Concerns over the use of western PR firms such as Bell Pottinger and Consulum by the Bahrain government have re-emerged in light of a recent $20 million contract with the kingdom’s Economic Development Board.

Initial spending on PR firms came as a response by the Bahrain government to the Arab Spring uprisings in 2011. However, Bahrain Watch reports that the regime has continued to increase its expenditure, with the latest deal bringing the value of Government contracts with Western companies to $50 million.

Bahrain Watch member John Horne said that “PR companies have tried to promote a distorted narrative of events in Bahrain to the advantage of the Government”. He suggested that the public funds would be better spent on addressing social and economic grievances in the country, rather than “information” which could be seen as attempts to cover up ongoing human rights abuses and the State’s failure to reform.

That pattern was established in 2011 with a series of campaigns to draw attention from ongoing anti-regime protests and the Government-supported crackdown on dissent.

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