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Bahrain – Ministry of Interior Recruitment Drive

March 6, 2011

Here’s an intriguing story coming out of Bahrain.

Sheikh Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa announced yesterday that following King Hamad’s directives to boost employment in his ministry, the Ministry of the Interior will be hiring an additional 20,000 staff. The official Bahrain News Agency announcement is here.

According to the Labour Market Regulatory Authority there are currently 140,000 Bahrainis currently in employment. So it seems that an additional 14.5% of the workforce will be police or employees of other Ministry of the Interior departments.

Even allowing for the possibility that a number of policemen of other nationalities will be replaced by Bahrainis under the new measure – which would be very sensible given the resentment caused by the presence of non-Bahrainis in the security forces – that would be a pretty significant hike, especially if you consider that the Ministry already employs a number of Bahrainis.

Much as I commend the sentiments expressed by the Minister about the need to protect citizens against sectarian violence, 20,000 new staff is a pretty jaw-dropping figure. If the United Kingdom’s Home Office employed an additional 14.4% of the country’s 30 million workforce, that would mean an additional 4.35 million policemen and supporting civil servants.

Perhaps I am misunderstanding the Minister’s announcement. But if only from a communications perspective, I question whether this is the kind of message that will ease current tensions, especially as it will take some time to recruit and train the additional staff, by which time one would hope that there is a settlement in place that satisfies all parties.

  1. Having expressed hopes that more Bahrainis would be recruited into the police force in a comment on one of your earlier blogs, it’s a concern to hear of such a knee-jerk reaction. Certainly recruitment in such numbers will perpetuate the problem of quantity rather than quality which will do little to restore confidence. As they say, and has been mentioned by yourself in other posts, be careful what you wish for!

  2. Steve Harrison permalink

    in my experience, recent police officer training programmes in Bahrain are by far the most superior in the Gulf. They include significant Human Rights and legal training, fitness, conflict resolution, self-defence and a range of other skills required by the officers of both genders. Bahraini policewomen are so far ahed of their regional counterparts in organisation that the senior female Bahraini officer was asked recently to help the Kuwaitis to set up a similar unit.
    This is not to say that all 20,000 new emplopyees will get the same training, but the principles of MoI instruction are clear, forward-thinking and impressive. One hopes that their superior officers will utilise these skills in the approproate manner in future.

  3. that’s really good to know Steve. A documentary about this perhaps by the BBC or Al Jazeera in both English and Arabic would be a good damage limitation excercise. It would restore worldwide confidence in law enforcement in the country but more importantly entice youngsters to enter into a profession in which they can really take pride and gain self respect, one which is now more necessary and better supported than ever.

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