Bahrain had the third highest increase in peacefulness on the 2020 GPI, with a 4.8% improvement in overall score, leading to a rise in the rankings of nine places. This is the third consecutive year of increasing peacefulness in Bahrain, after almost a decade of sustained deteriorations in peacefulness. It is now the eighth most peaceful country in the Middle East and North Africa region.
The improvement in peacefulness in Bahrain was driven by changes in just a small number of indicators, most notably access to small arms and the intensity of internal conflict. Although private gun ownership is quite high in Bahrain, it has halved on a per capita basis over the past few years. Moreover, the laws on firearms possession are quite tight including licensing only for those over the age of 21 for both firearms and ammunition.
With respect to the intensity of internal conflict, tensions remain between the Sunni ruling minority and the Shia majority who feel underrepresented. However, the authorities have tightened security and the number of incidents of violent protest has fallen sharply over the past. Figures released by the Ministry of the Interior reveal an 86 per cent decline in the number of terrorism-related criminal investigations since their peak in 2014