On 1st September Bahraini bloggers held their monthly get-together, but this time with a new time and day, and a change of venue. There were nine people present, some of whom were introduced in the report of the last meeting: Mahmood, H., Butterfly, Tariq Khonji, and Bint Battuta (that's me). But there are four more bloggers you should be introduced to, two of them attending a meeting for the first time.
Ammar first had a website in 1996, which had information about Bahrain, and pictures of friends. He then started a blog at MySpace, where he posted jokes and ‘random things’. He wasn't satisfied with that, so in 2006 he began blogging about more serious issues on his current blog. Having been away from Bahrain, when he came back in 2007 he became more involved in blogging, especially when he saw what was going on with other Bahraini blogs. Ammar writes frequently, and keeps things quite general and not too political. However he cares about the state of Bahraini society, and the way that rapid developments are changing it, so he often has posts that offer advice to people for particular problems (such as getting out of debt). He has some pages on his blog dedicated to life in the eighties and nineties that he recommends people check out.
Redha Haji, or Concerned Citizen X, says that in Bahrain there are a lot of issues bothering him that ultimately he has no say in. He thinks decisions are being made by the few for the masses. Therefore although his real name is on his blog, and he is not hiding his identity, he chose the title Concerned Citizen X as a symbolic protest against the average person's inability to speak and be heard, and against taboos in the political arena. He doesn't believe in belittling or insulting people; he just believes he should be able to participate more in the political process.
Redha wanted to start a blog three years ago, but didn't have the courage at that point, because of what he wanted to say. Eventually he realised he didn't have to express everything that was on his mind, and started his blog in April of this year. He didn't want to attract attention to himself, so was planning to avoid writing about politics, but he says he has now learned to write in a controlled manner, so covers political matters amongst other things. His main purpose in blogging is to get things off his chest – whether people read it or not. His blog also has another purpose; Redha would like to write a book one day, and is ‘finetuning’ his thoughts through blogging.
Mohammed AlMaskati writes at emoodz.com, the name referring to ‘electronic moods’. He started blogging two years ago, and initially had two blogs, one in English and one in Arabic, but recently he combined them. He writes mainly about politics; previously he wrote more about international matters, but now he covers more Bahraini issues, because he feels Bahrainis have developed a kind of ‘acceptance’ and need to be provoked. He writes a lot in Arabic, because he is discussing local politics and addressing Bahrainis rather than anyone else. If he writes about more general Bahraini subjects then he does so in English. Mohammed ran a weekly series of podcasts some months ago, and intends to start making them again soon.
Yagoob (Yacoub) started his blog, Yagoob's Dome, in April 2007, at the suggestion of a friend. The name Yagoob's Dome is a play on words: in the local dialect of Arabic the word دبة (dabba) means ‘belly’, and if you change one letter you get قبة (qubba) which means ‘dome’. For Yagoob the first image refers to his thoughts and his humour, and the second with its religious reference indicates that his blog is a place where he can talk about more serious matters. He writes in English, because he has friends and family in the UK and US, and he also wants a wider audience to know about Bahrain. He hopes that with his blog he can help destroy people's misconceptions and prejudices about the country.
Coincidentally the day of the meeting was also my birthday, and a surprise was in store for me…
So it was a very special day for me – thanks to Bahrain's great bunch of bloggers!