Sorcerers’ Apprentices

25 Jan, '07

Like everyone I know, I am worried about the overt sectarian tones sweeping the whole Middle East. Everywhere you look now there is sectarian strife in various stages and on various levels. People are being stigmatized because they are one “type” or another; even religious clerics gathered recently in Qatar to attend a rapprochement conference started slinging epithets at each other.

The problem is serious. But the solutions – although plain to anyone mildly exercising their intellect – seem to be far too far for our governments to grab, especially as each is egging the other on, and if truth be told, we would probably find that each and every one of our governments are manipulated into exacerbating the situation as we have seen in our very own Bahrain with the Bandargate scandal and the various sectarian motivated strategies and tactics which pour into strengthening one side against the other.

The thinking of course is that the one sect which is being manipulated toward the ruling elite or government, as the case may be, will act as a buffer against the other, the normally subjugated and marginalised side, ignoring the lessons of even recent history in the danger of playing this game, as attested by Afghanistan’s Taliban who were aided an abetted by one world power to fight its war against another, little did they know then, that their sorcerer’s apprentice would ultimately turn against the sorcerer.

Michael Young explored this topic in his Wall Street Journal article succinctly. In it he too warns of the perils of such policies and brings various current examples where this policy is adopted and warns its proponents of the danger awaiting them at the next turn. In his article he warns:

A primarily sectarian Arab counter-reaction to expanding Iranian power would be a disaster. It might halt Iran and its comrades in the short term, but Arab regimes could soon become sorcerers’ apprentices, swallowed by the forces they unleash. Iran, wrongly believing that popular anti-Israeli and anti-American sentiment would overcome Sunni suspicions of their true intentions, should realize what a Sunni backlash would mean for their security. Once opened, the floodgates of Sunni-Shiite antagonism could become a Leviathan, sweeping away the fragile reality on the ground: Even in societies where Sunnis and Shiites now peacefully coexist, sectarian discord would become the norm.

What’s the solution out of this quagmire then? We – as the people – can no longer just sit idly by and await our destruction at the hand of those who rule over us in the Arab and Muslim worlds, because to them we are expendable peons in their grandiose schemes of domination. We must, therefore, do our utmost in explaining a simple truth to those around us: tolerance is the only way forward to defeat this demon; through it we can find our common denominator and build our strength and surmount all the machinations put in our path, to hopefully arrive at the destination we all seek: one that we can all live with dignity and equal opportunities…

I am convinced that the Just Bahraini campaign is one way of getting there; and one which we can easily and safely export to every country around us. But this campaign will not happen by itself, it still needs your help and assistance and I would welcome any extended helping hand in this most dire of times, we need to help each other understand that tolerance is the only way forward, and that no matter what our beliefs are, as human beings we must find a common denominator from which we can spring into a better future less marred by strife and sectarianism.

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  1. Shachar says:

    In a surprisingly relevant turn of events, my dad pointed me to an article by Dr. Guy Bechor about the Israeli president’s current legal trouble’s coverage in Arabic media (sorry, Hebrew link).

    In a nutshell, Dr. Bechor claims that the Arabic media covers the events, but do not give it as central a stage as one would have expected. He says that the Arab media would have wanted to give this fiasco center stage, as a president being accused of rape certainly puts Israel in a bad light. However, Arabic culture is centered around the idea that the leader is the state, and criticizing the leader is like criticizing oneself.

    The fear in mainstream Arabic media, according to Dr. Bechor, is that if people in Arab countries see that Israel is willing to prosecute on criminal charge its own president, then they might start thinking that such a thing may actually work for them too. Bad for Arabic leaders, hence reduced coverage.

    The thing that makes this article relevant to this post is this. According to him, the ultimate trust in the leader is a must precisely because of the sectarian demographics of the Arab population. If criticizing the leaders is allowed, according to Dr. Bechor, the direct consequence would be the Shia asking why are Soonis in change and vice versa. He claims that the unquestionable acceptance of the leader’s actions is the main thing keeping regime stability in the Arab countries.

    According to him, for many in the Arab world stability is more important than democracy.

    If his assessment is correct then your “Just Bahraini” campaign is (going to be) an uphill struggle.

