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Bahrain: If You're Arab And We Know It…

Bahrain's bloggers are facing hard times this week, with two being denied entry to Kuwait, another subjected to racial profiling in Japan, and a fourth traumatised by a change in Dairy Queen's menu…

Turned back
Two of Bahrain's bloggers were denied entry to Kuwait this week, though for different reasons. Maroon Al Ras drove with some friends from Bahrain through Saudi Arabia, but was stopped from entering Kuwait at the border:

لقد تم منعي من دخول دولة الكويت الغالية مساء أمس الجمعة..
السبب: طلب صادر من وزارة الخارجية البحرينية عام 1997م..
I was denied entry to the beloved State of Kuwait yesterday evening (Friday)…
The reason: an order issued by the Bahraini Foreign Ministry in 1997…

Maroon recounts the conversation with one of the border officials:

محقق أمن الدولة: هل دخلت الكويت سابقاً؟.
مارون: نعم، في 1992، وفي 1995 مرتين، وفي عام 2003 أيضاً، أي إنني دخلت رغم المنع الذي تحدثتم عنه..
أمن الدولة: جئت مع من؟، ومن أي ممر حدودي؟.
مارون: عن طريق المطار، ضمن وفد إعلامي..
أمن الدولة: هل سافرت للبنان؟، أو إيران؟.
مارون: كلا، لم أزر هاذين البلدين، رغم رغبتي الشديدة في الذهاب للبنان.
-Have you entered Kuwait previously?
-Yes, in 1992, and twice in 1995, and in 2003 as well – meaning I entered despite this ban you are talking about.
-Who did you come with? And by which border crossing?
-I came though the airport, with a media delegation.
-Have you been to Lebanon? Iran?
-No, I haven't been to these two countries, although I would very much like to go to Lebanon.

After a long wait Maroon was finally told why the situation had arisen:

وقال : اسمع ليست لدينا أية مشكلة معك، لكن يبدوا أنك قبل سنوات، خرجت في بعض المظاهرات، ولذا فإن دولتك ممثلة بوزارة الخارجية طلبت منع دخولك إلى جميع الدول الخليجية، لذا فإننا نلتزم هنا بالقرار حتى يأتينا قرار آخر من عندكم..
وأضاف: الدول الخليجية الأخرى، لم تدخل هذا الطلب في أجهزة الحاسب الآلي، لذا ترى أنك تستطيع دخولها، لكننا نحن ملتزمون بالأوامر، فارجع إلى البحرين، و”عدّل أمورك مع الجماعة هناك”!.
He said, ‘Listen, we don't have a problem with you, but it seems some years ago you took part in some demonstrations, so your country – represented by the Foreign Ministry – requested that you be banned from entering all the Gulf states. So we are forced to follow that decision until another is passed to us from your side…’
He added, ‘The other Gulf states don't put these orders into their computer systems, so you can enter them, but we have to abide by orders. Go back to Bahrain, and sort things out there!’

To read the whole story of Maroon‘s encounter with Kuwaiti border bureaucracy, see here.

Funaki, who is not a GCC citizen but lives and works in Bahrain, also tried to enter Kuwait overland:

I made a plan to visit Kuwait for some shopping and stuff with some friends of mine. Go to saudi embassy and get a transit visa without any hitch. Went to kuwait embassy the teller tells me that i dont need a visa to get into kuwait because i have a managerial visa and its validity is more then 6 months. Confirmed multiple times.
Comes Saturday, wake up at 4 wait for my friends to come pick me up and off we go. 2 Hours or 3 hours drive through Saudi and we reach khafji Border, cross it and go into Kuwait. Now this is where all hell breaks loose. The teller on Kuwait border tells me i cant enter because my managerial visa is fake and to prove that its real i need to show him some university degree.

One particular official was giving Funaki a hard time, and he was forced to ask his girlfriend in Bahrain to fax through documents – but even after three hours of arguing the official was adamant, even though his manager agreed that the documents were legitimate:

After arguing with him for over 3 hours, i told him that i’ll make sure he is the one who stamps my exit from kuwait. Drive all the way back to bahrain cursing the fat ass under my breath, take a flight to kuwait. At the airport they didnt cause any problems they were courteous and it took only 5 minutes to process everything, i did my shopping and all waited till next morning and went back driving to the kuwait border to Saudi. The fat ass was there at the counter and he was surprised to see me, i waited for him to finish the queue that he had even though the other counter was empty but it felt nice when the fat ass stamped my exit and i was on my way.
The look on the guy’s face was priceless and driving back for 3 hours was totally worth it.

Picked out of the crowd
Hasan, a Bahraini studying in Japan, also has a tale of discrimination to tell:

One of the most difficult phases of my life was being a Middle Eastern student in a post-9/11 United States. I felt terrible for the victims of the terrorist attacks of that sad day, but I also felt terrible about the reactions faced by others of Middle Eastern descent in the United States. I considered myself lucky for living in a community that was very understanding. I was personally never a victim of any form of hate crime.
I was deeply hurt when the whole racial profiling issue came about. I did not enjoy having to go the INS building down town to “register” – as all Middle Eastern (with the exception of Israelis, of course) and Muslim males between the ages of 18 and 45 of age were forced to – to have my fingerprints and photographs taken and to go through a degrading 45-minute interview that dealt with things I had no connection with. This left me with the feeling of being unwelcome and of less standing than everyone else in the society I was living in. […] I decided that it was for my best interest to return to my home country after obtaining my Bachelor’s degree from the United States, especially after the War on Terror decided to take an extended detour through Iraq. I just wanted to go back home and live with people who come from the same background as I do, which would make life a lot easier.
I later got the chance to continue my graduate studies in Japan. A big part of the reason I thought Japan would be a great place for me to go to for my education was because it was not involved in “ethnic profiling” practices at airports as in the United States.
This year, however, things have begun to change. In my most recent flight back to Tokyo after a vacation in Bahrain, I was in for an unwelcome surprise.

