Bahrain: Wearing Hijab Part-Time

There is one subject that unites everyone living in Bahrain: traffic congestion. In the last few years, the roads on the island have become clogged by the weight of traffic, and roadbuilding to relieve that congestion in the long term is making it far worse in the short term. Every single person has a story of frustration to tell. Ammar recently posted about a typical experience:

It gets very annoying…when it takes you almost 2 hours to drive home in an island that's just a little over 10km wide.

The traffic problem has gotten to the extent that, if nobody at the department of planning (oh wait, I forgot, we DON'T have a department of planning) does anything, it will soon start to reach catastrophic levels. And by catastrophic, I mean me having to buy a DVD player and screen for my car, to watch movies and TV shows as I wait to get home, instead of buying them for the normal reason everyone else buys them (ie, to show off).

Khalid from The Drivel of 2 Bahrainis reports on a recent survey of professionals in fourteen different cities in the Middle East, regarding the time it takes them to get to work:

Average Commute Time Per day:
Total Return Journey (To and From work) by Place of Work

Dubai –> 1 hour 45 minutes (Sharjah to Dubai –> 2 hours and 44 minutes)
Cairo –> 1 hour 33 minutes
Sharjah –> 1 hour 8 minutes
Doha – –> 56 minutes
Dammam –> 55 minutes
Beirut –> 55 minutes
Kuwait –> 55 minutes
Amman –> 53 minutes
Riyadh –> 49 minutes
Abu Dhabi –> 48 minutes
Muscat –> 48 minutes
Manama –> 48 minutes
Khobar –> 47 minutes
Jeddah –> 46 minutes

Khalid gives his opinion on the results of the survey:

Now coming over to Manama, given the average commute times of other cities, this isn’t that bad, but knowing Manama inside out and the size of that place, this is terrible. I know there are plans for new flyovers and roads, but from what I’ve seen, the new flyovers or roads just move traffic from one place to another. Good example is the Lulu Roundabout flyover.

Concerned Citizen X is also concerned about traffic, but has been thinking about possible solutions for the Kingdom:

Isn't it time for a Railway System here in little old K.O. Bahrain?

He continues:

There would be a lot less demand for continuous usage of cars; the roads would be less congested, exceptions would be for very long distances not covered by the railway; usually trips to be taken abroad via the Saudi Causeway and later the Bahrain Qatar causeway, the latter may not really necessitate your own personal car as the talk going around is that there will also be a train system built onto the bridge.

Ooh, I can just dream of such a day, it would be a huge leap for our country. Sadly, my biggest fear is this may only remain a dream and never a reality, taking into view the fact that a few weeks back, the newspapers indicated that the Government hand a long term Roads Transport System modification plan that goes past 2020. ??

What the hell is that? If we take their word for it, then the projected date for an online fully functional up and running system would be 2080.

I don’t believe I’ll be alive by them, you never know.

BuZain had a close call when traveling this week:

I flew out of Glasgow Airport few hours before the burning car attack. I can't believe it!! I was standing inside the terminal in close proximity to the place the car burst into flames. I was looking at the monitors and waiting for my airline gate to open while Zain was playing beside me with her doll. The thought that my precious Zain and UmZain could have been there at the moment of the crash keeps haunting me since I heard the news earlier today.

Damn you terrorists! Killing me, my family, and loads of innocent people would have given you a free ticket to heaven, you say. I say to HELL all of you Islamic fanatics.

Munther at The Drivel of Two Bahrainis also has something to say about the airport attack:

I’ve been wanting to write this ever since it happened 3 days ago but everytime I set to do so, words failed me! I am talking about the Glasgow Airport bombing. What I don’t understand is why would someone do such a thing to the Scots? I’ve lived there for 5 years and never in my life was I treated badly while there, to the contrary, I’ve been treated as if I was one of them and felt that I belonged there, felt at home and still do consider it my second country !

Still on the subject of cultural openness and awareness, TechZ has been chatting to an American online, and is disappointed with his/her ignorance:

I don’t normally mention where I am in the world, but the topic of taxes and jobs came up…so I said I lived in the Middle East. The following typical stereotype of life here was immediately mentioned to me:

-It’s a dangerous place to live
-Since I’m not an American contractor, I feel safe
-The only reason we exist is because of American/European help…i.e. the oil revenue
-We have nothing to offer but oil
-It’s the US soldiers who are only suffering in Iraq

Ammar is feeling frustrated with Bahrain's MPs:

I thought MPs were supposed to be a group elected to represent the people of a country. Unfortunately most of what we have seen is them working for their own agendas; not necessarily working to benefit themselves (although that has been the case a number of times), but generally fighting in what THEY believe in and not what they think the people believe in, whether it is a strong religious/political belief or otherwise.

MPs, please get the point here; we didn't choose you to make your own decisions regarding these subjects. We chose you to get our requests out in the open. Get more involved with the members of this society, go places, meet people, see what our problems are. Hopefully with a little bit of this, maybe the real issues we have will finally start to see the light.

Concerned Citizen X has some advice for the electorate:

The first year we elected the good for nothing MPs we got diddle, all they achieved was to fattening their pockets and of course continue to benefit from the gifts bestowed upon them, tokens of appreciation from the Government … They exercised a blind eye and were deservedly kicked out by the end of the first term.

So what did we then go out and do? … Poor misguided and ignorant us, we went out and elect another bunch of good for nothing MPs.


The only way out of this #$*% hole is to elect intellectuals and highly educated Economists, Doctors, Engineers, Professors and Scientists; no religious fanatic, no wolves in sheep’s clothing and especially no Government stooges.

