Bahrain seeks to increase tourism even as it suppresses dissent

The Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority will soon launch Brand Bahrain-a national project that aims to promote Bahrain as a top global tourist destination. It is an international campaign to promote Bahrain’s heritage, culture, business friendly environment, and artistic image across the globe. As part of the government’s initiative to promote Bahrain internationally, it has planned a number of events, including the recently held Bahrain International Air Show.

As Bahrain attempts to increase its profile as a top global tourist destination, it continues to suppress dissent by detaining and imprisoning activists who speak out against the government. The news of the launch of Brand Bahrain is juxtaposed with the news from the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), which documented 29 arbitrary arrests last week: including the arrests of three children. While four prisoners were released, BCHR reports that more than 3,000 prisoners remain in arbitrary detention. The positive face Brand Bahrain seeks to give Bahrain is also in contrast with the recent statements made by Jassim Hussain, a former member of Bahrain’s parliament. Hussain resigned in 2011 following government repression of the 2011 mass protests calling for reform. He notes that repression continues, with the government employing the 2013 anti-terror law to strip dissidents of their citizenship, effecting at least 300 Bahrainis. Thus, even as Bahrain looks to improve and diversify its economy by promoting its image as a friendly and open nation, it continues to contravene international human rights principles and suppress domestic dissent by targeting activists.

Tyler Pry is an Advocacy Intern at Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain

Photo courtesy of Al-Bawaba