The Pope – as stated in the official Bahraini report – also expressed his appreciation “for the wisdom of His Majesty King Hamed and his constant concern for the promotion of the culture of dialogue and tolerance” and praised his initiatives “aimed at consolidating and to spread the principles of coexistence and fraternity among all countries and peoples”.
The territory of the Kingdom of Bahrain consists of an archipelago of 33 islands on the west coast of the Persian Gulf. The country ruled by the Al Khalifa royal family was formerly an emirate that was converted into a constitutional monarchy in 2002. Bahrain established diplomatic relations with the Holy See in 1999. The first Catholic church to be built on the Persian Gulf in modern times is the Church dedicated to the Sacred Heart, which was built in 1939 in the Bahraini capital Manama on land donated by the Emir of Bahrain. In 2013 (see Fides, 13/2/2013) the Catholic Church received from King Ahmad bin Isa an additional 9,000 square meters of land in the parish of Awali, where construction of the Kingdom’s Catholic Cathedral, Our Lady, began in spring 2014 of Arabia will be dedicated. Bahrain, along with Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, is part of the Vicariate Apostolic North Arabia.