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The Arab Spring and its Impact on Bahrain’s Economy

Zikibayeva, in December 2010, stated that Mohamed Bouazazi’s self-immolation in protest of the police corruption in Tunisia sparked numerous demonstrations that spread revolutions across North Africa and Middle East. “The revolutionary spirit that spread to the neighboring countries Egypt, Libya, Syria, Bahrain, Yemen, Morocco, Jordan, raised questions of a possible spillover in other regions of the world.”(Zikibayeva ).

The tension that arose led to various economic unrests which are continuing even today. A major loss to Bahrain’s economy and prestige was the cancellation of the 2011 Formula 1 Grand Prix races which were originally scheduled to take place during March. “Efforts were made to reschedule the event in June and then later in October or November 2011, but were left unsuccessful. The next Formula 1 race has been rescheduled to take place during November 2012.” (www.marcopolis.net). The adverse effects on the economy via the cancellation and rescheduling of the grand prix due to the tensions that arose because of the Arab Spring will be discussed in the subsequent paragraphs.

Formula 1 had contributed to the Bahrain’s economy significantly through the revenues gained through the sale of tickets, TV coverage, basic transportation, food and beverages and numerous other activities.  However, with the continuous cancellations and rescheduling of the Formula 1 events in 2011, Bahrain has had to incur serious losses in the form of huge expenses to the economy.

Since 2004, the Grand Prix has always been held annually in March as the major event in the racing season. However, with the current tensions and cancellations, “Bahrain will be losing its premiere position in the holding the Grand Prix in March and will now have to hold the events close to the end of the season.”(www.marcopolis.net). This means that there will be a loss in terms of the audience as more people would have gone to the races at the start of the season rather than towards the end. At the present time, there will be a 32 month long gap between the last F-1 event which had been held in March 2010 and the present event which was scheduled to take place during November 2012.

According to the online source, macropolis.net, besides Formula 1, other sporting events would also have been cancelled or rescheduled due to the overhanging unrests presently. The Golf European Tourney at the Royal Golf Club which was supposed to take place in Bahrain (during this year) was moved to the Southern Hemisphere at the Fancourt Golf Resort. Thus, we are seeing that most of the highlighted sports for the current year have either been cancelled or relocated because of the rising tensions and revolutions in the Middle East.

Aside from expenses incurred due to the withdrawal of the event, losses to the economy also appeared in the form of lost tourism. With the current state of affairs, tourism has been highly affected in Bahrain. Tourism, which brought in substantial amounts of revenue especially during the F-1 season, was adversely impacted by the revolution. Income generated in the merchandize and souvenirs, food and beverage, and accommodation market took a big hit.

“Esam Fakhro, chairman of the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI), has estimated that the direct economic loss to the economy from the unrest has been over US $2 billion”.(www.marcopolis.net). This loss in the economy was mainly seen in the tourism sector (hospitality and events) and it resulted in the reduction in the consumer spending in the retail sector.  Further “results of the revolutions in the Middle East, Standard and Poors (a US based financial company) lowered the Bahrain’s long term and short term sovereign rating one notch and placed it in the Ratings Watch Negative list.” (www.marcopolis.net). This move adversely affected not only the Bahraini banking structure but also the Bahraini government who would now have to pay and/or charge higher interest rates on debts. This would be affecting Bahrain’s long term status as a regional and global center for banking and finance.

The Arab Spring has severely affected the countries associated with North Africa and the Middle East especially Bahrain. The revolutions and unrests in the country have affected the economy adversely. In Bahrain and Syria, the clash was mainly between the Shi’a and Sunni groups. “In late March, the Russian foreign minister’s spokesperson even declared that the events that were of an internal matter and that the matter must be solved though dialogue alone”.(Zikibayeva )



  1. http://www.marcopolis.net/economic-effects-of-the-crisis-in-bahrain-direct-economic-loss-to-reach-us-2bn.htm
  2. Zikibayeva, A. “What does the Arab Spring Mean for Russia, Central Asia and the Caucasus.” (2011): n. page. Print. <http://csis.org/files/publication/110912_Zikibayeva_ArabSpring_Web.pdf>.
  3. http://ibnlive.in.com/news/fia-ecclestone-keen-for-bahrain-gp-to-go-ahead/230870-5-24.html

Impact of Arab Spring on Bahrain

On February 14, 2011, people in the United States were giving chocolate and flowers to their loved ones. They bought Hallmark cards with sappy poems. In Bahrain the mood was much different; it was the first of the Arab Spring protests. Hallmark does not make cards celebrating ones first protest.

The first demonstration, known as a “Day of Rage” was organized by activist through social media sites, like Facebook and Twitter. They were protesting discrimination against the Shias by the Sunni dynasty and the disrespect for human rights. The activists wanted a new constitution and a democratically elected government. Police forces responded to the protestors by firing teargas and rubber bullets.

