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India-Bahrain Relations

India-Bahrain Relations

India and Bahrain enjoy excellent bilateral relations characterized by cordial political, economic, cultural and people to people contacts. Our bilateral trade and commercial exchanges go back about 5,000 years, tracing their origins to the period of Dilmun Civilization in Bahrain & the era of Indus valley civilization in India. Ancient Bahraini traders are believed to have carried out flourishing trade of Bahraini pearls with spices from India. Many of Bahrain's prominent figures have close Indian connections. When Bahrain was a British protectorate, Indian Rupee was a legal tender in the country. India-Bahrain Diplomatic Relations were established in October 1971, within the month of Bahraini independence. The Embassy of India in Bahrain was opened in Manama, Bahrain in January 1973. The Embassy of Bahrain was opened in New Delhi, India in March 2007. Presence of over 350,000 Indian nationals who comprise nearly a quarter of the total population of 1.5 million in Bahrain is an important anchor of our bilateral relations with Bahrain.

Recent visits to India

2.     State visit of His Majesty King Hamad  bin Isa Al Khalifa: At the invitation of the then Hon’ble President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee, His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa paid his first state visit to India from 18-20 February 2014. HM the King was accompanied by a high-level delegation comprising members of the Royal family, Deputy Prime Minister, Speaker of House of Representatives and Shura Council, key Cabinet Ministers including Ministers of Royal Court, Foreign Affairs, Industry and Commerce, Finance, Labour and Transportation, senior officials and around 130-member strong business delegation. Following MoUs and Agreement were signed during the visit:

  1. MOU on the establishment of a Joint High Commission (February 2014)
  2. MOU on cooperation between the Foreign Service Institute, Ministry of External Affairs, India and the Diplomatic Institute, Bahrain (February 2014)
  3. MOU for cooperation in the field of youth and sports (February 2014)
  4. OIFC signed two Agreements with the Bahrain Economic Development Board and the Bahrain India Society in September 2014.


3.     Visits of the HRH Crown Prince to India: At the invitation of the then Hon’ble Vice President of India, Shri Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, HRH Shaikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the Crown Prince of Bahrain paid an official visit to India from March 19-22, 2007. The Crown Prince again led a high level delegation of Ministers, senior officials and businessmen to India on May 30-31, 2012 at the invitation of Hon’ble  Vice-President of India. He called on the Hon’ble President and met with Hon’ble Vice President, Hon’ble Prime Minister and Minister of External Affairs. In Mumbai, he met with the Governor of Maharashtra and captains of Indian industry. An Agreement for Exchange of Information with respect to Taxes and a Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation in the area of Information & Communication Technology were signed during the visit. HRH the Crown Prince also paid a visit to Kerala on 17-18 March, 2013. The then Chief Minister Oommen Chandy received him at the airport.  During the visit, he held official meetings with the then Hon’ble Minister of State for External Affairs, Shri E. Ahmed.

4.     Visit of Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bahrain: H.E. Dr. Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani, Minister of Foreign Affairs  of Bahrain visited India  and co-chaired, the 3rd High Joint Commission meeting with Dr. S. Jaishankar, Hon’ble External Affairs Minister in April 2021 . Earlier, H.E. Sheikh Khalid Bin Ahmed Bin Mohamed Al-Khalifa, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bahrain visited India from 21-23 February 2015 for the first High Joint Commission meeting. During the visit he called on PM. He had earlier visited India in March 2011 and from 27 December 2014 to 06 January 2015.

5.     Other High level visits: Bahrain’s Interior Minister H.E. General Shaikh Rashid bin Abdulla Al Khalifa was on an official visit to India from 1-4 December 2015. During the visit, an Agreement on Cooperation in Combating International Terrorism, Transnational Organized Crime and Trafficking in Illicit Drugs, Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances and Precursors Chemicals was signed. Minister of Labour and Social Development H.E. Jameel Humaidan visited India in February 2016 to participate in the Make in India Week held at Mumbai.In May 2016, Bahrain’s Minister for Commerce, Industry & Tourism H.E. Zayed bin Rashid Al Zayani visited India leading a high level Economic Development Board (EDB) delegation for the 2nd Bahrain India Forum organized jointly by International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS) and EDB at New Delhi in May 2016.

