Bahrain calls for firm international action to face challenges, threats to stability

King Hamad addressing the parliament. (BNA)

King Hamad addressing the parliament. (BNA)

By Habib Toumi

Manama: Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa has called on the international community to take the necessary steps to deal with threats to stability and with challenges to the world order.

“One fifth of the world’s oil and gas supply passes through the waters of the Arabian Gulf, and any threat to the freedom of navigation is therefore considered a disruption to world trade, a disturbance to oil prices, and a challenge to the global order,” King Hamad said.

“Accordingly, the international community must come together to take firm steps to deter the aggressor and oblige it to respect international maritime safety laws and treaties, in order to maintain international peace and security,” the Bahraini monarch said as he opened the second year of the four-year term of the current parliament following the summer recess.

King Hamad said that as Bahrain was steadily moving towards a modern, knowledge-based economy, the government should undertake the development of a comprehensive national plan to ensure that the kingdom is “fully prepared to meet the needs of the digital economy by using artificial intelligence technologies in the production and service sectors.”

Such initiatives require the establishment of systems and of technical frameworks as well as encouraging quality investments that will guarantee the optimum benefits for the national economy, he added.

“Our world today is witnessing rapid developments and pressing challenges, requiring us to find appropriate means, through which we can deal flexibly and with renewed thinking to preserve our continuous progress,” the king said.

“Having accomplished many achievements of which we are proud, we look to the future with great optimism, taking further strides forward in building the modern civilized state that keeps pace with the scientific and technical advancements that characterize global development.”

King Hamad added that he was looking forward to boosting the development of the oil and gas sector in light of the major discoveries announced recently.

Projects include the largest expansion of the Bapco refinery, the expansion of Banagas, the opening of the liquefied gas terminal, Alba’s Line 6 project, and the operation of the new pipeline with Saudi Arabia, he said.

Other strategic investments to support the national economy include the development of the transportation sector, the expansion of Bahrain International Airport and the official start of executive studies for the construction of the King Hamad Causeway, the second terrestrial link between Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

The first link, the King Fahad Causeway, was opened to traffic between the two countries in November 1986.

King Hamad said that Bahrain is taking “serious initiatives to adopt appropriate solutions to develop auto-sufficiency.”

“We have issued directives to develop and implement a strategic project for national food production to include the allocation of multiple sites for aquaculture and plant production,” he said.

“The project aims primarily to develop the capacity of national food industries, to increase the proportion of local production, and to preserve the expertise of the professionals who play such an important part in the success of such projects.”

The Bahraini monarch highlighted the significance of the Alternative Sentencing Law in promoting the rights of citizens.

“We direct all relevant parties to extend full cooperation in applying the law provisions that consolidate social stability and recognize the circumstances of those convicted by giving them the opportunity to resume their positive role in society. We extend our thanks here to the judiciary and its officials for their efforts to strengthen the pillars of justice and safeguard rights and freedoms,” he said.

The 40 lawmakers comprising the Council of Representatives, the lower chamber of the bicameral parliament, were elected last year in the fifth elections held since the promulgation of a new constitution that gave women the right to vote and run in legislative and municipal elections.

The quadrennial elections were held in 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014 and 2018.

The current Council of Representatives is chaired by Fawzia Zainal, the first woman Speaker in the history of Bahrain.

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