Sunday, March 13, 2011

My Ethnic Map of Bahrain

One of the interesting products of the 2009 mass political survey of Bahrain is this ethnic map of Bahrain. Though common knowledge to Bahrainis (and perhaps many ex-pats as well), still it is helpful to have a visual representation of the physical divide that mirrors the country's political divide. Note that this map is based on a random and nationally-representative sample of 500 households. Thus we obviously did not survey every location in Bahrain. Areas that are known to be populated but were not included in the sample are marked as "no data," as per the key.

As for what the map tells us: firstly, we easily perceive the extent of ethnic segregation in Bahrain. Very few areas (referring here to block numbers) -- basically Hamad Town, Isa Town, and parts of Manama -- are ethnically mixed. By contrast, most of the northwest (although the Sunni-dominated area of al-Budaiyi' proper was not surveyed), western seaside, and eastern peninsula of Sitra are settled only by Shi'a. And apart from those in Manama and Muharraq, the vast majority of Sunni Bahrainis are centered around al-Rifa'.

It also helps put into context the major locations of protest (and counter-protest) referenced over the previous weeks. The green dot to the upper-left, for example, is the Pearl Roundabout; the dot slightly to the east of this the Fatih Mosque. The remaining dots -- Busaiteen to the far northeast, Hamad Town to the southwest, and the centrally-located Clock Roundabout in al-Rifa' -- show the sites of clashes in recent days.

Indeed, looking at the sea of red surrounding al-Rifa', it is perhaps very easy to understand why the opposition procession on Friday met with so much Sunni resistance.

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