Recent Visits from India

6.       State visit of Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi: At the invitation of HRH Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, the then Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Bahrain, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, paid a State visit to the Kingdom of Bahrain on 24-25 August 2019. The visit of Prime Minister Modi to Bahrain was the first-ever official visit by an Indian Prime Minister to Bahrain. HM the King bestowed Bahrain Order- First Class on PM in recognition of his efforts to strengthen bilateral relations with the Kingdom of Bahrain. During the visit, PM met with HM the King, HRH the PM of Bahrain & HRH the Crown Prince & addressed Indian community in Bahrain. PM also laid foundation stone for the redevelopment of 200 year old Sri Krishna (Hindu) Temple. An agreement on Cultural Exchange Programme for the year 2019-23 & MoU between NPCI for Launch of RuPay Card in Bahrain & BENEFIT were signed during the visit. Two statements of intent were also signed and exchanged during the visit for collaboration in the areas of space technology and renewable energy.

7.     Visit of Hon’ble External Affairs Minister  (EAM), Dr. S. Jaishankar: EAM Dr. S. Jaishankar visited Bahrain on 24-25 November 2020. The key messages of condolence on the demise of former Prime Minister of Bahrain and appreciation for the care taken of the Indian community during COVID-19 were well received. He called on HRH the Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Bahrain, Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, besides having detailed discussions on the issues of mutual interest of bilateral, regional and multilateral cooperation with Bahraini Foreign Minister. He also met the Deputy Prime Minister HH Shaikh Ali bin Khalifa Al Khalifa,(son of the late PM) to convey our PM’s personal condolences to the family. EAM also virtually interacted with members of Indian community.

8.     Earlier, former EAM Shri Salman Khurshid visited Bahrain from 6 to 9 December 2013. Former EAM Smt. Sushma Swaraj visited Bahrain on 6-7 September 2014 for the inaugural “Diaspora Engagement Meet” organized by the Overseas Indian Facilitation Centre (OIFC) and CII. She again visited Bahrain from 23-24 January 2016 to attend the 1st Ministerial Meeting of the Arab-India Cooperation Forum (AICF). She visited Bahrain for the third time on 14-15 July 2018 to co-chair the 2nd High Joint Commission meeting with Meeting with Bahraini Foreign Minister H.E. Shaikh Khalid Bin Ahmed Bin Mohamed Al Khalifa. During the visit, the then EAM also inaugurated the then newly constructed Indian Embassy complex on 14 July 2018 in the presence of the then Foreign Minister of Bahrain H.E. Shaikh Khalid Bin Ahmed Bin Mohamed Al Khalifa. Two MoUs for cooperation in the field of renewable energy and healthcare were signed along with an Agreement on exemption from short stay visa for holders of Diplomatic and Special/Official Passports.

9.     Visit of Hon’ble Home Minister, Shri Rajnath Singh: The then Hon’ble Home Minister of India, Shri Rajnath Singh visited Bahrain from 23-25 October 2016 on an official visit. On the sidelines, the 1st meeting of the Joint Steering Committee, formed under the frame work of bilateral Agreement for Cooperation in Combating Terrorism was also held on 25 October,  co-chaired by Major General Tariq Al Hasan, Chief of Public Security, Ministry of Interior, Government of the Kingdom of Bahrain and Mr. M.K. Singla, Special Secretary (Internal Security), Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India.

