Frustration, a good catalyst for change

I can fully understand our Crown Prince’s frustration with the government and officially welcome him into our ranks, the ranks of I would say the majority of Bahrainis whose only recourse to their frustration is to habitually bang heads against solid walls of stasis and fear of change. To the government, they think that they are simply doing their job, to the rest of Bahrain, we once again recognise yet another missed opportunity to progress.

The cost is huge. It is truly a matter of life or death to this country. What is amazing is that for 40 years or more we have been on a downward spiral which almost got us to the state of a forgotten backwater, when those around us have been enjoying the fruits of their foresight. Yet, when we get someone who wants to effect real change, he and his sincere ideas for progress find inordinate opposition.

It is as if they are saying that change, whatever it is, is not welcome in this country.

Labour reforms, educational reforms, economic reforms as well as political reforms have all but died in the last few months. We are at a stage now of lethargic existence. ‘Who cares’ is a phrase oft repeated by all and sundry.

His Highness Shaikh Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, Crown Prince of Bahrain, addresses luncheon guests and members of the US-Bahrain Business Council

From the heydays of 2001 when enthusiasm for welcome change and new beginnings was palpable. When a Bahraini walked tall in the streets and wore a beaming smile welcoming an expectant and inclusive future is all but been destroyed now. It is a state that one is forgiven in believing that it is completely stage-managed: ‘Get the people so frustrated in order to kill every single spark of enthusiasm for this country and its people’.

The proof of this condition is quite plain to see: frustration is the norm, torturers continue to walk amongst us with impunity, sectarian hatred is rife and its perpetrators continue to go unmolested – in actual fact they continue to be promoted and enjoy complete immunety from accountability, the dangerous policy of demographic change goes unabated, transparency is opaque at best and corruption has escalated. Almost all international metrics about this country have deteriorated and there seems to be no will to correct them.

This of course translates into public unrest. People have become so frustrated that they now believe only complete change will correct the situation. 2007 saw some 113 demonstrations a lot of which turning violent. These resulted in imprisonment, hospitalisation and even fatalities.

Parliament continues to exacerbate the situation even further. They have not considered any action beyond narrow sectarian parameters. They have even abrogated their intrinsic responsibility of oversight by habitually refusing to utilise one of their constitutional tools to question ministers due to nothing more than sectarian considerations. Their role has been limited – willingly – to publication of press releases castigating people for using their constitutionally guaranteed freedoms of expression!

Anti-naturalisation demonstration in Bahrain

The country is directionless. It is in dire straights and requires a good captain to step up on deck and take control of the rudder to navigate it out of these turbid waters.

I believe that our crown prince, with his amply demonstrated leadership qualities and commitment to the country, is the right person to lead this change. He has shown that he can take criticism with an open mind, is inclusive in his approach by eliciting and acting upon views even from the opposition as we have witnessed through his various reforms workshops. He is young and tenacious with a clear vision. He should be given an honest and unfettered chance to push that vision and ideas through.

playClick to listen to the Crown Prince’s interview with Turki Al-Dakheel at FIKR6
Arabic :: mp3 :: 38 minutes

His frustration has obviously been brewing for some time. The evidence of which was during the recent FIKR6 conference in Bahrain where to everyone’s surprise (and other’s chagrin) he digressed from his planned opening remarks by appending a passionate and clear appeal to the people to show the leadership that we are frustrated with the state at which we find our country. He went further and encouraged everyone to highlight government meddling and its hindering of necessary projects. “Get your voice to the leadership” was a resonating call in halls filled with intellectuals and decision makers.

He amplified on this call even more during his interview with Turki Al-Dakheel where he boldly pointed out that a government’s main job should be limited to three things: Defence, Security and Justice.

He was time and again harassed by the interviewer who rightly pointed out that this is not he case at all in any Arab government, but the prince was adamant in his belief. He time and again affirmed his vision that he wants Bahrain to go in this direction. He seemed to not have any doubt in his mind that this is the way to go. This is the ultimate vision he is working toward.

Those remarks, so publicly expounded, must have shaken a few cradles. His efforts continued to be thwarted. But now, it seems he has reached a turning point. In a highly visible public gesture, he has notified the King of his frustration and laid the ball completely at the King’s feet. It is now up to the King to ensure that the government change and that the role of the Economic Development Board – which the crown prince heads – is affirmed in unambiguous terms to be the exclusive agency in charge of national economic policies.

That mandate has now been given.

What the effects of this clear mandate is, will become clear in the next few days and weeks. I just hope that those effects will be expedited by the removal of the gargantuan guardians of that wall of regression. New blood must be infused into a representative and forward looking cabinet to effect much awaited and desperately needed change.

The world does not wait for us to make up our minds and does not stand on ceremony either. It wants results and a clear indication that we mean business in a modern and transparent way; else, other markets are wide open to receive the world’s benevolence. We are very welcome to continue to reside in the quagmire of one of the last remaining backwaters in the world.

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74 Comments
  • Dale
    15 January 2008

    Does your crown prince speak English? Could we maybe borrow him for a while? It seems to me that the government of the US has forgotten the Defense, Security, Justice concept. It is like an overfed octopus. Pretty quick I expect to see a federal marshal in my bedroom telling me what I may and may not do there… after picking out my partner for me. Your prince is on the Right Track so far as I am concerned!

    Dale
    Green Bay, WI, USA

  • Supermo
    15 January 2008

    Dale – Our Crown Prince not only speaks English but he has a wonderfully rich Texan accent and reveals it when he wants to….

  • Merlin
    15 January 2008

    Mahmood –

    I was pleased to see your coverage of this news and I agree with you, its about time and frankly it is a last ditch effort to get this right. Failure to address this festering decay will only lead to more difficult times ahead.

    There is no doubt that the economy has lost its way and resources are not being deployed in a concerted approach. We have lost the race regionally, with the UAE and Qatar miles ahead. We have failed to make use of our clear advantage in historically having the local talent, in being the first in many things in the GCC, in Bahrain being the hub of the Middle East and NOT Dubai.

    Hell – we lost our claim as being the region’s financial hub, those boys in the central bank should take a look at the Dubai International Financial Centre and ask why everyone except for second rate islamic banks are setting up there? Why is Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and the likes opening there and not here? Arent we the financial hub that you all speak of?

    Similarly, the bureaucratic engine that supports the economy is antiquated, inefficient and uninspired. In every aspect of government, trying to get any transaction done, whether its applying for a passport, paying a bill, transfering land ownership or registering a car – it has become a nightmare. Ordinary citizens, must take entire days off from work to get their transactions done and completed! If they are lucky it will only take a day! How does the international investor feel when he comes to see the circus we have?

    What is in place today is not competitive or sustainable from an economic point of view. I just hope that HH the Crown Prince grasps the opportunity given to him and pulls the rug from under their feet. I hope that his economic reforms are drastic and swift. He is the people’s last hope and there is no option but to succeed here.

