May 8, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Through a variety of events every year, people across the United States celebrate National Military Appreciation Month. As the home of the United States Navy’s Fifth Fleet, I would like to take the opportunity to thank all American service members for their service to protect freedom and liberty around the world.
Bahrain opened its doors to the American military in the aftermath of World War II and our cooperation has only grown over time. Today, Bahrain is home to over ten thousand permanently stationed American military personnel and tens of thousands more travel to Bahrain each year. All Bahrainis feel that the American military base in Juffair is an integral part of society and we are grateful for the sacrifices these service members make for our common defense.
This month, Bahrain will participate in region-wide drills led by the American Navy in the Arabian Gulf. At uncertain times like these, the importance of our continued military partnership cannot be understated.
April 20, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Tomorrow, spectators from around the world will converge on the Bahrain International Circuit for the Gulf Air Formula 1 Grand Prix. Over the past few years, the Grand Prix in Bahrain has been exploited for political purposes; but I count myself among those Bahrainis who see it as a way to come together in support of reconciliation.
The international attention drawn to Bahrain during the Grand Prix offers the unique opportunity to showcase the many things that make Bahrain a special place. Indeed, the honor of becoming the first Gulf country to host a Grand Prix came about precisely because of the economic, political, and social reforms implemented by Bahrain following the enactment of the National Action Charter and the Constitution of 2002. We can use events like this to continue to build national unity and consensus on how we can enact additional needed reforms.
Those using the publicity surrounding the Grand Prix to sow division and participate in violence are only undermining the national interests of all Bahrainis. When international visitors come to Bahrain, they spend money in Bahraini restaurants, stay in Bahraini hotels, and patronize a variety of Bahraini businesses. This means jobs and economic opportunities for all of us.
Moving forward, it is my sincere hope that we can use important international events rally in common cause for our country. I’m very much looking forward to this year’s race and please be sure to check out the Embassy’s Facebook and Twitter accounts for updates throughout the weekend.
April 16, 2013 § Leave a Comment
The Embassy of the Kingdom of Bahrain in Washington, D.C. has reached out to all Bahrainis currently in Boston, including students, through phone calls, emails, and social media channels. The Embassy encourages all Bahrainis to follow the procedures prescribed by their respective universities and the City of Boston. Any Bahrainis in need of assistance are encouraged to contact the Embassy at any time by calling the following numbers: 202-537-7810, 202-664-6463, or 202-531-0133.
We would also like to extend our deepest sympathies to the victims of this senseless act and their families. The full details of what transpired are not yet known and the proper authorities do not know who is responsible for them. Violence in any form must be condemned in the strongest and most certain terms.
The thoughts and prayers of everyone at the Embassy and in Bahrain are with the victims and their families, the people of Boston, and the United States at this difficult time.
April 15, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Over the past several weeks, participants in the National Dialogue have continued to meet in an effort to produce consensus on Bahrain’s path forward. As in any initiative of this kind, progress has been made slowly, but it is encouraging that the full range of Bahraini political actors remain engaged in the proceeding.
To date, it seems that discussion points that appeared settled have been reopened for discussion by certain participants. It is very important to continue moving forward to achieve real consensus.
The National Dialogue remains critically important for the future of Bahrain. I hope that we will see additional important outcomes out of the next session, which will take place on Wednesday.
I have also included summaries of the past two sessions. The can be viewed downloaded below.
April 11, 2013 § Leave a Comment
The stage is set for a grand spectacle of sport and entertainment when Bahrain’s most popular event, the 2013 Formula 1™ Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix, takes place in just one week. The world’s top F1 drivers are gearing up to showcase their skills on the track, so here’s a quick look back at the former champions who have found glory at the Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) in Sakhir.
The first Bahrain GP took place on 4 April 2004. It made history as the first Formula One Grand Prix to be held in the Middle East, and was given the award for the “Best Organized Grand Prix” by the FIA. The race was won by acclaimed German driver Michael Schumacher for Ferrari. Fernando Alonso won the second Bahrain Grand Prix for Renault in 2005, and then became the first repeat winner of the Middle Eastern race in 2006, once again for Renault, after a thrilling race-long battle with Michael Schumacher. In 2007 and 2008, Brazilian Felipe Massa won the race for Ferrari, and 2009 saw Jenson Button win for Brawn GP. In 2010, the Spaniard Alonso became the first three-time winner of the Bahrain GP.
2012 champion, Sebastian Vettel will be back with Infinity Red Bull Racing seeking a repeat Bahrain GP win, as well as another World Drivers’ Championship, having won his third consecutive title in the final race of 2012. After two races, Vettel currently leads the championship, with teammate Mark Webber in third place, leading into the Chinese Grand Prix this weekend, before they take to the circuit in Bahrain.
While Schumacher has recently retired from the sport, several other former champions will join Vettel back on the desert circuit April 19 through 21, including Alonso and Massa. Race fans from around Bahrain, the Middle East region, and the whole world, are also looking ahead to a fantastic three days of exciting entertainment at the BIC, “The Home of Motorsport in the Middle East.”
April 9, 2013 § Leave a Comment
It was with great sadness that I learned yesterday that former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher passed away at the age of 87. She was a towering giant in British politics and a role model to many women, including me.
I arrived in the United Kingdom in September 1979, only a few months after Baroness Thatcher assumed her position as Britain’s first female prime minister. Throughout my time studying in the UK, I was awed by her ability to shape events and to succeed as a woman at the highest levels of politics – something that seems quite routine now, but was utterly remarkable in Britain at the time. Her willingness to stick to her principles and to fight determinedly for what she thought to be right provided a strong model for anyone interested in public service.
