EO Bahrain's Rock Star Hat-trick!

EO Bahrain’s Rock Star Hat Trick!

So proud to have achieved a Rock Star hat trick for EO Bahrain! That’s the third year in a row that we won the very prestigious award from EO Global. Thanks to the fantastic and committed board I had the pleasure and honour of leading, and the whole chapter for making this happen.

EO Bahrain's Rock Star Hat-trick!
What is EO Rock Star I hear you ask?

The Rock Star Award is awarded to chapters that have achieved overall excellence as determined by successfully completing a comprehensive “checklist” of best practices in chapter management including: chapter growth; value provided; succession plans; attendance at GLC; chapter learning events and calendars; Forum placement and training; communications; sponsorships; finance, etc.

This year, only 38 out of over 140 chapters achieved this status. And only 15 achieved this honour three or more times.

I look forward to EO Bahrain continuing this track record and achieving more recognitions, the process of which will confer more membership value to the Chapter as a whole.

I’d like to personally thank the fantastic board which made this happen:

  1. Safa Sharif, VP and Forum Chair
  2. Deena Alansari, Finance Chair
  3. Hassan Kaiksow, Integration Chair
  4. Nezar Raees, Strategic Alliances Chair
  5. Kevin Craig, Learning Chair
  6. Manal Alzayani, Social Chair
  7. Hussain Kadhem, Membership Chair
  8. Faeq Alolaiwat, MarCom Chair
  9. Luay Khalaifat, Immediate Past President and Rock Star Chair

Well done EO Bahrain, you – literally – ROCK!



I has BMPCC toys!

I just received quite a number of toys for me favourite camera, the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera, or BMPCC to its friends. This has become my go-to kit for my Mahmood’s Garden productions, and although I’m still discovering all its features, and getting to grips with the various aspects of colour correction and using Final Cut Pro X – the latter due to the built-in ProRes codecs which obviates the need to transcode the material to Avid, thus saving time – I’m pretty happy with it.

The toys I received should speed up the production process, and also open up a wealth of glass options which I have aplenty from my vintage Nikon F3 camera, and the various Canon EOS glass I have lying around the office too, these should up my production capabilities somewhat, or at least make it a bit more interesting.

The piece-de-resistance is the Varavon Armor Pocket BMPCC Cage which will allow me to attach the various necessities on the rig, rather than having stuff just dangle about dangerously.

Here’s what the kit looks like on initial configuration this afternoon. I think it looks pretty spiffy, don’t you?


You will also notice the plethora of converters in there: the Nikon and Canon EOS to MFT, the C-mount to MFT, the Sony battery plate which will give me a decent amount of time to record – the manual says about five hours! and the all important LCD hood that will allow me to see the image I’m recording in the bright sun of Bahrain. Not sure if that hood will actually fit around the cage, but it’s worth a try.

I’m really looking forward to the weekend to go out and shoot some birds, now that I can use the long Nikon zoom lenses I’ve had lying around for ages in their camera bags!

Stay tuned, and please visit my Mahmood’s Garden YouTube Channel at http://YouTube.com/MahmoodsGarden to see what I get up to in my garden.

Mahmood's Ice Bucket Challenge

The Sand and Ice Bucket Challenges

You must have heard of the #icebucketchallenge by now, or you had been challenged to do it and got yourself drenched. Other than the feeling of shock that you have experienced – I know I have – you must have also wondered how this particular challenge started and hopefully you went online to find out more about the disease it is helping raise awareness and funds for.

How it started is in contention, apparently; however, CTV News relates this which seams plausible:

For months now, several groups, from athletes to Christian groups have been pouring ice-cold water over themselves and filming it, sometimes simply for fun. The challenge grew in popularity this spring among both pro and amateur golfers, but it wasn’t until former pro golfer Greg Norman challenged NBC anchor Matt Lauer to the challenge that it hit the mainstream.

Back then, the idea was to either take the bucket of cold water on your head or donate $100 to a charity of your choice. A minor-league golfer in Florida named Chris Kennedy may have been the first to dedicate his ice bucket challenge to ALS research, but ALS Canada says it was really Pete Frates, a former Boston College baseball player who has ALS himself, who really got the challenge going back on July 29.

Since that date, millions of videos of ice bucket challenges have been uploaded to Facebook and Twitter in the last month, growing exponentially in popularity in recent weeks, and creating what many could argue has been one of the most viral fundraising campaigns in years.

Here’s a link to the Wikipedia page which has more information too.

I did my part and got drenched in ice cold water this afternoon. Yes it’s still sweltering in Bahrain, but the shock of having that ice-cold water is still something!

Mahmood does the #icebucketchallenge

Quite refreshing. I hope that I’ve contributed a bit to the disease’s awareness through this, and raised more money for the research into its hopeful cure.

