Bahrain: For sale?

In this post we look at some of things that Bahraini bloggers have been saying during the last month. We start with a complaint about the privatisation of utilities in Bahrain, followed by an opinion about changes at the Ministry of Information, and another about the role bloggers can play in Bahrain. Then there is some advice on using an honorific title to cover a lapse in memory, a blogger's marriage proposal, and another blogger's frustration at being pushed into meeting a potential suitor…

We start with a photo by Mohammed Marhoon, who went out on a photography trip with some of his friends:

Photography day out

Some things are best kept public…
Nido is unhappy about privatisation in Bahrain:

We have sold off the plant that pretty much generates ALL of the water and electricity in Bahrain to far flung companies in Europe and Japan. We no longer own anything that is able to produce water and electricity for us. All of our water and electricity production is in the hands of management in Tokyo, London and Brussels. Could someone tell me how is this a brilliant idea? […] One popular reason people give for letting the private sector take over is that the private sector is more efficient in managing and running a place. […] This is no justification whatsoever for selling off your assets. This is a justification for the private sector MANAGING and RUNNING the establishments. … Many countries, such as France, have these vital sectors owned by the state itself but they are run by the private sector. If there are gains to be had from the private sector taking over management (and even this is debatable in this case) then let them take over running it but you don’t need to sell it off to them! […] Given our oil boom the country SHOULD HAVE ENOUGH FUNDS ON ITS OWN to cater to such crucial sectors. They are a priority. We DO NOT NEED external investment, not in these sectors. Given how much we have poured down the Formula 1, etc, we should be able to stump up an extra 1 billion somewhere to build a decent water and electricity plant which would keep us viable for the next 30 years or so. This should not be hard. Given our government’s obsession with fast bucks however, this money gets instead wasted on less crucial projects. […] Enjoy the water you’re drinking and the laptop you’re powering using that electricity folks, just remember that you’re buying it from the Belgians, the British and the Japanese.

All change
Mahmood is optimistic about changes at the Ministry of Information:

I was thrilled to read in Al-Waqt in the weekend that the new minister of information, Jehad buKamal, affirmed that the new Press & Publications Law will not stipulate any prison sentences against journalists, except for denigrating God or the king. The exception is accepted – for now – as otherwise the law will never get through this parliament. I will be really surprised if a bright spark or two of our esteemed members of parliament don’t stand against such a law and counter it by demanding that every single journalist or writer should be assumed guilty first and not only should they be imprisoned for their troubles, but also levy some public lashings against them too. Oh hang on, this actually had been suggested in the past, so let’s see how far they go this time! The new minister has been a breath of fresh air at that ministry in particular and the government in general. So far, he has released some books which his ministry’s censorship office has withheld from publication or summarily banned for reasons they know best, has come out publicly against the imprisonment of journalists (and hopefully all opinion writers as guaranteed by our constitution anyway) and has lately commission none other than Al-Jazeera – which has so far been banned from reporting from Bahrain – to mount an investigative journalism course for several journalists and media personnel.

Another source of information
MuJtAbA AlMoAmEn sees blogs playing an increasingly important role in Bahrain:

بروز المدونات على السطح أدى إلى أفول نجم المنتديات شيئاً فشيئاً ، وساهم في ذلك خروج أسماء حقيقية ولامعة إلى العلن عبر تدويناتهم .اليوم علينا أن ننتظر بعد مضي فترة ليست بالقليلة على تاريخ التدوين العربي ، أين وصل المدون البحريني في نقل الصورة والتأثير على المسار السياسي المحلي ، وقدرته على إثراء الساحة المحلية وإشغال جزء من مساحات عقول الرأي العام المحلي بشكل خاص . … هل سيتمكن المدون البحريني من أخذ مساحة حقيقية ومؤثرة على مستوى الشارع المحلي ؟ … أعتقد إن على المدون البحريني أن لا يكتفي بالمشاهدة أو بإضفاء التحليلات ، بل عليه أن يكون المؤثر الحقيقي في الساحة ، في نقل ما يحصل في الجوار بشكل حقيقي وصحيح ومحايد ، ليستطيع العالم أن يقرأ ما يجري في البحرين بدون رتوش أو زيادات أو نكهات سياسية تخص طرفاً سياسياً دون آخر .

