On 22 July, Iain Lindsay, the outgoing British Ambassador to Bahrain, expressed his sorrow at leaving Bahrain after four years of service. He noted how many British citizens saw Bahrain as a “second home”, with many hundreds of them settling down and having children and even grandchildren in the Kingdom. “Bahrain should be proud that people from differing cultural and religious backgrounds prefer to live here rather than in other states,” Lindsay said.
Below are some of the notable quotes from Ambassador Iain Lindsay’s press conference:
“In general, Bahrain is on the right track and the reform agenda and vision of His Majesty King Hamad and the Government indicates it is in the right direction.”
“There are times when Bahrain is going forward and other times events happen and the progress is not happening as fast as we would like… The British Government is keen to see faster reforms process here and this is the view shared by our European partners and other allies.
“Human rights is an area in Bahrain that continued to be commented on internationally and it is important for Bahrain to show that it is making progress on the commitments it made at the time of implementation of the BICI recommendations and during the UN Human Rights Council”.
“We are not saying Bahrain is perfect and I think the Bahrain leaders admit that there is still work to be done, but we believe the direction of travel is the right one and inevitably changing attitudes, culture and behaviour is not a quick process as we know from the Northern Ireland experience.”
“We recognize concerns GCC countries have expressed and how Iran behaves in the region. We made it clear over the last few years that we reject Iranian interference in GCC affairs… We hope and expect that Iranian behaviour in the region will and should improve following this agreement.”
“The number of complaints the Ombudsman Office received have gone up and this shows people are willing to go to Office as they have greater confidence”.
“Bear in mind this is the first Ombudsman in the region, a concept that is not widely accepted and understood in the region with Bahrain taking the lead.”
Trade & business
“British companies use Bahrain as a platform to enter the region as the kingdom is strategically located, provides trained Bahraini workforce and still has a good reputation as the best regulated and open market in the Gulf.”
“There are 90 branches of British companies in Bahrain, over 500 active UK commercial agencies in Bahrain and in addition there are over 350 Bahraini companies who have UK partners”.
The Ambassador pointed out that there had been an increase in bilateral trade between Britain and Bahrain of around 7% during 2014, despite the fall in oil revenues.
UK support for reform
“Much of the assistance aimed to achieve sustainable stability and we recognize that the Bahrain authorities require economic, social and political reforms”.
“By the end of 2012, because of the trust and confidence we gained with our partners, reforms support was started. Our reforms support three years ago was worth zero pounds and now this programme is …worth millions”.
The Ambassador noted close cooperation on police, prison and penal reforms.
“Our relationship went through a difficult phase in 2010 and early 2011 and my task was to rebuild trust and have a process of reconciliation for the differences that existed”.
The Ambassador also discussed the establishment of the first permanent British naval base in the region since 1971: “Work on that has already started in Mina Salman and should be completed in the second half of next year”.