All Posts By mahmood

Nabeel Rajab Acquitted

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The Bahrain News Agency is carrying a report that the court has acquitted Nabeel Rajab from defaming and slandering Muharraq citizens. Here’s the release:

Court of Appeals Acquits Nabeel Rajab of Defamation and Slandering of Muharraq Citizens

12 : 12 PM – 23/08/2012
Manama, August 23 — (BNA)– The Court of Appeal has cleared activist Nabeel Rajab of the charges filed versus him by a group of citizens from Muharraq. Rajab was accused of publically slandering them on his personal twitter account.

The court ruling was due to the judge’s uncertainty regarding the evidence submitted to support the lawsuit. The first-instance court had previously found him guilty and sentenced him to a period of three months.

Rajab is currently serving a three year sentence on charges of participating in and inciting illegal assemblies and unlicensed rallying in busy commercial districts and he currently is appealing the verdict. [BNA]

Just as I thoughtActivist Nabeel Rajab Acquitted from Defamation and Slander accusation, and as did the majority of those who live in this country did so too, that Nabeel Rajab is innocent of these heinous charges and he was framed and imprisoned for expressing his opinion. I have no doubt whatsoever that he is innocent. I know that although he is wrongly serving a prison sentence now again for simply exercising his rights, he will be exonerated, not only because the whole free world is demanding his release, but because he is right.

The funny thing about this whole press release; however, is that the state is now calling Nabeel an activist rather than the usual nomenclature of terrorist and other assorted adjectives. What gives? Did the BNA get a new translator who over-stepped his mark and their reference manual which describes just about everybody who has a differing opinion a traitor, a coward, a terrorist or all three together? Regardless, I wouldn’t be surprised if that word was edited out of the text on their site soon.

Time to release Nabeel to get him back to his family and his thankless work. We – as a whole country and its people – need him and his like. We should thank him for his efforts rather than let him rot in jail. The others who’ve been wrongly convicted for nothing more than expressing their opinions should also be immediately released and charges against them voided.

Now, in a country where justice is supposedly institutionalised and cherished, and in view of Nabeel being acquitted of the defamation and slander, when will we see those who brought those charges against him brought to justice for at least impeding justice and wasting their time? I think they absolutely should if for nothing but to make an example of them and deter others from targeting honest citizens and wasting the rather busy and precious courts’ time.

I look forward to welcoming a free Nabeel back into the community soon.



Nabeel Rajab

Bahrain Human Rights defender Nabeel Rajab

I know Nabeel Rajab personally. I have very high respect for him and his ceaseless work to defend human rights and his activism in that regard. Everything I’ve read about him so far supports my conviction that I have not misread the man. The claims levied against him of violence instigation amongst a plethora of other baseless accusations do not wash. I am fully convinced that he is innocent and he is serving a jail sentence now in an effort to silence his severe criticism of the regime; something that this country’s very constitution protects.

Nabeel Rajab is a prisoner of conscience.

He did nothing more than stand fast for his lawful convictions and as such must be released unharmed and left to continue to practice his own human right of self expression without interference. Those who’ve imprisoned him must know that imprisoning him will not silence the growing dissenting voices in this country or abroad, what that does, in fact, is solidify Nabeel’s image as a worthy national hero.




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Hussam Al-Haddad, 16yo Bahraini boy killed by Bahraini police

Another young soul is extinguished. Courtesy of the Bahraini police.

The crime? Demonstrating for social justice. Democracy. Freedoms.

He purportedly threw Molotov cocktails at a police car. The police’s response was brutal and inhumane. According to eye-witnesses he was shot in the back and beaten to a pulp by uniformed and out of uniform individuals, said to be undercover policemen. There is no way to know their identity, who they work for, and who authorises them to habitually brutally assault civilians.

To me, this is a heinous. This is once again an unwarranted excessive use of force, but was also a complete absence of humanity, all perpetrated by the impunity the police and their cohorts enjoy as a matter of course, resulting in assured injustice visited upon the citizens of this country.

This is the Bahraini government’s Eid gift to a broken nation.

And they talk about dialogue and rapprochement to bridge the gap. I’m afraid that gap has developed into a chasm that needs the likes of the United Nations to help bridge. On our own, I don’t think this is doable by using our own means any more. Trust and goodwill are well and truly destroyed now.



No politics?

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despairI wonder what life would be in this little dot of an island of ours if we had to live without having to worry about politics; in as much as actually living in a modern democracy where human rights are not only protected, but cherished, and where people would feel free to write and voice their opinions without fear of persecution. I’m 50 now, and reflecting back, I can’t remember a time where these conditions existed here. Nor do I remember a time where in my lifetime that this region, for that matter, has enjoyed relative peace either. I find that I’m holding myself back from writing, for standing up for what I believe should be the norm and when I do write, I censor myself. All because I know – through personal experience – the terror of that 3am banging on the door, the hood, the tight wire-wraps around my wrists, the shoves and insults, the incarceration and the shear terror of realising that all that you’ve stood for, all that you’ve fought for, and all that the moderation you espoused all your life are worth nothing to your jailers and their masters. Their agenda is completely different from yours and they have the tools, all the tools, to ensure that theirs is paramount. So the question remains, why bother? I know I can’t be bothered any more. Not exclusively due to the real fear of the real possibility of incarceration once more, no, but much more importantly because I know that I won’t make a difference and that if I do attempt to do so, then the rest of the country will just continue to trudge along and inexorably and actively try to ignore what’s happening right in front of their eyes just to carry on with their miserable and mundane lives. Future generations shouldn’t be subjected to this. Enough! A solution is required if sustainability is a consideration, and it must be, it should be. A solution is staring everyone in the eye; however, it cannot be enacted without real and courageous political will, both of which are in very short supply at the moment. Realistically, that will has been patently absent for decades, so much so that it has become a de facto standard religiously followed by those in power. Struggles will continue by sincere people in this country and unfortunately some will pay for it with their incarceration while others still will ultimately give their very lives all as a sacrifice to exerting more pressure to wrench those basic rights for everyone to enjoy, and through which future generations can thrive. Some have already realised; however, that life is short and this fight ain’t worth fighting; as such they’ve made exit plans to install themselves in other countries where they feel they might be welcome and in order to allow their children a chance at growing normally. I can’t say I blame them. That’s not an answer for the vast majority of the population though. To them, the only option is to push and continue to push until their demands are met. While they’re doing that, they will continue to eek out a living from the jaws of despair. The end-game can’t be that far ahead. The Bahraini struggle will soon commemorate its hundredth year. To put this in context, the Bahraini story is older than the Palestinian issue.



