Bahrain: Top Tips for Secret Smokers!

Children are the future, right? Some bloggers in Bahrain are not too optimistic. We find others who are fed up of religious leaders, are enjoying watching people, and are smoking in secret. Two bloggers are moved by the sound of Arabic – one by the classical language, another by a local dialect. We start with a question regarding Muslims and the debate about globalisation.

Muslims and globalisation

The Observer is pulling no punches; he thinks that Arabs, and Muslims in general, cannot grasp the issues surrounding globalisation:

الغريب في واقع العرب والمسلمين هو هذه الثنائية المستدامة في وعيهم المتهالك . ففي حين أن العالم الآن يتحدث ويناقش ثنائية الأصالة والمعاصرة، الحداثة والتراث , التاريخ وإعادة كتابة التاريخ ، تجد العرب والمسلمين مشغولون في ثنائية الدين والعولمة , الدين والغرب ، الدين والرأسمالية ، الدين والسياسة ، الدين وفتوحاتهم الجنسية.
The strange thing with Arabs and Muslims is the ongoing dichotomy in their worn-out consciousness. At the same time that the world is talking about and debating the dichotomy between the original and the contemporary, modernity and heritage, history and rewriting history, you will find Arabs and Muslims preoccupied with the dichotomy between religion and globalisation, religion and the West, religion and capitalism, religion and politics, religion and their sexual conquests.


This week, two bloggers found themselves extremely frustrated with the behaviour of some kids around them, and they are not hopeful for what is to come. Um Naief, an American married to a Bahraini, is having a hard time watching how her nephew deals with her baby son, Naief:

I've been trying to be a good auntie and have been taking Naief over to visit his cousin in the afternoons for the last few days. … He's a mean little boy. Before, when Naief was just a newborn, I found myself unable to deal w/ his ways and stopped going over there for a while. Now, after finding fabulous anti-anxiety meds, I have found a calmness somewhere in the sphere of this child's madness.

I say madness lightly… for I honestly don't want to be mean. I can be and have been in the past… but since getting to know him better, I feel more sadness and then a lot of anger… after he tries time after time to hurt the baby…. well, it sends me into a loss for what to do, how to act, what to say…. seriously, no book, no program, no body can prepare you for these sorts of things.


No, I'm not hoping for the world to end, my life to end, the baby's life to end… nothing like that. Just for a few people to wake up and smell the roses and get a freakin CLUE as to how to raise a child.

Gardens of Sand, back in Bahrain on a vacation from her studies in the USA, found she could not cope with the bad behaviour of the children at a family gathering, and lost her cool with a mother who was doing nothing about it – but she soon had to act contrite:

Needless to say, this being Bahrain, and me being a Bahraini chick and all, here for only a month, not wanting to embarrass my parents or ruffle family feathers and the oh so fragile peace, I had to call So and so and kiss a**. Apologize for losing my cool and pretend that she is a gr8 parent and the kids perfect. And so for the rest of my time here, I have to put up with the demons and their good for nothing but still a nice person parent if I want to see my gran.


Why is our society so full of parents who don't want anything to do with parenting? Having children is a huge responsibility, one that doesn't end at birth nor one that should be transferred on to a housekeeper. How does this bode on our future? A whole generation of spoiled, undisciplined brats…Hmmmm….

Tired of religious leaders

Eyad is also feeling frustrated – but about something quite different:

Death to turbans and beards, yes I said it, death to all turbans and beards.

Before any of you Jump and scream Kafir (unbeliever), and Before you toggle the Big red X on the corner, read and you will say with me; Death to those who made this country split into halves and quarters from the microphone of a mosque or maatam (Shi'i prayer hall), death to all those who fill the young minds with hatred to Mankind and hide behind the a turban or a beard, death to those who hide the truth a mosque should be revealing, death to an Islam you created and the Prophet didn’t preach, Death to all who claimed religious knowledge for political gains, death to who vote for religious figures just so they are from the same sect.

What is this country going through, where will it stop, do people have to die, or do we have to go through the 90’s again, why do we keep waving a big red flag pointing out our deference’s when the similarities are as clear as day light, why do we fear the other and why do we hate the other.


I hope our Beards and turbans learn that you can’t win a war fighting your own brother.

How to smoke secretly

The Girl With No Face has learnt to deal with frustration in imaginative ways:

People in this country have no idea how big of a community there is of secret smokers. And you’d be shocked at how many of them are female smokers. But for something to stay a secret in Bahrain, is &*#*! near impossible. So I’m going to give all you smoking girls some tips on how to keep your smoking secret from your family and the rest of the world (I’ll prolly go to hell for this haha)

She recommends smoking while driving:

Also, believe it or not, one of the best places to smoke, is in the car. Its better because the smell won’t stick on you and also because you can hide it well. To be able to smoke in the car you have to do the following:

-you have to only smoke when you’re on the highway cuz you know you won’t be stopping and you can hide it well..

