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Islam is practiced by the vast majority of Bahrainis and governs their personal, political, economic and legal lives.

Among certain obligations, Muslims pray five times a day; at dawn, noon, afternoon, sunset, and evening. The exact timing of prayer is listed in the local newspapers each day. Friday is the Muslims’ holy day, in which almost everything is closed at the noon prayer time when all Muslims head to the mosques to perform Friday Prayers. As a result, the official weekend in Bahrain is Friday and Saturday.

During the holy month of Ramadan all Muslims must fast from dawn to dusk and the working hours are reduced usually to six hours per day. While fasting, Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, cigarette smoking, and gum chewing within the hours of fasting. Expatriates are not required to fast; however, they must not eat, drink, smoke, or chew gum in public. The sunset of each night during this holy month is considered a communion time, where families and friends gather together to celebrate the breaking of the fast (Iftar). Many businesses operate on a reduced schedule and shops may be opened and closed at uncommon timings.

Women in the Kingdom of Bahrain

Women's political rights have been a cornerstone of the political reforms initiated by His Majesty King Hamad with, women being given the right for the first time to vote and stand as candidates in national elections with an amendment to the constitution in 2002. The extension of equal political rights has been accompanied by a self-conscious drive to promote women to positions of authority within the government.

The Supreme Council for Women under the leadership of Her Highness Shaikha Sabeeka bint Ibrahim bin Mohammed Al-Khalifa, Spouse of HM King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa, King of Bahrain, Chairwoman of the Supreme Council for Women, continues to push boundaries for the protection and advancement of women. The Council's efforts have been demonstrably recognised regionally and internationally. HM The King set up the Supreme Council for Women in 2001 to develop the role of women in Bahrain.

The progress made in the position of women has been echoed in other sectors of Bahraini society and internationally where democracy is being emphasised first and foremost. Bahrain’s successful reform programme stands out as a model for other regimes in the region.

The council has been keen to ensure that women are economically independent by developing new plans to set up a comprehensive training centre for women, which will provide Bahraini women with the necessary skills and expertise to develop their own handicrafts and service industries. The council has extended its facilities by setting up offices in all four governorates, as well as at the council premises, to receive feedback on any grievances and complaints.

In 2004, Bahrain appointed its first woman minister, and in 2005 a second woman minister was appointed to the cabinet. In April 2005, Shura member Alice Samaan became the first woman to chair a parliamentary session in the Arab world when she chaired the Shura Council.

In June 2006, Bahrain was elected head of the United Nations General Assembly, and used the honor to appoint Haya bint Rashid Al Khalifa as the Assembly's President, making her the first Middle Eastern woman, and only the third woman in history, to hold this post.

Page Last Updated: 07 Mar, 2018