Bahrain's alcohol dilemma

Bahrain's unelected upper house of parliament has blocked a move by the lower house (elected and Islamist-dominated) to impose a total ban on the public sale and consumption of alcohol.

With backing from Bahrain's Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Shura Council last week amended the bill to say that it would apply only to Muslims. The lower house rejected the amendment and sent it back to the upper house for reconsideration. With both houses about to be dissolved at the end of their four-year term, the Gulf Daily News suggests the entire bill will fall by the wayside – at least for the time being.

The proposed ban is meeting opposition from business interests, since Bahrain's alcohol trade is extremely lucrative. The tiny island is a popular watering hole for Saudis.

A Bahraini blogger quoted by The Media Line says: "The problem is not that they drink ... It is what is happening afterwards – car accidents, anti-social behaviour – that is the problem."

Posted by Brian Whitaker, 9 May 2010.