  • Ali
    15 January 2008

    The solution is very simple. Get rid of the current system and it’s figures, starting with the Prime Minister! Can anyone name any country, besides Bahrain, that has the same PM for the past 40 years?

  • ehsan
    15 January 2008

    The Crown Prince is the/my last hope for Bahrain… I keep dismissing rumors that he’s stealing the sea like the rest of him, and can’t wait for the day he takes FULL control.

    Otherwise, Dubai is looking very good for me right now… especially if the Uncle outlives all of us.

  • Silver
    15 January 2008

    Mahmood,
    i encourage you to write about how the parliament is reacting to it. Al wefaq’s stand is clearly with the CP. But just listen to the others, it makes me laugh. Bu Sandel (Aslah block)is criticizing the EDB by saying the are to ambitious!! Imagine!! Al Manbar Block said “we appolagize, no comments”.

    http://www.alwasatnews.com/newspager_pages/ViewDetails.aspx?news_id=103137&news_type=LOC

  • Silver
    15 January 2008

    a local news paper named the ministries meant by the corwn prince
    http://www.akhbar-alkhaleej.com/Articles.asp?Article=219399&Sn=BNEW

  • anon.
    15 January 2008

    Ok after the frustration what is going to happen? If any change will happen one of the first issues that MUST be addressed is the natuaralization or ‘tajnees’ process which is currently damaging the country. Look at Kuwait, natuaralizing 573 persons caused a furor in the country and the government is rechecking the list again to make sure that the citizenship is not granted to those that don’t deserve it, while in Bahrain …. as we say shagool oo sha7’ley ? A new citizenship law must be introduced which protects the country from the negative consequences of this process similar to the ones in Kuwait and Qatar. Rights for the new citizens should be given gradually not instantly like access to the housing services (for example in Qatar the Amir recently had passed a law allowing the newly natuaralized citizens to benefit from the housing services only after 15 FIFTEEN YEARS of being naturalized, this should be applied in Bahrain as we are facing a housing crisis. Coming to the political rights, they should not be given immediatly, for example in Kuwait the mojanaseen are not allowed to run for parliamentary elections they are only allowed to vote, what could be done in Bahrain is that they could enjoy their political rights only after a certain period of time ( 5 years for voting, and 15 for running elections). Another important thing is that this process should be capped, in Kuwait the government is allowed to naturalize only 2000 per year (mainly the bedoons), and in Qatar its only 50 FIFTY. Besides that the government should issue a document as in Kuwait ‘shahadat jinsiya’ – which by the way the government used to issue them if im not mistaken before independence – or a citizenship certification, which states CLEARLY the way that its holder got the citizenship whether its by natuaralization ‘tajnees’ or if its holder is already a Bahraini citizen ‘ bil ta2sees’, I know that some might percieve these suggestions as racist but the aim is to reduce or control the negative consequences of the ‘tajnees’ process … oo salamatkom 🙂

  • anon
    15 January 2008

    Oh and i forgot to state that if such a law its provisions concerning the rights that the natuarlized could enjoy especially the political rights should be applied on those that had recieved their citizenships from 2002 – from the period where the tajnees had increased dramatically

  • anon
    15 January 2008

    *if such a law is going to be passed …..
    sorry , was typing in a hurry

  • Loki
    15 January 2008

    I had the fortune to be at an event once where Sheikh Salman gave an impromptu speech in English. He was so clear and articulate about his vision that i was totally blown away. Here’s hoping he can execute it and gets some competent people around him.

  • Nine
    15 January 2008

    It is the Golden Age. I do not mean the excellent movie about Queen Elizabeth 1st. I mean it is the golden age for Bahrain and the rest of the Gulf. Government coffers are over flowing with oil revenues!

    Let’s hope that future generations will look back and say it was indeed the Golden Age when the foundations for a solid and successful society were laid just like what people say about the reign of Elizabeth 1st.

  • Capt. Arab
    15 January 2008

    I hope the Crown Prince does get his way with his economic reform which we have been waiting to see the first harvest. I also hope that a few leather executive seats get rocked, a few rugs get pulled and definitely the incompetent get booted out “permanently”.
    This country is a wonderful place, we are a nation of educated achievers, degree holders, and competent work-force, we have no reason not to succeed especially since we possess all the right ingredients to formulate economic change.
    We need change and a major economic overhaul. We seem to have become content with with delays, little or no change and most importantly only a few of us actually have the courage to stand up and crack the whip.
    I sincerely hope that HM The King’s warning that a few may loose their position does live out to see the light of day, as what we need is a full cycle change, and not some half-ass change just because somebody has been slapped upside the head.
    When will these ministries realize that people are actually their customers, and they are paying for a service, whether it being a passport renewal, posting a letter, or even just inquiring about a certain service.
    Change will only happen, only when we allow it to happen, otherwise we will end up being like some central African country with distant memories of “once upon a time we were ahead of Dubai”; because that will eventually translate into “once upon a time our Dinar was worth 2.65 USD”; or even worse “once upon a time we were compared to the UK of the Middle-East”.
    My sincere support goes to the Crown Prince, and HM The King, and I say to all those incompetent ministries and those who lead them to either buckle-up and do their job sincerely, or they could end up with that distant memory of.. “I used to be a Minister, but was booted out during the economic reform era”. Shame on those to get paid by the coffer of the Nation, and fail to deliver on their responsibilities.

  • Jett
    16 January 2008

    pay me 251 BD and I will fly the 20+ hours to find the idiot above and beat the crap out of him.

  • mahmood
    16 January 2008

    [ed: Jett is referring to a deleted comment]

    Nah, let’s leave him be Jett. He’s just a frustrated and bored rich kid who was fed sectarianism and hate with his milk at infancy and doesn’t know any better.

    I’m having fun with him, breaks the monotony somewhat!

  • I
    16 January 2008

    With reference to comment 8 by Anon.

    Lets see, if you take into account that to get citizenship the government say you have to have resided in the country for 25 years before you’re even considered. Add to that your proposed 15 years before they can be ‘full’ citizens. That makes 40 years before they can, by your measure, vote or buy a house. What sort of bollocks is that !!!

    While I’m with you that newcomers shouldn’t be able to get ‘instant’ citizenship, people who have lived and contributed to the country for over 20 years should have the opportunity.
    Doesn’t international law, that Bahrain has signed up to, say that people who have resided for six years be eligible for citizenship?

    This debate is going to run, but setting unrealistic targets is in the long term damaging to the country.
    Bahrain should be looking forward, and I’m once again inspired by the Crown Prince who has an uphill task, but is showing that he’s up to the challenge. I just hope to God that he succeeds. This country has lost so much to other Gulf countries due to insularity, bureaucracy, and just plain bad management.

  • Capt. Arab
    16 January 2008

    pay me 251 BD and I will fly the 20+ hours to find the idiot above and beat the crap out of him.

    Thanks for the editorial amendement of Jeff referring to a deleted comment. For a second I was wondering why Jeff wanted to kick my ass..