-its preferable at night but you can still pull it off during the day.

-you have to be used to driving and used to smoking with your left hand haha

-you crack open your window maybe less than an inch

-and you keep your hand holding the cigarette a few inches away..

-while driving 80 km/h and more, the smoke will be sucked outside

-oh and before you light it, make sure that the AC on the left side of the steering wheel is off and the one on your right, turned away.

-you have to have a long enough road to finish a whole cigarette before you have to stop again right? and thats hard to find in bahrain. but from experience, i can tell you the best ways are:

the roundabout between hamad town and riffa.. (dunno what its called).. as soon as you leave that round about, light a cigarette. you’ll be done right before you reach the seef mall flyover OR if you’re headed for like the adhari road, you’ll be done before you reach within 100 meters of that traffic light.

ok, you know the dark road from alareen that goes to al jazayer beach? … haha thats the one.. you light the cigarette when you get on that road and you reach the roundabout, you take a U turn and half way down that road, you’ll be done, before you even reach al areen again.

For more tips see here!

Beauty is in the eye…

Mohammed AlMaskati has been pondering attractiveness – what women find appealing in men, and vice versa:

I wonder what it is that women find attractive in men in this part of the world. But wait, we’re just not that shallow right? We look at deeper things, things that matter, meaningful things that stay! Fancy cars, fat paychecks, nice phone number combinations, a house. We all know that looks aren’t what really draws Arab women to men! And the evidence is all over the place. I mean, there are plenty of flabby, worthless, ugliest-people-you’ve-ever-seen, and they’ve got babes draped all over ‘em!

But honestly now, the Arab definition of beauty is just way too weird, a copy of the ever so famous Layalina Magazine fell into my hands earlier today, I was just shocked as to the amount of makeup those young girls use on themselves. I couldn’t help but imagining how much foundation cream mac could be selling in Bahrain, probably making a fortune out of those poor people.

Beauty is just a huge dilemma, girls want to give out the impression that they are decent and courteous while in the same time look attractive and sexy, and it’s very funny how the final product looks like.

Ammar has observed some rituals for presenting oneself at one's best:

She looked at her eyes in the rear-view as she re-arranged her shaila (scarf), just enough to show a little bit of hair, but not enough to give it all off. … Her lane was semi-blocked with traffic, while the opposite lane was open, with cars creeping by; mostly boys, who really made an effort to turn their heads and look, to see one of the few females driving down at this time of the evening. She was an attractive girl, for sure, but she kept composed, even with the seemingly un-endless boys gazing at her.

Ah, perfect; the rear-lights of a parked Corolla just turned white, signalling it will reverse, clearing up the pavement for her car. She waited as the owner slowly moved his vehicle, being careful not to scrape the bike parked so close to him, and trying to maneuver not to bump her car. After what seemed like an eternity, the Corolla was on its way, giving a thank-you horn as he left, and the parking spot was all hers. A little paradise in a huge desert of cars, traffic and noise. She stayed in her car a few more minutes, fixing her lipstick and eye-liner, applying her blusher, spraying unbelievable amounts of Calvin Klein perfume, and again fixing her shaila. Yes, she was finally ready for another evening at Starbucks, just another evening in the world of Juffair..

Language as identity

Cradle of Humanity has rediscovered a love of classical Arabic after hearing a poet recite his work:

I felt attached to the sound of the language he used. He sounded as if he came from long ago, from a time where people spoke Arabic for their daily life, from an old historical TV show whose actors did not replace one consonant with another, from a cartoon dubbed for kids when dialects were not used for cartoons. “There are still such poets” I told my younger brother, and I was both happy and amazed with the realization that, yes, there are still some people who can write a poem that both has such a deep meaning and rhythm. I could think of nothing but how much this language means to me, how strong the feel of belonging and identity is, how all those contestants living hundreds of miles apart can still feel there is something that ties them together, regardless of how different they all are.

While helping a European colleague learn Arabic I remember him once suggesting that standard day Arabic should no longer be one language. The difference between all spoken Arabic accents is so vast that it’s time they are all classified as different languages- Bahraini, Egyptian, Iraqi, Libyan and so on. I disagreed. “They are all subsets of the mother language”, I argued. “If you can speak the mother language, you can easily understand its subsets”. That was the virtual reason for why I refused to believe they are different languages.

