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Bahrain administrative reforms of the 1920s


The National Dialogue in Bahrain: Reforms and Progress Since 2011

The administrative reforms of the 1920s were a series of British-led reforms that have laid the foundations of modern Bahrain. They took place between 1919 and 1927, but their background extends to the early 19th century. Britain signed a number of treaties with Bahrain in 1820, 1861, 1880 and 1892. The latter two had turned Bahrain into a British Protectorate. Earlier in 1869, Britain had appointed the young Shaikh Isa ibn Ali Al Khalifa as ruler. Shaikh Isa was an autocrat and a feudal overlord whose authority was shared with his family and Sunni tribal allies. The economy was dependent on pearl diving and palm farming. Both sectors suffered from great inequalities; the conditions of the mostly Baharnah (Shia) peasants and the mostly non-Bahraini divers were often compared to slaves. Since the beginning of the 20th century, the British influence in Bahrain has been on the rise; in 1904-5 they extended their jurisdiction over all foreigners and in 1913 issued an Order in Council, which effectively turned Bahrain into a colony. The Order was not implemented until after the end of World War I.
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    • Background 

    • Increasing British protection 

    • Bahrain Order in Council and WWI 

    • Timeline of reforms 

    • Aftermath 

    • Legacy 

    • Analysis