    Then again, I would have forgiven him… Seems like that idiot signed in as “can beat a nigga” plastered your blog with his stupid comments. I would have IP’d him out, and published his details, so we can all give him a taste of his own medicine.

    Then again, if you found it entertaining and a break from the usual monotony, enjoy !!! 😆

    I believe he could be a potential incompetent individual the C.P. was referring to…

  • Lee Ann
    16 January 2008

    Ive been working on a book with a friend of mine so we have been interviewing many Bahrainis about various subjects…we ask them about equality between the sexes…education standards…economic situation etc…we touch on many subjects that definitely need attention and changing in Bahrain…and the most often repeated phrase I heard was “yes, we need change…but change takes time”. Now I understand that the arab concept of time is quite different from the western concept…but still I want to know…when referring to this phrase…how much “time” must pass before your all fed up and decide to change it yourselves? Can anyone say “revolution”…Im not kidding. Ive been here 20 years and the people have been saying the same thing…”change takes time”…unless your happy and willing to let the change occur in your grandchilds lifetime…why arent you doing more about it now? What exactly are you waiting for? I seriously want to know.

  • Merlin
    16 January 2008

    Lee Ann – you ask an extremely valid and pointed question. People in Bahrain are simple and cautious, they would rather stick to the status quo than venture into the unknown.

    In addition, I think the primary driver of any political voice that has emerged so far has in Bahrain really stemmed from the economic woes in which the majority of the population is submerged.

    I believe that most Bahrainis continuously point to how their bretheren in places such as the UAE are living and the luxuries they enjoy. As such I would imagine that a large portion of the “political” noise would be silenced if quality of life is improved. The real underlying issue is one of economics and the population would largely be neutral or indifferent if this area is addressed and put on par to other GCC nations.

    If you have a comfortable lifestyle, a good living and great economic future for you and your kids, why would you rock the boat and meddle in affairs that would only diminsh that benefit for yourself and the greater society?

  • Redbelt
    16 January 2008

    I had the pleasure working with the crown prince’s project for outstanding students.
    Being there I can safely say that he is extremely fair. Students were from every Bahraini house. That project is overlooked because of its lack of importance compared to others. Which what makes it unique to me. Why on earth would someone do such a huge thing if they weren’t really concerned?
    I am now working for a consultation company and are managing a project for the labour fund, we are identifying mid-income bahrainis, give them free training AND increase their wage permanently all at once. This project is also a brain child of his. That being said, I have no doubt of the CP’s intentions and insight.
    lately, this thing with taxes on expats and how it became from BD 600 to BD 200 and how it gets postponed time and again, is a clear, clear cat and mouse game. Everyone is tugging at their 😉 end and trying to keep a civil facade.
    I, for one, applaud the CP’s recent move and I do hope that each and every obstacle (Bahraini: 3un9oo9) be eradicated asap.

  • Redbelt
    16 January 2008

    Yo, Nido boy. Lets meet up! I can explain to you why I’m called “Redbelt”.

  • mahmood
    16 January 2008

    Again, RedBelt is referring to a deleted comment left by a child on a sugar high. I suggest we just ignore him and get on with this excellent debate and share our points of view as to what we can expect in Bahrain over the next few weeks.

    Will Bahrain change direction resolutely to join the current era, or is the momentum of the ‘old guard’ too great to turn into a more conducive stream for Bahrain and its residents?

  • Redbelt
    16 January 2008

    Ignore him? I need the workout!
    anyway, history tells us that people who resist change and people who isolate their connections to a certain few “race, belief, etc..” will not stay that way for long. It extinguishes much like a piece of coal. Oh things will change alright. When, however, is another thing. How is also a very peculiar question.

  • anon
    16 January 2008

    رقم 16 :
    ادري ان في بعض هالاقتراحات ظلم حق ناس فدو البحرين Ùˆ خدموها بعيونهم بس بعد تنصف Ùˆ تعدل اهل البحرين الاصيلين اللي ما عرفوا غير البحرين وطن …. مب مثل اللي ياو على غفلة Ùˆ البحرين بالنسبة لهم قرض او وحدة سكنية Ùˆ تعليم Ùˆ صحة ببلاش … المفروض – معني اشك – ان المجلس النيابي يفتح ملف التجنيس مرة ثانية Ùˆ بقوة علشان تتم معالجة الاثار السلبية من وره عمليات التجنيس الاخيرة ووضع قانون يديد للجنسية يكون صريح Ùˆ واضح في شروط التجنيس …. الجنسية مب شي رخيص هاذي مستقبل وطن Ùˆ لنا في كشف التجنيس الكويتي الاخير عبرة اللي احتوى على 573 اسم Ùˆ الحكومة سحبته مرة ثانية ليش ان في اسامي عليها شبهات Ùˆ قيود امنية

  • ammaro
    16 January 2008

    i’ve always thought, always think and will probably always continue to think that bahrain has such a large opportunity to move forward, in terms of education, politics, and everything else. We haven’t had the right people in the right places to promote this change, and therefore Bahrain has remained comparably stagnant.

    People like the crown prince are the catalyst we need. You know he wants the change, and he’s willing to do what it takes to make things change. He faces resistance though, but still, I am very excited about his attitude, which has still remained positive; most others would have given in and just accepted how things were run. No, he wants change. If anything at all, I wish that one day I could work by his side; he portrays knowledge, he portrays hope, he portrays the power to be. If anything, without him, the opportunity for Bahrain to move forward would remain just that, an opportunity, unutilized and wasted.

  • Astro
    16 January 2008

    The fundamental issue now is who has the authority to instigate, or veto, change. The direction of change is the side product – not the payoff – for the players in the game.

    If the gloves are coming off, we need to think about the classic Jesuit conundrum regarding the logic of the Holy Trinity: “how do the 3 become one”?

    Without being too opaque,the issue is about who has the authority to imagine change (or stasis), who has the authority to promote (prevent) it, and who has the power to enforce it.

    Father, son, or holy ghost?
    🙄

  • Lee Ann
    16 January 2008

    “Without being too opaque,the issue is about who has the authority to imagine change (or stasis), who has the authority to promote (prevent) it, and who has the power to enforce it.” ….the answer that popped into my head was …”the people”…if more Bahrainis were engaged and concerned about the future of Bahrain and their place in it…then change would have to occur…silence means acceptance….unless you like your status as “sheep” why accept it?

  • Mehran
    16 January 2008

    Long time reader, first time commenting.

    Hear hear, sir, and well said. I’ve met the Crown Prince and have nothing but respect for him and his ideas for reform in Bahrain. Reform which is much needed at this point – we are falling behind in so many areas. It is exactly this stifling, stagnating culture of fear and inaction that has led to me being a Bahraini who lives abroad.

    I refuse to return until the country adapts massive social, political and economic change. I say this as someone who is a Bahraini, passionate and patriotic – so much so that I can’t acknowledge the reality of the country at the moment, as it bears no resemblence to the ideal in my mind’s eye. Weren’t we supposed to be heading towards democracy, economic boom, and all that jazz? what happened to that?