Some people though, must divert even a good thing by politicising it. Over the past few weeks, we started to see “Sand Bucket Challenge” which hopes through its participants to raise awareness of the situation in Gaza. Like this one:

I don’t have any issue with people raising awareness of the terrible situation in Palestine in general and Gaza in particular, but what possible reason is there to denigrate people who championed medical research by trying to raise funds for ALS research? I feel sick watching these Sand Bucket Challenges. To me, this is just taking the very Palestinian cause and hijacking it by trying to force people into shame for their good actions. “How can you live while children in Gaza die?”, “How can you smile while people in Gaza are destitute?” and all the other similar messages.

I abhor what has happened in Gaza. I don’t think for a minute it was called for and it is as far away from fairness as can be. There is no question in my mind about that. But trying to constantly guilt trip people isn’t that great for your cause either. People have to live and life has to go on. There is no reason whatsoever not to be creative enough to start one’s own viral campaign if they can. In fact, a viral campaign for Palestine and Gaza has been successful and is still going on in various cities around the world. Please don’t destroy the good will those campaigns created with such a narrow-minded stunt like this.

I do not agree with the premise of this Sand Bucket politics and its emotional hijacking.

Now go pour some ice-cold water over yourself and donate to ALS research.


A sure way to defeat ISIS

My own personal views on how to defeat ISIS or any other form of extremism:

  1. teaching-religionSeparate mosque from state. Put that in the constitution and don’t allow its reversal.
  2. Critical thinking should be the mandatory teaching methodology.
  3. Remove all instances of the “tripple-R” syndrome.
  4. Don’t teach religion in schools. If people want their children to be religiously educated, they should do it themselves. They shouldn’t be allowed to cop-out by delegating that important task to some other entity without their direct involvement and input. Getting  a cookie cutter version of a religion to be shoved down children’s throats is obviously not the answer. That method failed, quite evidently.
  5. If religion is to be taught in schools, then teach ALL religions, not just the state religion and don’t allow one to be emphasised as “the true religion” and all others are “bad” or “inauthentic” or whatever derogatory method is used to show how exemplary your religion is by denigrating the others. Encourage healthy debate, even at a young age. They’re just young, not imbeciles. One hardly teaches deep theological issues to six-year olds.
  6. Introduce real democracy as a method of rule. Yes, I mean one-man one-vote. If you want to call it “Western” then that’s fine be me. It works. Countries adopting it are way ahead of any of ours. Let people have a choice in who they elect to follow and they should be able to peacefully remove them if they fail their duties, or when their terms expire. No one person for life any more please. That didn’t work in the vast majority of cases throughout the ages. Let’s learn from history for once, rather than continue to blindly repeat it.

There you have it. Maybe by adopting these, the next generation will have a better time at integrating as human being with the rest of the world. And they can choose for dialogue as a method of resolving differences with the others rather than chopping people’s heads off.

Yalla. I’m fed up of waiting.


FinFisher and the absence of morals

Some enterprising netizen took umbrage at the machinations and outright lies of Gamma FinFisher, the Anglo-German privacy-thieving and national-aspiration-crushing software supplier so he hacked their servers and walked away with 40GB of their crown jewels.

To put it in perspective, 40GB means that “you could hold approximately: 10,000 High-Quality MP3 Songs -or- 25,000 High-Resolution Digital Photographs -or- 120 Hour-long (43 minute) television shows in high-quality. -or- 700,000 Word Documents between 3 and 5 pages long” [source]

In the Bahraini perspective, one of the prime governments supporting that poor Anglo-Germanic enterprise to the tune of €1.4 million a go, not including the training they could subscribe to at the cheap cheap price of €27,000 per session, the most important revelation that the Bahraini government discovered after all this expenditure and generated bad publicity was, wait for it, wait for it: that they need to send their “agents” (I know, double oh what the hell kind) to English language school!

For 10% of that figure – actually, I’m feeling damned patriotic this lovely Friday morning, I’d inform them of that need for absolutely free. What I would also tell them is to save their citizen’s money and just sit down with those whose opinions they don’t agree with, have copious cups of tea and simply have a chat. The proviso is to have (a) the political will to find resolution, a genuine one please, and (b) there is no “b”, “a” would do quite fine and will get this country out of the quagmire it is still suffering from. Doing nothing isn’t really an option. Carrying on with mistrusting your own people, well, apart from being costly, isn’t really sustainable. No, bringing others in and calling them Bahrainis to replace an indigenous population won’t work, believe me. The “new” Bahrainis’ loyalties will never be with the country they’re forced to adopt. Square blocks and round holes kind of logic. A two-year old would tell you that for free too.

Anyway, to those 77 whose privacy’s known to have been breeched with FinFisher, rest in the knowledge that whatever they gained, is actually their loss. The loss of your trust and respect. What you gained, is the continued respect of the whole community. You win.