Her particular brand of feminism was also infectious I have always enjoyed her famous quote in which she remarked “If you want something said, ask a man. If you want something done, ask a woman.”
And although I never met her personally, I will certainly miss her. Rest in peace, Madam Prime Minister.
March 28, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Last week, I had the opportunity to deliver two speeches about Bahrain at prestigious American institutions of higher learning – the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis and American University. Speaking directly to American college students is always rewarding and I am always impressed at how sophisticated the questions are.
My speech at American University focused primarily on women’s empowerment and opportunity in Bahrain – one of my favorite topics to discuss. Many Americans have a monolithic picture of what opportunities women have across the Middle East. In Bahrain, women were first able to vote in municipal elections in 1934, and today serve as government ministers, ambassadors, CEOs, and in virtually every profession available to men. Women in Bahrain also receive equal pay for equal work and have full access to all employment opportunities. This has been made possible by the commitment of His Majesty the King to investing in the types of education and jobs programs that provide skills critical to success.
At the U.S. Naval Academy, I reflected on the deep military partnership our countries have shared over the past 65 years. Bahrain has always been proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with our American partners and provide a welcoming home for Naval personnel in the Arabian Gulf. The stability of this military relationship is particularly important at a time when we face a number of emerging threats to our collective security.
I have a number of upcoming speaking events with college students both in Washington and around the country and look forward to sharing Bahrain’s story with them.
March 26, 2013 § Leave a Comment
As the Ambassador for a strong military and political ally of the United States, I often have occasion to attend important events for our shared regional security interests. Last Friday, I had the honor of attending the ceremony where General Lloyd J. Austin assumed command of United States Central Command from General James T. Mattis in Tampa.
U.S Central Command holds primary responsibility for overseeing coordinated American military efforts through the Middle East and South Asia. As the home of the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, Bahrain routinely hosts CENTCOM’s senior leadership and collaborates with them closely on a number of critical matters. I have the utmost respect for General Mattis’s service and I would like to wish him all the best in his future endeavors.
At a time when we confront a number of regional security challenges, it is imperative that the United States and its regional allies work closely to confront them. I was particularly heartened by the kind words General Austin shared about the importance of the GCC in promoting regional peace and cooperation. I wish General Austin all the best in his new post.
March 18, 2013 § Leave a Comment
March is Women’s History Month, and Bahrain is very proud of its longstanding progressive position on equality for women. Bahrain established education for girls in 1928; it was the first Gulf state to have social organizations for women in 1965; it granted suffrage in 2002; it appointed its first female cabinet minister in 2004; and in 2006, a Bahraini woman was elected to the parliament and another was selected to serve as the president of the UN General Assembly.
Today in Bahrain, women serve in all levels of society and enjoy unprecedented opportunities among their peers in the Middle East. In looking toward the future, it is important that young girls growing up in Bahrain continue to have the opportunities to succeed on their own merits. The Kingdom supports initiatives which empower women, through a focus on education, training and equality in the workplace and society.
This week the Supreme Council for Women announced the opening of registration for the fourth edition of the Her Royal Highness Princess Sabeeka bint Ibrahim Al Khalifa’s Award for Empowering Bahraini Women, a first of its kind initiative in the Gulf and Arab world. Launched in 2004, the award aims to implement and increase the presence of women in decision-making positions, and not only does it monitor the process of empowering women, it also identifies areas in need of improvement. Recognition from the award has become a prestigious endorsement, which drives the public and private sectors to perpetuate a culture of equality.
The 2011 recipient of the award for the government sector was the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB). The EDB is responsible for a number of key reform initiatives which encourage the education sector and business environment to contribute to economic diversity and enhanced workplace and social equality for women. This is reflected in the EDB’s own foundations, as over half of the organization’s executive management is female.
There is a general understanding that the significant role of women in every aspect of Bahraini society is a core reason why the Kingdom is recognized as the most liberal business environment in the region, with the most skilled local workforce. In short, more and more people are acknowledging that when women are succeeding, the country is succeeding.
The gender gap is closing in Bahrain, thanks to such initiatives which encourage companies, organizations, and schools to empower women and girls. These continuing efforts ensure that Bahrain will remain and advance as a progressive nation that allows the best to excel no matter who they are, whether it is in business, politics, education or any skill sector.
March 1, 2013 § Leave a Comment
On Wednesday, participants in the National Dialogue held a series of highly productive discussions on several important issues. The tone of Wednesday’s meeting was especially positive in comparison to previous days, during which several points which had been settled were reopened for discussion.
In an effort to prevent future roadbloacks, all attendees agreed to hold to a specific set of procedural rules. These include the imposition of speech time limits, the ability to call breakout sessions, and the ability to hold additional sessions to deal with disagreements. Furthermore, the attendees agreed that a press release recapping the day’s events would be distributed at the conclusion of each day.
The particpants also agreed that the agenda for the Dialogue would be based upon the nine-point letter distributed by the group of five opposition political societies, as well as the proposal made by the group of 10 ten societies. Through setting the agenda for future discussion, the attendees have made important progress in establishing the scope of the talks. Indeed, there is no limit to what reforms can be debated and approved through consensus.
In order to prepare for a highly substantive discussion, the participants decided to meet again on Wednesday, March 6.