    Come on Bahrain, shape up. And Bahrainis? Get off your couch! It’s no use just grumbling in the sheesha cafes… if you want social change, damn well have the courage to speak up and speak loud so that your voice is heard.

    Bricks and sticks don’t change the world – words and voices do.

  • Merlin
    16 January 2008

    Mehran –

    I am starting to believe that we should set up some sort of club for Bahrainis in self-exile. There is a rapidly growing number of us, I wonder how many in total?

    It is this frustration that has caused many to leave, to seek better opportunities and a better life elsewhere, because time waits for no one – and waiting for change in Bahrain has so far seemed like waiting for an eternity.

    I strongly believe that there is a diaspora of Bahrainis out there that through their choice of self exile have had to work hard and survive – they have gained, education experience and nurtured their talent in major economic centres like London, New York, Toronto and now closer to home in Dubai, Doha and Kuwait.

    I hope it is the Crown Prince who through his reforms and initiatives makes it clear that this group belongs no where but home, that he reaches out to them. Instead of adding value to other nations, they should be adding value to their home land, a home land that recognizes, appreciates and fosters a much needed intelligensia.

  • powder
    16 January 2008

    Mahmood,

    Many years reading your site; sorry to piss you off but I am Ameriki working here teaching your future generation all about aviation; no I did not vote for Bush, a common misconception to Bahrainis at work who think if you are American you voted for Bush “Not True”! I stoped at my local cold store today walked ten feet inside and picked up a soda; was paying a young Bahraini pulled up two feet from the door starts honking his horn would not stop until his slave came out and brought him a pack of marlboros, another hypocrytical wanabe bedu who dispises america but loves there smokes, well I realized then I will be here forever for the simple fact that until a Bahraini can walk two feet and get out of his car “Never” us foriegners are safe forever.

  • Capt. Arab
    16 January 2008

    They say owning a few top notch Generals in the army does not necessarily guarantee you full control. The C.P. is a leader, young, powerful and knows how to swing his weight around, when and wherever necessary.
    He is similar to a Army General who has the support of the soldiers; i.e. us “the people”; and nothing but opposition from his piers. I am sure with support, determination and hardwork from us all, then everything is achievable, and a reality.
    In my opinion The Crown Prince is a good man, with a tough job.

  • mahmood
    16 January 2008

    Thanks for taking the time to comment Mehran, and yes, I agree. People do and will emigrate and use their talents where they feel best at ease in socially, politically and culturally. Swimming against the tide all the time is rather tiring and non-conducive to doing good business and adding value.

    I hope that at some point in the future, the Bahraini diaspora will have some way they can add value to their country of origin even if for whatever reason they cannot or do not want to come back physically.

    After all, borders now are meaningless.

  • Capt. Arab
    16 January 2008

    Sorry, one more thing I wish to add.. I have also self-exiled myself to the UK. The prime reason was for a better employment opportunity and to provide a better life for my children, and in fact I did exile from 1998-2000.
    I returned in time when his Excellency The King began his reforms and democratic change, which I whole heartly support and still do.
    The three main reasons for my return were:
    (a) There is no place like home.
    (b) I wanted to become part of change.
    (c) If my skills were in demand in another country, I figured that Bahrain was entitled to me as a skill-set before any other country.
    I just want to re-emphasize to all self-exile Bahraini’s that waiting to return when the situation is all nice and sweet is one thing, similar to getting a free piggy-back ride. But, being part of it and contributing is an experience in itself. No offence meant, just sharing my experience.
    Bahrain is a unique country, different people, back-grounds, inter-marriages and faiths. We all share one common thing.. We all love Bahrain and have never hated it, even at it’s worse. Economic growth and a healthy economy is achieveable (if we want). Like Lee Ann mentions, for the last 20 odd years, all we have been talking about is time.
    Well it is time now… No turn back, all our steps have to be forward in the right direction and together. The future of our children and their children are in our hands..
    Let us not be afraid of change, let us embrace it and use it to our advantage. God willing, we will emerge as a nation with a self-sustained economy to be reckoned with.

  • mahmood
    16 January 2008

    Well said Captain.

  • mahmood
    16 January 2008

    Thanks for your comment powder, yes, it is rather unfortunate that we have this mentality, and true too that it will take a drastic event to get that condition to change.

    Regardless; however, I do believe that as far as employment is concerned, an employee must add value to the position s/he occupies. If that person is a foreigner and imparts knowledge or experience to that position, then I have absolutely no problem with them.

    With the Labour reforms (which as they stand at the moment need to be reformed to the original vision) this is further emphasized. An employer can fill any position with whomever s/he likes as long as the tax is paid.

    Even more importantly, these reforms (should) guarantee that a Bahraini can be judged on the same performance metric and can be fired for the lack thereof, without the employer having to play the Russian roulette with the courts.

    Once this becomes the norm, then Bahraini employees will realise that their position is not secure for ever and they have to actually work to keep their position. Once that feeling of “instability” inculcates within society, Bahrainis will be forced to realise that they have to be better prepared to produce results to keep their job.

    But like you imply, it will take time. At least the juggernaut is now moving, however slowly.

  • Mehran
    16 January 2008

    Yes, the “brain drain”… when people can find better jobs, standard of living, etc elsewhere, they will.

    And of course, it’s the home country that suffers the most for it. “Thanks for the education and the great shawarmas, I’m off to Europe now!”

  • Mehran
    16 January 2008

    Absolutely Mahmood, borders are meaningless. And Capt, I applaud your decision to return, but I couldn’t do it myself.

    We need more dynamism, more action and enthusiasm, more people willing to speak up and stand up. This is why I’m most impressed by all those bloggers and journalists willing to be imprisoned rather than be censored or cowed into appeasing rather than truth-telling.

    And why are there not more peaceful demonstrations in Bahrain? Letters to the GDN? Petitions to the Government asking for change (rather than, say, a villa in Saar)

    Maybe I’m being too harsh and critical. It’s easy to say all this from over here. But it is something I feel very strongly about – Bahrain was, is and should be a great country. We should be setting trends in the Gulf! Instead we look at our neighbours with envious eyes, and mutter that our hands are tied.

  • Lee Ann
    17 January 2008

    Actually I enjoy writing letters to the GDN about some of the injustices I see going on in this country…Ive had the “pleasure” of being subject to the very narrow mindedness of the Sharia courts and some of its obviously gender biased judges…I wrote a letter of complaint to the GDN and got quite a lot of attention…not to mention some flak over that…but I would do it again if it makes people listen up.

    One thing not made clear in these posts which I would like a comment on is what is the relationship between father and son…is the King supporting his sons vision or hindering him? Just wondering….I imagine having an ambitious son with plans for the country that require major changes to the status quo…would warrant a quick look over the shoulder now and then…the older just get older you know.

