With a population of just over a million, only around two-thirds of whom are Bahraini, Bahrain is one of the smallest countries in the world. With dwindling oil reserves it is also one of the poorest in the Gulf. So, it has sought to position itself, through its Economic Vision 2030, as an alternative financial centre to Dubai. Its excellent communication and transportation facilities have helped with this; the Spring 2011 television images of Saudi tanks rolling into the country to crush protests will not.
The PR industry is nascent with most brands and agencies running Bahrain campaigns out of Dubai or Saudi Arabia. “There is a lack of budget for PR,” says Bassam Kameshki, PR Co-Ordinator at property developer Cluttons Bahrain. “This is partly because of the credit crunch, and partly because the unrest in Bahrain led a few companies to put their planned projects on hold and as a result stop or decrease PR activities.”
Where PR does exist it tends to be in close contact with the media. Agency sources report that ‘buy an ad and get a press release free'
deals are common. Yet, some raise the hope that the country's recent troubles have highlighted the need for clear and constructive communication between the government, the business world and the people. Both the media and the PR industry will have a role to play in facilitating that discussion.