A young man who grew-up beside his father in important meetings, was born a visionary leader – a quality many strive for – a quality that only the possess. This young man would travel the world and while everyone was enjoying the scenery and indulging in their escapade abroad, this young man wondered why Bahrain could not have the same facilities and advantages that many modern cities in the world offered to their citizens.
As he grew older, he worked at providing each citizen, regardless of race, religion or standing in life, free education, housing and health. He later realized that the world could not depend on fossil fuel forever and knew that Bahrain needed to become economically independent from oil. He endorsed Islamic banking and invited banks to set-up their offices and branches on this island, expanded the hospitality sector by inviting foreign investors to build hotels, encouraged international exhibitions and investment in real estate projects never before seen in this part of the world. He even saw the value of offering foreigners permanent residency by recommending and permitting freehold properties in selected projects. The country was booming. When the global recession in 2008-2009 saw neighbouring countries in turmoil, Bahrain was hardly affected. There was no mass exodus and the country continued being increasingly business friendly and economically sound.
From the outset this man has had one vision – a better Bahrain for future generations.
Bahrain became formally independent as the State of Bahrain on 16th December 1971. It was soon after this man began the process of modernizing Bahrain together with the late Emir, Shaikh Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa. In 1975 the Ministry of Works, Electricity and Water was established comprising of electricity, water research and projects. In 1992 it was restructured into two sectors of Public Works and Electricity and Water. In 1995, it was renamed Ministry of Works and Agriculture and in 2001, it became the Ministry of Works. The Ministry of Housing, established in 1975, was responsible for providing housing services to citizens with plans to provide suitable houses to Bahraini families who were unable to build properties themselves.
To ensure an educated youth, the Ministry of Education was created to provide free compulsory education to all Bahrainis. According to data from the 2010 census the literacy rate of Bahrain stands at 94.6% with expenditure since 2008 accounts for 2.9% of Bahrain’s GDP.
In the Arab culture when someone is sick, the entire family tends to gather and offer assistance and support. For specialist medical issues, many citizens were forced to take on enormous expenses for treatment abroad. This man sympathised with the people and brought specialist medical facilities to the country to ensure that sick citizens and residents could be surrounded by their loved ones, in the comfort of their home. Bahrain today has some of the best medical facilities in the region, if not the world.
This man inspired the foreign policy of Bahrain and was the first Arab leader to recognise the importance of South East Asia. He developed and maintained good relations with Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Philippines. This man endorses mutual respect, cooperation and expertise of other countries. World leaders have said that when you meet with this man the way he speaks, the information, the honesty and the vision he has, makes it possible to forge long term governmental ties.
In 2000, when the Gulf Air aircraft crashed killing all passengers, this man was in France for medical treatment. He immediately cut his trip short, at the expense of his own health, and returned to Bahrain to stand with the people in their time of need. He visited every single family that had lost their loved ones and personally offered his condolences.
In 2011 when the country faced a crisis, the Al Fateh Unity gathering saw hundreds of thousands show their allegiance to Bahrain and reject all acts of terrorism and foreign interference. This man visited public places to show the masses that national security was of the utmost importance to him, thus calming an insecure population. When this man greeted thousands of citizens outside his home during those turbulent period, it was a time when people needed reassurance and security – this man gave them hope and the determination to fight the enemy in a unified peaceful manner.
In 2013, after the emergency National Assembly meeting, this man again reached out to all sectors of the community and cemented his commitment for a better future. He visited the Ministry of Interior and thanked the police for risking their lives. He visited malls and public places to encourage people not to be fearful in their own country. With this man’s charisma and intensity entwined with his unconditional dedication to the people of this country – Bahrain can only go from strength to strength.
This man has encouraged freedom of speech and during meetings with media representatives has asked for criticism and advice in order to improve Bahrain.
He has met with communities in different parts of the country and asked for recommendations on how to improve their lives. Some say this man drives late at night to identify sites for improvement, as well as personally providing support for families in need. This man has strategic ability to fulfill people’s dreams and to resolve the problems of thousands. He faces criticism head on and never shirks his responsibility. This man works for Bahrain.
One story is that a woman with a mentally challenged child in a wheelchair, tried to enter a place this man was visiting. She was unable to reach him due to the huge crowd that had surrounded him and so left, as her son was tired. As she was returning home, a car stopped and this man walked towards them. On enquiring about her son, this man immediately instructed that vital treatment was to be provided for this boy in Europe. The lady returned to Bahrain with a son who was able to walk.
This man is the Prime Minister of Bahrain, Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa. Respected by men and women from all walks of life and known to children as “Baba Khalifa”, he has thanked every sector of the country and stood by ordinary citizens, residents and world leaders. But, he is Bahrain’s BuAli, and the people respect this great gentleman for empathizing with the ordinary and steering the country out of a political crisis.
The message to this extraordinary man is – Sir, you never walk alone – Bahrain is with you.
May God Bless you always.