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Bahrain: The ‘two seas’ are now a concrete jungle

This week we start with Mahmood Al Yousif who mentions an article in Al Wasat newspaper by Adel Marzooq which analyses the state of the Bahraini
blogosphere:

Another issue Adel raises is the cliquey nature of blogs in Bahrain as he categorises us in various strata: bourgeois, personal in nature, political, opposition, activist, little people, etc.

He also suggests that a state of “war” exists in the Bahraini blogosphere as some choose to have only their close blogfriends in their links sections and fight tooth and nail to remove any “outsider” to be considered for inclusion in that blogroll, which clearly demonstrates the cliquiness of the enterprise, he claims.

Mohammed AlMaskati compares an initiative in the UK to make Trafalgar Square a green space, albeit temporarily, to the state of Bahrain's green spaces:

I do not know how I am supposed to feel when I see a Bahraini family having a picnic on roundabouts, their children running around left and right not so far away from the speeding cars, because those roundabouts happen to be the only “green” spots near them, because we do not have much greenery or “natural treasures” that the people of the country can enjoy let alone the incoming vacationer. … Why is it that we are neglecting the natural development or even preservation of our country’s greenery, beaches and seas, and encourage the construction of cement jungles left and right? What happened to the palm tree fields we had? What happened to the sweet water springs all around the country?

“Bahrain” or “Two seas” was called that because it contains two kinds of water, sweet water from the springs and salty water from the sea, it was also once called “Paradise” and “Life of Eternity”, it is truly sad that we don’t have any of that left for us to see, let alone our children.

Silly Bahraini Girl is angry and frustrated at the ruling regarding the capsizing of the Dana dhow, which resulted in the death of fifty-eight people last year:

Our justice system has finally come to terms with itself and has decided to tell the rest of the world the following:

The cost of white trash is: BD172.4 (BD10,000 ÷ 58) per soul.
Indian labour: three years in prison for following ‘orders’
Bahraini accused of manslaughter: 10 year prison sentence and walking out Free after paying BD10,000 bail!

She continues:

This is my Bahrain, people. This is my justice system. This is what we are trying to tell the world about how transparent we are and how everyone is above the law. Thank you Lower Criminal Court! You have once again tarnished the reputation of my country beyond repair. You have once again created families who think our court system is a farce. You have once again reinforced to me personally what I have witnessed all my life living in Wonderland. Thank you for giving me that reality check.

SoulSearch is fed up with having to work:

Have you heard of the phrase: “A slave to the job”, well, that's how I feel right now. I'm at a point where I have had it with work. I feel I have come to a breaking point, where I'm seriously thinking of making greeting cards for a living or something kinky like that!What do I say to my 2 year-old son, who asks me why I leave him every single day? What do I say to my daughter when she tells me she wants to color a rainbow with her?I miss my kids, my life is passing by and I'm in the office worrying about other trivialities while I'm missing out on wonderful moments with my children.

Silver Girl is also thinking about work. Amongst other things, she raises the issue of graduates who were sent abroad to university by the Ministry of Education, on the understanding that on their return they would work for the Ministry for a number of years, else pay back the cost of the study abroad (in the region of BD40 000 – approximately US$100 000) – and in a follow-up post she celebrates the apparent cancellation of this requirement. But her main point is to examine what many people believe is the sectarian nature of employment in Bahrain, and also of the struggle for employees’ rights. The Shi'a have a reputation of complaining more and making greater demands than the Sunnis. Silver Girl asks:

قد أفهم بأن لكل مذهب سياسة.. ولكل طائفة ثقافة. ولكن أن تكون لكل طائفة معاناتها؟ وفي مجتمع بحجم مجتمعنا؟ يا كبرها عند الله!

I get that every denomination has its politics, and every sect has its culture. But that every sect has its own sufferings? And in a society the size of ours? That is a grave affair for Allah.

In Bahrain there are not only people who are frustrated with their work or trying to free themselves from obligations, but many who are desperate for a job. Babbling Bahrania has posted an advert placed by a jobseeker in a local newspaper. He is a university graduate, has experience with computers, can speak and write English, and is offering to work between 5am and 4pm without a break for a salary of BD150 (approximately US$400) – lower than the minimum wage.

Our final work-related post is another by Silly Bahraini Girl who wonders if she has been hypocritical in her advice to women making career decisions, because she herself did the work she loved rather than the work that would pay her well:

Not that Bahrainis are spoilt for choice when it comes to jobs, but I have had this conversation with two Bahrainis today and am battling my own demons when it comes to this. … My hypocritical advice to the two girls who asked me about what to do with their careers when faced with choices was the following: follow the money; take the job which offers more.

Yes. I had job satisfaction in my old job but no financial independence. Yes. I loved my job but it did not love me back when it came to money. Yes. I had a good life – but not until I was considered a human being and not a little girl who wanted a job to keep her out of the house and agreed to be paid in pocket money.

We conclude this week with a glimpse of history. Hussain Marhoon writes about the history of Bab Al Bahrain – the Gateway of Bahrain, built in the 1940s. He quotes from a novel by Bahraini author Fareed Ramadan:

ثمة مركب يستند على مرفأ المنامة، وينثر ركابه بصناديقهم وحكاياتهم التي تقطع طريق النسيان.

ثمة رجل يعرض أوراقه على رجال الجمارك، يمسك صندوقاً محملاً بملابس قليلة. وَلدٌ في العاشرة يقف بالقرب منه، يكاد يلتحم به.

يمران أمام باب البحرين الذي يبدو في هذا النهار الجديد بؤرة للابتهاج والحبور. فالمبنى المطلي بالجير الأبيض الناصع يطل على مرفأ المنامة الكبير، وميدان الجمارك، حيث يمكن للمرء مشاهدة حركة العمال، السفن، والقوارب، بأحجامها وأعدادها الكثيرة التي تصل أحياناً إلى مائة سفينة.

And Bint Battuta has translated the same text:

There is a ship recumbent in Manama’s port, scattering its passengers with their boxes, and their stories which stop the past in its tracks.

There is a man showing his papers to the customs officials, carrying a trunk containing a few clothes. A boy of about ten stands near him, sticking very close.

They pass in front of Bab Al-Bahrain which at this time of day appears to be a hub of happiness and joy. The building is plastered in brilliant white lime, and looks out onto the large port of Manama and the square with the customs buildings. Here it is possible for anyone to observe the movement of the workers and the ships and boats, in all their shapes and sizes and in great numbers, sometimes reaching a hundred ships.

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