Ashish Gorde at Eureka Express has a story about a professional who is doing the wrong job:

Rao had come to Bahrain as a qualified pharmacist but he came on a construction worker visa, and his sponsor refused to give him a release unless Rao pays him a huge amount for ‘services rendered’ or some such #$*%. Rao had taken huge loans to purchase this visa and as a result had no extra money for the ‘release'… and so what does he do? What else? Keep his pharmaceutical dreams on hold, and ends up working as a mason even though his professional skills were meant for some other job.

It would be easy to blame the ‘free-visa’ and ‘sponsorship’ system for Rao's predicament, but I guess, the problem is a lot more complicated than that. Of course, it goes without saying that if Rao was not so dependent on his ‘sponsor’ and if he was not a victim of the insane ‘free-visa’ system, his professional life might have taken a different turn, and Bahrain wouldn't have lost a pharmacist to the construction industry. That's one way of looking at things.

But it still doesn't answer why a pharmacist – of all people – have to go and do construction work?! … (And it) doesn't alter the slow-motion death of Rao's dreams and desires.

Butterfly tells us about an encounter with a colleague outside of the workplace:

قبل عدة ايام وفي أحد المجمعات التجارية أستوقفتني فتاة لم تكن ملامحها غريبة عني .. لوهلة شككت ان تكون زميلة لي في العمل ولكن كان هناك فارق كبير في المظهر بين هذة وتلك، فزميلتي منذ ان عرفتها وهي محجبة ولم أرها يوما بملابس قصيرة او ضيقة كما انها لا تضع اى من مساحيق التجميل على وجهها
Several days ago in one of the malls a girl stopped me, and her features seemed familiar…For a moment I thought it might be a colleague from work, but there was a big difference in the appearance of the two. My colleague, ever since I have known her, wears hijab (headscarf), and I have never seen her wearing short or tight clothes, just as she doesn't wear any makeup on her face.
حينما مدت يدها لتسلم على تيقنت ان ظني كان في محله وبأنها هي ذاتها زميلتي التي أعرف. سألتها عن السبب في التحول الكبير في المظهر لتفاجئني بأنها لم تكن يوما محجبة وانها ترتدى الحجاب فقط اثناء دوام العمل الرسمي اما عدا ذلك فهذه هي طريقة لبسها! لماذا هذة الازدواجية؟ أليس الرجال في كل مكان هم نفس الرجال؟
When she put out her hand to greet me I knew for certain my suspicion was correct, and she was the same colleague that I know. I asked her about the reason for the big transformation in her appearance which had surprised me. She said she didn't always wear hijab, and only wore it during official work hours, and this was her normal way of dressing. Why this double life? Aren't men the same wherever they are?
أجابت: نعم مع اختلاف بسيط، انني اتعامل مع هؤلاء الرجال ثمان ساعات متواصلة اثناء الدوام اما خارجه وايا كان مكاني فأنا خارج هذه الدائرة المغلقة من المراقبة اليومية .. من النظرات المزعجة التي تلاحقني. أرتدى الحجاب اثناء الدوام لان الرجال عادة ما يكونون أكثر جرأة في الحديث مع غير المحجبات، لان هذا الغطاء الذي اضعه على رأسى يضع حدا فاصلا بيني وبين بعض من لا يحترمون المراة ولايحسنون التعامل معها الا حينما تكون محجبة
She answered, ‘Yes, with one small difference. I deal with those men for eight continuous hours during the working day, but outside, wherever I am, I am away from this closed circle of daily monitoring, from the annoying looks that follow me. I wear hijab during office hours because men usually talk more daringly to women without the hijab. This covering that I put on my head puts a clear boundary between me and those who do not respect women and do not behave well towards them unless they are wearing hijab.’

Khalid Qambar has discovered something that he believes could only happen in Bahrain:

من الطبيعي و مع بداية كل صيف وبداية العطلة المدرسية و موسم الأجازات إن تنهال العروض التسويقية المغرية في الصحف و المجلات ووسائل الأعلام الأخرى و التي يكون الطابع العام عليها التخفيضات … ولكن مؤخرا .. و بس في مملكة البحرين .. ظهرت صرعة جديدة وهى العروض أو الترويجات الصيفية في مجال الطب و الصحة ..و تحديدا في مجال العمليات الجراحية ..!!!
It is natural, with the beginning of every summer, and the beginning of the school vacation and the holiday season, that tempting offers start appearing in newspapers, magazines and the rest of the media, the general feature being discounts… But recently – and this could only happen in the Kingdom of Bahrain – a new campaign has appeared with summer offers or promotions in the field of health and medicine – to be precise, in the sphere of surgical operations!

We finish with Yagoob, who gives us what he thinks are the ten signs of summer's arrival in Bahrain:

1. Blackouts at the most unholiest hours of the day
2. Despite #1, you end up paying more for your electricity bill at the end of the month
3. When you find an ‘Al-Waseet’ (for weekly classified ads) lying around, you look for swimming pools to rent.
4. Wherever you drive you will likely see at least 3 or 4 kids learning how to drive… on every main road from 7 am to 6pm!
5. You hear that your friends are either going to Makkah, Dubai or Thailand for their holidays
6. Every week your family are invited to at least one wedding or ‘Henna’.
7. You can’t touch your car’s steering wheel when you first get in the car.
8. You realise a bit too late that your car’s A/C gas has run out
9. Turning on the hot water tap to wash your hands because it is actually much cooler than the supposed ‘cold water’
10. Seeing kids riding their bikes and preparing to play football in the neighbourhood at 3 am!

Summer is indeed here… Back with an update next week.


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