    Shachar

  2. Darth says:

    The only reason there is no Democracy in the Arab world is because of OIL in the GCC, and Tyranny elsewhere. The less money a country has the more Democratic it becomes in the Arab World (See. Bahrain and Lebanon) We don’t idolize our leadership to the extent that we’d rather live in the situation we are living in than change “them”. Our problems stem from a million reasons, outside interference, smart people leaving, support of foriegn governments to current regimes, oil, british and french occupation. In the end of the day its up to us to change the situation we live in and become a more democratic, more developed society. I think we have the foundation for that but we need something and till we figure it out we won’t change …

    It isnt the best situation to be in, but I’m from the Royal/Ruling Family and I’d rather see my country / GCC / Islamic and Arab world develop and become more industrious than anything else. I’ve never felt that this “Status” has given me anything extra. I thank God I’m not like the millions of Arabs who are poor, sick and without basic necessities. But, I would rather us be what we once were and what we could be again. Yes the Just Bahraini campaign is a start, and a great start! Sometimes I feel just as helpless as everyone else.. I don’t see our differences as much as I see our similarities we share the same language, same religion sunni shi’i or whatever …. I am Loyal to this Country before anything else, My Dream isn’t for Power, or Money .. It is to see us Develop and become among one of the most developed economies and countries in the world… I don’t want to raise a little “Shaikh” I want to raise a child that will be just another Bahraini, who is judged by what kind of person he is and how educated he is and not by who’s son he is… Our religion makes us all equal – just because we are going through this time in our history doesn’t mean we won’t snap out of it….!

  3. jasra jedi says:

    Shahcar,

    He says that the Arab media would have wanted to give this fiasco center stage, as a president being accused of rape certainly puts Israel in a bad light

    The sad sad truth Shahcar is that if we had even half the independent judicial apparatus you have in Israel, MOST, if not ALL, of our male leaders would have been accused at some point of some sort of sexual harrassment.

    What is keeping the male dominated Arab press quiet is because they dont think this is a political issue.

    Darth,

    I don’t want to raise a little “Shaikh” I want to raise a child that will be just another Bahraini, who is judged by what kind of person he is and how educated he is and not by who’s son he is

    What are your views on Bandargate?

  4. Darth says:

    I think its a strategy held by some people. Not the majority. I never liked Sh. Ahmed anyway… And it is a short term stupid idea to maintain power for those who’s sole goal is to do so. I’m glad it exposed the people it did. I’m glad they are not as powerful as they once were… and I hope Al-Watan fades away too… Don’t get me wrong I don’t support Salman bin Sager – he’s an idiot that would write whatever he thinks will get him money .. he’s no better than Sh. Ahmed… but anyway… I had a car problem today and I got helped by a bunch of people from a Village.. We are all Bahrainis, the more we INTEGRATE the better off we’ll be

  5. Darth says:

    Just to add one point, because I don’t want this taken the wrong way. I was in Saar and some people stepped out to help me with the my Flat tire. They didn’t look away they didn’t hesitate. So when I said village I meant I literally was beside a village. I’m glad this place isn’t Iraq yet and I hate the people that are trying to make it turn into that.

  6. Bernie says:

    Is it OK for an English guy to make a donation? I watch the news and see countries starting to tear themselves apart through sectarian violence.
    I don’t understand why not being a particularly religious man but I would support anything that will help stop the violence.

  7. mishmish says:

    Darth, that to me has always epitomised Bahrainis – at their core, they have beautifully open hearts and souls.

    Mahmood, I agree that Just Bahraini is great and must grow – what can you do to grow it ?

    In my view some good PR — can you enlist some ‘big’ people to rallye for the cause ?

    How about taking the campaign further afield ? Why not get some support from people overseas – make some noise, get a Bill Clinton, Maya Angelou, Mandela behind it ( ok, maybe not great examples to target but you know what I am saying )- even if they just send you a note which you can add to the website and your press releases to show support.

    Even in itself, without celebrities, I can see this make a great media story, that would be of interest to some international media, and thereby you can perhaps inspire similar movements in other countries too.It never hurts to get some good press.

