Last updated in September 2016
Relations between Germany and Bahrain are good. Despite its critical assessment of the domestic situation in Bahrain, Germany is highly regarded there. High points in bilateral relations so far were King Hamad’s official visit to Berlin in late October 2008 and the return visit to Bahrain by Federal Chancellor Merkel in May 2010, as well as German Bundestag President Lammert’s visit in April 2010. In November 2011, Bahrain’s Crown Prince Salman and Foreign Minister Khalid Al-Khalifa held talks in Berlin that focused on the country’s internal political situation and a critical appraisal the violent clashes there. Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid Al-Khalifa was in Berlin for political consultations in October 2014 and attended the Munich Security Conference in February 2015.
Bilateral cooperation focuses on promoting the rule of law and parliamentary exchange. German Bundestag Vice-President Claudia Roth held talks in Bahrain in March 2014. In early June 2015, the Chairman of the Legal Affairs Committee of the elected Bahraini parliament attended the Fourth International Conference of Parliamentary Committees on Legal Affairs in Berlin at the invitation of the German Bundestag and the German Foundation for International Legal Cooperation (IRZ).
Germany enjoys a good reputation in Bahrain as a reliable trading partner, though there is still room for an improvement in bilateral trade (worth approximately EUR 442.3 million in 2015) compared with Bahrain’s regional neighbours. Germany’s positive image there is largely founded on its highly competitive industrial and technology sectors, in which Bahrain shows a keen interest. On the German side, small and medium-sized companies in particular are taking advantage of the good investment climate in Bahrain. At present, more than 50 German companies have offices in Bahrain or are engaged in projects there. A cross-sectoral business delegation of the Euro-Mediterranean-Arab Association (EMA) headed by former Federal President Christian Wulff visited Bahrain in early April 2016. Bahrain’s newly appointed Minister of Industry and Commerce, Zayed Al-Zayan,i and the new Chief Executive of the country’s Economic Development Board (EDB), Khalid Al-Rumaihi, visited Germany in early 2015. Former Federal Transport Minister Peter Ramsauer, Chairman of the German Bundestag’s Committee on Economic Affairs and Energy and President of the Arab-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Ghorfa,) visited Bahrain in March 2015 accompanied by a high-ranking business delegation. There are approximately 500 German nationals living in Bahrain.
An investment promotion and protection agreement was signed in February 2007 and entered into force at the end of May 2010.
The regional liaison offices of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the Goethe Institute in Abu Dhabi have in recent years succeeded in making initial progress on academic cooperation, student exchange and the promotion of German teaching in Bahrain. The German Embassy in Bahrain is stepping up its efforts to intensify cooperation in the cultural, education, academic and scientific sectors. Since 2009, it has also organised language courses that prepare students for Goethe Institute examinations. In addition, the publicly funded University of Bahrain offers German instruction based on an agreement with Leipzig University. In 2013, the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities and the Arabian Gulf University in Bahrain co-founded the first bilateral Arab-German Young Academy of Sciences and Humanities (AGYA) with a view to promoting excellent young Arab and German scientists and scholars as well as interdisciplinary research projects.
In May 2014, the German Embassy presented around 300 books, some of them Arabic translations, to Bahrain National Library. For language and cultural reasons, Anglo-American countries are Bahraini students’ preferred foreign study destinations. That makes existing academic contacts with Germany, for example in the renewable-energy sector, all the more valuable.