For much of the first half of the twentieth century Bahrain had no daily newspaper. The weekly “Bahrain newspaper” started appearing during the 1940s.
The editor of the Bahrain Newspaper reportedly encouraged women writers to contribute extensively, which was an important breakthrough in helping curb conservative attitudes towards the role in women. According to some writers, this platform for women’s voices was an important stimulus for the women’s movement in Bahrain in the mid twentieth century.
For a couple of decades, the Bahrain Newspaper had an effective monopoly on Bahraini readers. It was only joined by “the Weekly Echo” (Sada al-Usbu’) in 1969 and “the News Society” (Al-Mujtama’ al-Jadid) in 1970 – a year before independence.
It was 1976 when the first newspaper familiar to modern audiences, “Akhbar al-Khaleej”, first appeared as a privately-run daily newspaper, and its English language sister newspaper, the Gulf Daily News came out in 1979.
Al-Ayam newspaper first came out in 1989 and by the mid-1990s there were reportedly around 45 locally-available publications in Bahrain. The rise of King Hamad to the throne in 1999 and his new constitution, the National Action Charter, ushered in a period of constitutionally-enshrined media freedoms, giving rise to the leading pro-opposition newspaper, Al-Wasat, being first published in 2002.
Bahrain’s first radio broadcasts commenced in 1940. This was in the form of a broadcast service set up by the British in the context of the Second World War, primarily aiming to counter Nazi propaganda. Although at the time most Bahrainis didn’t have a radio set and could only listen to radios in cafes and other public places; the broadcasts ran for a few hours a day and reportedly featured Quranic recitation and poetry. However, this service came to an end in 1945 as the war drew to a close.
Radio Bahrain was formally established in 1955. Its English-language radio service has been on-air since 1977, broadcasting only four hours a day, until this was extended to 18 hours in 1982 and then 24 hours in 1989.
The official news service, the Bahrain News Agency, was launched in 1976, although it was then called the “Gulf News Agency”.
Bahrain’s first television transmission was in 1973, and Bahrain Television was formally established in 1975. However Bahrain TV nowadays has to compete with the dozens of channels available to Bahrainis via satellite, cable and the Internet.
First for Bahrain
- Bahrain’s first mosque
- First artificial islands
- Female president of UN General Assembly
- First nation to host Gulf Cup
- First mention in historical record
- First modern schools
- First causeway
- First oil well in the region
- First media outlets
- Bahrain’s first lady
- Women in medicine
- International Airshow
- First referendum
- First Grand Prix