Art and Culture in Bahrain

Art and Culture in Bahrain

Bahrain is an island country, popularly known as Kingdom of Bahrain, situated on the western shores of the Persian Gulf. It is a cosmopolitan country although half of the native population are Arabs. The capital of Bahrain in the city of Manama. The primary religion of Bahrain is Islam but there is also the presence of other religions like Christianity, Judaism and Hinduism. It is perhaps the only Arab country that has a dominant Jewish Population.

AGSIW was pleased to host a conversation on the arts and culture scene in Bahrain with Shaikha Hala bint Mohammed Al Khalifa, an artist and the culture and arts director at the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities. Bahrain is home to a flourishing art scene that is now being recognized by the international art world. The country’s art history predates its establishment as a modern state; it was the first country in the Gulf to welcome art with painting classes in 1919, and the first to open a movie theater in 1937. In the middle of the 20th century the first generation of painters started to emerge, and an arts society was founded in 1983.

Video: The Arts and Culture Scene in Bahrain

Bahrain is often hailed as the "Middle East Lite" because it combines modern infrastructure with having the identity of being a Persian Gulf Country. The national language of Bahrain is Arabic. The art and culture in Bahrain are much appreciable as will be evident in the following paragraphs. Bahrain can be conveniently termed as a modern country which is increasingly becoming liberal, embracing varied features of the west despite being in the presence of orthodox neighbouring countries.

There is no formal dress code applicable to the citizens of Bahrain. However, most Bahrain women dress up in a conservative dress called 'Abaya', a black loose-fitting gown, much like the Burqah. However, there is no state sponsored requirement for this. Men dress up in a traditional long sleeve, loose outfit called 'Thobe', sometimes wearing a headdress like 'Agal' or 'Ghutra', on top of it. Another striking feature of Bahrain's culture is its adoption of Homosexuality, despite being a Muslim Country. 

Contemporary artwork by 15 artists from Bahrain is being shown at the prestigious Saatchi gallery in London. The exhibition called 'Diversity' is part of an initiative by the King of Bahrain's wife. STORYLINE: The island Kingdom of Bahrain has a long history of art and culture - and now 15 of its contemporary artists are showing at London's Saatchi Gallery. The artworks have been selected to reflect changes and differences within Bahraini heritage, hence the name of the exhibition: "Diversity".

Video: Exhibition of Bahrain art opens in London

Generally abhorred by most Islamic Countries, Bahrain legalised Homosexuality in 1976. The people of Bahrain are primarily engaged in Exports, Tourism and Telecommunication. Oil and Alumunium Exports forms the core of Bahrain's economy. Agricultural output is negligible in Bahrain forcing it to import more than 99% of its food requirements. The favorite sport in Bahrain is Association Football. 

Though, it has never played in the FIFA World Cup, Bahrain has been actively being a sporting nation in Asian Football Tournaments. Car Racing is another popular sport in Bahrain, with the country having its own Formula 1 Racing Track. The Art form primarily practised in Bahrain is Calligraphic Art and Expressionism. Expressionism tries to present a subjective point of view with a view to elicit emotional responses from its viewers. Pottery and Textile Weaving are highly practised art forms of Bahrain. 

The architecture of most popular buildings in Bahrain represents that of Gulf Countries. Most buildings incorporate the features of providing natural ventilation. The folk music of Bahrain is called Khaleeji. People love to perform ceremonial dances, read the Holy Quran and play flat drums and violins to express various tales from the Holy Quran.

One will find a strong Arabic influence in the art and culture in Bahrain. A song played prominently on most occasions by the people of Bahrain is called Fidjeri.   Literature in Bahrain is dominantly influenced by the Arabic Culture. Writers write in Urdu and English. Nowadays many young authors in Bahrain have been influenced by western literature. The film industry though is not very vibrant in this small island country. Only a small number of films have been produced in Bahrain.

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