The monograph by Russian orientalists V. A. Isaev and A. O. Filonika is the first work in our country in the last 30 years devoted to the Kingdom of Bahrain, a small island state located in the middle part of the Persian Gulf ("The Kingdom of Bahrain. Experience of development in the context of changing resource orientation", Moscow, Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Institute of the Middle East, 2006, 292 p.).
Bahrain is not a "heavyweight" in the Gulf Cooperation Council and its economic potential is largely inferior to its other members - Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman. Bahrain has a population of 0.7 million people, GDP per capita at the end of 2005 was 15.4 thousand US dollars (4th place after Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates), the country has natural resources: oil reserves are estimated at 30 - 35 million tons, natural gas-14-16 billion cubic meters (p. 13 - 14).
The main section of the book is devoted to economic topics. The famous natural Bahraini pearls, on which merchant clans made substantial fortunes, in the early 30s of the XX century. it has lost the palm to oil and gas, whose reasonable and efficient operation has put the country on the path of stable economic growth. The ruling circles of the country realized in a timely manner (earlier than it did in other monarchies of Arabia) that relying solely on the "oil component" in development limits the opportunities for growth (p.45). A policy of diversification of the national economy was proclaimed.
The monograph fairly fully reflects the main stages, directions and ways of implementing this policy. According to the authors, the peculiarities of the Bahraini economy - cheap electricity, serious investment opportunities, including the resources of donor countries (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates), and limited local skilled labor resources-dictated an energy-and capital - intensive, but labor-saving development path for the country. This strategy was quite clearly traced in the country's specialization in the field of oil refining and petrochemicals, metallurgy, with the subsequent development of related export-oriented industries. The Bahraini authorities managed to build a modern developed financial system in a relatively short historical period, with the help of which the country turned into a banking and financial center of regional significance (pp. 85-87).
The authors ask how, in a relatively short period of time, Bahrain was able to transform its economy, its internal political life, and become an equal partner in the international division of labor, surpassing many of its neighbors in terms of quality of life without losing its distinctive way of life, cultural and religious traditions. I think that the conclusion made by V. A. Isaev and A. O. Filonik is accurate. The Bahraini mentality, which was formed in the context of the multinational life of the Bahraini archipelago and is characterized by great flexibility and a high degree of adaptability, tolerance for the foreign element, perceived the transition to new forms of life as a natural necessity. An important role in this was played by the authorities, who promptly realized the need for change.
The Bahraini economy, through the rational use of natural, financial and human resources, has been demonstrating enviable sustainability for quite a long time. However, this does not mean that all problems in the economic and social spheres have been solved. Bahrain still faces many challenges that will determine its economic prosperity and social well-being. The challenges of globalization and the processes of intra-Arabian integration make it necessary to restructure the traditionally oriented economic space, strengthen the private sector and its role in economic development. In this regard, the authors dwell in detail on the problems of employment and "Bahrainization", monopolization of the market by a narrow stratum of family businesses, the problem of agency companies, the admission of foreigners to the Bahraini market, the difficulties of developing small and medium-sized businesses, etc.
Achieving these and other goals, as the authors rightly point out, is not an easy task, given the size of the country and the scale of its production base. However, as historical experience shows, the Bahraini authorities are able to set large-scale goals and achieve their implementation.
Of great interest is the section on religion in Bahrain. The overwhelming majority of the population is Muslim (approximately 82%), Sunni and Shiite (p. 25). The Sunni population of the country, to which the ruling Al - Khalifa family belongs, is approximately 35-40% of the total population of Bahrain, and the Shiite population is 50-55%. The rest of the faithful belong to the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Episcopal Church, there are also adherents of Hinduism, Melkites (Greek Catholics), etc. (p. 28).
Vladimir KASHIRSKY, Deputy Head of the Near and Middle East Division, Department of Foreign Economic Relations, Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation
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