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The National Flag of the Kingdom of Bahrain

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The flag of Bahrain.
The flag of the Kingdom of Bahrain will be rectangular, divided into two main sections - one red and the other white.
- Royal Decree, His Majesty Shaikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, King of Bahrain, 16 February, 2002.

And so, under Royal Decree No 4 (2002), a new flag for the fledgling Kingdom of Bahrain was born. Actually, it was just a bit of tinkering with the old flag, but nevertheless a new flag it was.

That said, despite His Majesty's statement, Bahrain's national flag is a wee bit more than two rectangles, one of red and the other white. Overall, the flag is rectangular, with a conventionally proportional vertical:horizontal ratio of 3:5. The pole-end of the flag (ie the 'hoist') is white, while the flappy end is 'Red: Pantone 186c/CMYK(%) C0-M90-Y80-K5', which to most people, is just about Union Jack red. In fact, the white bit comprises 32.5% of the flag area, so obviously the red bit comprises 67.5%.

But, they're not just two simple rectangles tacked together; the interface between the red and the white comprises a zig-zag serration such that there are five white points piercing the red, representing the five pillars of Islam. The distance between the zig and the zag of each serration is 15%, the horizontal length of the flag.

They say a picture says a thousand words, here it voices the efforts of about 120.

Some Vexillological History

Bahrain's flag was once upon a time just plain red. Then, in 1820, following a treaty with Britain, a vertical white stripe was added at the hoist (the pole end) to create a new flag, although the plain red flag remained in use until 1910. Then in 1933, a series of serrations (with eight white pointed incursions into the red) were added at the interface between the white and the red in order to distinguish the red/white rectangular affair from similar flags (eg the flag of Dubai). This flag remained in use until 2002 when the new current flag was introduced. It is noted that the unserrated flag (two rectangles, one white, one red) was not superseded in 1933, but was adopted as an alternate (if nonetheless little-used) flag. In 2002, however, its usage was terminated.

The Royal Standard

Article 2 of the 2002 Royal Decree also provided for a Royal Standard. This flag is in essence not dissimilar to the national flag, in so far as it is red and white with a bit of zig-zag in between. However, the red section is also bordered at the top and bottom with white. A gold-coloured crown, clearly representing the monarch, features in the upper corner at the hoist end of the flag, ie inside the white section.

Royal Decree No 4 (2002)

The usage of the flag is best described in the full text of the Royal Decree...

  1. The flag of the Kingdom of Bahrain will be rectangular, divided into two main sections - one red and the other white.

  2. His Majesty the King will have his own flag1, for which a Royal Order will be issued ...

  3. The flag of the Kingdom of Bahrain shall be hoisted on the Royal Court, palaces, government buildings, public establishments, embassies, Bahraini bureaus abroad and Bahraini ships.

  4. Each non-Bahraini ship entering the Kingdom's territorial waters shall hoist the flag of the Kingdom, and shall keep the flag hoisted till it departs from Bahrain's territorial waters.

  5. The flag shall be hoisted on government buildings, public institutions during public holidays and occasions from sunrise to sunset.

  6. The flag will not be hoisted on vehicles, except on official protocol ones.

  7. The flag will be hoisted at half-mast for state mourning.

  8. The flag will not be used for commercial purposes.

  9. In case the flag is used otherwise, and not as stipulated in the above law, a punishment of a maximum one month's imprisonment, or a fine not exceeding BD100, or both shall be imposed.

So don't mess about with the flag or else you could wind up in chokey.

1Essentially, provision for a Royal Standard

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