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Monday, 30 April, 2001, 16:15 GMT 17:15 UK
Bahrain restricts women visitors
manama skyline
Around 3.3 million people visited Bahrain last year
Women travelling alone to Bahrain without a visa will be refused entry, government officials say.

Observers say the move is largely intended to stop the influx of prostitutes from Russia and the former Soviet states.

An information ministry spokesman was quoted as saying that the decision aimed to "raise the standard of the tourism industry in Bahrain, and to encourage family and cultural tourism" in line with the traditions and customs of the Muslim state.

The new entry regulations, which take effect this week, will deny visas to women travelling by themselves if they haven't already obtained one before their departure.


We want to encourage family tourism based on the customs and traditions of our country

Bahraini information ministry

The move applies only to women travelling alone, the officials said, adding that families, couples and men would not be denied entry visas upon arrival.

Women entering the country alone should obtain visas before their departure from Bahrain embassies, consulates or tourist agents.

Visa regulations

The move applies to both single and married women, according to officials.

Until now, all visitors were granted visas upon arrival at Bahrain's international airport.

Around 3.3 million people visited the island state in 2000, mainly from other Gulf Arab states.

Foreigners make up about one third of Bahrain's 660,000 population.

Most of them are unskilled and low paid workers who are mainly from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Philippines.

The United Arab Emirates have adopted similar measures that target mostly single women from the former Soviet states.

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See also:

30 Sep 00 | Middle East
Politics open up in Bahrain
19 Feb 01 | Middle East
Timeline: Bahrain
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