Within one year after that first day of protesting, 1,600 peaceful protestors were arrested, more than 100 people convicted, and 35 people died due to violence from police responses (http://www.crin.org/violence/search/closeup.asp?infoID=26590). Of all the riots in the Arab world in 2011, Bahrain’s government was the only one to temporarily succeed through force. However, doing so may have destroyed the society’s sense of a single community and the dozens of protests hurt Bahrain’s economy.

There has been a direct loss to the economy. The chairman of the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Essam Fakhro, estimates that Bahrain has lost over $2 billion. The GDP and public finance have decreased $391 million and $690 million, respectively (http://www.geopolicity.com/upload/content/pub_1318911442_regular.pdf). The cost of the Arab Spring to Bahrain’s economy is relatively low because of its stable oil production, which contributes 30% to the GDP. Public expenditure increased by $2.1 billion because the government gave each family $2,660 in an attempt to improve living standards and compensate for the declining economy (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/economy/economy-lab/daily-mix/cost-of-arab-spring-more-than-55-billion/article2201119/). However, by giving families money, inflation will rise because the money supply increases. The compensation will hurt the Bahrain family and their economy in the long run more than it will help.

Due to the unrest, many events were cancelled. Most noticeably, the Bahrain Grand Prix, which was scheduled for March in 2011, was cancelled (http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/babylonbeyond/2011/06/bahrain-formula-1-boss-says-grand-prix-postponed.html). The Bahrain Grand Prix is a Formula One championship race and is the first to take place in the Middle East. Since the first race in 2004, it has greatly contributed to Bahrain’s economy. The race generates around $220 million through ticket sales, television coverage, transport, accommodation, food, and merchandise. There was no Grand Prix in 2011, which means Bahrain did not get the money they anticipated.

In 2010, Bahrain had extremely high economic openness (http://arabnews.com/economy/article477485.ece). Its economy was open to trade and inflows and outflows of international investment. After the uprisings in 2011, Bahrain’s degree of openness decreased because other countries did not want to interact with them. The smaller a country, the more open its economy should be. Small countries must specialize in the production of few goods or services to be competitive and attain optimal scale. Therefore, they must export those goods and import the goods they do not produce. An open economy is needed for these transactions.

The Arab Spring created uncertainty for the economy. Bahrain suffered dramatically from the protests and unrest and it will require a lot of effort from the government to recover. It is widely believed to rebound in the near future; however, a full recovery may not be possible if the citizens continue their anti-dynasty protests. Bahrain may never be a financial hub again.

The economic impact of the “Arab Spring” in Bahrain

The Arab Spring is a series of revolutionary demonstrations that started in December 2010. These demonstrations have been in multiple Arab counties. These countries include Tunisia, EgyptLibyaBahrain, Syria, Yemen, Algeria, IraqJordanKuwaitMorocco, and OmanLebanonMauritaniaSaudi Arabia, Sudan, and Western Sahara. In this blog I am going to focus on Bahrain and how the Arab Spring has impacted its economy.

Bahrain’s economy depends heavily on oil. Petroleum production and refining account for more than 60% of Bahrain’s export receipts, 70% of government revenues, and 11% of GDP (exclusive of allied industries). Other major economic activities are production of aluminum – Bahrain’s second biggest export after oil – finance, and construction. [www.cia.gov]

Due to the Arab spring the economy of Bahrain has been affected as GDP has decreased, debt has increased, current account balance has decreased, government spending has increased, consumption has increased, and investments have decreased. [www.cia.gov]

According to the equation, GDP= C+I+G+ (X-M), GDP depends on consumption, Investments, government spending and net exports. If there is a change in these factors then GDP is also affected. Bahrain has a decrease in GDP per capita from $27500 in 2010 to $27300 in 2011. It also has a decrease in GDP growth rate from 4.1% in 2010 to 1.5% in 2011 [www.cia.gov]. This means that the Arab Spring has caused changes in the other four variables that determine nations GDP. [www.cia.gov]

Due to these demonstrations people are not able to invest as much as it were in a peaceful country.

The current account balance of Bahrain has decreased from $770 million in 2010 to $617.4 million.  Government revenues, $7.93 billion, are less than government expenditures, $8.297 billion, in 2011, and there is a -1.4% of GDP budget deficit in 2011. Public debt has increased from 60.1% in 2010 to 75.3% in 2011. External debt has also increased from $14.58 billion in 2010 to $15.2 billion in 2011. Imports have increased from $11.19 billion in 2010 to $16.8 billion in 2011. These show that government spending has increased. Exports have increased from $13.83 billion in 2010 to $20.23 billion in 2011 but the money that Bahrain is earning is not enough since it still has a deficit in its budget. [www.cia.gov]

In conclusion, the standard of living in Bahrain has decreased due to the Arab spring. The comparison of Bahrain’s 2010 and 2011 statistics show this decrease in standard of living and the negative impact on Bahrain’s economy.









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