As to Gamma, do I blame them for hawking their wares? Well, like arms dealers, the most unscrupulous ones of those in this case, they both lack any modicum of decency and morals, their main motivator is and always was. Whores, in fact, are saints when compared to Gamma and their ilk.

rubber stamps

Rubber Stamp Culture

In an era where electronic signatures are passé, what is the unbridled fetish the Bahraini government has with rubber stamps? I’m not meaning those stamps which indicate that a paper has been seen, approved or rejected, but the stamps that companies use to stamp their invoices and other documents before they be accepted within the government’s systems. Isn’t the original letter-headed paper and signature enough to affirm its authenticity? Is a company stamp really necessary to add to that authenticity? Why when the manufacture of those stamps is completely unregulated and anyone with a little bit of knowledge could either create a duplicate at will, or even take a stamped paper to a vendor and the vendor would happily recreate it without asking for any form of verification? You see where I’m going with this?

Company stamps are useless. Get rid of that requirement and stop rejecting papers just because they don’t have “an official company stamp”. What official company stamp? Is it registered with an authority? Is it in a computer record somewhere? What if I create a stamp with Mickey Mouse on it with my company’s name around it, will that do? Will that authenticate an already verifiable piece of paper?

Tamkeen are you listening? Get with the program please and stop delaying SMEs payments for such a ludicrous excuse.

And government et al, tell your functionaries that company rubber stamps are no longer a necessity of doing business. You too get with the program. Please!

Panorama of Innovation Home in Saar Mall

Hidden Gems and Treasure Troves in Saar

Once in a while you’re pleasantly surprised by locating a shop with really nice stuff packed into it. A treasure trove really, and I’m not talking about those second hand shops or a car boot sale. I’m talking about shops that are elegantly designed and fitted, but recessed and tucked away from the normal beats. That’s what I discovered this afternoon.

Saar, like the rest of Bahrain, has tremendously changed over the last ten years, let alone over 30 or 40 years. Maybe it’s a bit late to catch up with the various other areas of the island probably due to the mass exodus of the majority expats who preferred this area of the island and made it their own, especially in the seventies to the naughtees. They were so prevalent in this area then, to the extent that a phrase was coined to identify some of those busy-body expat women as “Budaiya Betties” or “Saar Sallies”; spaced-out and closer to fishmonger-mannerisms than class and royalty they proclaim to have. Anyway, to each their own.

So Saar has developed into a business attraction lately. First came the Najibi Centre, then a little down the road we had St Christopher’s School and between the two several shops, restaurants and even shopping malls popped up. The latest addition to that class of properties is the quaint Saar Mall, just a few steps from St Chris and Alnakheel Mall, the second mall to be inaugurated in the area, I’m not counting the Country Mall, it’s on the Budaiya Highway of course, but not in the Saar area.

Saar Mall has quite a number of shops already open, we thought of exploring a bit before we had our coffee at Costa, our preferred coffee destination. This mall sports the customary food hall which is quite unexpected. I was under the impression that “provincial malls” are more low key affairs. They do contain restaurants of course, but I didn’t expect a full fledged food hall. Or maybe it’s just me.

Upstairs in the food hall, they have quite an attraction: a huge fish tank with salt water fish. Nimo and the like. Though I’m really unsure why that tank also has mollies and guppies. I thought those were fresh water fish, no? Maybe they’re food for the little shark with its permanently attached sucker? A weird feature on both sides of the main tank are open sub-tanks with fish in them as well. I shudder to think how those fish will fair. I have a vision that people will be trying to catch them, or “feed” them by tipping their food trays in, or even squeezing their left-over mayonnaise and catchup packets there too. I hope no one does. It will be a shame to vandalize that feature. It would be good too if the mall management spent some time properly cleaning that installation. The green algae is building up, and the water, as of this afternoon, is a bit murky.

It is on the same floor that we discovered quite a nice shop. Innovation Bahrain. I must confess that I have a fetish for interior decor and furnishings shops. I love nicknacks; though I’m banned from buying any because Frances says that our house is stuffed and can’t take any more. I ignore her once in a while, and she tolerates my “rebelliousness”, but I know that she has the final, silent, word. I notice the disappearance of some of the items I purchase sometimes. I am also pretty sure that the BSPCA thrift shop has been the beneficiary of some of my trinkets too.

Anyway, have a gander at this lovely treasure trove:

Panorama of Innovation Home in Saar Mall

Quite cool right? I’m definitely going to visit again, if not to buy, then it will be for inspiration.

As to the mall itself, I just hope that its owners become a bit selective to create a nice variety of shops. There is an indication that is not on their mind at the moment, with three phone shops and two phone pods upstairs, something that the nearby Alnakheel seems to be much better at in their selectivity. I also hope that it keeps its cleanliness and not transform into a villager backwater where no one would choose to visit unless they’re compelled to do so.

It was a pleasant afternoon.. and the coffee was good too.

An Arab man's attempt at bridging the cultural gap and trying to make a difference. Failing a lot. Succeeding once in a while.