The bill would provide $415 per month to the country's unemployed, who comprise about 15 per cent of the country's workforce.

It also appears to be designed in part to avoid the unrest that has hit Bahrain over lack of jobs, which was a major factor in the turmoil that engulfed Bahrain in the mid-1990s and led to a series of riots and arson attacks.

"We sought advice from Swiss, Canadian and British experts before introducing the bill, which will virtually eliminate problems emanating from unemployment," said Majeed al-Alawi, Bahrain's labour minister.

Rare move

The bill is expected to be presented to parliament in early December following the country's elections on November 25.

Al-Alawi said the plan is for the first payouts to be made in January.

"All unemployed will be required to attend job centres administered by the ministry of labour and will be interviewed to check their eligibility and preparedness to accept job offers," al-Alawi said.

First-time job seekers will also be eligible for the benefits as long as they are 18 years or older.

Unemployment benefit is almost unknown in the Arab world and does not exist in Egypt, Lebanon or Syria.

In Jordan, unemployed people may receive state benefits as long as they contributed to the state's social security agency before they lost their jobs. It does not apply to those who have never held a job.