A few weeks ago we mentioned a report on CNN about poverty and sectarian divides in Bahrain. This week a piece appeared in the LA Times concerning a rift in the Bahraini ruling family, and LuLu is impressed:
After CNN, the Los Angeles Times takes a more intelligent look at Bahrain.
The article claims that senior members of the Bahraini ruling family have allied themselves with hard-line Sunni Muslim groups, hoping to counter a perceived threat from the majority Shi'a. Concerned Citizen X comments:
BandarGate, CNN & now the LA Times; all raising the issue of promoted sectarianism by factions within the Government. What now?
Transparency, Trustworthy & Accountable; three words that do not come into the picture when talking about entities within the Government.
Why would a country as minute as Bahrain make it with such heavy-duty articles to some of the world’s top publications other than the world is somewhat sitting up and taking notice that inequity should not go unreported?
The power and numbers of the Wahabi and Muslim Brotherhood currents are on the increase around the island; one could sense that by just a quick roundup on local forums or Arabic Blogs, we need more attention on stories like those around the country. We need to educate the youth, the brainwashable youngsters that are vulnerable to fall victims so such schools of teachings aided by the lack of other social activities and religious grounds of the local communities.
Apart from the LA Times story, Bahrain has been highlighted in the press of another country this week; a senior Iranian government advisor, as well as newspaper editor, Hussain Shariatmadari, has written in his paper claiming that the main demand of Bahrainis is the return of Bahrain to Iran. Mahmood states what he thinks in no uncertain terms:
Apparently this guy – who is one of the Iranian leadership’s consultants – is demanding that Bahrain be returned to the folds of the Iranian Nation as the United Nations declaration to remain both Arab and independent is null and void as it was the word of the dual-Great Satans (Amerika and UK).
The political lines between Bahrain and Iran have been burning at one million Kelvin since this story broke when Shariatmadari authored his OpEd in his paper, I just hope that this will get resolved soon and that the Iranian leadership will come on and unequivocally state that they do recognise Bahrain as independent and kick this moron’s ass into oblivion.
Rayyash comments on the same matter, and ends with a question:
Bahrainis often look at another neighbour, Dubai, as a model for advancement. Ammar comments on the new toll booth system, Salik, that Dubai has just introduced, and wonders about the larger implications:
Now, how is this relevant to us in Bahrain, or anyone in the surrounding region? Well, if you haven't noticed, Dubai is the model city that all countries around it try to follow. Dubai jumps, they jump. Dubai ducks, they duck. And now, Dubai, the tax free haven, has finally introduced a pretty direct tax on people using its roads. Sure, it's there to reduce congestion on the main roads, and generate more income for new infrastructure projects, but it's a tax nonetheless. And you can bet your sweaty GCC passport (or visa) that that the surrounding countries are going to introduce taxes pretty soon. Not necessarily taxes on major roads or highways, but any form of tax is applicable.
Yes, Salik has been criticized by many commuters, claiming that it hasn't fixed the problem, shifted it to somewhere else, or only created more problems. Some claim that it isn't fair, having to pay the same toll if you had 10 people in one vehicle, or one person, whether you were driving a tiny 2-seater or a truck, or if you were a poor labourer trying to make it to work to earn a living or a rich billionaire going to Dubai to spend a few thousand dollars for a good time.
Either way, I think it was a good start, and even though it wasn't launched as well as it should have been, it is still progress. Other measures need to be implemented to bring down congestion, and speaking of Dubai, Bahrain also needs to start moving on some strong traffic-control measures before we start turning into the next Cairo. Aside from the other available solutions for congestion, and I have a LOT in mind, we need to start looking at this whole tax situation, and start to prepare for it.
Toll booths are just the beginning.
Apart from traffic, affordable housing is another problem in Bahrain. Silver summarises the situation for many:
A typical case will be a Bahraini couple getting BD 40,000 (US $ 106,000) to buy a house form the government (Ministry of Housing). A typical liveable (not even decent) house costs at least BD 80,000. … So what does a person do? You say take a bank loan, alright let's try it. The only loan you will get is a personal loan because the house has to be mortgaged by the Ministry of Housing (for the 40K loan), so a typical couple will make around BD800-1200 (US $ 2120-3180) (combined), 50% of your income is your max installment, now take out two car loans, if you are lucky you will be able to get additional BD10-20k. As a result now you have BD50-60k. The question is what can you buy with that???
There is a suggestion to increase government loan to BD60,000, guess what that will do?? Yes, increase property prices even further!! So we will be back to square one!!
Ammar has been thinking about Bahrain's relationship to its heritage:
I read a report in the GDN today which sort of alarmed me; it seems that Bahrain is bidding for a seat in the UNESCO World Heritage Commitee. The aim is to make Bahrain the regional hub for cultural and natural heritage preservation.
Cultural and natural heritage preservation?
But when talking of culture and heritage? We've done all but completely destroy it. This really doesn't make sense to me; how can a country that has not only neglected but purposely destroyed a large part of its own heritage be considered for such a committee? Don't get me wrong, I love my country. I would love to see it advance and grow on the global map, but the way things go, you don't get a fat kid to work in a cake shop.
We end with Seroo, who is astounded by an instance of laziness she recently encountered:
I got up from quick lunch at a Starbucks with a friend to head back to work one afternoon.
“Where's your car?” he asked as he picks up his Gucci shades and pulled out his Mont Blanc keyring.
“At the Regency car park.” I got up, adjusted myself and picked up my hand bag.
“Laish wagafteeha b3eeed min ihneey?” (Why did you park so far away?) he asked, busy fiddling with his super cool new phone.
“Laish? (Why?) That's where my parking spot is…”
“O Shlone yeetay?” (So how did you get here?) We walked towards the door.
“Shino shlone? Meshait.” (What do you mean how? I walked.)
“You walked?!?!?!” He stops in his tracks, raises his eyebrows and mockingly drops his mouth open.
“Ee akeed.” (Yes, of course) I stopped as well and knitted my eyebrows together. “Why should I drive for 15 minutes when I could walk for 5?”
He shook his head and put on his blinging shades.
“Ma7ad yamshi ihneey terra, 7u6i hai el shai fi balech.” (You know no one walks here, just think about that.)
Well Harumph to you too.