  • ammaro
    17 January 2008

    we need some serious changes in the country if it is ever going to move forward. this major change is that certain people need to be moved out of certain places, and others brought into those places. some people are hindering the whole process, whether its on purpose or by accident is hardly the issue.

    i wonder how much weight the crown prince can throw around to make such changes. i know he wills well, but he needs to be tougher (he is already tough) and ensure this happens. lets hope.

  • powder
    17 January 2008

    Hello Mahmood,

    It can be done! The department I train and advise is about 5 people and I am proud to say all Bahrainis they do it all cleaning, paperwork, maintenance, bulletins; I was asked two years ago if I wanted the two foriegners
    who left replaced I said only if you want your personnel to be lazy and not stay sharp in there job. The CEO of the corporation asked me flat out two years ago what I thought of the Bahrainis working there I told him they are not dumb and the majority are inteligent the problem is they are lazy I thought he would fire me he agreed and said thank you. Most of them will do well if it is forced upon them.

    Peace

  • bhtemp
    17 January 2008

    Our hands tied?..Don’t think so. Have a Client Advantage account with this news agency (http://www.mathaba.net/about/) and expose malpractice of officials and the like until they get their act together.

  • mahmood
    17 January 2008

    Powder, you are generalising and you – as an instructor – should know the danger of doing so. I don’t know where you come from, but I warrant that you will find the same “qualities” you are complaining about right in your own home turf.

    So spare us these derogatory and patronising comments if you would. You can of course constructively criticise, that would be good, rather than be scornful and essentially bite the hand that feeds you.

    Peace to you too.

  • Anonny
    17 January 2008

    Mahmood,

    I know a few people aren’t going to get past the first paragraph of this post, but sod it…

    Perhaps Powder is generalizing because he is speaking in general? Sometimes there’s no other way to make a point.

    I know, for example, that I as a foreigner am a lot less likely to leave a job before I’m finished and a lot less likely to insist on my public holidays. For 16 years I’ve stayed evenings weekends and holidays (without bitching) because Bahrainis wouldn’t do that as readily as I would so I was asked. Luckily I’ve always loved my job. I would also be far more happy to do physical fetching and carrying, which so many Bahrainis regard as being beneath them. When I was managing an office I’d make a coffee for visiting clients because my Indian and Bahraini colleagues said it wasn’t their job and my Bahraini secretary would sulk for hours afterwards whenever I got her to do it without the requisite amount of flattery beforehand. I was the one who came in sick. In my first job here I was a young man who’d just had an arthroscopy and was walking on crutches. I was carrying videotapes to another office because the Bahraini I was working with on the project wouldn’t be seen carrying things. It was painful, but I did it with a smile. I thought people would respect me for this but many did not. I was just an employee, I did not have a stake in the company other than a small monthly salary and need to derive self-respect from the work I do.
    Only my Bahraini friends ever asked, “what, you don’t get overtime pay?”. My family and my expatriate friends either were doing the same things themselves or just knew not to ask. Is
    this just a coincidence?

    You can criticise me for generalizing if you like, but can you also assure me that you never generalize? And can you also give us, as an employer, your true opinion of Bahraini workers in comparison to the foreigners that you have working for you and have had working for you over the years? Powder is an instructor, but you are an employer! Are you telling us that there are no general conditions that lead to employers choosing foreigners over Bahrainis?

    I personally am happy to work with Bahrainis. I’m used to going the extra mile. There are enough Bahraini people who see and appreciate this for me to carry on doing it and feel valued.

    In general (oooh!) Bahrainis are very open to work with and don’t play silly games. If they do, they are usually easy to handle in a positive way. In general (gulp!), Bahrainis will work harder than anyone if they have a stake in the enterprise beyond a pay packet.
    In general (baal!), Bahrainis working for their own businesses or for family businesses will work very, very hard. This is something that employers should look at. Perhaps Western/global-style reward structures are not the ideal reward structures for Bahrainis. Perhaps the motivational complexus differs in important ways. Why aren’t people thinking about this? Why do Bahrainis, and by extension Khaleejis have to work under the same general conditions as the rest of the whole damn’ world? Why can’t all those oh-so-smart “joiners”, seminar-groupies and committee luminaries look at specific motivational idiosyncrasies of the local work force and show them some respect?

    Central Manama on a Friday is an education. It is teeming with foreign workers on their day off. They’re all there as a result of other people’s generalizing predjudices, not mine nor Powder’s.

  • mahmood
    18 January 2008

    Anony, you are being rediculous in your generalisations as you take things to extremes to try to prove your point. The “beef” I had with Powder’s comment runs in the same stream,

    You know, for instance, that a Bahraini started in the company you work for at a salary of just over BD100 and is now a partner! So get off that horse!

    Perhaps Western/global-style reward structures are not the ideal reward structures for Bahrainis.

    That’s one of the important things that the Bahrainis you speak about – generally! – have a problem with. Most foreigners brought in this country on a professional level earn multiples of what a Bahraini might for doing essentially the same job, then you ask the Bahraini to buck up and do the job?

    As for some Bahrainis not willing to bring coffee when asked, in the US or the UK, would you even dare connect a simple plug into a socket on set without the risk of having the Electricians Union (or whatever) sue your sweet behind for “doing a job that is not defined in the parameters of your responsibility”?

    The issues are much more complex than either of you make out, and your insinuations that in general Bahrainis are lazy is offensive.

    Isa Town market on Fridays is an education too. There you will find hundreds if not thousands of Bahrainis rummaging in used clothes stores to find a garment they might be able to afford to clothe themselves or their families with because they can’t afford the prices in the Manama markets. Go and offer any one of them a job and see if they don’t jump at the chance and probably do good in it.

    As to me personally, I strive to hire Bahrainis, pay them much above the market rate, always give them their due holidays, always pay them overtime if it is in their contract to receive them and always pay them bonuses on every Eid and if we’re doing well enough, at the end of the year too. My Bahraini staff typically stay with me for 5 or 6 years and leave happy to a better and higher paying job.

    I’m looking for a Bahraini right now to fill a position of an Assistant Cameraman. Know anyone?

  • No Need
    18 January 2008

    Lets get back to the main topic.

    The crown price is a well spoken guy, but unless he mentions the words “change” and “prime minister” in the same breath, he is just a mouse that roars.

  • Lee Ann
    18 January 2008

    No Need

    I was wondering if anyone would say something like that…for change to happen in Bahrain the PM needs to “allow” it…without his consent nothing but nothing will happen.

  • Anonny
    18 January 2008

    That’s one of the important things that the Bahrainis you speak about – generally! – have a problem with. Most foreigners brought in this country on a professional level earn multiples of what a Bahraini might for doing essentially the same job, then you ask the Bahraini to buck up and do the job?

    Although implicit, that was part of the point I was making. I should have stated it outright that the disparity between Bahraini and expat pay scales is a disgrace. I am sorry if I was not clear in that. The reward structure point was one I made because Bahraini employers seem to be so reluctant to simply pay Bahrainis a decent wage. I’ve expessed this sentiment on your forum a couple of times before, at least, so I thought my stance was obvious.

