MANAMA, Bahrain, Oct. 9, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In the keynote address delivered at the opening session of Parliament, His Majesty King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa recognized the more diverse nature of Parliamentary representation, with the inclusion of four women and a larger number of citizens representing the business community in Bahrain. Dr. Somaya Al-Jowder, Ebtisam Hijris and Sawsan Taqawi join Latifa Al-Gaoud, Bahrain's first woman elected MP. He stated that their aptitude for serving their nation and overcoming the challenges Bahrain now faces was borne out by their successful campaigns in the by-elections. Dr. Al Jowder and Mrs. Hijris both prevailed in hotly contested run-off elections.
The opening session of Parliament took place at the Shaikh Isa Cultural Hall where the National Dialogue took place in July. HM The King praised the "national spirit" that prevailed in that process and noted the outcomes have been supported and endorsed by the Royal Court and the Prime Minister, His Royal Highness Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al-Khalifa. It is now the duty of this Parliament and the Cabinet to take the recommendations forward into practice and legislation if needed.
Bahrain's National Dialogue concentrated on four main areas of reform (political, economic, social and rights). Significant political reforms that are underway include granting Parliament more power and an enhanced role in oversight of the government. The Chair of the National Assembly will now shift to the elected Lower House of Parliament; stricter guidelines for nominations for the Upper House (Shura Council) will be implemented; and Cabinet Ministers will now be attending Parliament sessions in an effort to promote more transparency and expedite the work of the individual ministries. In addition, the current voting districts are being reviewed to ensure that Bahrain's citizens are given fair representation in their electoral constituencies.
His Majesty The King's speech addressed the expanded representation of the business community in Parliament when he noted Bahrain's challenges in attempting to sustain economic growth and create jobs. He stressed that the economic policies of the nation should remain inclusive and integrate opportunities that will benefit everybody, while the government should provide the proper facilities to encourage investment.
Turning to security issues, His Majesty the King praised the training and organization of Bahrain's Defense Force and thanked the Ministry of Interior and the National Guard for their tireless efforts in preserving the peace, and enforcing law and order. He also thanked the Gulf Cooperation Council's Peninsula Shield Forces deployed in Bahrain and reiterated that the strength of the GCC is rooted in cohesion of its people and leaders.
Lastly, His Majesty King Hamad referred to the recent speech he made at the 66th General Assembly of the United Nations where he stressed that "the civil state system stemming from our cultural, political, social and religious nature is the most suitable" for Bahrain. He urged the Parliament to "deepen the culture of dialogue and democracy" and unify the nation through "Arab identity" and "Gulf dimensions."
SOURCE Bahrain Information Affairs Authority