Bahrain has awarded citizenship to 240 British expats living in the island Gulf state, the country’s king announced while on a visit to the UK this week.
"There are some 9,000 permanent British residents in Bahrain making a major contribution to the prosperity of the kingdom as they have always done. Indeed I am proud to say that, by due legal process, we have granted Bahraini nationality to 240 British citizens as they themselves had requested and whose loyal service more than justified it,” Bahrain’s King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa said in a speech at a reception at the Windsor Endurance Festival in the UK.
Gulf Daily News reported the monarch thanked Queen Elizabeth for inviting him to attend the horse show, while some reports claimed the Bahraini king is had given his British counterpart a present of two Arabic horses.
The island state has been the focus of political protests and demonstrations, but the king used his speech to hit out at coverage of the events in some of the western media.
"This encouraging picture of a dynamic and happy country is not always the one reflected by the Western media. But as Disraeli said - 'it is easier to be critical than correct'. Of course the unrest of 2011 has had an impact and it continues in a small number of villages to this day,” the king said.
“We are doing our best to tackle it through dialogue and the improvements we have put in place in our legal and policing procedures in which we have had much support from the UK authorities. Unfortunately we are dealing with a small but violent minority inspired and supported by elements outside the kingdom. But we remain confident that we will achieve an outcome satisfactory to all," he added.
The ceremony was attended by Prince Andrew, the Duke of York and several high ranking UK and Bahraini officials.