    Actually, for more than half of my time here, I was being paid on a Bahraini style wage-scale because my parents were here and I was living with them. So I know what it feels like.

    I changed my job this May. I found out that Bahraini sales people in designer clothing boutiques make more than I was making there. So I think my case and viewpoint may be pretty specific.

    As for the individual you mention … do you have the company I work(ed) for right? I’m afraid I do not know of whom you speak. Good for him, though. We need to see a lot more such cases.

    I’m looking for a Bahraini right now to fill a position of an Assistant Cameraman. Know anyone?

    A guy worked as such at BTV but was then asked to leave. He says the reason was [sectarian]. I don’t know the background. He is now working in a furniture store and missing out terribly. He has probably switched to MTC as his number is offline but if I see him anytime soon I will get him to contact you.

  • Anonny
    18 January 2008

    As for some Bahrainis not willing to bring coffee when asked, in the US or the UK, would you even dare connect a simple plug into a socket on set without the risk of having the Electricians Union (or whatever) sue your sweet behind for “doing a job that is not defined in the parameters of your responsibility”?

    There’s a difference between being willing and constrained by rules – and being unwilling because of “pride”. What you’re talking about here is another topic entirely, and it’s probably one on which we would be in full agreement.

  • Redbelt
    18 January 2008

    Much of the discussion turned into an HR issue so I feel obliged to respond.
    In a resent Gulf wide study, GCC employees usually change jobs 2-3 times in a 5 year span. The study reported an all time low in job loyalty. Main reason stated was low salaries. Career Progression is very limited in the Gulf and any salary increments are eaten away by inflation. The best way to battle that is to change jobs, which still wouldn’t give you an advantage, but maintain your status, percentage wise.
    A good reason for the low paying jobs is the abundance of cheap labour. If I can get an asian man to stand in my shop and pay him about BD 100, why should I pay a Bahraini 300 or above? To a lot of businesses this is overkill unfortunatly. Hence the presence of cheap labour. And because of that presence, factors of supply and demand come into force. Salaries go down.
    Another reason for lack of performance IMHO is the absence of proper HR in almost anywhere. You go to a company and they don’t have an HR department, they have a secertary who drafts contracts but thats it. HR is about motiviating and retaining your “RESOURCES”, and people are a resource. If no one showed up to work, how will anything be done? If a successful resturant loses the chef that everyone likes, will another of the same caliber be offered? A company is only good because the PEOPLE in it are doing a good job.
    Sadly, HR is often seen as “personnel” here, yknow, draft contracts, register with GOSI, fire, hire, etc. That is a very narrow look.
    Without proper pay, motivation and performance managment you get to where we are.
    Which is why I am again a big fan of the EDB reforms.
    If any of you attended any management of change seminars (I’m sure many of you have) you’d know change is always from the top down. When if ever someone in middle management was able to change a culture of a company just by their own effort? It takes proper planning and the employees need to buy in that change before they do. Much like what the CP is trying to do here.

    Oh, and Mahmood, you need to pay overtime to each and every employee. regardless if it is stated in their contract or not, because it is stated in the Bahraini labour law. You are in a legal risk otherwise even if they do agree to it. If you need any consultation on the Labour law, I’m your man, for free. 🙂

  • ammaro
    19 January 2008

    for those talking about bahrainis being lazy. sure, we have lazy bahrainis.

    we also have hard working bahrainis.

    we also have bahrainis that work night and day just to make ends meet.

    and yes, we have bahrainis that wouldnt want to lift a finger if they had the chance.

    But again, that exists in every country, in every region. generalizations dont solve anything here, and if you have a doubt that there are hardoworking bahrainis out there, go immerse yourself in the different banks, companies, factories and so on out there. i’ve had the privelige of working in 5 different entities in bahrain so far, 2 of which are among the biggest bahraini companies. i’ve seen it all, the hardworking and the lazy.

    if you’re comparing the average bahraini to the average new yorker, then yes, probably not as hard working. but then, you have your lazy new yorkers and you have your hard working bahrainis too.

    yes, the country does have a laid back attitude in some places; government organizations for example, but still, some of the people working there put a lot of effort into their work too.

    dont generalize.

  • Anonny
    19 January 2008

    Redbelt,

    This whole discussion is about the aspirations of a people, a nation, so it is primarily a human resources issue. Capital doesn’t need to be motivated or rewarded, it just needs to exist.

    I’ve been trying to remember when I wrote a post about the points you raise about cheap labour. Something to do with how Bahrain has felt the effects of this kind of outsourcing way before the rest of the world. I’ll dig it out and link it when I get the chance because it was one of those rare moments I was coherent and not misinterpreted on mahmood.tv.

    As far as I’m concerned, you’ve hit the nail on the head.

    Ammaro,

    All of your points are correct. No disagreement other than my disobedience of your order to not generalize.

    I’m repeating myself and probably boring the pants off people, but anyway … the closest thing I have to kids of my own are my Bahraini nephews and my Bahraini half-brothers and sister. I want them to grow up productive, stimulated by what they do and above all happy.
    If that is to happen things have to change. Real effective change will mean admitting some unpleasant things. I could be very wrong but I still feel that general comparisons between the different strata of the work force of Bahrain, the different strata of the expat work force and the different strate of the work force in other nations can be instructive. I’ve made the point elsewhere that expatriates put up with more here because the money they make can go home with them and do a lot more than it can here. Hey, maybe that is all that need be considered.

    Oh, but I’ve only been living and working with all kinds of people here (on and off) since 1986. And I’m only a foreigner. What can I know, eh? Jeez, why did you even bother to read this far?

  • Omri
    19 January 2008

    Not related to this posting, but I think your international audience would love to hear your opinion on these stories, about the GCC countries investing in other Arabic economies.

  • Astro
    19 January 2008

    First a response to Annony’s comment that:

    “This whole discussion is about the aspirations of a people, a nation, so it is primarily a human resources issue. Capital doesn’t need to be motivated or rewarded, it just needs to exist.”

    That’s just plain wrong. Investors deploy their capital where the incentives and rewards are greatest. That can often be in direct conflict with the needs of the host country, community, or workers but that is the way it goes. Capital has seniority in the food chain. To think otherwise makes the same mistake as those poor illeducated parliamentarians who are talking about a capital tax on foreign investments…..Let’s just say it once and very simply: capital=jobs. No ifs or buts. If they want to broaden the tax base, and improve welfare they can start by imposing a properly structured VAT that will penalise “excessive consumption” and subsidise staples.

    Second, the fixation with jobs is largely a product of 15 years of economic underperformance and social inequities. The real issue – the challenge raised by the CP’s revolutionary move – is whether there will now be a dismantling of the existing political-economic nexus and its replacement by a different (not necessarily better Mr. Working Man, not necessarily worse Mr. Businesman) order. What we are looking at is a management overhal of the country. If it happens, the buck stops with the new management and that might entail some of what Clinton & his policy wonks called “tough love”.

