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Bahrain Defends Its Tenuous Position in the Gulf

Jan 25, 2017 | 09:15 GMT
A Bahraini protester takes cover during clashes with police on the outskirts of Manama in 2015.
(MOHAMMED AL-SHAIKH/AFP/Getty Images)

Across the King Fahd Causeway from Saudi Arabia lies the smallest country in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the tiny island nation of Bahrain. The state is something of an anomaly among its peers in the bloc: Lacking the abundant oil and natural gas reserves of its GCC allies, Bahrain has historically made its reputation -- and prosperity -- as the region's financial hub. Today, it is the only GCC state whose economy does not run primarily on oil revenues. It is also the bloc's only Shiite-majority country. Despite these distinctions, however, Bahrain faces many of the same economic and social problems that are plaguing its fellow GCC members. Though the slump in oil prices has not directly harmed Bahrain's economy, the resulting regional economic downturn has hurt its vital finance and industrial sectors. The country's flagship industries stand to take an even bigger hit as more affluent GCC members...

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