In 1932 oil was found in Bahrain, the first discovery of oil on the Arab side of the Gulf. The reserve, however, is relatively small. Accordingly, Bahrain has moved judiciously through the twentieth century, diversifying its economy and nurturing international business relationships.
In 1968, an agreement ended a century as a British protectorate and, by 1971, Bahrain earned total independence. Today, Bahrain is a model of stability. In 2000, as promised, the Amir inaugurated a new era of democracy in Bahrain. October of that year witnessed substantial political reforms. Citizens voted in elections that established a bi-cameral parliament. In 2001, women voted for the first time. Bahrainis today enjoy a greater voice in the laws that govern them—an uncommon freedom in the Gulf.