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Mon 2 Jun 2014 10:30 AM

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All expats face ban from driving in Bahrain

Senior MP and business groups slam plans for new law

All expats face ban from driving in Bahrain
Bahrain Shura Council and House of Representatives in Manama. (MOHAMMED AL-SHAIKH/AFP/Getty Images)

A senior Bahraini MP has joined a chorus of opposition to proposed new laws that would ban expats from driving in the Gulf state, saying it is unconstitutional, it was reported.

Local media reports suggest the draft traffic law would involve a blanket ban on driving for all non-Bahraini citizens, with no mention of whether any exemptions could apply.

The Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) has already announced that it will try to block the law after describing it as a retrograde move for the country’s tourism industry that will stifle business confidence.

“Article 20 which bans expat driving, strips immigrants of one of the basic human rights - that's the right of movement,” the BCCI said in a statement.

Minister of State for Information Affairs and government's official spokeswoman Sameera Rajab said the draft legislation “is constitutionally questionable”, Gulf Daily News reported.

“We have always been moving forward, not backwards,” she said.

She confirmed the government was following closely the development of the contentious law.

The chamber said Bahrain needed to maintain a business-friendly environment.

“Such controversial decisions will only harm Bahrain’s reputation, hurt its investment assets in the long run and destabilise the business community,” it said.

No date has been given on when Parliament will debate the proposed law. Bahrain’s proposed new traffic laws described as anti-business.

Chris 5 years ago

Create clean, modern public transportation and I will gladly leave a car behind (Tram? Metro?). Install sidewalks and pedestrian bridges Island-wide. Build priority parking spots for carpooling in company car parks. Encourage cycling during the cooler months by installing bike lanes. Enforce tougher speeding finds and ban dangerous drivers Etc. Etc.

There are a million and one ways to solve Bahrain's traffic congestion without taking such drastic measures. Keep in mind that over half of the county is made up of 'non-citizens'.

Ahmad 5 years ago

You can't ban people from movement when you don't provide them an option of transportation such as subway, train, developed bus systems in the country. Bahrain is going down the same path as Kuwait with their Parliament, which is trying to solve their critical issues by attacking expats. Does Bahrain or Kuwait have systems in place like the UAE that ensures proper drivers training and integrated motor vehicle centres (ie Barsha)? I agree, many of the expats in these countries arrived with little or no driving instruction from underdeveloped countries, but the governments of Bahrain and Kuwait should have a better trained police force that gives tickets to drivers who break the driving laws and a way of monitoring bad driving to take the bad drivers off the road (ie a black point system). I think this democratic facade that they run in the northern GCC countries just works against the progression of these nations and they would be better off with formative, functioning governments.

tim 5 years ago

forget people in cars, who is going to drive all the trucks that deliver food to shops?

Non-Muslim 5 years ago

Who on earth is so narrowminded to even think about such a law?
Isn't it enough that women Saudi Arabia ae still not allowed to drive themselves - even Saudi women?
What will be banned next - breathing?
How utterly disgraceful!

who2 5 years ago

Oh dear Bahrain.
Lived there for a long time and a few years ago now.
I just wonder why is so much going backwards now?

joel 5 years ago

This type of move will bring down the nation's development and reduce its foot mark in the Global world leading to underdeveloped in nation building.

Jane 5 years ago

Spot on Ahmed. Yes, expatriates are to blame, but not for the reasons given. Its an insular blame game where individuals just cannot accept responsibility, seeing nothing at all wrong with themselves. It is pretty endemic in the entire area actually. The problems of Bahrain roads is absolute anarchy reigns and the perpetrators of this terribly dangerous and frightening trait are any army of hideously arrogant, grossly inconsiderate locals with tremendously bad manners who adhere to no laws, only God's. Traffic lights do not exist for them. Queues are to be bypassed any which way. Junctions mean nothing. Challenge them and they believe it to be their right!
This 'I am superior' allows them to literally disregard with distain all expatriates who would NEVER dare to break the law if the Bahrainis didn't do it in the first place.
Granted, the mass majority are expatriate labour with questionable intelligence, who when driving do some very stupid unsafe things, but it is not arrogance.

Joispa 5 years ago

This doesn't make any sense... for a while I thought this was news from the Pan Arabia Enquirer website...

Dianne 5 years ago

What Chris said. And if this goes through we will move; it's that simple…Then who will support businesses here? Who will pay rent for private villas? Who will eat out and buy groceries? Spend money in the Souq and tickets from Gulf Air? Issue citations to idiot drivers, many of who are local, and provide mass transit and bike trails, etc. This is so stupid. Lol

Jacob 5 years ago

This is absolute nonsense. Laughable. Agree with Ahmad about ridiculous parliament which wants Bahrain to go back 40 years. The government is actually quite pragmatic and forward thinking - let them get on with the business of running the country.
With the expat driving ban where do you start? Does it just apply to new driving licenses or all expats currently driving. Considering more than half of the population and two thirds of the workforce is an expat Bahrain would grind to a halt. What happens when a quarter of a million people have to sell their cars simultaneously? What happens to auto loans with banks? Insurance? Car rental companies?
I am a Brit and have lived in Bahrain for 5 years working as a senior executive in the banking sector. Of course I drive and own my own car. Are they suggesting I wait 20 minutes for a non-aircon bus when I have a meeting, commute to work, go shopping? Most expats would leave that is why this is hot air and will NEVER happen.