To find out what happened to Hasan, see here.

That's it! (Well, almost…)
The Observer seems to be in two minds about blogging. Despite announcing a departure from blogging in September, he has continued to post, and he explains why he writes:

انا لا اكتب لأغير أحد، ولا يهمني ذلك، ولا أكتب لتوافقاني او تشتماني، انا اكتب مستغلا الفضاء الاكتروني المتاح لأني أمارس وجودي.
I don't write to change anyone, that doesn't matter to me, and I don't write for someone to agree with me or to abuse me; I write using the cyberspace available because I am exercising my being.

Just chill…
We end with Farah Mattar, who is not happy with the change of menu at Dairy Queen:

I hate Grill and Bloody Chill. I miss Dairy Queeeeeen!!!! Who's bright idea was it to change the damn menu? Okay I understand you needed to put lovely new slate tiles and cosy stone cladding on the walls to give us that nice ski lodge look, but did you have to change the chicken burger? Why? It was one of mine and many other people's favorite treats at DQ. The only chicken sandwich in all of Bahrain's fast food joints, which actually felt like all its parts belonged together. All the others were slippy, slidey and ill-fitting, like there was just something which wasn't quite right. Not the Chickee Chicken, the McChicken, nor the KFC chicken burgers had the lovely harmonious cohesion of the DQ chicken burger. It fit together as one, the crispy tender fillet was just the right size, nestled lovingly in the sesame bun, the lettuce dignified, chopped and not too overwhelming and there was none of this crappy let's include tomatoes for .0001 grams of lycopene. I'll skip the nutrients….that's why I'M AT DQ, FOR BLOODY HELL'S SAKE. Besides, did you know tomatoes are close cousins of tobacco? So thank you, since smoking is soooo late 90's, I'd like no cigarettes in my sandwich!

To find out what happened when Farah tried to order her chicken sandwich the way she likes it, see here.

More from Bahrain in a week!

2 comments

  • Bea

    I am really sorry to hear about all the discrimination people are going through no matter the lame excuse. I remember a time in the states when loads of Middle Easterners came to the U.S. for school and I was lucky because I moved to California during that time. I felt fortunate to have friends from these countries and they mesmerized me with their ways. Today, I have lived in Turkey for almost 10 years this time, and now I feel the brunt of discrimination too. No matter what flavor it comes in, it does not feel good. It makes a person feel left out, less than and even angry. I am so sorry!

    For the Observer, Amen! With all the good and bad comments and email I get from my blog, I wrote a series of posts last week talking about why I write. Like you, I write because I can; because I have something to say; because I want to share my perspectives, yada, yada. Keep writing because we all need lots of perspectives to expand our minds, to grow in our being, to critically analyze, and even to live peacefully with one another.

    Maybe one day we will all be able to be please with our politicians and our laws and maybe we can make an impact on that even if only in a small way. You’re welcome to express your opinions on my blog any day. Thanks!

  • لقد تم منعي من دخول دولة الكويت الغالية مساء أمس الجمعة..
    السبب: طلب صادر من وزارة الخارجية البحرينية عام 1997م..
    محقق أمن الدولة: هل دخلت الكويت سابقاً؟.
    مارون: نعم، في 1992، وفي 1995 مرتين، وفي عام 2003 أيضاً، أي إنني دخلت رغم المنع الذي تحدثتم عنه..
    أمن الدولة: جئت مع من؟، ومن أي ممر حدودي؟.
    مارون: عن طريق المطار، ضمن وفد إعلامي..
    أمن الدولة: هل سافرت للبنان؟، أو إيران؟.
    مارون: كلا، لم أزر هاذين البلدين، رغم رغبتي الشديدة في الذهاب للبنان وقال : اسمع ليست لدينا أية مشكلة معك، لكن يبدوا أنك قبل سنوات، خرجت في بعض المظاهرات، ولذا فإن دولتك ممثلة بوزارة الخارجية طلبت منع دخولك إلى جميع الدول الخليجية، لذا فإننا نلتزم هنا بالقرار حتى يأتينا قرار آخر من عندكم..
    وأضاف: الدول الخليجية الأخرى، لم تدخل هذا الطلب في أجهزة الحاسب الآلي، لذا ترى أنك تستطيع دخولها، لكننا نحن ملتزمون بالأوامر، فارجع إلى البحرين، و”عدّل أمورك مع الجماعة هناك”!.
    انا لا اكتب لأغير أحد، ولا يهمني ذلك، ولا أكتب لتوافقاني او تشتماني، انا اكتب مستغلا الفضاء الاكتروني المتاح لأني أمارس وجودي.

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