Bahrain, independent Arab emirate consisting of Bahrain Island and a number of smaller islands, in the Persian Gulf between the Saudi Arabian coast and the Qatar peninsula. The capital is Manama. The country has a desert climate, and the economy is based on oil drilling and refining. A trading center in ancient times, Bahrain became an emirate (monarchy) in 1783 and fell under British control in 1861. It attained independence in 1971. Since the oil supply is slowly becoming exhausted, Bahrain is now developing the industrial sector and the services sector.