Satellite Pictures Show A Revolution Waiting To Happen In Bahrain

bahrain

Bahrain’s poor and overcrowded Shiite majority learned what a raw deal they were getting in 2006, when they saw satellite images of lavish palaces and empty land owned by the Sunni monarchy.

The images, which circulated in PDF form after the government blocked Google Earth, spurred growing unrest about the lack of affordable housing. In 2011 this unrest broke out into large nonviolent protests as part of the Arab Spring.

Following a brutal and largely ignored crackdown on protests, however, the housing crisis has only gotten worse.

Around 54,000 requests for government housing were still pending action as of March 2013, up from 46,000 in March 2011. That’s a lot of angry people waiting to rise up again against the U.S.-friendly regime.

As for those satellite images, new surveillance confirms that things are as bad as ever. We have included new satellite images along with slides from the anonymous PDF that set off protests in the first place.

Bahrain is a tiny island in the Gulf — approximately one fifth the size of Rhode Island — with a population of 1.3 million. It gets crowded.

Satellite image from 2013.

What makes things really bad is that most of that population (primarily Shias) is packed into one corner of the island, while huge tracts of land owned by the (Sunni) monarchy are empty but for a few palaces.

Satellite image from 2013.

Social unrest started building in 2006, when satellite images along with comments from anonymous activists started getting passed around.

Slide from viral 2006 presentation on inequality in Bahrain.

In 2013, this big adjacent island is still uninhabited excerpt for a few palaces.

Satellite image from 2013.

What really got the people going in 2006 was the pictures of immense royal palaces.

Slide from viral 2006 presentation on inequality in Bahrain.

In 2013, everything is still there, including the private island plus yachts, horse track, and golf course.

Satellite image from 2013.

Here's another giant palaces from 2006.

Slide from viral 2006 presentation on inequality in Bahrain.

Seven years later, nothing here has changed.

Satellite image from 2013.

Another luxurious palace in 2013 ...

Satellite image from 2013.

This 2006 image compares a desert-like village to a giant private estate filled with trees.

Slide from viral 2006 presentation on inequality in Bahrain.

Take a closer look at that giant private estate in 2013.

Satellite image from 2013.

And then there's all of that empty land ...

Slide from viral 2006 presentation on inequality in Bahrain.

Slide from viral 2006 presentation on inequality in Bahrain.

The south of Bahrain looks the same, dotted by manors.

Satellite image from 2013.

The palaces are as outsized as ever.

Satellite image from 2013.

Where it appears that public housing has been built and the neighbourhood is creeping closer to the palaces

Satellite image from 2013.

Despite any new public housing, Bahrain's fundamental problems remain — the majority of the people aren't allowed on the majority of the undeveloped land.

Slide from viral 2006 presentation on inequality in Bahrain.

As 54,000 people wait for housing, the country's elite control the island's best real estate.

Slide from viral 2006 presentation on inequality in Bahrain.

Slide from viral 2006 presentation on inequality in Bahrain.

The size of the Shia village of Malkiyya could have been doubled.

Slide from viral 2006 presentation on inequality in Bahrain.

But the land, owned by a member of the Sunni ruling family, has been developed into a cultural centre instead.

Satellite image from 2013.

While the rich building on the coastline ...

Slide from viral 2006 presentation on inequality in Bahrain.

The masses wait for adequate buildings to live in.

Slide from viral 2006 presentation on inequality in Bahrain.

The people live with little, despite the riches of rentier state ...

Slide from viral 2006 presentation on inequality in Bahrain.

While the elites keep seizing more and more public land.

Slide from viral 2006 presentation on inequality in Bahrain.

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