Americans and Bahrainis Build Connections through Cultural Exchange

By Justin Siberell, U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Bahrain

Manama, Kingdom of Bahrain

June 17, 2019

The ties between the United States and Bahrain are strong and deep.  Our shared commitment to regional security and economic prosperity has been a lynchpin for the development of our two societies.  In 2018, our bilateral trade in goods exceeded $3 billion dollars, a new record and a tangible representation of the benefits of our partnership.  Yet, the most meaningful link between us is the friendship we enjoy through personal and professional relationships between the American and Bahraini people.  One way that we work to expand such relationships is through cultural exchange programs.  Cultural exchange fosters mutual understanding and shows the very best of what each society has to offer.

The U.S. Embassy in Manama arranges dozens of exchanges each year, bringing artists, speakers, and performance groups to Bahrain to highlight unique aspects of American culture – beyond what Hollywood screens project and entertainment magazines highlight. Over the long arc of the U.S.-Bahrain relationship, cultural and educational exchange programs have created common understanding and a mutual appreciation. The success of these programs can often be attributed to the keen support of the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities (BACA), whose partnership we very much appreciate.

In fact, from June 26-28 another very exciting cultural outreach program will begin. The “Step Afrika” dance group will arrive from the U.S. to participate in BACA’s Summer Festival. This talented group blends the percussive dance styles historically embraced by African-American social clubs in the U.S. with traditional African dancing, while at the same time incorporating music, storytelling, and audience participation. It makes for a uniquely American experience that we are excited to share with our Bahraini friends.

In July, we will welcome the Missoula Children’s Theatre back to Bahrain to participate in the BACA Summer Festival for the third time. The theatre group will be bringing the classic story Rapunzel to Bahrain, which should delight audiences young and old. With substantial support from BACA, children in Bahrain will have an opportunity to shine on stage in this classic fairy tale that children around the world know and love.

At the same time, Americans are eager to learn more about Bahraini culture. Indeed, our colleagues at Bahrain’s Embassy in Washington, DC maintain an active calendar of cultural offerings aimed at the American public.  During Ramadan, the Embassy hosted the INTRAfaith Iftar, introducing Americans to important aspects of Bahrain’s rich and dynamic culture.

Cultural exchanges expose participants and spectators to the more human side of diplomacy and international relations. Fundamentally, however, the success of relationships and partnerships depend on the people who enter into them. In the case of the U.S.–Bahrain relationship, both peoples embrace these opportunities to learn about each other and thereby strengthen yet further our long-standing friendship. We look forward to building on this history through exploring opportunities for cultural exchange throughout the year.

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Link to Arabic is here.