Bahrain Comes to a Standstill for the King's Son to Cycle, Run and Swim

Traffic comes to a standstill in Muharraq, Bahrain, today as the King's son takes part in a triathlon. Photograph shared by @MohdBucheeri on Twitter

Traffic comes to a standstill in Muharraq, Bahrain, today as the King's son takes part in a triathlon. Photograph shared by @MohdBucheeri on Twitter

Traffic in Bahrain came to a standstill today (December 6) as some of the country's major roads were shut to traffic from 7am to 11am for the King's son to take part in a triathlon.

A burial service was delayed, airline travel was disrupted as travellers missed their flights, doctors could not go to work and patients were left without care while Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa swam, ran and cycled around the country.

Most of the bottlenecks were reported in Muharraq, where the Bahrain International Airport is located, in the country, which covers a total area of around 780 square kilometres.

The surprise came on social media, with netziens who are usually meek in criticising the actions of members of the ruling family, using their real names and voicing the worst criticism.

Raeda Sabt writes:

A funeral was delayed, airplanes stranded, roads were closed. This means that people's interest are their last concern, just because a few people want to run!!

Ahmed Bucheery tweets:

And Mohamed Buali, a Muharraq resident with 3,890 followers on Twitter, notes:

I have never witnessed such organisation and congestion on Bahrain's roads, or damage to people's interests, like I have witnessed today in Hidd, Arad and Muharraq

He adds:

I am waiting for a respectable official to apologise to the people and admit to mistakes and bad organisation. Is there anyone sane who would block roads leading to the airport?

On Vine, Mohammed Bucheeri shares this video showing passengers walking to the airport pushing their bags:

Bucheeri is particularly irked at the closure of the roads because his cousin's funeral had to be delayed because the family and mourners were not able to reach the cemetery. He sends a tweet to Shaikh Nasser saying:

To Shaikh Nasser,
My cousin is dead and is waiting for us at the cemetery.
No one can reach him for the burial
Is this acceptable?

In another tweet, he shares his encounter with a police officer:

I told the officer, we have a death in the family and need to go to the cemetery. He told me to return home as there is a race and the roads are closed.

Many netizens shared photographs of people walking long distances to the airport. Abdulla Al Jalahma shares this image from the airport's information display and asks:

Who, other than the poor people, will shoulder the losses?

On it's Twitter account, the country's national carrier says the flights were delayed because travellers did not get to the airport on time:

Gulf Air apologises for the delay in some flights this morning because some travellers came late to the airport

Twitter's 140-character cap on tweets could explain why the airline, a triathlon sponsor, failed to mention why some travellers were late to some flights.

Patients and doctors were also impacted, say netizens. Abdulla Al Jalahma tweets:

I just heard that some Bahraini kidney patients were not able to attend their dialysis appointments because the roads were blocked. This puts their lives in danger

Mohammed Bucheery shares a photograph of an ambulance stuck in traffic:

An ambulance not able to move an inch in traffic. May God help the patient inside it. All this is because of the triathlon

And Abdulmonem Almeer relays the experience of a doctor:

A doctor left Galali at 8.30am and she is now stuck in Busaiteen. Her patients are waiting for her and she has to delay her surgeries. Is this imaginable?

But for people from Bahrain's villages, living under a security crackdown that started after pro-democracy protests were quashed in the country in March 2011, closed roads and road blocks are a way of life.

Wasan addresses the pro-regime crowds on Twitter saying:

Did you feel the suffering of people in villages? Did you feel what happened in Ekr when they laid siege on the village for a week? You couldn't bear the suffering for two hours

We are used to having roads blocked at the entrance of our areas, and used to waiting for hours and not being able to reach the places we want to go to. And the reason for that is usually a police checkpoint. You can now suffer.

Mohamed Bueida draws comparisons between the burning of tires on roads by protestors, and the closure of the roads due to the race:

Today's triathlon made people see death so that they accept getting fevers. Burning tires on the road is much better (than the triathlon) because roads reopen in an hour.
Is this what you want?

The pro-government crowd usually point the finger at the opposition for blocking roads and disrupting their life, particularly during protests and the burning of tires on roads. Today, they have another axe to grind.

A meme showing opposition leader Ali Salman saying the closed roads aren't his fault

A meme widely shared on social media showing opposition leader Ali Salman saying the closed roads aren't his fault


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