The real reason, however, was much deeper than that. It was far deeper than mere linguistics. Although no nationalist, I did not want Bahraini to be a different language, I wanted it to be just a variation of the great mother Arabic, I wanted that tie with the past and present, I wanted the glory of the once upon a time great language of Imru’ al-Qais and Al-Mutanabbi. Having a Bahraini language would mean having to start from now, it would mean leaving behind the rich history- regardless of good or bad. It would mean that no longer can I say that we were or were not, that no longer can anything belong to me, but to them, the Arabs, and I still want to be one.

On hearing the news that one of Bahrain's best-known musicians, Ali Bahar, has been hospitalised, Yagoob wants to tell us what is so special about Bahar's work – and one reason is his use of a local dialect:

Fans of Ali Bahar like to use the term فيلنق when describing his music which is the Bahrainization of the word ‘Feeling’ maybe the equivalent of ‘emo’ to today’s rock music listeners minus the razors and ‘every rose has a thorn’ mentality.

But what makes his music ‘feeling’?

Yagoob thinks there are three factors, namely lyrics, music and vocals:

The majority of the band’s lyrics are from their lead guitarist Khalid Al-Thawadi, and his style suits Ali very much and a good reflection of his character. The lyrics are extremely simple and from the heart and he sings it in a way that it’s understandable especially for the age range 16-25. The simplicity of his lyrics are frowned upon by many of the Arab world songwriters whose writings are complex flows of words on topics of love and betrayal are as dry and uninventive as the deserts they originate from. … Although bringing guitars into the foreground, the Brothers did not forget their roots. … Ali’s voice is instantly recognisable as he sings in a pure Muharraqi dialect, and those who don’t know this dialect imagine how a very spoilt large woman would sound like when talking slowly, and he does it without shame, unlike many other Bahraini singers like Khalid Al-Shaikh, Hind and Adel Mahmood tend to sing in a more ‘Khaleeji dialect’. … So when mixing these three elements, you will get ‘feeling’ed.

Facing criticism

Ali is tired of people putting him – and his blog – down:

تعودت الإحباط و سلوكيات المحبطين ..
نعم .. تعودت وجودهم قرب اي عمل او نشاط لي .. بغض النظر عن نجاحه او تحقيقه هدفه ..
هناك العامل المشترك بين كل هذه النشاطات : انتقاد المحبطين لها ..
لا أعرف هل أن الخلل فيما أقوم به ، او في نوعية و تفاصيل ما أقوم به ، او في شخصيتي او عقليات من حولي من المنتقدين و المحبطين ؟
I’ve got used to being frustrated, and to the behaviour of those who want to thwart others…
Yes, I’ve got used to their presence near any work or activity of mine – regardless of its success or achievement of its goals.
There is a factor shared amongst all these activities: the criticism of the naysayers…
I don’t know if the fault lies in what I am doing, or in the particular nature or the details of what I am doing, or in my personality, or in the mentality of the critics and thwarters around me.
لا أنكر ان لكل شخص ذوقه في الأمور و تقديره الشخصي ، و إبداء الرأي حق لا اختلاف عليه
لكن !
I can’t deny that every person has their own taste in matters, and their own judgement, and expressing an opinion is a right which I can’t disagree with!
هذه المدونة التي تتصفحونها ، او تقرأون ما يكتب فيها ..
واجهت وواجهت أنا معها سيلاً من الكلام الذي لا يرقى للانتقاد و لا يستحق وصف “إبداء رأي” ..
حتى أنني وصلت لمرحلة أعيد فيها التفكير ..اغلقها ؟ لا لن اغلقها ..
و لا زالت مستمرة ..
مقاييس النجاح بالنسبة لمدونة ، مختلفة قليلاً
لكن بالنسبة لي ..
معدّل الزيارات و الزوار .. جيّد
معدل القراء عبر الـRSS Feed ..جيّد
This blog which you are browsing through, or reading what is in it, has faced (and I have faced with it) a flood of words which don’t rise to the level of criticism and don’t deserve to be called ‘expressing an opinion’…
I have even reached the stage of re-thinking it… Should I close it? No, I won’t… It’s still going on…
The measurements of success regarding a blog vary somewhat, but for me they are:
The average number of visits and visitors – good
The average number of readers via the RSS feed – good
تعرفت على أصدقاء جدد ، صداقات ناجحة بلا شك ..
حققت ما أريد رغم ما قلتم !
إذاً ..فشلتم أم نجحتم ..سأواصل طريقي كما أريد أنا ! لا أنتم ..
I have made new friends, successful friendships without a doubt
I have achieved what I wanted, despite what you said!
So, whether you have succeeded or failed, I will continue my way as I want to, not as you do!

Good for you, Ali! More from Bahrain – and all our persistent bloggers – next week.

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