    Also, how about hosting a concert under the Just Bahraini banner ?
    Music inspires and unites – I am just brainstorming here, but I think with a bunch of dedicated people maybe this is something that could be brought to life and give the campaign an edge and also raise some funds ? ( where’s Michael Jackson when you need him…..)
    😉

  8. Shachar says:

    mishmish,

    The problem with “outside support” is that it is, at best, a double edged sword. There are very few nationalities in the world that will accept outside intervention kindly.

    I think that having a country that is already seen as having too aggressive a foreign policy supporting an initiative that is, when all is said and done, internal to Bahrain will only hurt what Mahmood is trying to do here.

    Shachar

  9. mahmood says:

    Shachar:

    According to him, for many in the Arab world stability is more important than democracy.

    We’ve had a long raging discussion about this recently, and the verdict is that we are divided; I lean much more on the “democracy now” camp.

    I am completely at awe of your president taken to task and put through the legal grinder for what he has done. There is no possibility of this ever happening under our current system where a leader is regarded as being infallible and a demi-God. Once that changes we will be able to throw the book at them too. I hope that is going to happen in my lifetime, but that might be an optimistic view.

    If his assessment is correct then your “Just Bahraini” campaign is (going to be) an uphill struggle.

    That doesn’t seem to be the case with the people as I have received an awful lot of support from them, and from the press too. For instance, during the Muharram commemorations happening in Bahrain (and the rest of the Muslim world) I have managed to distribute 4,000 buttons. Another 4,000 will be delivered today for the guys to continue distribute but I don’t think they will even last to the 10th day of Muharram. Hopefully we will have quite a number of the mourners wearing these buttons to not only demonstrate their support to the campaign per se, but much more importantly they will demonstrate that they support the concept of unity and tolerance.

  10. mahmood says:

    Darth:

    We don’t idolize our leadership to the extent that we’d rather live in the situation we are living in than change “them”

    I beg to differ. Why else are most places of business are adorned with pictures of the late Shaikh Isa, the King, the Prime Minister and the Crown Prince? Why else is vast amounts of money continue to be spent to “kiss royal ass” whenever a national and not so national occasion comes about? Why else are huge billboards adorn the streets, sometimes causing accidents because of their limiting driver’s views, at set occasions completely sanctioned by the Royal Court and the municipalities?

    So you will forgive me for disagreeing with you on this point. Once the status of demi-Gods worship does NOT become a requirement for perceived success in business, then I will change my mind.

    I’ve never felt that this “Status” has given me anything extra.

    Oh man.. come with me one day and let’s walk in the corridors of government or businesses together. You could open a hell of a lot of doors for me which are firmly shut in my face as a small businessman.

    Apart from the opportunities side, I can guarantee that you will piss yourself laughing when I introduce you to some people who look down their noses at people and you watching how their faces twitch when they hear your last name. I can also guarantee that if you have a hairy butt, by the end of the day it will be as smooth as silk from all the kissing it will receive from even grown men approaching or past their retirement age and they know that the only reason they are in those positions because of the infinite training they have received in puckering up!

    Do I blame you for being born a royal? Of course not. That was a chance of nature and I have no qualms with that. I salute you; however, for speaking out as you have and hope that you will continue to do so and talk about these issues with other members of your family to get them to understand that we – as in all the Bahraini people, and the Shi’a of them specifically – are not and never have been a direct threat to your rule. That issue was firmly settled in 1971.

    Yes the Just Bahraini campaign is a start, and a great start! Sometimes I feel just as helpless as everyone else..

    Thank you for that. It is done for the whole of Bahrain to have equal opportunities and equal distribution of wealth. I hope that when I die, someone will come and put a “Here lies someone who was Just Bahraini” on my grave, that would make me very happy.

    Until then however, we have a lot of work ahead of us and I would appreciate your help in this worthy campaign.

