Relations between Switzerland and Bahrain centre on trade, finance and human rights. Bahrain is an important regional trading centre and therefore particularly attractive to Swiss financial institutions.
Bilateral relations Switzerland–Bahrain
On 14 October 2020 the Federal Council adopted a specific strategy for the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA Strategy) for the 2021–24 period. It identifies five thematic priorities: peace, security and human rights; migration and protection of people in need; sustainable development; economic affairs, finance, science; and digitalisation and new technologies.
These priorities are weighted differently across the various regions and countries. In the Arabian Peninsula and Iran, priority thematic areas for Switzerland are regional stability and security, economic and financial cooperation, and sustainable natural resource management.
Switzerland also wishes to support the Gulf countries in their efforts to professionalise their international cooperation, especially with regard to South-South cooperation and compliance with international development standards in the areas of climate change, health and water management.
Switzerland's priorities in Bahrain
The MENA Strategy 2021–24 identifies the following priorities for Switzerland in Bahrain:
1. Peace, security and human rights
In addition to their multilateral commitments, the two countries hold regular bilateral talks on human rights issues under declarations of intent.
2. Economy, finance and science
Switzerland supports Swiss companies that want to take advantage of opportunities in Bahrain.
The two countries concluded an agreement on civil aviation in 1986, followed in 2004 by an agreement on the avoidance of double taxation in air and sea transport. A free trade agreement between the European Free Trade Association and the Gulf Cooperation Council states came into force in 2014. In November 2019, the two countries signed a double taxation agreement.
3. Digitalisation and new technologies
The Swiss Business Hub Dubai and the Swiss representation in Abu Dhabi are organising an exchange between the authorities and various companies.
Other areas of cooperation
Education, training, research and innovation
Researchers and artists who are citizens of Bahrain can apply for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships from the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI). Furthermore, SERI has designated the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Western Switzerland (HES-SO) as the Leading House for the Middle East and North Africa and commissioned it to develop scientific collaboration partnerships between Switzerland and the countries of the MENA region.
Switzerland regularly participates in events to promote the French language as part of the International Day of La Francophonie and also the Italian culture week (Settimana della Lingua Italiana nel Mondo). It also organises various cultural events.
Swiss nationals in Bahrain
In 2020, there were 96 Swiss citizens living in Bahrain.
History of bilateral relations
Switzerland has maintained diplomatic relations with Bahrain since 1971. Switzerland's interests in the Kingdom of Bahrain are represented by the Swiss embassy in Abu Dhabi. Switzerland has an honorary consulate in Bahrain's capital, Manama.
The Bahraini embassy in Paris is also accredited to Switzerland.