10.   Visit of Shri V. Muraleedharan, Hon’ble Minister of State (MoS) for External Affairs to Bahrain: Shri V. Muraleedharan, Hon’ble MoS for External Affairs paid a visit to Bahrain from 30 August to 01 September 2021, during which MoS met HM the King, HRH the Crown Prince and Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, Labour Minister and other high ranking officials and dignitaries. MoS also met with the Indian community including prominent Indian businessmen and Indian community leaders as well as those working in the education and healthcare sectors. During his visit, India, alongwith some other countries, was taken out of Covid-19 red list by Bahrain. MoS also interacted with the members of Indian Universities Alumni Society (IUAS) on 31st August, 2021. The Society is formed by Bahraini dignitaries who have studied in India. An Indian community event followed by reception was organised to mark the Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav celebrations on 1st September, 2021. Earlier, Hon’ble MOS (EA) Shri E. Ahamed paid a bilateral visit to Bahrain on 4-5 June, 2013 and on 22-24 October 2013 to inaugurate the 'Bahrain-India Exhibition & Conference' held in Manama; and again on 24-25 November, 2013 to take part in the 12th Asia Cooperation Dialogue Ministerial Meeting. Hon’ble MOS Gen. V.K. Singh visited Bahrain from 13-15 January 2017. Hon’ble MOS M.J. Akbar visited Bahrain from 8-9 December 2017 to participate in the 13th Manama Dialogue 2017.

Telephonic conversation / Virtual meetings

11.     PM held a telephonic conversation with HM the King of Bahrain on 6 April 2020.        PM spoke to HRH the CP/PM on 1 February 2022 and reiterated his invitation to HRH the CP/PM for a visit to India at an early date. EAM spoke to the Foreign Minister of Bahrain on 3rd April 2020 and 19th May 2021. Apart from bilateral and regional issues of mutual interest, the talks focused on furthering cooperation on Covid-19 related matters.

12.   EAM and Bahraini FM along with the UAE Minister of State of External Affairs and Secretary General of GCC participated in GCC-India troika meeting held virtually on 3rd November 2020. UAE was the past chair and Bahrain was then, the chair (2021) of GCC. EAM and Bahraini FM also met on sidelines of CICA Conference in Kazakhstan on 12 October 2021.

13.    Shri Anurag Thakur, Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports of India held virtual meeting with Mr. Aymen Tawfiq Almoayyed, Minister of Youth and Sports Affairs of Bahrain on 16 September 2021 and discussed ways to strengthen cooperation in sports and youth exchanges.

14.   Shri Hardeep S Puri, Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas of India and Shaikh Mohammed bin Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, Minister of Oil, Bahrain held a virtual meeting on 28 September 2021 in which they discussed ways to deepen bilateral and multilateral cooperation in hydrocarbon sector, both in upstream and downstream areas.

15.   Shri Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister of Education and Skill Development and Entrepenuership of India held virtual meeting with Mr. Aymen Tawfiq Almoayyed, Minister of Youth and Sports Affairs of Bahrain on 23 December 2021 in which they discussed potential areas of cooperation in the fields of training/internship, start-ups and upskilling and reskilling. 


Cooperation on COVID-19 matters

16.     Both countries have excellent cooperation in dealing wioth Covid related matters. The Govt. of Bahrain provided food, medical and other necessary support to the Indian community, besides providing free Covid-19 vaccination to all Indcluding Indian community in Bahrain.  Govt. of Bahrain also announced an Amnesty Scheme till 31 December 2020 to enable regularization of stay of illegal expats in Bahrain. Bahrain was quick to provide 40 MTs of liquid medical oxygen and all required facilitations for the needed COVID-19 related supplies to India in the month of May 2021 during the second Covid wave. The Gulf Air (national carrier of Bahrain) extended its support to airlift urgent medical supplies and relief items to India, free of charge, on a space-available basis on all its flights to India. The local Indian community associations sent about 900 oxygen cylinders & 35 oxygen concentrators to India in May 2021. The Govt. of India gifted 100,000 doses of ‘Made-in-India’ Covishield vaccines to Bahrain on 28 January 2021. Earlier Govt. of India provided 1.5 million Hydroxychloroquine tablets on commercial basis and facilitated travel of nurses and medical professionals to Bahrain, besides keeping supply lines open for Bahrain and other GCC countries for essential trade, food products and medicine etc.