    Re your response to JasraJedi regarding Bandargate:

    I think its a strategy held by some people. Not the majority. I never liked Sh. Ahmed anyway… And it is a short term stupid idea to maintain power for those who’s sole goal is to do so. I’m glad it exposed the people it did. I’m glad they are not as powerful as they once were… and I hope Al-Watan fades away too…

    The “some people” part really worries me, because they are in a position of power, they can perpetuate their terror and descend it on people from every direction, yet, we see that those more powerful are eerily quiet. What are we to take from that position other than they fully condone this disgusting strategy? What do we need to do to get them to come out and plainly say that they do not support this marginalisation of the majority of the very people who voted them in as a Royal family in 1971? What would it take for them to come out and stop the illegal naturalisation? What would it take for them to elevate the fortunes of 14% of the population who already live below the poverty line? What would it take for them to put in place real programs that would stop the rapidly shrinking middle-class? And a plethora of other ills.

    I tell you what is needed, and feel free to disagree with me on this: What it would take is a series of simple and small steps by the highest authority in the land to emphasize the equality he holds all the people of Bahrain. Steps that will also increase his popularity many folds and will once again let people voluntarily lift him and his car on their shoulders as impromptu demonstrations of love and respect.

    Maybe we can start by removing that stupid gag they put on the Bandargate case, one that has been used as recently as yesterday to prosecute journalists who mentioned the report in passing.

    After that, let him strip the title of “Shaikh” from the persons responsible for those heinous sectarian machinations.

    Bahrainis are simple, peaceful and loving people. That vast majority of the Royal family are the same. I personally know several and would put my life and reputation on the line in their defence, but a few bad apples need to be dealt with, before the situation gets exacerbated and everyone suffers needlessly.

  11. mahmood says:

    Bernie:

    Is it OK for an English guy to make a donation?

    I don’t see why not Bernie. Thank you for asking. But then I read what Shachar had to say about the subject and am hesitant to accept foreign monetary donations, however, support can come in several ways, spreading the word is one very effective method.

  12. mahmood says:

    Mishmish those are fantastic ideas, thank you and keep them coming!

  13. Darth says:

    Mahmood, I agree with you on several points. We need to remove the gag on Bandergate, and hold people Sunni/Shi’i responsible for their actions on Bandergate or on any issue. There are extremes within both our sects; and I’ve never been fond of extremism.

    I also agree with you on the fact that we need small simple steps from our leadersihp that will help push reforms even faster. I think we should speed up Labor Reform, and that will go a long way in helping elevate people from being poor to a larger and more stable Middle Class.

    I think this country needs a shot of Transparency and Equality. Or lets say another shot! The Government has a few transparent organizations I wish we had more, and I honestly hope all Government organizations shift to adopting that model. We need to get to the stage where who you are, whether your from Al-Khalifa or your a powerful Businessman doesn’t give you any advantage on obtaining a hotel license, or opening a gas station, or any other lucractive license. We need a competition law that is clear and transparent. I want to see anyone that breaks a traffic law, punished whether it is a Royal, or a Kanoo, or someone who makes BD150 per month. In the end of the day, I think people respect firm leadership, and equality more than anything – they aren’t fooled by pictures hanging on the walls. They might do it to secure a Government contract thinking its better safe than sorry. But in reality this whole business of pictures during EID is a waste of money. And I’m really loyal to the King, and the Crown Prince.

    Having said that, it saddens me to go to Cannes see the most famous coastal city in France sit on a completely public beach. Lavish hotels, the rich and famous and yes its all public, while Bahrainis are squeezing to find a spot to sit by the sea.

    Here is another point I thought I’d bring up that I thought you might find interesting. I applied for an American Express Card, and I thought with my income it won’t be a problem. You know what the response was? No We have a policy not to give your family any cards unless they put up a deposit equal to the maximum amount you can withdraw! Why? Because some “small” minority didn’t pay up and got away with it. Yeah Thanks a lot! Same thing with Bank loans I get asked a million questions and it takes forever.

  14. mahmood says:

    Thank you Darth, I’m glad that we are on the same page. I know that a lot – especially of the younger generation of Al-Khalifas – do think the same way, now we need them to be more vocal so that people would know that you consider yourself just as Bahraini as everyone else and you use your privilege to further the aims of a One Bahrain where equal opportunity is the consideration applied to all people.

