Bahrain – officially the Kingdom of Bahrain – is an island country in the Persian Gulf. It has a population of 1.2 million people, of which more than 665,000 are non-nationals. The majority of the population in Bahrain is Middle Eastern, with a considerable number of those from South Asia. The population in Bahrain is ethnically diverse and is mainly comprised of Shia Bahraini and Sunni Bahraini.

Like most other Arab-speaking nations, the official and the most widely spoken language in the country is the Arabic language. Arabic plays an important role in the country’s politics, and is used in most government communications, with some documents and publications being translated into English in instances when the targeted audience are non-Arabic speakers. Bahrani and Gulf Arabic are the two main variations of Arabic in Bahrain. Bahrani Arabic, which is the de facto national language, is mainly spoken in the capital city of Manama, and in some Bahraini villages. Bahrani Arabic is the first language taught in secondary schools in Bahrain. A blend of classic Arabic and Modern Standard Arabic mixed with Bahrani Arabic, is particularly popular in Bahrain. Bahrani is made up of several dialects and accents, including Muharraq and Sitra. Slight dialect variations occur between urban Bahrani speakers and those in the rural areas of the country. A minority language in Bahrain, spoken by less than 5% of the population, is a variation of the Arabic language called Gulf Arabic. Other minority languages spoken in Bahrain include Urdu, Nepali, Malayalam, Tamil, and Hindi. These languages are largely insignificant in terms of the Bahraini social life and culture, and are only relevant in societies among which they are spoken.

English and Persian are two foreign languages widely spoken in Bahrain. The use of English as an alternative language was caused by the presence of a large non-Arabic speaking expatriate community and the need to adopt a foreign language. The English language is the de facto national working and main business language, as well as a compulsory second language in most schools across Bahrain. Commercial road signs all over the country are displayed in both English and Arabic, and there are several TV channels and radio broadcasts, as well as newspapers which are issued in English. Persian is actively used by the Persian immigrants in Bahrain. There are three modern varieties of the Persian language spoken in Bahrain: western Persian, Dari, and Tajik. The Ajam communities, which is another name for the Persian communities in Bahrain, are mostly bilingual and speak Persian as the first and Arabic as their second language. Bahrani Arabic was heavily influenced by the Persian language, with the indigenous Bahrani dialect having borrowed many loanwords from the Persian language.


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