A Timeline of the History of Bahrain

The name “Bahrain” is derived from the Arabic word “bahr”, meaning “sea”.  The name may reflect the archipelago’s position between two seas, approximately 24 kilometers east of Saudi Arabia’s sea board and a little further from the north west coast of Qatar.

Bahrain has a rich history. Its strategic location has brought influence from traders traveling between the ancient Mesopotamia and Indian civilizations. Meanwhile, the discovery of over 100,000 burial mounds at Saar, Aali and other places at the northern part of the island is believed to be the largest pre-historic cemetery in the world.

The Kingdom of Bahrain is the cradle of the Dilmun Civilization (BC 5000) – one of the oldest civilizations in the Middle East. Having been the cultural center, this civilization granted knowledge to humanity in numerous subjects.

Subsequently, Bahrain was known as Tylos and was extremely famous for its pearls. The oyster beds on the north of the island were the center of a natural pearl fishery that dominated the Arabian Gulf from at least the 3rd century BC until the early 20th century.

Bahrain was one of the first places to embrace Islam, and remained under Islamic rule until Portuguese forces occupied it from 1521 to 1602. From 1602 to 1783, the Safavid Persian Empire displaced the Portuguese and ruled. In 1783, the Al Khalifa family started its rule and their descendants continue to lead the country to this day.

A Timeline

1783 – The Al Khalifa family seizes power from Persia.

1861 – Britain assumes responsibility for Bahrain’s defence and foreign relations.

1903 – The American Mission Hospital (AMH), established by the Dutch Reform Church, began work.

1913 – Britain and the Ottoman government sign a treaty recognising the independence of Bahrain, but the country remains under British administration.

1919 – The country’s first modern school was established, with the opening of the Al-Hiddaya Boys School.

1928 – Bahrain’s first girls’ school opens.

1931 – The Bahrain Petroleum Company, a subsidiary of Standard Oil, discovers oil and production begins the following year.

1939 – Britain decides that the Hawar Islands that lie between Bahrain and Qatar belong to Bahrain.

1961 – Sheikh Isa Bin-Salman Al Khalifa becomes ruler.

1967 – Britain moves its main regional naval base from Aden to Bahrain, a year before deciding to close all its bases east of Suez by 1971.

1968 – The British Government announces its decision (reaffirmed in March 1971) to end the treaty relationships with the Persian Gulf sheikdoms.

1971 – Bahrain declares itself fully independent on 15th August.

1971 – HRH Prince Khalifa bin Salman Hamad Al Khalifa was appointed as Prime Minister.

1972 – Elections are held for a Constituent Assembly. Only Bahraini males over 20 can vote.

1973 – Elections are held for a National Assembly advisory body, which consists of the 14 cabinet members plus 30 MPs elected by male voters over the age of 20.

1976 – The inauguration flight of British Airways Concorde flies from London to Bahrain.

1985 – The Gulf Petrochemical Industries Company plant is completed.

1986 – The King Fahd Causeway connecting Bahrain to Saudi Arabia is officially opened to the public.

1999 – Shaikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa succeeded the throne in March, after the death of his father Shaikh Isa bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Bahrain’s ruler since 1961.

2002 – Shaikh Hamad pronounced Bahrain a monarchy and changed his constitutional status from Emir to King on 14th February.

2002 – Local elections are held, Bahrain’s first poll for almost 30 years. For the first time women vote and stand as candidates, but fail to win a seat.

2004 – Nada Haffadh is made health minister – the first woman to head a government ministry.

2004 – The Bahrain Grand Prix has its official Formula One Championship race at the Bahrain International Circuit on 4th April.

2004 – The construction of Bahrain’s Financial Harbour begins.

2005 – Michael Jackson arrives in Bahrain to recover from media scrutiny in the US.

2005 – More than 4.8 million passengers transited Bahrain International Airport.

2006 – Bilateral trade exceeded USD1 billion for the first time, representing almost 50% growth over 2005.

2006 – The First Spring of Culture takes place in collaboration with the Economic Development Board and Culture and National Heritage sector.

2008 – The completion of the Bahrain World Trade Centre. It’s the first skyscraper in the world to integrate wind turbines into design.

2009 – The Bahrain Financial Harbour offices open for business.

2010 – Lateefah Al-Qauod becomes the first woman elected to parliament.

2011 – Four women have been officially elected to parliament.

2012 – Bahrain’s Formula One Grand Prix went ahead amid rising tensions in the country.

2013 – Manama was named as the Capital Arab Tourism by the Arab League.

2014 – Manama was named as the Capital Asian Tourism by the Arab League.

2015 – Bahrain has maintained its global second position globally, according to the Islamic Finance Development Indicator (IFDI) 2015 report.

2016 – Bahrain emerged as the top-ranked Arab nation on the final medal tally at the conclusion of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in Brazil.

2017 – Bahrain announces its cutting ties with Qatar.

2017 – Bahrain parliament approves military trials for civilians.

2018 – A new discovery was found off the coast of Bahrain, that contains an estimated 80 billion barrels of tight oil.

2018 – Bahrain wins Human Rights Council membership.

2019 – Bahrain launches world’s largest underwater park.

2020 – World Health Organization praises Bahrain’s overall comprehensive approach to the pandemic.

2021 – Bahrain opens the new airport.

2021 – Bahrain approves first phase of 109km metro project.