  15. Anon says:

    Darth,

    As humbling as being rejected for an Amex is, there are some key parallels to be drawn from that experience. For years, the citizens of Bahrain have been paying the price for a disorganized and *gasp* corrupt government. The lower class simply do not have the marketable job skills that it takes to compete in our now increasingly global economy. Oil revenues and other forms of government income went into the pockets of an elite few that believed that they were entitled to the very wealth their citizens were denied. There was, as you put it, no transparency and an utter lack of accountability. Steps have been (and continue to be) taken to be resolve this; yet, we continue to move at a snail’s pace.

    With respect to Labor reformes, I believe you hit the nail on the head. That, in my opinion, is a vital first step towards empowering our country’s citizens. Imposing tariffs on foreign laborer employed does not address the matter at hand, nor does it solve the problem. The conditions in our public schools are disgusting, and curriculum outdated and impractical.

  16. can we talk says:

    re: “The conditions in our public schools are disgusting, and curriculum outdated and impractical.”

    tararara tata

    isn’t it funny how we always end up here?

    education.. the key to all doors

  17. Bernie says:

    In that case Mahmood I will most certainly try and spread the word as much as I can and I will also try to make people understand why this kind of campaign is so very important.
    If you change your mind you have my email address. 🙂

  18. Darth says:

    Anon-I’m sure there are many bigger problems than my AMEX issue. And, I was just using this as an example “one of many” of how the system has to be equitable. I’m not suffering, I’m not under the poverty line and so is the case with most people who can access the net and blog (especially with Batelco’s prices) but anyhow, back to Labor reforms; We need to stop subsidizing the rich! We need a strategic subsidy program that targets the poor and helps THEM out. I don’t want my electricity subsidized or water or anything else for that matter. Just cause I have more maids, and more workers and each of them is benefiting from subsidized elec./water/gas/health the list doesn’t end it goes down to meat and bread… so its important to do labor reform yes for many reasons.. and without the education reform program that the Crown Prince has spearheaded it would be useless… We should all remember that the Labor Fund is going to get a lot of money if this is not pumped back into proper training programs and SME support initiatives we are going to have a big problem.

    We need to train our labor force, with good training they can match anyone just like they are doing in the financial sector. Bahrainis when trained well, and are not put face to face with “Slave” labor from India they will do well and better. We must admit that our policy of Labor is wrong very wrong… we need to secure the rights of an expat to leave their job to resign to petition to not be in the back of a pickup ready to be rammed into by somebodys Land Cruiser etc… then the Bahraini can compete and compete well… as for the global economy More investment into technology and less into labor intense industries will probably be a more favorable strategy to the future. I tend to be negative sometimes, but I think we need to agree on a vision for this country and follow it.

  19. mishmish says:

    Darth, you speak of the beaches in Cannes — good example – but beaches et al not just for Bahrainis….for tourism too.

    another way of creating employment opportunities for Bahrainis would be to develop an effective tourism strategy then follow through with infrastructure and a solid marketing and PR strategy to put Bahrain on the map.

    Everyone in the region is doing it – look at Oman, Qatar, Abu Dhabi – but Bahrain is lagging way behind. Great to have the F1, but that’s not enough.

    And solid strategy does by no means need to translate into becoming another Dubai – the world does not need it.

    Bahrain should play on its unique strengths…yes they are there, but they are dwindling –frustration sets in when I talk about this because I see the potential and the strategy, and I know about tourism, but who’ll listen?

    Why can Bahrain not become a place of the old and and the new, with an interesting arts &culture scene as well as heritage ( someone needs to save the old houses in town before they all just crumble) sitting alongside lovely beaches, watersports, spas etc..
    High end tourism which has less impact on the structure of the country but brings in enough dollars pounds and euros to sustain a sector of the economy and drives the creation of new jobs….

    Cannes, St. Tropez….what were they but tiny fishing villages….until someone with a vision transformed them…

    just my two cents..

  20. mishmish says:

    Mahmood, glad to hear so many people are wearing the badges. I think a publicity campaign is the way to go next — and events, like a music event…..or others.

    Treat the campaign as a product and market it accordingly.

    It might be a small grass roots campaign, but from an acorn grows a mighty tree……

    🙂

  21. milter says:

    This link might be worth spending a couple of minutes on.

    It debates the role of religion today and the relationship between rulers and the religious establishment.

