The Hawar Islands are located 24km southwest of Bahrain. The archipelago is comprised of 16 islets, representing a total land area of 38 sq. km. Major centers of pearl diving in the past, the islands are bounded with coral reefs and shallows. The population of the archipelago mostly concentrates into fishers' villages. In 2002, Bahrain submitted for the application of the Hawar islands as a World Heritage Site, due to its unique environment and habitat for endangered species. This site is home to many wildlife species and a very remarkable place for birdwatchers and divers. The islands belong to Bahrain, despite their proximity to the country of Qatar. It is within this light that the Hawar islands became the subject of a dispute between Bahrain and Qatar.
Official claims on Hawar Islands by the countries of Bahrain and Qatar started in 1935. This occurred after oil had been found in Bahrain over ten years earlier. An armed conflict then ensued in August 1937. In 1939, it was ruled by the British that Hawar Islands belonged to Bahrain. Qatar, however, resumed claims on the islands in 1960. The Emir of Qatar condemned the 1939 agreement and tried to purchase the islands. Eventually, the Qatari cost guards prevented Bahraini fishers to enter the waters surrounding Hawar Islands. Bahrain, on its part, answered with naval maneuvers and was accused by Qatar of violating its territorial waters. On 26 April 1986, Qatari troops captured 29 Bahraini workers, who were nevertheless later released. Due to these incidents, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council attempted to mediate between the two parties. As a result, Bahrain claimed the Zubara area, which had previously belonged to the Khalifa family, ruler of Bahrain, and Qatar claimed the Hawar islands. However, Bahrain took a tighter grip when its oil stocks started to dwindle. On 17 April 1992, Qatar claimed new territorial water borders extending over 12 miles. They also claimed a 22-mile area in which...
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