Once again Bahrain’s Shura Council has been the starting point for progressive and transformative legislation for the betterment of all Bahrainis. The government has been reviewing a proposal from Shura MPs for a unified Family Law which will ensure that both Shia and Sunni women and families have equal rights before the law. This is part of a pattern of forward-looking initiatives from the Shura Council over recent months, such as the legislation for preventing serving clerics from participation in politics which began as a Shura Council proposal; and proposed amendments to the law for protecting victims of rape.

From time to time the question is raised as to why a small country like Bahrain requires a two-chamber Parliament. Ever since Parliament was established through King Hamad’s 2002 National Action Charter, elements of the opposition sought to abolish the second chamber, based on the argument that legislative power should be solely in the hands of elected MPs in the Council of Representatives. However, there are dozens of recent examples which show why the appointed Shura Council is necessary for protecting and consolidating Bahrain’s reformist and tolerant social model. Here are some of the main reasons:

1 - Appointments sanctioned by the King ensures diversity in the legislative process

Elections depend heavily on the public mood and thus often favour a particular party or agenda. The practice of appointing the members of a second chamber, which occurs in a large number of countries, ensures a representative diversity of deputies from all sects and religions, from all social classes, from a range of professions and backgrounds and from the full spectrum of political affiliations. This also ensures that those who are often disfavoured in elections are represented; women, the disabled, minorities, progressives and civil society activists.

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Analysis: Bahraini views on a unified family law 

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The issue of legislation in support of women and families is back in the spotlight following an order by HM the King to form a committee to prepare a unified family law. Bahrain currently has a Family Law for the Sunni sect which was passed in 2009.

In Bahrain we have two courts concerned with family issues based on Shariah law; the Sunni courts and the Jaafari (Shia) courts; reflecting the traditional legal differences in these religious schools of thought.

Bahrain previously succeeded in passing a Sunni Family Law. However, Shia legislators blocked efforts towards either a unified Family Law, or a Jaafari Family Law. Today a proposal for a unified family law that protects the rights of families from both sects is being discussed by legislators.

Citizens for Bahrain spoke to a wide range of Bahrainis to canvass their views on why this matters, and in order to better understand their hopes and fears in regard to this legislation: 

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Another successful Grand Prix

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The Formula One Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix was successfully held in the Kingdom from April 14-16, 2017. This year’s race is the 13th edition to be held in Bahrain since its starts in 2004. The establishment of the Bahrain International Circuit and Bahrain’s hosting of the F1 was a ground breaking event in 2004 when Bahrain became the first Middle Eastern country to host the event, in what was designed as the first desert track. 

The winners of the Grand prix were Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, coming in first place, followed by Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton in second and Valterri Bottas in third. Vettel’s victory came after he beat Hamilton by 6.6 seconds. This is Vettel’s 44th career victory and his third victory in the Bahrain Grand Prix.

With a record of more than 93,000 visitors during the F1 weekend, the Bahrain International Circuit organised numerous events to highlight the three days of the race and provide an entertaining atmosphere to people of different ages. The highlight of the 2017 Grand Prix were the long waited concerts by iconic international artists such as Enrique Iglesias and world-renowned DJs such as Steve Aoki, Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike. 

Following his successful concert Steve Aoki ended his performance by tweeting an image of the huge turnout and a message of peace stating

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Analysis: Bahraini views on the 2017 Grand Prix

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The Bahrain Grand Prix will kick off for its 13th edition in the Kingdom from 14-16 April, 2017. The event is anticipated to draw in tens of thousands of motorsport enthusiasts to the island kingdom. Citizens for Bahrain spoke to a wide range of Bahrainis to hear their opinion on the largest event held in the Kingdom: 

“The hottest destination in the region”

“I am very excited about the upcoming race, it’s my favourite time of the year in Bahrain with the F1 and its festivities. These events turn the country into the hottest destination in the region;” said Ahmed, age 33, from Riffa.

“The thousands of visitors add a great value to the economy. Bahrain is in need of such events that create jobs and provide more opportunities for Bahraini youth at the current challenging economic times;” said Maryam, age 28, from Manama. 

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