  22. Darth says:

    mishmish-I completely agree, they talked about the Tourism Development Board but we haven’t seen it yet. Hopefully it will surface this year. I would hate to see 500 room hotels everywhere I hope they keep the Business hotels to Manama, and focus on creating smaller ones in Adliya and Muharraq, with nice resorts that have public access to the Beach or waterfront. I’m surprised till today nobody has created a public concept of resort/shops/cafes on the seafront “they would make a ton of money” – but anyway Yes F1 is good and Spring of Culture is good. But we lack a tourism strategy, and vision. Not to mention a proper regulatory authority which can enforce these regulations. There is so much dirt and bribery in this business it has to be cleaned up by a lean efficient, experienced and well paid regulator!

    Someday when the causeway is built we could see saudis by passing us going to Qatar. Now, I admit I would gladly see the single drunk bachelors go away … but what about the families the expats .. the people that for years avoided Bahrain. They call Bahrain the Las Vegas of the Middle East I think we’re far from it. Most affordable Las Vegas hotels cater for families… our 3 Star hotels are dirty prostitution dens with a lot of other things mixed in… And if we seriously want to get into the exhibition business we need a new expandable centre. One that hold the large money making exhibitions. One of the first ideas I had in 2003 was to bring a Major Car Exhibition to Bahrain during Formula One. But the Halls (Combined) were to small to get any serious exhibition going. All we are doing right now is going from one extreme to another (Dirty Prostitution Dens where you can easily find Drugs and everything else to Alcohol Free Hotels with no parties)

  23. mahmood says:

    I’ve got a solution then: bring back “Garandole” and legalise prostitution in a red-light district. That will limit activities into a single, regulated, monitored and safe area. This will reduce the chances of getting Aids, and will mostly remove the pimps and underground whoring scenes and associated crime syndicates. That will also mostly clean up the low- and medium-level hotel trade too.

    Disconnect the department of tourism from the Ministry of Information completely and let the business sector run it as an ombudsman.

    Disconnect the department of historical sites and run it as a public company to take care of the museum, burial mounds, and all other historical sites in Bahrain. They can even modernise them – build adjacent but unobstrusive facilities where people can spend time, have a drink, a bite to eat, buy books, watch related movies, etc but never touch the actual historical site except by experts who know their value and will only interfere with the sites to make them safe and last for the next generations.

    The department of culture which is again a public company closely related to the department of history but whose tasks are primarily focused on the encouragement of literature, music and the arts.

    Doable, I think, but requires political will to get the process going.

  24. Ahmed says:

    Darth,
    Some great points made, your writing reminds me alot of someone i used to know.. wonder if you are actually that person. :).

    Mahmood, i may not agree with some of the articles you post but i can honestly say that this issue is the one where you have my full support.
    I really hope that the “Just Bahraini” campaign succeeds as this is what this country really needs, for the people to stand together and not get held up on stupid little things that in the end serve to benefit no-one.

  25. mishmish says:

    Darth, I do hope this gets started soon, and actually involves people with real vision.

    Tourism is an area of interest to me. I drew up a suggested tourism marketing strategy for Oman some years ago, complete with branding, and even though I was not involved in implementing tourism in the country, I have watched since then how it is being promoted and in Europe you now often find the media recommending tourists to bypass Dubai and head for Oman. It’s a total hot spot — though, granted, it was a treasure just waiting to happen, with a country so full of natural beauty, it is not a hard sell.

    Abu Dhabi has come out of nowhere – and is certainly one to watch — and do you remember how Qatar used to be? One tiny mall, a mere handful of hotels, and look at what impact they are making now.

    What it needs to start with is someone recognising that tourism has the potential of being a very valid sector of the economy. I don’t even look at the Saudi weekenders as tourists – I think we need another name for that sector – but agree with you, if they suddenly all by-passed Bahrain, it would definitely have an impact on the economy.

    To succeed, Bahrain must develop its potential, and be different. Identify the strenghts and enhance/develop them, decide what market segments it wants to target etc.

    I can only hope that whoever finally has that vision will come with the right one. I’d hate to see the country go down the route of all-inclusive hotels and low-end tourism, because this could have such an adverse effect.

    Mahmood, I agree – the historic sites are incredibly valuable, and so are the old houses which are crumbling all over Manama, the Souq etc the ‘real’ Bahrain.