    We shall see.

  • Sadek
    20 January 2008

    Annony
    “This whole discussion is about the aspirations of a people, a nation, so it is primarily a human resources issue. Capital doesn’t need to be motivated or rewarded, it just needs to exist.”
    Really? even Karl Marx would not agree with this idea. Anyway Astro has answered you very adequately.
    Unfortunately the aspirations of the majority “the nation, a people”(and I hope I am not generalising) is for a comfortable government job. The work ethic for many of the new job entrants is on average poor, with high absentism being more the norm than the exception. Many feel that they are owed a living. I know it because I have and am experiencing it.
    On the other hand, there is is no point in blaming these youths, when they are the product of an educational system that has deteriorated over the past 25 years, and unless the student is exceptional, or just as importantly his parents drive her/him to excellence, is unequipped for modern life. You have classes that are too big, teachers that are demotivated or in many cases incompetent, many parents, particularly from the lower wrungs, uninterested and governmental ministers that are more interested in appearing in the newspapers to talk about their bogus achievements. The educational system is decrepit, while the Labour system is confused.
    The employment problem has nothing to do with HR departments, and for that matter even foreigners. The greatness of some societies is they take the best elements and integrate them. Look at the US, Canada, Australia or Canada or for that matter most of Europe. What have we done other than “nationalise” illiterates and hangers on. Why not have a policy that states who we want as assets to this country?
    As Astro wrote, it has to do with 20 years of substandard economic performance, with any productive sector being milked for all that its worth. Our businessmen, were and, are shy to invest in their own country, and if they were to do something it would only be for the short term, not disimilar to our youth. They prefer to invest anywhere but in their own backyard.
    We have a parliament that is the nearest thing to lalaland – talking about handouts, pushing their narrow religious and ethnic lines, without a care about how this country goes, or any meaningful contribution to the Big Issue.
    We should take a page off Dubai and Singapore, small states but great in ideas. Leaderships who have a vision and are willing to carry those ideas out – what they have done is give their people that value added dimension, rather than snap, AS WE DO HERE, at anything but the causes of this malaise.

  • Astro
    20 January 2008

    Thank you Sadek for adding some cogent support. Hope we don’t sound like a love-in here… 😆

    Fundamentally, the problem is the majority of the populace have 3rd world productivity and 1st world tastes. And because the economy is unproductive, people are always looking for the short-cut, the payoff, the quick deal. Hey, if it works for the management why not for the common man.

    I always find it odd that in my business there are people earning $1mln p.a. – all earned and probably underpaid – who agonise about buying a 2nd hand 5yr old car or a new shirt when young Khaleejis (not just Bahrainis, but our neighbours are better paid) splash out on on bling new cars, phones, watches, and clothes – just to parlay the illusion of success. You then watch them drown in a sea of debt as they struggle to pay off the consumer loans once their lack of productivity prevents them from achieving the returns they needed to pay off those loans.

    People need to realise that this generation, and the two after it, will have to forgo a lot to catch up for two decades of underperformance. Jam tomorrow folks, so that your grandchildren can live a good life. That means more savings, less consumption.

    Lack of vision = lack of ambition. I note with amusement that while the debate on GF is about stopping the haemorrage, the CEO of Emirates is on the record as saying that their target market is the 4billion (yes BILLION – a but over the top but you get the idea) people within 8 hours flying time of Dubai airport. Somehow, a few more daily flights to Riyadh, Shiraz, Kuwait and Trivandrum don’t fall into the same league. Not so much niche strategy as nihilistic. But then again, its too late. That race is won. Better to pack up and use the resources elsewhere.

    Folks: this gap in ambition isn’t even funny…. But people like us need to focus on positive thinking, helping shape the debate on what ought to be done to expand the pie rather than explain why the pie is small and how unfair it is that someone else is getting more than us. Is that asking to much.

  • Anonny
    20 January 2008

    Astro,

    That’s just plain wrong. Investors deploy their capital where the incentives and rewards are greatest.

    It’s the investors who seek reward, not the capital itself. Capital is managed and directed by people. Investors – last time I checked – are human. As far as I’m concerned this is still a people-focussed issue. All you are really doing with the business-school jargon is highlighting the differences in goals between foreign investors and local workers. This is all obvious, but it doesn’t solve the problem. As the workers are the majority and the ones who need motivation and reward the most, they are of more interest to me as somebody living in Bahrain. The ultimate resources are human: creativity, entrepreneurship, endeavour. That’s where change will come from. A population geared to working hard and creatively by a reward system that is credible _will_ attract foreign investment in the long term.

    Sadek,

    Unfortunately the aspirations of the majority “the nation, a people”(and I hope I am not generalising) is for a comfortable government job. The work ethic for many of the new job entrants is on average poor, with high absentism being more the norm than the exception. Many feel that they are owed a living. I know it because I have and am experiencing it.

    I disagree with what you’re saying. You’ve gone much further than I have in negative criticism of the Bahraini workforce. Let’s see if you get as much flak as I did. I shall watch this space …

  • Nine
    20 January 2008

    One of the biggest problems that Bahrainis face is the unfair competition from guest workers.

    The guest workers work harder and are paid less. This is the case everywhere not just in Bahrain and the reasons are clear; the guest workers need the money more desperately than the locals, have limited choice, are there for a limited time and so forth. This you will find it in California with its Mexicans, in Germany with its Turks, in the UK with its Asians and of course, in the Gulf. That is human nature and probably will not change.

    What however, could be changed is to make these guest workers compete on equal terms with the locals and make the local market more restrictive to guest workers. That I am afraid is lacking in Bahrain. This is something that the CP tried to do but sadly his proposals were watered down to such an extent that it is unlikely that they would deliver the desired results. Perhaps the government could now make it much harder to employ expatriates.

    As long as the competition is not fair businessmen would continue to prefer to hire guest workers.

    As for Bahrainis well I do not think they are different from people anywhere else. Reward them well and they will work harder. Train them right and they will deliver. Some of the biggest companies in Bahrain are almost entirely staffed by Bahrainis. Talk of Alba (aluminum), Bapco (oil), Batelco (telecom) and National Bank of Bahrain (banking). These are all very successful companies and their staffs are over 90% Bahrainis. You do not hear of these saying the education system in Bahrain is crap. You only hear this from the businessman who wants to hire cheap guest workers!

  • Astro
    20 January 2008

    Folks, based on Annony’s valid rebuttal I think we need to refine the focus a bit.

    Annony: its not a simple dialectic of foreign capitalists vs. local workers. It’s capital vs. labour, foreign vs. domestic capital, foreign vs. domestic labour, high-skilled vs. low-skilled labour, public sector vs. private, and substitutable vs. essential jobs. That’s a kaleidoscope of interests (i.e there is no “majority”) even before you get to to the fractured government or the sectarian and political differences in the parliament.

