Bahrain National Day is on 16 and 17 December. That’s two designated days to celebrate the gem that is this island kingdom. In 1971, Bahrain acquired independence after a long era of British rule. It would be the beginning of a prosperous and peaceful chapter for Bahrain — a success story scripted for and by Bahrainis. Naturally, it’s a day that’s very close to every Bahraini’s heart. It is a public holiday when schools and virtually all businesses are closed.
History of Bahrain National Day
The Kingdom of Bahrain is an island nation in the Persian Gulf. Bahrain comprises a beautiful archipelago of 50 natural islands and 33 artificial ones. Together with several other Arabian Gulf territories, the island was a British Protectorate in the 1960s. According to the Protectorate Treaty, the British would offer protection to Bahrain in the event of attacks by sea. The catch? Bahrain was forbidden to build international relations with any other nations without the consent of Britain. The agreement effectively allowed Britain indirect but near-absolute control over the island nation.
World War II brought sweeping changes to the global landscape, and Bahrain was no exception. Discontent over British rule had been simmering for a while but would soon tip over. Numerous protests took place. Conflict and riots became more commonplace. On August 15, 1971, the two countries finally signed an agreement that freed Bahrain from being a British Protectorate. Four months later, Britain left, and Bahrain became an independent country.
Isa Bin Salman Al Khalifa was Bahrain’s first emir and ascended the throne when the country gained independence. A king beloved by his people, he was responsible for introducing numerous reforms that transformed the economy and stability of the country. Bahrain rose to become the financial hub of the Arabian Gulf during the emir’s 38-year reign.
It’s no surprise why the people of Bahrain believe true independence came when the emir ascended the throne on December 16, 1971. Despite Britain officially handing over the reins much before in August, the emir’s rule meant Bahrain as a nation had symbolically come into its own. And the celebrations continue every December with fireworks, shows, and a range of cultural events.
Bahrain National Day timeline
Bahrain yearns for independence and self-determination.
Bahrain receives protection from Britain as part of the Protectorate Treaty.
Britain calls back troops stationed east of the Suez.
Britain leaves and Isa Bin Salman Al Khalifa takes charge of (what would soon be) Bahrain’s glorious future.
Bahrain National Day FAQs
How does Bahrain celebrate National Day?
Schools, public offices, and most businesses shut for two days. The kingdom celebrates with cultural events, laser shows, exhibitions, and fireworks.
What kind of country is the Kingdom of Bahrain?
The Kingdom of Bahrain is a Middle Eastern archipelago in the Persian Gulf, and a Western-friendly Muslim country.
Why is Bahrain important to the U.K.?
Bahrain is important to the U.K. because it is critical to the protection of Gulf shipping lanes, and with its religious mix, as well as its West-friendly stance, it is of strategic importance to its region, and to the U.K.
How To Celebrate Bahrain National Day
Learn a few words in Bahraini Arabic
If you can’t be in Bahrain today, celebrate the country by learning the language. Languages are excellent windows to different cultures. Although Bahrain's society is famously cosmopolitan, its culture is mostly Arabic-based.
Sway to Khaleeji music
Celebrate Bahrain National Day with a musical immersion. Listen to Khaleeji music — indigenous music popular in Bahrain and the Arab World in general. From bedouin origins to contemporary pop, Khaleeji has come a long way.
Gorge on biryani
Biryani is bae! It’s a seasoned rice dish prepared with lamb or chicken. A household favorite in most Arab countries and India, the delicious biryani is the ultimate celebration food.
5 Facts About Manama That Will Blow Your Mind
Bahrain’s beautiful capital city is Manama, meaning “the place of dreams” in Arabic.
Home to the biggest Oreo
Manama broke the Guinness World Record for the world’s most gigantic Oreo cookie ever baked at 161 pounds and 13 ounces.
An ancient city
It is so ancient that the city finds mention in Islamic books of the 1300s.
A repository of Arab Culture
In 2012, the Arab League designated Manama as the capital of Arab Culture.
Manama is home to Iraqis, Indians, Iranians, Europeans, and Saudi Arabians, to name a few.
Why We Love Bahrain National Day
It celebrates freedom
Freedom is always a cause for celebration. Across political and social contexts, the right to self-determination is one everyone can get behind. And that’s why we celebrate with Bahrain today.
National pride and heritage
Every year, the kingdom throws a grand party. People feast, make merry, and attend cultural events. It’s a fantastic day to celebrate the remarkable journey of a small island nation.
Fireworks bring joy to everyone, both the young and the elderly. If you're in Bahrain, the spectacular fireworks display is a joy to watch.
Bahrain National Day dates