    I see Bahrain’s charm in that, and in the small imaginative places that spring up here and there – the restaurants, cafes , art galleries in old houses, and gems such as La Fontaine. There are artists, musicians…in principle its all there, but you have to know it or look for it

    If we talk about developing the Corniche, how about also marine developments. I do not know enough about marine environments and the laws in Gulf waters, but would it be feasible to build a top notch marina/harbour and could Bahrain become somewhere people would leave their yachts for the season ? ( as they do in the Med and in the Caribbean)

    Guess I am dreaming here – I’m sure the 5th fleet would put a stop to that soon.

    Oh, yes, completely forgot that we have these ‘tourists’ here too…..

    😉

  26. jasra jedi says:

    Tourism will not create the jobs for Bahrainis that are needed. It will create mostly low wage jobs, that will be filled largely by expats.

    We need jobs that generate value add for Bahrainis.

    We need jobs that will stabilize and increase the Middle Class in Bahrain.

    We need government sponsored critical industries that are targetted and supported by government incentives. And the proprity for the Government should be Job Creation. Any increased investment in any of our petrochemical, financial center should be judged on one main factor; will it create jobs fo Bahrainis. Not, will it increase revenues.

  27. mishmish says:

    Why would it create just low-paid jobs for expats ? I beg to differ here because I have seen this at work in other countries.

    What needs to happen just as much as increase the middle class is to raise also the level of those living on or near the poverty line. I believe there is a dire need for that.

    If the sector were to be properly regulated, why could Bahrainis not be trained as receptionists, chefs, waiters, spa professionals, managers, supervisors, guides – why could Bahrainis not own and run DMCs and MICE companies or any manner of business which supplies services to the tourism industry?

    Or can you perhaps not see Bahrainis as waiters and in other service industry jobs ? Why on earth should they not be and why should they not be paid a wage which allows them to at least afford some semblance of a quality life for themselves.

    Tourism brings with it a lot of opprtunities, and quality tourism at the highest level demands a highly trained, highly skilled workforce — just as in every other aspect of business.

    Tourists at the highest end of the spectrum demand perfection – a good hotel is not enough, the service has to be there – from the start to the end of their experience – and they are willing to pay top rates for this. At this level, they also want to experience the country and would for sure welcome to see well-trained nationals of the country they come to, rather than just a mix of nationalities which were brought in from all corners of the world.

    And a country with a proper vision and strategy would put proper training and development of its own workforce high on the agenda as part of this strategy.

  28. Darth says:

    Ahmed – Is my rant that recognizable!? I guess I may or may not be that person you know! 🙂

    Jedi – The whole Jedi this has nothing to do with me disagreeing you, but, in the past it would create low wage jobs, however, with the right kind of niches within the tourism industries and with the other sectors being affected I firmly believe tourism can create a lot of decent jobs. Again I always will go back to the Labor Reform to help fix the low wage situation but anyway. I see potentials in the following:

    -Cultural, World Heritage Tourism (Europeans, Americans, Japanese) I see potentials in developing boutique hotels, tourism districts like redevelopment of Adliya (Zoes, Lilou area – block 338)
    -Family Entertainment & Health Tourism (Saudi & GCC Market)
    -MICE Industry (International, very large spending per head which effects rental, limo, taxis, hotels, restaurants, and general retail shopping not to mention construction, etc etc etc ….)

    Tourism is only part of the economy, but its vital we can’t be competitive and have this kind of Taxi (Rip-off) System in Bahrain for example..

  29. CharlesWT says:

    jasra jedi:

    We need government sponsored critical industries that are targetted and supported by government incentives. And the proprity for the Government should be Job Creation.

    Be careful what you ask for from government. Government is prone to killing the golden goose and refusing to let go of the dead albatross.

  30. mishmish says:

    Darth, well said.

    Block 338—cool name, in a way — is exactly what I mean when I talk about charm, but we need more of this kind of thing, and it has to be authentic, not specially created for tourists.

    It’s precisely what I find lacking in places like Dubai.

    Anyway, enough said – we’ve exhausted the point – lets hope for some positive action before long. 😎

  31. mahmood says:

    I just worry about the “new souq” that they are demolishing now and re-building. I hope that they will at least maintain authenticity. I should look for more information to post about that area actually.. I hope they have a site.

