Observing Iran – inside out


Bahrain and Oman crossroad

 Two very similar states that are close to my heart but with different future, the case of Oman and Bahrain. The choice of Iron fist or reaching out was handed to the leaders of the states. As they took two different approaches, the region watched and analysed to see which option they should take if faced with the unavoidable popular discontent.

Bahrain in a pre-revolutionary status

Bahrain established itself as the Gulf’s financial hub in the 1980s when banks catering to the region’s wealth left Beirut during the Lebanese civil war. But once again the money in Middle East are changing vaults.

Bahrain has experienced protests for several years in small-scale, although the discontent has been under the surface the global community has portrait Bahrain as a financial center in the Persian Gulf. The main income of this state is tourism (16% of GDP)  and it’s financial sector (25% of GDP), Bahrain’s tourism and financial sectors have been hit by the unrest that has gripped the country and it will be an impossible mission to restore its reputation as a business-friendly hub.

Bahrain is a lost business case, the protests and the movement will continue until it reaches results. The community is too small to forget and pass on, Bahrain is a society were everyone knows everyone and these scars and memories will not be washed away or forgotten. The cracks between the rulers and the people are to great to continue with business as usual. The management of the crisis by the authorities have been a failure, as the state of Bahrain can’t be ruled as a military state.

Artificial forces that  is holding the authorities in place  is not a sustainable model of governance, as the decision makers have made fatal mistakes and lost the faith of the people.

Oman – The Sultan of the people

Sultan Qaboos, has led his country for 41 years and showed a high level of ability of managing and solving national crisis. Oman was the first country in the Arabian Peninsula to be effected  of the uprisings in North Africa. People took to the streets in Soha Industrial region and soon the protests spread to several cities in the Sultanat. As soon as blood was spilled on the grounds of the country the Sultan took immediate actions and went beyond the demands of the protestors and sacked almost his entire government. He promised more reforms than what the people initially had asked for but with one pre-condition to restore order and security.

Today, Oman seems to have surfed over the wave of protests that broke out a few weeks ago. The government handled the protests exceptionally and didn’t allow it to develop into a crisis, similar to the king of Jordan.

Oman could have taken a totally different road but with wise judgement and leadership of the country it avoided the path of violence and chaos as Bahrain took. Today, the Sultan of Oman is probably more respected than in the past because of his management skills.

Bahrain & Oman are to states in the GCC union

The international Monetary Fund (IMF) ranks Bahrain as 33th(26.800$/year) and Oman as 34th /26.200$/year) in the world in terms of GDP per capita. Economical the two states are in almost exact same position in 2010, but in near future one will fall and the other will rise in economic prosperity due to political leadership decisions taken in early 2011.

This will also have major effects on the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC); a political and economic union of the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait.was founded in 1981. Depending on how the situation in Bahrain will be handled from now on, the political and economical effects will be felt across GCC.

In a time of uncertainty, one thing is certain. Nobody is immune to what is happening in North Africa and Middle East

Like to add: This is a very interesting interactive timeline of Middle Eastern protests http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/interactive/2011/mar/22/middle-east-protest-interactive-timeline