a Al-Shabab from August to September, and the Bahrain International Music Festival in October which features musical and theatrical performances, lectures, and much more. As for cultural sites, residents, visitors, and tourists can re-live history through Bahrain's many historical sites, namely its forts. Among the most famous of these forts is the historical Qala'at Al-Bahrain (Bahrain Fort) Site which was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Other examples of such sites are Bu Maher Fort and Arad Fort in Muharraq, Shaikh Salman bin Ahmed Al-Fateh Fort in Riffa. In addition to its forts, Bahrain also is home to many museums, such as Bahrain National Museum, Shaikh Salman bin Ahmed Al-Fateh Fort Museum, and Bahrain Fort Site Museum, as well as the old traditional houses in Muharraq city. A diverse array of sports tourism activities is also available in Bahrain, such as sailing, fishing, diving, horse riding, and golf. However, its most prominent sports activity is the Bahrain Grand Prix, held each year in April at the Bahrain International Circuit.
Looking to the future, the Economic Vision 2030 is a roadmap for making Bahrain a more sustainable, competitive and fair economy, with the aim of doubling household income within the next 20 years.