Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa I
Sheikh Salman bin Hamad was born in 1895 and was raised under his father’s care. He studied the Quran
and other religious subjects while his father, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa
, brought him tutors in various other subjects.
He was approved as heir by his father and other nobles and members of the House of Al Khalifa
. He represented his father on many official occasions during the latter’s lifetime.
Health and education improvements
King Salman bin Hamad likely became interested in health issues when he familiarized himself with the many diseases to which those in the pearl hunting
trade were vulnerable. Against resistance from the traditional elite, he promoted reforms to the pearl divers’ labor conditions, starting with the first specialist clinics to deal with their occupational health. Keen to invest more in health care, he pushed to boost funding for local hospitals. Most of his work was behind the scenes, but he did state in November 1951 for the third annual medical conference of the Gulf states
We spend a huge part of our resources every year on medical work, and we hope that you will visit our hospitals and clinics....A few years ago, it was impossible to sleep in Manama
without a mosquito net, but now most of the area is devoid of mosquitos and malaria
rates have decreased since we took effective measures to reduce the population through hospital treatment, quarantines, and school teaching. Wherever there is health, there is happiness, and we hope that caring for the health of our people will preserve their happiness.
Although Bahrain’s hospitals were burdened by care for the personnel of the British Royal Air Force
and Royal Navy
, direct contact with an RAF doctor and four nurses at the main hospital improved the standard of care. Although they mostly dealt with wounded soldiers, these professionals moonlit in other wards of the hospital regularly and helped it earn a sterling reputation in the region.
Salman believed that better health was only, in the end, possible through better education. In addition, the youth needed to be educated to maximize jobs transfer in the petroleum industry
to Bahraini citizens. Although Chief Advisor Sir Charles Belgrave
was reluctant to endorse a welfare state, the introduction to the annual report of the surgeon-general in the last year of Salman’s rule (after the King had suffered a severe heart attack) stated that “the most important reform ever of the Health Administration was the King’s offering free health care to citizens and visitors alike early this year.”
Sheikh Salman was intensely interested in economic matters. He personally reviewed the annual budget, but went beyond mere auditing in raising concerns with skeptical advisers over the oil revenue quota system. At the time, the state’s refineries were contractually allowed to refine foreign oil duty-free, which he saw as a threat to the nation’s long-term fortunes. In addition, he noticed an obscure 1914 provision in land law that allowed airports and therefore the basis for an airline, long given a backseat to maritime transit. Gulf Air
would be founded during his term.
Attitude toward the Arab-Israeli conflict
Sheikh Salman founded a committee to collect donations for Palestinians
expected to be expelled in the wake of the 1947 passage of the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine
, ultimately raising 66,000 rupees
in addition to other pledges and in-kind help. The Supreme Muslim Council
stopped by Bahrain among other Arab countries on a tour to mobilize Arab support in 1948. A second round of donations spearheaded by Sheikh Abdullah bin Isa Al Khalifa collected 105,000 rupees for conversion into Iraqi dinars
, which he sent to SyrianPresident of Syria Shukri al-Quwatli
for distribution to Palestinian refugees there. In less than fifteen days, Sheikh Salman ordered another big drive among Bahraini merchants, collecting 77,000 rupees at a massive conference on March 27, 1948. Finally, in the wake of the displacement of tens of thousands of Palestinians after the 1948 Arab–Israeli War
, Sheikh Salman directly donated 100,000 rupees to the UNRWA
, the local United Nations
Sanitation and public health
In early November 1948, the first medical regional medical conference was held with 27 doctors from Britain, the United States
, and Kuwait
. A report was drafted by a committee of six doctors there on the health situation in the Gulf states for perusal by the local government officials.
On December 11, 1948, the first water meters began operating in the country after having been installed at a cost of 225 rupees per 100 feet from the main pipeline and delivering water at a cost of 3 paise
per 100,000 gallons. Sheikh Salman personally pressed the button to begin water delivery at a ceremony with Peter Holloway of contractor Holloway Brothers (London)
Sheikh Salman maintained a demanding schedule, awaking at 8:00 to go to his office in the Bab Al Bahrain
. After sipping Arabic coffee
, he greeted waiting citizens and discussed their petitions, then began his official schedule of interviews, meetings, daily surveys, and letters. He refused to yield to doctors’ advice to rest more in his old age, but acquiesced to his sons Isa and Khalifa’s urging to convalesce in the Safra neighborhood where they could relay information in and orders out. He died at around 9:00 in the morning of November 2, 1961, at the age of 67 after a reign of almost 20 years.
Salman married three times:
- (first) 1910, Shaikha Latifa bint Ibrahim al-Khalifa, daughter of Shaikh Ibrahim bin Khalid al-Khalifa, by his wife, Shaikha Noora bint Isa al-Khalifa.
- (second) at al-Jasra, October 1931, Shaikha Mouza bint Hamad al-Khalifa (died 2 May 2011), daughter of Shaikh Hamad bin Abdullah al-Khalifa, of al-Jasra.
- (third) Around 1922, Shaikha Nayla bint Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Khalifa (died 1972).
He had three sons and six daughters:
He died at Safra, Bahrain, on 2 November 1961 and is buried in Honaynaiya cemetery, Rifa’a.
- ^ a b "Bahrain's long serving prime minister dies". Diplomatic World. Rochester, NY. 11 November 2020. Retrieved 13 November 2020.
- ^ Bernard Reich (1990). Political leaders of the contemporary Middle East and North Africa: a biographical dictionary. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 528. ISBN 978-0-313-26213-5.
- ^ "Chronology for Shi'is in Bahrain". UNHCR. 2004. Retrieved 13 September 2014.
- ^ "مسيرة الخير والعطاء". Al-Wasat (Bahrain). 16 December 1983. Retrieved 22 February 2021.
Last edited on 8 May 2021, at 17:25
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