The rise of blogs has led to the gradual decline of online forums. It has also contributed to the emergence of real names in public via their blogs. Today, we should examine the history of Arabic blogging, after a not too short passage of time: where did Bahraini bloggers reach as regards reflecting and influencing local politics, and what is their ability to contribute to local discussions and local public opinion in particular? … Will Bahraini bloggers be able to take a real position that can influence the local street? … I believe that Bahraini bloggers shouldn't restrict themselves to watching and analysing incidents, but should have a real impact on what is happening and in relaying what is happening in their surroundings in a frank, correct and objective manner, so that the world can read what is happening in Bahrain without exaggerations, or additions, or a political slant which belongs to just one end of the political spectrum.

You know, whatsisname…
Concerned Citizen ‘X’ tells us how useful the title ‘shaikh’ or shaikha’ can be:

In general, the salutations SHAIKHA or SHAIKH are used to call upon a female or male with some degree of respect. Others use it to point out that a person is rather daft. Me, I use them to cover my shortfall; where for some reason or another I cannot remember names of people whom I have just met, or have known for some time. This is no joke, I have gone for weeks directly dealing with people but never knowing or remembering their names. I know it's rude but hey, the brain cells must be rapidly deteriorating in the area of my brain used for recalling names. […] MY POINT being, if you ever meet me in person and I greet you with SHAIKH or SHAIKHA, then you should realize that I have already forgotten your name….don't take it personally……and I apologise in advance.

In love…
Yagoob, a blogger who hasn't been writing much recently, explains why:

The reason I haven’t been active on the blog is that I have decided to get engaged to the love of my life *Woohoo!* And I must tell you it has been a rollercoaster ride! I proposed (meaning that my mother called her mother as we do in Bahrain) on New Years Day. After the proposal, the parents of the bride go and ‘ask about’ the groom from their friends and Bahrain being the tiny country it is, everyone knows each other and can find out everything about you including your favourite cereal and CPR [personal identification] number! A week later and they finally decided to give me the green light to marry their daughter after hearing good things of me in addition to my squeaky clean reputation (alhamdulillah) and want to meet me. The week after, the men of our family (my brothers, uncle and cousins) and myself went to the bride’s home to “officially” ask her hand in marriage, and I got the chance to see her (following the Sunna of the Prophet Mohammed PBUH). On that day, I felt the most self-conscious I have ever felt in my entire life! A terrible experience but every groom has to go through it!

Yagoob then explains the next steps the couple has to take before getting married in Bahrain here.

…and in disbelief…
Cookie has also got marriage on her mind – that is, trying to avoid it! Before she realises what is happening, her cousin drags her away from her exam revision to go to a wedding reception:

after 20 minutes she was here, then we arrived to that reception I don’t know about ! I looked around and said TAKE ME HOME ! NOW, everyone looks cute and well dressed!
then she said : cookie honey, take your sheela [scarf] and abaya off !
me: NO !
she: come on no one is wearing them
me: cause no one is wearing jeans!
she : oooooooooooh ,( taking abaya off me)
me : I’ll kill you just wait
then a woman got out from no where and came to me hugging and kissing and saying here is the future bride!

me in my heart : future bride! you must be blind, take a good look at me I’m wearing jeans and a T-shirt my hair is kababa (I have an exam look) and the most important thing is I don’t know who the hell are you !!

After that, my cousin and that woman left me alone. I just started walking in a room full of people I don’t know they were smiling to me like they say poor thing! she has no clothes or hair dryer !

my cousin finally showed up and said: wear your sheela and abaya.
me: thanx (hit her hard)
she : I won’t hit you back cause that woman will kill me ( pointing at the women who kissed me)
me: what is wrong with her !
she: come and see

she took me to the house’s garden and sat on chairs there !
me: It’s cold are you crazy!
she : no just wait
me : I’m crazy when I came with you!
she : just wait la! I don’t know what he finds in you!
me: he!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! who
she : someone!
me : I’ll kill you really, you made me come with you to see a boy!
she : shhhhhh ! he’s here

To find out what happens next, see here.

We finish with another photo by Mohammed Marhoon:

Photography day out

1 comment

  • […] Global Voices Online ‽ Bahrain: For sale? Observation re: Bahrani blogs: “The rise of blogs has led to the gradual decline of online forums. It has also contributed to the emergence of real names in public via their blogs” (tags: bahrain middleeast blogs blogging anonymity) […]

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