A Message from Our President
Miss Betsy Bennett Mathieson
The Kingdom of Bahrain - A Haven of Worship For All Faiths
I was born into a humble Scottish Christian family and the Church played an important part in my upbringing. Attending Sunday School as a young child followed by Church, Bible Study Classes, singing in the church choir, volunteering at church community events and charity fundraising meant my social and spiritual life pretty much revolved around our church community. As a young woman travelling alone to work in Bahrain in 1980, I naturally thought of turning to the Church to help me make new friends, settle in and continue my spiritual journey but I was worried that a Muslim country would not have a church. So when I discreetly asked my colleagues at work if there was a church anywhere in Bahrain, they laughed at me saying “you are spoilt for choice, there are many churches of all denominations in the Kingdom of Bahrain”.
I quickly discovered that the Kingdom of Bahrain was a haven of worship not only for Christians but also for Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and Sikhs as well as Muslims, and had been so for hundreds and hundreds of years. Today, His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa continues to passionately uphold and protect this centuries old Bahraini tradition and our Right to Religious Freedom is enshrined in our Constitution and guaranteed by law. His Majesty’s sincere belief that Religious Freedom combined with Inter-Faith Dialogue is the clearest and noblest path to assure peaceful co-existence amongst all peoples of all faiths, cultures and ethnicities has seen Bahrain emerge as a shining beacon of hope in a troubled world. In our region where Christians are being persecuted for their beliefs and Churches are being demolished, Bahrain is building the largest Church ever built on the Arabian Peninsula, on land donated by His Majesty The King. The ‘Our Lady of Arabia Cathedral’ is being built next to other houses of worship where Churches, Mosques, Temples and Synagogues sit serenely in each other’s shadow serving the needs of the faithful.
Our expatriate communities, as represented by The Bahrain Federation of Expatriate Associations (BFEA) are eternally grateful to His Majesty The King for his care, concern and compassion for our communities.
“THIS IS BAHRAIN” events came about as a result of Bahrainis and Expatriates getting together to share with the world the Bahraini Model of peaceful co-existence where we all live together in harmony in the spirit of mutual respect. We like to say that in the Kingdom of Bahrain, from the day you arrive, you are no longer a stranger as Bahrainis do not simply ‘tolerate’ other faiths, they warmly embrace them as part of our multicultural, multi- faith family where peace and love amongst all peoples of all faiths, reigns supreme just as it has since time immemorial. We see it as our duty to share the humble Bahraini way of life with the world, letting our message of peace and love resonate in our quest to help illuminate the path for peace around the world, because, “THIS IS BAHRAIN” and we extend our warmest welcome for you to visit us and experience it for yourself.