Media outlets in Bahrain, whether printed, audiovisual, or electronic, have all witnessed significant developments, in line with the responsible freedom of expression and opinion, a part of the political and democratic reforms taking place in Bahrain since 1999, under the reign of HM King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.
Developments in the media sector were an important step forward in a rich history of media and journalism in Bahrain. Modern journalism in Bahrain started off in 1939 when “Jareedat Al Bahrain” (newspaper of Bahrain) was established. First radio broadcast was in 1940, and the inauguration of the first building for Bahrain wireless broadcast was in 21st of July 1955. First television transmission was in 1973, and the establishment of Bahrain Television was in 1975. Bahrain News Agency was launched in 1976, it was then named “Gulf News Agency”.
The first Government entity concerned with media affairs was established in 26th July 1965 under the name “Department of Information of the Government of Bahrain” before becoming a ministry. In July 2010, Information Affairs Authority was established, and the Ministry of State for Information Affairs in April 2012. The Higher Authority for Media and Communication was established in July 2013 as an independent body that is concerned with supervising media and communication outlets, gives opinion on draft laws and licensing applications, as well as issuing a binding media charter of honor that increases neutrality and professionalism in all media and communication outlets.
Bahraini indicators show a significant development in both the number and content of newspapers, magazines, radio stations, television channels, and news websites. Indicators also show that media outlets are significantly open when handling national matters, within an atmosphere of political, intellectual and cultural pluralism. Media outlets witness a continuous upgrade institutionally, legislatively and technologically, which is in line with the political and democratic openness and the boom in information and communication technologically.
Bahrain News Agency (BNA)
Bahrain News Agency is the No. 1 source of official local news. It was established in 1976 under the name “Gulf News Agency”, and it effectively started its work in April 1978, and was renamed to its current name in 23rd of September 2001. BNA specializes in highlighting all developments taking place in Bahrain in different areas, whether political, economic, social, cultural, religious, artistic, and sports, in both Arabic and English.
The agency have signed a number of cooperation and news exchange agreements with news agencies in the Gulf region, the Arab world, and worldwide. BNA has accounts on social media in Arabic, English, French and German, as well as smart phone applications.
There are 10 radio stations:
General broadcast station
Holy Quran, Bahrain FM
Al Shababiya (youth)
Tarabiya (Classic Arabic Music)
Shaabiya (Bahraini Folk Music)
Bahrain Radio (songs)
Huna Al Khaleej Al Arabi (This is the Arabian Gulf)
Bahrain also broadcasts the audio of the main Arabic and English television channels, and retransmits, within the framework of media cooperation agreements, Arabic and international FM stations such as: Emirates FM, Monte Carlo, BBC, MBC FM, and others.
Bahrain television bouquet includes 6 television channels:
Sports Channel 1
Sports Channel 2
The new media and communications law will allow the private sector to establish radio and television channels, which will fulfill the goals of the media strategy (2013-2018) in making the sector of media and communication, enter the investment sector, achieve an added value, and diversify the national income sources.
Bahrain currently has 7 daily newspapers, in Arabic and in English:
Akhbar Al Khaleej: Daily Arabic newspaper under Dar Akhbar Al Khaleej Press & Publishing House. First issue: first of February 1976.
Alayam: Daily Arabic newspaper, under Alayam Publishing. First issue: 7 March 1989.
Alwasat: Daily Arabic newspaper, under Dar Al Wasat for Publishing and Distribution. First issue: 19 August 2002.
Alwatan: Daily Arabic newspaper, under Al Watan for Publishing & Distribution Co. First issue: 30 August 2005
Albilad: Daily Arabic newspaper, under Dar Albilad - Journalism, Publishing & Distribution. First issue: 22 November 2007.
Gulf Daily News: Daily English newspaper, under Dar Akhbar Al Khaleej Press & Publishing House. First issue: 21 March 1987.
Daily Tribune: Daily English newspaper, under Alayam Publishing. First issue: 8 March 1997.
Weekly Newspapers and Magazines
Bahrain has 15 weekly newspapers and magazines today, in both Arabic and English, a remarkable increase from just 4 newspapers and magazines in the year 2000. Under is a list of some of those publications:
Al Naba: weekly newspaper, under Dar Al Naba News & Media in Bahrain. First issue: 8 June 2008.
Al Tijariya: weekly newspaper, under Dar Al Nafeda for Journalism, Publishing & Distribution. First issue: 25 April 2007.
Gulf Economic Monitor: weekly English magazine under Al Hilal Group. First issue: 3 May 1998.
Mamlakatu Al Shabaab (Youth Kingdom): weekly newspaper under Dar Al Nafeda for Journalism, Publishing & Distribution.
In addition to that, IAA issues the “Official Gazette”, which includes all decrees, laws, decisions, trademarks, and court sentences. The gazette is issued weekly.
The number of monthly newspapers increased in Bahrain from 9 magazines in the year 2000 to 38 magazines in the year 2014 of which 20 were operational and were issued periodically. These magazines contained various topics of interest such as social, entertainment and economic topics and were issued in both Arabic and English. The main magazines are:
News Websites (Electronic Newspapers and Magazines)
Electronic Newspapers have spread in light of the increased usage of the internet and the increased number of electronic newspapers and news magazines which accounted for 4 websites in the year 2000 to 9 websites to date:
Al Bilad – a daily electronic newspaper licensed in 22/11/2007
Al Ayam – a daily electronic newspaper licensed in 28/9/2010
Al Watan – a daily electronic newspaper licensed in 30/9/2010
Daily Tribune net - a daily electronic newspaper licensed in 28/9/2010
Ajil Al Bahrain – 5/10/2010
Bahrain After Eight – 23/7/2010
Sout Al Manama – 13/8/2008
The Information Affairs Authority is currently working on issuing “Huna Al Bahrain” electronically. “Huna Al Bahrain” was issued on paper weekly during May 1974 and in 1956 monthly.
860 news bulletins and newspapers were licensed by the Information Affairs Authority from 2000 – 2014 that belong to ministries , governmental entities, political and civil societies, sports and cultural clubs, religious and advertisement entities, social and cultural centers, regional unions and offices, government and private educational entities and charity funds as well as other entities.
The registered publications that are licensed by the Information’s Affairs Authority and were permitted for circulation during the years 2000 to 2014 are 18,615. This comes from the commitment of fulfilling the freedom of circulating publications, visual and audio segments, CD’s for programs and original entertainment games within the framework of abiding by the Media Regulation Law and Copyright and Related Law and providing protection for intellectual property as well as combatting piracy of intellectual property.
Local Publications and Books
Local publications and book titles that are licensed by the Information Affairs Authority for Bahraini authors during the years 2010 to 2014 are 4,969. This emphasizes on the vibrant exchange of intellectual, creative and cultural and media dispersion in light of His Majesty’s reform project.
The Government Printing Department in the Information Affairs Authority continuously supports writers and all concerned individuals who aim to print their books and their cultural, literature and art books by offering competitive prices for printing. This comes from the aim of supporting the generation of ideas in society.
Imported Books and Publications
9,326,683 are the number of imported books and publications that the Information Affairs Authority licensed during the years 2000-2014. This number reflects the openness of media, investment and commerce in the kingdom of Bahrain.
Bahrain is materializing the media strategic plan for the years 2013-2018 by improving Bahraini media through the implementation of initiatives and projects that aim to improve media and journalism, and also by keeping up with technical developments, and by bringing out the developmental and urban achievements that took place during the reform project of HM the King.