    To paraphrase that old Walrus Lenin: Who governs? For whom?

    A small country cannot keep out the hostile forces of global change forever, simply ride the wave. No matter which way we go from here there will be losers. How we deal with them is going to be interesting. Even in the much touted Singaporean model (which by the way folks works so well partly because it is a disciplinarian police state where you conform to the ideal or else, compared to which pre-reform Bahrain was some Pacific idyll) there are some clear losers – ask the Malays, including the former ruling Sultans whose descendants now work as taxi drivers and dockworkers.

    It’s not all milk and honey. A few eggs need to be broken to make an omelette. The question is, who has the authority to decide who those eggs are.

  • Merlin
    21 January 2008

    I like omelettes 😛

  • Jocko
    21 January 2008

    Can somebody tell me what criteria they use at BMMI to determine if you are muslim in regards to buying alchohol which is forbiden.

  • Astro
    21 January 2008

    Scrambled eggs anyone?

  • Astro
    21 January 2008

    Scrambled eggs anyone? 😯

  • Anonny
    21 January 2008

    Annony: its not a simple dialectic of foreign capitalists vs. local workers. It’s capital vs. labour, foreign vs. domestic capital, foreign vs. domestic labour, high-skilled vs. low-skilled labour, public sector vs. private, and substitutable vs. essential jobs. That’s a kaleidoscope of interests (i.e there is no “majority”) even before you get to to the fractured government or the sectarian and political differences in the parliament

    Blah, more jargon. I don’t like this Gordian Knot you’re tying me up in! Start with the people, for goodness’s sake, and put capital second.

    Oh, and well done Sadek. You said what you said without getting what I got. How’d that happen? Iz it coz I is outsider?

  • Sadek
    21 January 2008

    Annony
    I am afraid I did not get what you were saying, ” You said what you said without getting what I got. How’d that happen? Iz it coz I is outsider?”
    Either speak in plain English, and if unable, write in Arabic. And please stop hiding behind this psuedo “oh Gosh, dont give me jargon, but let me use it instead”.

  • Sadek
    21 January 2008

    Annony
    “Start with the people, for goodness’s sake, and put capital second.”
    Let me throw a new idea at you and “Nine” (and which does not conflict totally with what both of you are pressing for) – intellectual capital. Intellectual capital is what is important, and that’s what we should be striving for. Infact if you tried to stretch yourself a little bit and read some modern developmental economics, you will appreciate the importance of this element. In addition to the traditional ingredients of Labour (people), land and capital, its innovation and technology that are now the main contributors to any modern economy (and employment).
    We are missing out (because of a second rate educational system,etc) and if we continue down this path it will soon become immaterial if we have foreigners in our labour force or not. As a small oil-less economy and resource poor economy we will become immaterial, with fewer jobs and infact our people become migrants (already we are experiencing it).
    I agree with Astro lets break some eggs and the reforms (in their entirety, and carried out) are probably the best hope we have to move out of this rut.

  • Astro
    21 January 2008

    Annony,

    Who’s the outsider? And who is not?

  • Anonny
    21 January 2008

    Sorry, Sadek, I most certainly was not trying to hide, but I guess I was playing with language in a silly way. Strictly speaking, I was using satire not jargon. Have you watched Ali G? I thought my words would be seen immediately as mildly self-deprecating humour.
    I was referring to the fact that you could say those things about Bahraini workers and not get the same drubbing from Mahmood and Ammaro as I did when I wrote about my experiences of working in Bahrain.

    I’m finding your economics jargon a little cold. Intellectual capital is not a new term to me at all – I used to work in advertising.
    By the way, the proper definition of “intellectual capital” refers to an asset that yields intellectual property rights.
    However, as it is commonly (erroneously) used by all those venture capitalists, dotcom gurus and pop-economists of the late 90’s, it’s an unpleasant, category-blurring term in that it bundles intangible human qualities, the divine fire of creative inspiration (as others have expressed it) and human awareness into the same sphere as other merely physical resources. Every discipline has its weakness. Economics seems to condition its practitioners to treat people as mere things. I’m getting scared that somebody is going to quote that fluff-head Thomas Friedman at me and I’m going to have to log off and daydream about light artillery in order to recover.

    Still, if “intellectual capital” is what it takes to get through to the fat cats, then I guess “intellectual capital” it is.

  • Anonny
    21 January 2008

    Actually, I’m warming to the term as I begin to imagine it’s uses. It’s a very useful way of inserting human resources into the economist’s mind-set without using labour, which people in this region see as derogatory, and entrepreneurship, which is seen as narrow.
    But Bahrain’s problems are those of many countries. I still think we should be the ones to come up with a new approach, a completely different way of addressing these problems that would make the people of the world sit up and notice us. All this economist talk is pulling us into a system that we should be looking at critically and daring to challenge. Surely there are people out there who can imagine better ways! I wish I could.

  • mahmood
    21 January 2008

    get the same drubbing from Mahmood

    Och, don’t take to too hard laddie. try putting yourself in my shoes for a bit and see how you feel!

    I’m not knocking you down, not at all, I have come down harder on Bahraini workers and their ethics. What I was trying to demonstrate by my response is that it is no good generalising although I recognise that sometimes that is the only way of getting a point across.

    c’est la vie

  • Astro
    21 January 2008

    I’ll leave the blue-sky thinking to the advertising “creatives”…

    Question now – in order to make that omelette – is what are the benchmarks for change, and who will be held accountable – and by whom?

    Right now, I see a lot of pots (and pans) looking for one black kettle.

  • Sadek
    22 January 2008

    Annony
    I did like Ali G (alias Baron Cohen), and found him hugely entertaining. Burat wasn’t too bad either, although offensive in many ways, nevertheless I cannot (neither should you as a piece of free advise) bank on him for economic directions or advise.
    Economics has been called the “dismal science”, and thus “cold”. But our problems have to seen in an objective fashion and around these realities something should be crafted.
    If you wish to learn more I suggest you do a google on the subject “new growth theory”, one of the main propounders is a Stanford professor called Paul Romer.

  • I
    22 January 2008

    Jocko,
    In reply to your posting #62
    “Can somebody tell me what criteria they use at BMMI to determine if you are muslim in regards to buying alchohol which is forbiden.”

    I have been informed that all the booze companies will not sell to anyone wearing a thobe. If the person is in ‘western’ dress then there are no problems. If in a thobe, then they are ‘obviously’ Muslim and will not be served.

    That is why you may see other entrepreneurial folks (often Indian) standing outside the booze company shops taking orders for ‘believers’ who don’t want to, or can’t be seen to venture into the liquor stores. . . for a small fee, of course.

    I

  • Anonny
    23 January 2008

    Sadek,

    Mr Cohen was not a source of advice, just a source of bad slang.

    Thanks for your advice though. I’m sure it’s well meant and I shall have a google of this chappie over the weekend.

  • Anonny
    23 January 2008

    s’ok, mahmood. i’ve worn similar shoes in my time 🙂

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