- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 2, 2004

Return to Bahrain

The ambassador from Bahrain is returning home to a country that changed dramatically during his three years in Washington.

While Ambassador Khalifa bin Ali al Khalifa was here, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, ruler of the constitutional monarchy on the Persian Gulf, approved municipal and parliamentary elections for the first time in more than 30 years and, also for the first time, allowed women to vote.

“I am proud of this accomplishment and pleased that I was able to share this momentous event with you,” Mr. Khalifawrote in a farewell letter to friends and colleagues.

The king has promoted political and economic reforms since assuming the monarchy in 2002.

Mr. Khalifa assumed his duties here in 2001, about a month after the September 11 terrorist attacks. He knew that he would spend much of the rest of his term trying to promote better understanding between the United States and his country, which is the home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet.

“When I assumed my ambassadorial duties in the wake of September 11, 2001, the United States and the Arab and Muslim world faced many challenges,” Mr. Khalifa said.

“My primary goal … was to foster the friendship, good will and cooperation between the Bahraini and America peoples that is so vital to building bridges of understanding and peace. This remains a priority.”

Mr. Khalifa also organized the U.S. visits of King Hamad and Crown Prince Salambin Hamad al-Khalifa and helped negotiate a free-trade agreement with the United States.

The agreement is the third with an Arab nation and the first among the Gulf countries. The United States also has free-trade deals with Jordan and Egypt.

“Bahrain now stands as an example of a free economy, practicing transparency and the rule of law,” Mr. Khalifa said. “I am very grateful for the excellent efforts put forth by all the Bahrainis and Americans involved in bringing [the trade agreement] to fruition.”

Trademark Scotland

The Scottish Parliament is dissatisfied with the international image of Scotland.

Scottish lawmakers fear that too many people think of Scotland as a land of kilted clansmen, bagpipers in the glens or a monster in Loch Ness. Scotland is not the Brigadoon of Broadway, and it is more than golf.

A parliamentary delegation has traveled to Dublin, Flanders and Paris to find out how the Irish, Belgians and French promote their countries. The four-member team left Washington for New York yesterday after meetings on Capitol Hill and with Scottish-American enthusiasts.

John Swinney, the delegation leader and chairman of the European and External Relations Committee, called the visit to the United States the “last of the case studies.”

Mr. Swinney, a member of the Scottish National Party, said the delegation wanted to find out “how Scotland is perceived today and how [that perception] has changed since” 1999 when the Scottish Parliament was re-established after about 300 years. The parliament was dissolved in 1707 in the Act of Union with England, which established the British Parliament.

Keith Raffan of the Liberal Democrat Party said Scotland should try everything to promote its favorable business climate, its medical advances and its world-class education system.

“We should think of it a bit like an elastic band. Pull it until it snaps. Then you know you’ve gone too far,” he said. “It’s not just spin. It’s not PR. We are looking at other people’s best practices.”

Dennis Canavan, an independent, said the delegation was impressed by the cultural and educational ideas they have seen on the tour.

Irene Oldfather of the Labor Party added, “It’s important to recognize how far Scotland has traveled in the past five years. We’ve come a long way.”

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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