17.     Govt of Bahrain provided full support to our Vande Bharat Mission under which 146 flights operated and approximately 25000 passengers travelled from Bahrain to India. This includes repatriation of approx 11600 Indian nationals through chartered flights. Subsequently, Air Bubble Arrangement was operationalised from Sep 2020 -26 March 2022 under which national carriers of India and Bahrain were operating daily flights in each direction. Bahrain was perhaps the only country in the GCC region which never stopped flights from India during the pandemic period. Scheduled commercial international passenger services to/from India has resumed w.e.f. 27th March 2022.

18.     The Government of Bahrain has approved the emergency use of Covishield in January 2021 and COVAXIN in November 2021 in addition to Pfizer-BioNTech, Sinopharm, Covishield AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, and Sputnik Vaccines. As on date, there are no Covid related restrictions in Bahrain for Indian passengers.

Golden Jubilee Celebrations

19. The Embassy is celebrating Golden Jubilee of establishment of diplomatic relations between India and Kingdom of Bahrain in a befitting manner with a series of events in 2021-2022.  The celebrations started with the visit of INS, Kochi from 15 – 18 August, 2021 and with the launch of Golden Jubilee Logo on 19 September, 2021. The main week of celebrations was held from 12 to 19 October, 2021 in association with Bahrain Authority for Culture & Antiquities (BACA) and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kingdom of Bahrain.  It included the main function on 12 October 2021 which commenced with illumination of iconic Bab Al Bahrain in Indian tricolour and historic Qutub Minar in Bahraini national colours.  The festival was jointly inaugurated by H.E. Shaikha Mai bit Mohammed Al Khalifa, President, Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities (BACA), Mr. Tawfeeq Al Mansoor, Undersecretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and Ambassador Piyush Srivastava. The Week long celebrations from 12 – 19 October, 2021 at the ‘Little India in Bahrain’ included cultural events by Indian and Bahraini artists, handicraft, cuisine and seminars/webinars. Indian and Bahraini stalls were set up for the week, consisting of handicrafts and cuisines showcasing Indian and Bahraini cultures and the strong people to people connect and bonds of friendship between India and Kingdom of Bahrain which date back to thousands of years. One of the major highlights was performances given by the Indian Classical Folk Fusion Group led by Jaywant Naidu, which visited Bahrain on ICCR sponsorship from 10-17 October 2021 to take part in International Music Festival of BACA.

Bilateral Agreements/Memorandums of Understanding

20.    Following agreements/MOUs have been signed between the two countries:-

  1. Air Service Agreement (April 2000)
  2. MOU on Cooperation between Ministries of Foreign Affairs (January 2004)
  3. Agreement on Juridical and judicial Co-operation in Civil and Commercial Matters (January 2004)
  4. Extradition Treaty (January 2004)
  5. Agreement on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters (January 2004)
  6. Agreement on the Promotion and Protection of Bilateral Investment   (January 2004)
  7. Agreement for Media Co-operation between Prasar Bharati and Bahrain Radio & TV Corporation (March 2007
  8. MOU on Labour and Manpower Development (June 2009)
  9. Agreement regarding Exchange of Information with respect to Taxes (May 2012)
  10. MOU on Cooperation in the field of Information and Communication Technology (May 2012)
  11. MOU on the establishment of a Joint High Commission (February 2014)
  12. MOU on cooperation between the Foreign Service Institute, Ministry of External Affairs, India and the Diplomatic Institute, Bahrain (February 2014)
  13. MOU for cooperation in the field of youth and sports (February 2014)
  14. OIFC signed two Agreements with the Bahrain Economic Development Board and the Bahrain India Society in September 2014.
  15. MOU on Water Resources Development and Management (February 2015)
  16. Agreement on Cooperation in combating international terrorism, transnational organized crime and trafficking in illicit drugs, narcotics and psychotropic substances and precursors chemicals (December 2015)
  17. Agreement on Transfer of Sentenced Persons (January 2016)
  18. MOU for cooperation in the field of Healthcare (July 2018)
  19. MOU for cooperation in the field of Renewable Energy (July 2018)
  20. Agreement on Exemption from Short Stay Visa for Holders of Diplomatic and Official/Special Passports (July 2018)
  21. MoU on Cooperation in the exploration and uses of Outer Space for Peaceful Purposes (March 2019)
  22. Cultural Exchange Programme for the years 2019-2023 (August 2019)
  23. MOU between BENEFIT and NPCI for Launch of ‘RuPay Card’ in Bahrain (August 2019)
  24. Statement of Intent on collaboration of Kingdom of Bahrain with International Solar Alliance (August 2019)
  25. Statement of Intent on collaboration between Indian Space Research Organisation and National Space Science Agency in the area of Space Technology (August 2019)

