BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: World: Middle East
Front Page 
World 
Africa 
Americas 
Asia-Pacific 
Europe 
Middle East 
South Asia 
-------------
From Our Own Correspondent 
-------------
Letter From America 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 

Saturday, 30 September, 2000, 16:24 GMT 17:24 UK
Politics open up in Bahrain
New Shura member Alice Samaan
Alice Samaan is one of four women on the Shura
By Julia Wheeler in Dubai

Women and non-Muslims have for the first time been sworn in as members of Bahrain's Shura, the advisory council consulted by the ruler of the Gulf state.

Four women, a Jewish businessman and a businessman of Indian descent were among 40 members of the council taking an oath of loyalty to the Emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifa.

Since it was established eight years ago, the council has been wholly male and wholly Muslim.

The change has been welcomed by the United States, which said it reflected positive steps to broaden political participation in Bahrain.

Dignified ceremony

The ceremony at al-Zahar palace in Manama was described by its participants as simple and dignified.

Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifa
Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifa has promised the reforms
The 40 new members promised to respect the law and to carry out their duties in truth and honesty.

Their expression of loyalty to the emir is no surprise. After all, it is him that has appointed them to their role.

But what has surprised some commentators is the broadening of the sphere from which the emir's government will take advice.

Change

In general, Bahrainis are proud that their government is making good on its promises for change.

Now they are hoping an announcement suggesting the Shura's members will be elected by popular vote within the next four years will also come to fruition.

This is the second indication of such a broadening of political participation in the Gulf this month.

A fortnight ago, the quarter of the population was invited to vote in Oman included a tripling in the number of female voters.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS
WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
PROGRAMMES GUIDE
Country profiles: Middle East
BBC Monitoring
Country profiles are compiled by BBC Monitoring
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Middle East stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Middle East stories