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Bahrain: Meet the Bloggers!

Thursday 2 August saw the 31st gathering of Bahrain's bloggers, and instead of giving you a summary of blog posts this week, I'm going to introduce you to the bloggers who attended the gathering this month.

We have to start with Mahmood Al Yousif, who organises the monthly get-togethers, and is of course Bahrain's ‘blogfather’. Mahmood's current blog, Mahmood's Den, has been in existence since April 2003, but he has had a number of sites over the years, and his first foray into online communication was very early:

I am fascinated by computers and their potential. Especially communication and how that marriage can bring disparate peoples together. I started one of the first BBS (bulletin board service) in the Gulf in ‘86. Called it Stray Cats BBS and proceeded to commandeer my wife’s monthly salary to pay the telephone company! I put a stop to that in ‘91 I think much to my wife’s happiness!

Mahmood says his philosophy is to keep things simple, and to enjoy what he's doing. He writes about everything, and he feels his liberal views strike a chord with people who don't always feel able to speak out. His site certainly is popular, with visitors from all over the world; Mahmood's Den has up to 10 000 unique visitors a day. (You can see the site statistics for 2006 here.)

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Our next blogger is Ashish Gorde, whose blog is called Eureka Express. Ashish started Eureka Express in December 2004, as a venue for his personal reflections, and with the intention of developing and showcasing his creative writing. However after a while it became a place where he could ‘rant’ about issues that concerned him. Ashish also feels his blog gives him an opportunity to try to work out his identity, as an expatriate born and brought up in Bahrain.

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H. started his current blog, The Straight Forward Times, about a year ago (though he is another pioneer – he first blogged on Xanga, from 1999). At first he focused on reporting on public issues, but then his blog became more personal at a time when his life was undergoing many changes. These days he has lost the urge to discuss public affairs; he still has opinions, but doesn't feel the need to let off steam about politics anymore.

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Butterfly began her blog in November 2006. Her blog, هذيان الحروف (Hallucination of Letters) is in Arabic, and she attracts readers from all over the Arab world. Her blog is a place for her observations and thoughts; she writes about a variety of topics, about anything that interests her, though her posts tend to be more about cultural issues than political matters.

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Gardens of Sand is a Bahraini based in the USA, and she started her blog in 2006. She says she writes about anything that stirs her – ‘that makes me either happy or sad’ – whether it is trivial or great. She writes in English, but sometimes posts material from elsewhere in Arabic.

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Eyad began his blog in 2005, simply called Eyad's (though it is subtitled Eyad, who used to be Human – and he calls himself Eyad the Great). He covers any issue that touches him, tending towards the political. He recommends his most recent post, entitled One United Bahrain in My Office.

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Three other people were present at our meeting: The Joker, who no longer writes, but has something up his sleeve to be revealed very soon; Tariq Khonji, a former journalist who is also taking a break from writing, and yours truly, bint battuta in bahrain.

The monthly blog meetings are being moved to Saturday mornings, to allow people who cannot make it on Thursday evenings to attend. So in future we hope to be able to report on much larger meetings, and introduce you to even more of Bahrain's bloggers.

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