Bilateral Institutional Mechanisms

21.     Foreign Office Consultations: Four rounds of Foreign Office Consultation (FOC) have taken place so far- (i) in 16-19 November 2004 in Delhi; (ii) on 23 October 2011 in Bahrain, (iii) on 20 October 2014 in New Delhi, and (iv) on 14 November 2016 in Bahrain. 5th FOC was held in New Delhi on 28-29 March 2022, led by Secretary (CPV & OIA) from Indian side, and Undersecretary for Political Affairs, MoFA from Bahraini side.

22.    High Joint Commission: India and Bahrain signed an Economic and Technical Co-operation Agreement in April 1981 during the Amir’s visit to New Delhi.  India-Bahrain Joint Committee on Economic and Technical Cooperation (JCETC) established under this agreement met four times (1986-New Delhi, 1991-Bahrain, 1998-New Delhi and 2007-Bahrain).  This mechanism has since been replaced by a “High Joint Commission” and upgraded to the level of EAM, after MOU on the establishment of HJC was signed during visit of HM the King, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa to India on 18-20 February 2014. 

23.     The first two meetings of the HJC have been held on 22 February 2015 in India and on 15 July 2018 in Bahrain respectively. The 3rd HJC meeting was co-chaired by Dr. Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bahrain and Dr. S. Jaishankar, External Affairs Minister, India held in New Delhi on 7th April, 2021. Both Ministers reviewed all areas of bilateral cooperation and agreed to further develop their cooperation in the areas of oil and gas, trade and investment, health, food security, defence, security, renewable energy, education, culture and digital technologies. EAM reiterated the invitation from PM to HRH the Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Bahrain for visiting India at an early date.  A Joint Statement <hyperlink> was also issued after the HJC meeting, which is available in the Embassy’s website and Ministry’s website.

International Solar Alliance (ISA)

24.     Bahrain joined ISA as its 86th Member on March 2022 as it deposited the Instrument of Accession on the sidelines of the 5th Foreign Office of Consultations held in New Delhi on 28 March 2022.

Trade and Economic Relations

25.   India-Bahrain bilateral trade and commercial exchanges go back to about 5,000 years ago tracing their origins to the period of Dilmun Civilization in Bahrain to the era of Indus valley civilization in India. These relations received fresh impetus from the oil boom of the early seventies. Ancient Bahraini traders are believed to have carried out flourishing trade of Bahraini pearls with spices from India. Relative prosperity and higher standard of living in Bahrain boosted global imports of goods and services, including from India. Bahrain Government’s policy of industrial diversification also played an important role in enhancing economic cooperation between India and Bahrain. In the economic sphere, both countries have achieved record levels of bilateral trade and investments. Bilateral trade registered growth of 54% in year 2021-2022 and reached to the level of USD 1.65 billion after remaining below 1 billion for past couple of years. India is among the top 10 trading partners of Bahrain and trade balance continues to be in favour of India.

