The Kingdom of Bahrain houses a total population of 1,248,348 according to 2011 estimate. Bahrain with its unique blend of antiquity and western culture has been conducive for the settlement of countless non-national immigrants.
Religions and Ethnic Groups
Islam is the major religion of Bahrain. 99.8% of the population is Muslim belonging to Shia and Sunni sects. Among the Muslim citizens and immigrants about 70% adhere to Shia Islam. Bahrain is the only state among the Gulf nations with Shiaite majority but governed by Sunnis. This is often seen as a major source of discontent among the masses. The non-nationals and immigrants constitute 54% of the current population of Bahrain. The nation is tolerant towards all religions. All the religious communities present are free to practice their respective religions and celebrate festivals within their communities. There are several ethnic groups in Bahrain apart from the varied nationalities of immigrants. They include Afro-Arabs, Ajams, Baharnas, Banyans, Utoobs, Dawasirs, Al Nuaims, Al Mannais, Huwalas, and Hadhars. Bahrain also has a small Jewish population.
A number of languages are spoken across Bahrain. Standard Arabic is the first and official language of the nation. English is widely used for business purposes and is a major medium of verbal communication and hence, learning English is compulsory in schools. Kerinci, a language of the Austronesian family is widely spoken by the Indonesians residing in Bahrain. The Indian settlers use their native languages such as Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, and Hindi to communicate. The Pakistanis are known to use their official language Urdu and the nationals from other Gulf nations mainly use Western Farsi. The Afro-Arabs in Bahrain talk in Northern Kurdish.
Bahrain being an Islamic state ardently follows the Sunnah. The Sunnah or the actions and teachings of the Prophet dictate all the religious and spiritual actions of the Muslims in Bahrain. Family is of prime importance among the Bahrainis and family bonding is founded on faith, cooperation, love, and mutual respect. Forming the atoms of society family is assigned with sacred attributes. It is due to these beliefs that nepotism is a common practice in Bahrain and is rarely considered a drawback. Women are allowed the right to vote and occupy crucial positions in the professional world. The Bahraini society is conservative and a modest dress code is mandatory on all occasions. One is expected to abide by appropriate etiquette and norms as errors may offend local customs and traditions of the country. Bahrain is a composite alloy of Arabic and Western outlook. It has a highly developed system of education due to which it publishes the largest number of books in the Arab world. It is the site of modern musical institutes which include Bahrain Music Institute, Bahrain Orchestra, and Classical Institute of Music. It has produced renowned artists such as Ali Bahar and Khalid Al Shaikh. Modern and Contemporary Art is promoted through the La Fontaine Center of Contemporary Art. To prevent the extinction of Bahraini indigenous art Al Riwaq Art Gallery and Albareh Art Gallery have been set up to educate the citizens and encourage local artists.