  32. mishmish says:

    Mahmood, I found this, which looks a bit like a mall to me:

    http://www.capital.gov.bh/images/manama/bab3.jpg

    Insh’Allah they will not make it like Disney – we’ve got Dubai for that. Or a mall….we’ve got these, en masse.

    The Souq is by no means perfect – and I do not find it very pleasant to use it as it is right now, but it is organically grown — what would be great would be pedestrian zones and something that’s a bit more like Marrakech – that’s what tourists would expect from a souq – something exotic and attractive.

    I’m also concerned about preservation of the old buildings all over Manama- that’s Bahrain’s heritage, and it is just crumbling away.

    Again, look at Morocco, which is on the tourism A List at the moment – have you seen the amazing Riads and Kasbahs which are now incredible boutique hotels?

  33. Ahmed says:

    Some good ideas brought up but i honestly think that with the current mentality demonstrated by some we are not gonna go anywhere.
    we need people especially those in power to think more about whats better for the country and its people, rather than what is just better for them.
    Bahrain does have the potential to rise again and really be The Pearl of the Gulf, but with the way things have been going i’m very pesemistic about that ever happening.

    I read alot about tourism above, but i dont think that it would be wise to jump in head first into that route immediateley. Bahrain needs to be developed a bit more interms of infrastructure, before we could do that, right now nothing is planned out properly buildings are being built without taking into consideration any of the long term effects (mainly traffic congestion and parking problems). Dubai has roads twice as wide, flyovers, underpasses etc.. and even then it takes 2 hours to cover 10KM in the afternoon, i really dont want to see this here.

    Darth, lol it was the style of ranting, “loooonnnng post.. many points” 😉 hmm did you ever run your own forums?

  34. mahmood says:

    we need people especially those in power to think more about whats better for the country and its people, rather than what is just better for them.

    AMEN!

  35. jasra jedi says:

    Mishmish,

    Developing the tourism sector in Bahrain means that land is bought from a landowner. Either from the sea or from the non populated part of the island. Then, it is reclaimed. And then construction begins. So far, the only transfer of wealth that has happened has gone to the landowner, and to the construciton company. Which is largely staffed by very poor non BAhraini construction workers who would thank the Lord if they got paid and on time.

    Then, after the constructed site (hotel, spa, resort area) is up and running, the type of jobs that are created are mostly service industry type jobs. Bahrainis already work in this sector. Just go into the Gulf Hotel and look at the receptionists, management, valet parking attendants there. Or, the Ritz. Or the Sheraton.

    But, do we want to turn Bahrain into an economy of service industry people? Shouldn’t we be trying to hold on to our financial sector and ensure that the jobs created there are increasing in quality and quality? Shouldnt we be trying to increase the stability and strnegth of our Middle Class? All the current jobs that are being created are mostly in the low wage sector.

    With the current boom in the GCC, why is it that the top banks are all moving to Dubai? Even though Dubai is SIGNIFICANTLY more expenseive than Bahrain? Why haven’t we been able to hold on to our spot as THE center of the GCC? Our economy is totally dependent on Saudi Arabia. Why haven’t we leveraged that relationship to its full potential?

    Boutique hotels etc are all a nice idea. But, they are springing up ALL over the GCC already. And Oman has much more to offer than Bahrain in that department.

    We need to stop this ‘monkey see monkey do mentality’ and start looking at what is Bahrain organically good at and leverage that.

    And Darth, in the end, I kicked ass … remember, the dark side cannot prevail for long …

    :tongue:

  36. mahmood says:

    And Darth, in the end, I kicked ass … remember, the dark side cannot prevail for long …

    :silly: :w00t:

    girl, you make this place buzz!

  37. Dilmun says:

    Its amazing that since forever, no one has broken down the economy into segments and said these are the main sectors. This is our vision for each sector, and this is how we will achieve it. Financial, Oil, Manufacturing, and Tourism. I mean you don’t have to be right, just give it a shot people!!

  38. mishmish says:

    Seriously ? I didn’t even know there was no strategy for the other sectors… :shocked:

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