Essay: Economic Geography of Pearl Market in Bahrain

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Economic Geography of Pearl Market in Bahrain

The Pearl Market in Bahrain

Bahrain is one of the countries that are surrounded by certain misconceptions from Western countries. This situation can be attributed to the fact that there is little information on Bahrain that is based on real data and that Western countries are interested in. This means that Bahrain should be studied through its historical background in order to understand its evolution, development, and current situation.

In 1783, Bahrain was captured from the Persians by the Sunni family Al-Khalifa. However, Bahrain required international protection during that time. In order to reach this objective, a series of treaties were developed with the U.K., Bahrain becoming a British protected country (History of Nations, 2004). Bahrain became an independent country in 1971. But its problems started to increase (BBC, 2012). This is because the oil reserves were reducing. As a consequence, Bahrain had to focus on petroleum processing and refining.

The colony of Bahrain was of great importance to the U.K. because of its fishing sector. The country's geographical location allowed Bahrain to provide large quantities of several types of fish hat were sought after in Europe. Therefore, the U.K. had great interest in protecting Bahrain from other political interferences in the area. The influence that the U.K. had on the Persian Gulf area allowed the empire to protect Bahrain. The U.K. significantly benefitted from protecting Bahrain by expanding its trade activity with the fish provided by Bahrain.

The situation of Bahrain seems to resemble that of Newfoundland. This is because they were both colonies for fishing (Ministry of Foreign Affairs). They both enjoyed the protectorate of important international forces. They also had to repay this protectorate relationship by supplying large amounts of national resources to their protectors. In these situations, the most important natural resource of these regions is represented by fish. In the case of Bahrain, pearls represent another important natural resource that the U.K. benefitted from.

Traditional fishing industry and pearl market in Bahrain

During the period when Bahrain became protected by the U.K., the country's economic activity was based on agriculture, because Bahrain was not a developed and industrialized country (Independent commission of Inquiry, 2011). The fishing sector was the most developed economic activity that Bahrain benefitted from. The waters surrounding Bahrain were rich in numerous varieties of fish. These types of fish are high in nutritional supply. Therefore, fishing was an important activity for Bahrain.

Most men in Bahrain were involved in fishing activities during that period, either as a job, or as means of providing food for their families. However, the situation has changed from that period (FAO, 2003). The development of oil based industries has attracted many of these fishermen towards better paid jobs in the oil industry. Therefore, the fishing activities started to reduce (ITA, 2010). This means that smaller quantities of fish were provided to the Bahrain and international markets. But the fish demand was increasing (Musaiger, 1988). As a consequence, the country began to import large quantities of fish in order to meet the demand on the fish market, although the country had plenty of fish, but very few fishermen.

The pear diving activity in Bahrain experienced a similar evolution top that of the fishing industry (Encyclopedia of the Nations, 2012). Much of Bahrain's wealth was ensured by thousands of pearling boats (Federal Research Division, 2010). However, pearl divers were attracted by jobs in the oil industry that were able to provide higher and steady wages in comparison with the pearl diving activity. In addition to this, the pearling activity was significantly influenced by the development of cultured pearl industry in Japan.

The table bellow reveals the situation of fishing boats according to their classification and landing site.

The fishing consumption in Bahrain is the following:

Evolution of the Pearl Industry in Bahrain

The pearl diving sector was an important activity in Bahrain. Its importance can be observed on several levels. The pearl diving activity had an economic importance that can be attributed to the wealth that pearl diving generated to the country. In other words, much of the wealth that the country benefitted from came from pearl diving and the pearls that were sold mostly in Europe.

The pearl diving activity also had a cultural importance. This is because pearl diving was a tradition that was taught from generation to generation. Same as in the case of other traditional activities, pearl diving was intended to connect younger generations to older ones. Such activities are also intended to develop the cultural environment of the country. Therefore, it is important to understand the importance of pearl diving activity in Bahrain. This objective can be reached by studying the multi-cultural importance of the activity for Bahrain and its people.

However, the importance of the pearl diving industry seemed to be less than the importance of the oil industry (CIA, 2012). The country's industrialization and the development of the oil industry became more important in comparison with the pearl diving industry. This is because the oil industry provided numerous benefits from the pearl diving industry.

The oil industry was able to produce a large number of jobs. These jobs were considered steady because there was great need of workers in the oil production and refinement sectors. Therefore, the salaries in the oil industry were significantly higher in comparison with the salaries that were offered to pearl divers.

The pearl diving activity was productive for pearl boats owners, but was not as productive for pearl divers. This is because pearl boats owners benefitted from the money they received from selling the expensive pearls their divers that worked for them provided. But the divers that were searching for these pearls were paid small sums of money, they had to work a lot in order to find a few pearls that they could provide to their employers. Therefore, it is obvious that such individuals were more interested in jobs in the oil industry.

The pearl diving activity in Bahrain was significantly influenced by the introduction of cultured pearls. This activity was developed by Japan. Cultured pearl provided numerous benefits in comparison with real pearls that were provided by the waters of Bahrain. Cultured pearls were easier to obtain (Stuart, 2010). This means that pearl producers could produce a large number of pearls at smaller costs. Therefore, these pearls were less expensive in comparison with real pearls. This also made cultured pearls more accessible. The jewelry industry started to focus more on cultured pearls (the Observers, 2010). The demand for such pearls significantly increased. However, real pearls were considered as a luxury product that certain customer segments were interested in.

In modern days, pearl diving is practiced as a recreational and tourist activity. In most countries, recreational activities are in accordance with local tradition. Therefore, pearl diving is considered such a tradition in Bahrain that can provide recreation to individuals interested in such types of activities (Bergen, 2010). In addition to this, the fact that numerous tourists are interested in Bahrain's history, tradition, and culture has determined these tourists to increase their interest in pear diving. Their interest was not limited to learning about the activity, but also to performing it. Therefore, numerous tourism operators developed pearls diving expeditions, training programs, and other activities intended to satisfy tourists' interested in the traditional pearl diving activity in Bahrain.

The Influence of Globalization

The process of globalization has significantly influenced the evolution of companies, and of industries. This is because globalization has provided countries, industries, and companies the benefit of expanding their activity on international level. In other words, the process of globalization helps companies sell their products in other countries, or to produce them in other countries (Michigan State University, 2012). However, this leads to significant changes in the demand and supply for these products. The labor market is also affected by the process of globalization.

This can be observed in the economic evolution of Bahrain. Before the industrialization of the country, Bahrain's economy relied on the fishing industry and on the pearl diving activity. The country's natural resources allowed these activities to provide great wealth levels to Bahrain. But the development of the oil industry and the need and demand for oil on international level required that an increased number of fishermen and pear divers in Bahrain focus on jobs in oil production and refinement.

In addition to this, globalization has determined the development of the outsourcing process (Economy Watch, 2010). In other words, most companies prefer to outsource some of the production processes and activities to cheaper destinations in order to reduce their production costs (Global Policy Forum, 2012). This helps them reduce the prices of their products. The process of globalization has forced Bahrain to focus on Western economic culture that is characterized by industrialization, instead of continuing the tradition of economic sectors like traditional fishing and pearl diving (Decressin, 2012). The country is forced to import large quantities of fish in order to satisfy the demand on… [END OF PREVIEW]

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