Bahraini Arab in Bahrain

Main Language
Largest Religion
Progress Gauge

Introduction / History

On a cluster of islands off the eastern coast of Saudi Arabia live the Bahraini Arabs, the largest people group in Bahrain. They call it Dawlat al Bahran (State of Bahrain). It includes over 30 desert islands in the heart of the Persian Gulf. Bahraini Arabs are related to the two million Arabs spread over the Middle East and North Africa, bound loosely together by a religious and cultural heritage. Arabs trace their ancestry back to Ishmael, the son of Abraham, and his wife's maid, Hagar. For centuries the Arabs lived as Bedouin tribesmen, like Abraham.

During the seventh century, the prophet Mohammed drew many of the Arab tribes together by giving them a common religion, Islam. The great majority of Bahrain's people are Arabs. They speak the traditional language of Arabic, although English is becoming more common. People on the main island, also called Bahrain, are more cosmopolitan than other Arabs.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Most Bahrainis live in apartments or houses in towns on the northern part of the largest island, Bahrain. Since wood is scarce, they build homes of cement and lime brick. These houses are usually tall with wind towers to catch the breeze. Villagers, on the other hand, usually live in thatched huts.

Even though the islands receive only 7.5 cm (3 inches) of rainfall a year, fresh underground springs along the northern coast of Bahrain provide ample drinking water. Farmers irrigate vegetables and melons from these springs. Families usually have one main meal daily, including many fresh vegetables, lamb, fish, and rice. Bahrainis enjoy a relatively high standard of living due to oil revenues. The government provides free education, medical care and a superior electrical system.

Most households have televisions, radios, and telephones. A causeway links several of the islands to Saudi Arabia. The Bahraini people are more cosmopolitan than other Arabs because Bahrain has been a trade center and port for centuries. Younger Bahrainis wear clothes reflecting Western influence. Bahrain's women have more opportunities and privileges than most Arabic women.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The majority of Bahraini Arabs follow Islam, the religion of their heritage and their culture. The ruling family and many townspeople are Sunni Muslims, while the Northern villagers are Shiites. Because the British ruled Bahrain for over a hundred years prior to 1971, two Anglican churches remain in Bahrain. Mainland Arabs criticize the Bahrainis for not being strict enough about traditional religious values. The women still prefer head coverings and long sleeves, but fewer wear traditional veils. More women are employed, usually at respectable jobs in girl's schools, maternity clinics, and banks.

What Are Their Needs?

More than most Arabs nations, Bahrain has grown increasingly open to Western influence. More than ever before the Bahraini Arabs are listening to new ideas and considering new perspectives on life. Nevertheless, their culture and Islamic religion are so closely bound together, that it is difficult for them to accept any other world view. They consider the moral values of Western Christians to be pagan.

Bahrain has capitalized on the petroleum industry since 1932. Fishing has declined due to pollution in the gulf. Bahrain is diversifying, building industry and becoming a banking center for the Middle East. Opportunities for foreign business mean opportunities for Christian business people to share the Gospel.

Television and radio programs are broadcast mostly in Arabic, although some English programs come out of Saudi Arabia. English Bibles, Christian literature, and programs can be used as long as they show sensitivity to the Arab culture. Promiscuity of the western culture has caused the Bahraini to be leery of Western Christians. Opportunities to reach them exist by taking a sensitive approach, stepping carefully through the open doors of a fast-growing business society.

Prayer Points

Pray for open hearts among Arabs, including the Bahrainis.
Pray that Bahrain will be used as a gateway for the Gospel into all of Arabia.
Pray for ministries to begin to focus on the Bahrainis and that a burden will be placed on hearts specifically for them. They cannot hear if the Word is not going forth.
Pray that God will raise spiritual leaders among Arabian Christians.
Pray that Bahraini businessmen will come to know Jesus and be used of God in this rapidly growing banking economy.
Pray for these Arabs and that intimidation will not keep them from receiving Jesus.
Pray for strong Christian fellowships to be birthed in the days ahead.

Scripture Prayers for the Arab, Bahraini in Bahrain.

Profile Source:   Bethany World Prayer Center  

People Name General Arab, Bahraini
People Name in Country Arab, Bahraini
Natural Name Bahraini Arab
Pronunciation bah-RAY-nee AE-rub
Alternate Names Arabic, Baharna Spoken; Bahraini Arab
Population this Country 770,000
Population all Countries 787,000
Total Countries 2
Indigenous Yes
Progress Scale 1
Unreached Yes
Frontier People Group No
GSEC 1  (per
Pioneer Workers Needed 15
People ID 10572
ROP3 Code 100772
ROP25 Code 300395
ROP25 Name Arab, Bahraini
Country Bahrain
Region Africa, North and Middle East
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
Persecution Rank Not ranked
Location in Country Widespread.   Source:  Ethnologue 2016
Country Bahrain
Region Africa, North and Middle East
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
Persecution Rank Not ranked
Location in Country Widespread..   Source:  Ethnologue 2016
Map of Arab, Bahraini in Bahrain
Primary Religion: Islam
Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.90 %)
3.40 %
Ethnic Religions
0.00 %
0.00 %
96.60 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %
Primary Language Arabic, Baharna (770,000 speakers)
Language Code abv   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 1
Primary Language Arabic, Baharna (770,000 speakers)
Language Code abv   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 1
People Groups Speaking Arabic, Baharna

Primary Language:  Arabic, Baharna

Bible Translation Status:  Translation Started

Resource Type Resource Name Source
Audio Recordings Arabic Bible Online Arabic Bible Outreach Ministry
Text / Printed Matter Tools for faith conversations Campus Crusade for Christ
Photo Source Al Jazeera - Flickr  Creative Commons 
Map Source People Group location: IMB. Map geography: ESRI / GMI. Map design: Joshua Project.  
Profile Source Bethany World Prayer Center 
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Learn more.

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