26.   India is among the top 10 trading partners of Bahrain. Data on bilateral trade between India and Bahrain is given below:-

  1.  India's trade with Bahrain (values in US$ millions)









India's Export








India's Import
















(Source: Ministry of Commerce & Industry, GoI)

27.    Major items of exports to Bahrain are: agri products (Rice, boneless meat, shrimp, sugar, fresh fruits and vegetables), machinery & engineering goods, medicaments (recent addition), jewellery, polymers, private cars, ships, boats and floating structures.

28.   Major items for imports from Bahrain are: urea, methanol, mineral fuel, mineral oils & products, iron ore, aluminum, copper and bridge sections.

Indian investment in Bahrain
29.      Bilateral investments have increased from both directions in the recent time. As per the data of Economic Development Board of Bahrain, India is the 6th largest investor in Bahrain. Cumulative Indian investment in Bahrain has reached approx. $1.5 billion increasing by more than 35% since 2019. Financial services accounts for the highest investment value. Other important areas of investment are real estate, hospitality, health, IT and education. As per data received from Bahrain Government, 38 Indian commercial agencies, 32 branches of prominent Indian companies and more than 7500 Indian owned/India Joint Venture companies registered in Bahrain as on October 2020.
Bahraini investment in India

30.    Bahrain’s investments into India have also shown increasing trend recently. As per DIPP statistics, total cumulative investment from Bahrain to India from is about USD 185 million (in December 2013, it was only at USD 31.55 million). The main sectors of Bahrain’s investment into India are real estate, information technology and engineering.   Investcorp a leading Bahraini investment has shown considerable interest in the portfolio investment in India and has opned a branch office in Mumbai. Investcorp has already invested $500 million in 13 companies in India, including online retailer freshtoHome and ASG Eye hospitals. Investcorp is also planning to invest $400 million in Indian Schools and warehousing. Recently they have invested US$ 55 million in NDR warehousing private limited (NDR) and 17.5 million in V-Ensure. Their investment als in Xpressbees which is an ecommerce logistics platform in India has become a unicorn.

Indian Expatriate Community

31.   While Bahrain is a small country both geographically (a mere 765 sq. kms.) and in terms of population (1.4 million), it has been a favourite destination for Indian nationals working as expatriates. While there were only 90,000 Indian nationals working in Bahrain in the year 2000, the number has since increased to over 350,000 comprising of 200,000 from Kerala, 50,000 from Tamil Nadu, 40,000 from Andhra Pradesh & Telangana, 25,000 from Karnataka and rest from Punjab, Rajasthan, UP, Maharashtra, Goa and Gujarat. In terms of professions, the vast majority i.e. 70% of our nationals are in the category of unskilled labour. In addition to the predominant blue-collar labour force, there is a sizeable number of doctors, engineers, chartered accountants, bankers, managers and other professionals who play a vital role in the Bahrain’s socio-economic development.

32.     The Indian expatriate community enjoys great goodwill from the Bahraini authorities and the employers alike. It is no secret that Indians are preferred over other expatriates from the subcontinent. The main reasons for this include the trust factor, strong work ethics and the "apolitical" orientation of Indian expatriates.
33.     Bahrain launched ‘Little India in Bahrain’ project in November 2015 to acknowledge and mark the contribution of Indian community to the history and progress of Bahrain. Under the project, exterior of various buildings were restored and renovated, as well as a small public space for holding regular markets, fashion shows, Indian food stalls, and cultural performances etc. was created so as to give the visitors a feeling of being in India. Bahrain has approved allocation of  land for  BAPS Swaminarayan Temple in Bahrain in January 2022.
Useful References:
Website:-      https://eoi.gov.in/bahrain/
Twitter:-       https://twitter.com/IndiaInBahrain
Facebook:-   https://www.facebook.com/IndiaInBahrain/
Instagram :- https://www.instagram.com/indiainbahrain/


November 2022