Definition of Youth

There is no clear definition of youth on the General Organization for Youth and Sports (GOYS) website, nor in any of its publications.


Marriageable Age

  • Opposite Sex
  • Same Sex
  • Without parental consent
  • with parental consent
  • Male
  • 15
  • --
  • --
  • Female
  • --
  • --
  • --

  • No data for marriage with parental consent, or for women to marry without parental consent. No specific legislation for same-sex marriage. Source: UNSD, ILGA

Candidacy Age

Criminal Responsibility

Minimum Age
Children under 15 may be held in social welfare centres under the Juvenile Act (1976). Source:  UN Child Rights Periodic Report

Majority Age



Voting Age


Situation of Young People

Literacy Rates

Both sexes (15-24) %
  • 99.78% Male (15-24) %
  • 99.74% Female (15-24) %

Net Enrolment Rate

Secondary School
Both sexes %
  • 84.30%Male %
  • 87.36% Female %

Situation of Young People

Prevalence of HIV

Male (15-24) %
Female (15-24) %

Tobacco Use

Consumed any smokeless or smoking tobacco product at least once 30 days prior to the survey.
Both sexes (13-15) %
  • 28.00% Male (13-15) %
  • 11.70% Female (13-15) %
  • Year: 2010
  • Source: WHO

Policy & Legislation

Is there a national youth policy?
While a 2011-2015 youth strategy was prelaunched it is unclear whether a youth policy exists.

It is unclear if Bahrain currently has a national youth policy. According to a UNDP press release in May 2011, a pre-launch event was held for the “National Youth Strategy 2011-2015”, which was drafted though a partnership between UNDP and the General Organization for Youth and Sports (GOYS). The strategy was described as advocating for the promotion of culture and belonging, education linked to innovation and enhancing skills such as IT and languages. It would also integrate several sectors including education, work, information technologies and health.   As of the date of the publication of this fact sheet, the GOYS website has no mention of the youth strategy nor the partnership with UNDP. The strategy also does not appear to exist anywhere online.

Public Institutions

Is there a governmental authority
(ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth?
Bahrain’s General Organization for Youth and Sports (GOYS) was formed in 1983 and is a specialised body that implements plans, projects and programmes in accordance with the decisions and recommendations of the of the Supreme Council for Youth and Sports, which itself was created in 1975.   The vision of GOYS is "youths with a Bahraini identity and global contribution”. It aims to achieve this with programmes and activities for youth “that contribute in pushing the wheel of the Bahraini economy and empowering competitiveness."

Youth and Representation

Does the country have a national youth organisation / association (council, platform, body)?
The Bahrain Youth Council (also called the Bahrain Youth Society) was founded in July 2004. It is unclear what role the Council plays in representing youth. Its purpose is to support the government in instilling national belonging among young people, and promoting youth talent and leadership.   Under the name Bahrain Youth Society, it was but one of many youth groups that participated in the government-led National Dialogue talks, which according to the BBC on 9 January 2014, are intended to resolve tensions after the repression of popular protests in the same year.

Budget & Spending

What is the budget allocated to the governmental authority (ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth and/or youth programming?
The total cumulative budget for 2011-2012 for the General Organization for Youth and Sports and the Supreme Council for Youth and Sports is BHD 30.9 million (USD 82 million). It is unclear what portion of this amount is specifically for youth. According to the World Bank, Bahrain spent 11.72% of its government expenditure and 2.93% of its GDP on education provision in 2008.
Total Expenditure on Education as a Percentage of Government Spending and GDP

  • % of GDP
  • % of gov. expenditure

Source: World Bank
Gaps indicate missing data from the original data source. (Accessed August 2013).

Additional Background

From the GOYS Annual Report (2011):  
GOYS adopts an integrated strategy to manage the youth and sports sectors, with many branches of plans and long term programs, which helps in improving the young generation in the country and their ability, and to raise the Bahrain sports sector on the other hand [...]
The Youth Centers Affairs Directorate works very hard to develop the youth centers which are distributed all around the Kingdom, and through providing programs and activities, aims at boosting the role of the youth centers in the community and working to embrace the youth and directing their interests to serve the nation and promote their gains.
The Clubs Affairs Directorate has taken upon themselves the responsibility of promoting clubs and national development, thus contributing to drive the youth and sports movement in the Kingdom. It will also enhance the national movement in supporting sports teams, which is the main tributary of the Bahraini national teams.
The Projects and Facilities Directorate is working on completing the designs and architectural drawings for all sporting infrastructure projects and a comprehensive assessment of all facilities in the Kingdom and work on the maintenance and maintained as a national treasure.
While The Human and Financial Resources Directorate, under the umbrella of His Excellency the President of the General Organization for Youth and Sports, provides support to all directorates of the General Organization for Youth and Sports, and make the best use of the human and financial resources in accordance to the regulations of the Civil Service Court and based on the regulations of the standard finance manual.
From Human Rights Watch - Bahrain: Security Forces Detaining Children (2013):
Bahrain security forces routinely detain children without cause and subject them to ill-treatment that may rise to the level of torture, Human Rights Watch said today, based on reports from victims, family members and legal rights activists.
On September 12, 2013, the European Parliament issued a further resolution on the deteriorating rights situation in Bahrain, urging it, among other things, “to respect the rights of juveniles, to refrain from detaining them in adult facilities, and to treat juveniles in accordance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Bahrain is a party”.
“Rounding up kids, throwing them in jail and beating and threatening them is no way for a country to treat its children,” said Joe Stork, acting Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The Bahraini authorities need to look into these allegations and immediately call a halt to any arbitrary arrests and mistreatment of children.”[...]
  From The Precarious Ally: Bahrain’s Impasse and U.S. Policy (2013):
The youth are rising up. The February 14 Youth Coalition—a leaderless network formed in the early days of Bahrain’s uprising—is winning over some of Al Wefaq’s supporters. It has rejected dialogue with the regime, called for the creation of a republic, and confronted security forces with sporadic violence.  [...]
Increasingly, a younger generation of activists became convinced that participation in the regime’s “dialogue” and quasi-democratic structures like the parliament was an exercise in futility. Frustrated with the failure of the older cadre of Al Wefaq to deliver any meaningful reforms, as well as the regime’s failed promises, this youthful cohort proved highly susceptible to the wave of protests spreading throughout the region in 2011.
Shortly after the revolts began in Tunisia and Egypt, groups of young, loosely organized youth established Facebook pages exhorting followers to mobilize against the Bahraini regime on February 14, 2011. The calls for demonstrations were largely nonsectarian in outlook; most demanded peaceful reforms and refrained from directly criticizing King Hamad or calling for the overthrow of the Al Khalifa. A few did, however, call for “revolution” and the “fall of the regime” (isqat al-nidham) [...]