Thriving xeriscaped border

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Xeriscaped Border

This is the only part of my garden that is truly thriving at the moment. The cacti and other plants are doing well in their border and the Devil’s Tongue Barrel seems to be readying itself for yet another flowering in the same season. But this time, I can see quite a number of buds being formed! So happy.



Under paying myself

I’ve started reading quite an interesting book by Greg Crabtree called Simple Numbers, Straight Talk, Big Profits and the very first chapter in that book he talks about entrepreneurs habitually under paying themselves in the false belief that it leads to healthier perception of profits, but he proves that thought is a simple and very dangerous fallacy as it misrepresents a company’s true profitability as the entrepreneur invariably starts using the business as a piggy bank and draws the remainder of his requirements as drawings therefore hiding the actual (normally) bad state of the company.

Shocked? You bet I am!

I’m the first to admit that I need to better understand the balance sheet and know what to look for between the numbers. Having partially gone through an accounting course a few years ago at one of the leading banking training institutions in Bahrain, I still need the numbers to be demystified so that I instantly know the health of the business. I’ve started to take good steps in that regard by hiring a professional accountant on a part time basis to create the reports I need, put in the budget and cash flow sheets based on which I can now make intelligent decisions not just to continue to have a healthy company, but chart a proper and pragmatic growth path.

Having a “proper” pay is – I realise now – a very important factor. So I started looking around for resources to help me equate my position to those like-sized companies to know what a good and comparable salary should be. Needless to say, statistics are not our countries’ strong points, where these issues are deeply buried and one of the taboos it looks like, but I came across a timely article that can give me some guidance:

CEOs in the UAE on average earn Dh1.386 million ($377,664) per annum or Dh115,500 ($31,470) a month – less than their Saudi and Qatari peers with Arabic CEOs commanding 10 per cent premium.

CEO’s from Saudi Arabia top the money list with an average annual salary of Dh1.55 million ($422,280) a year or Dh129,150 ($35,190) a month.

The Gulf Business survey ranked the GCC CEO’s as follows; Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain and is based on CEOs who are responsible for sales of more than $50 million. [source]

While my company is a long way away from turning over $50 million, at least I know now where to look for the information I require, and that is recruitment agencies by looking for someone to replace me and see how much I need to pay that person!

I’ll let you know how I get along.

Do you have any insight on how much I should be getting paid? Can you offer some resources to help me understand this issue better?



Bye VIVA, it’s not been fun

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After a year of painfully using Viva’s mediocre but much over-hyped internet offering in Bahrain, I’ve terminated both contracts for my home and office. The best speed I could get out of Viva was something like 4mbps and that was flaky. As far as the uploads are concerned, I don’t think I got much more than 512kbps, and yes, that was flaky too. As a media company with daily uploads and downloads of large files, we couldn’t take it any more. To prevent a complete riot (the guys were suspiciously building a platform in our back garden, when I saw a trap door being modelled in its floor, I knew I had to do something!)

VIVA Bahrain internet broadband offering is a disappointment

So I wend back to Batelco. Paying more than five times the price (BD160 for a business line at 8mbps) is a pleasure for at least having a dependable (well, mostly dependable) connection with an upload speed of approximately 1mbps (well, most days) although the promise was double that.

Here’s the result of a speedtest I did just now:

Batelco internet speed test
What irks me most about these continuous episodes of disappointment with operators and their prices, is the TRA who’s supposed to oversee these companies and force them to at least live up to their promises doesn’t seem to be doing much.

Why is it that Viva is allowed to advertise “Up to 48Mbps” and “Fastest internet in Bahrain” when in real life their dismal speed in most areas I’ve looked at doesn’t even exceed 10Mbps? Certainly both at my home (Barbar area) and office (Abu Sayba area) all we experienced was 4Mbps almost throughout the one year of installation.

When asked by the attendant this morning while cancelling both lines and told him that I was dissatisfied with the speed, he repeated what I got to know as the “Viva party line”: “but even if you get 2Mbps, it’s good enough as our promise is up to 48Mbps!”

Yes sure. Have it your way. Mine is – as a customer – is complete disappointment. And the way I vote, is through my wallet and you’re no longer getting that.

TRA, do what you’re supposed to do, otherwise cowboys will continue to rule the scene and the country will continue to suffer the uncompetitiveness which has become its way of life.



Moses & Jesus playing golf

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“Moses and Jesus are playing golf.  Moses steps up to the tee and hits a beautiful shot 250 yards, straight down the middle of the fairway.  Jesus steps up to the tee and hooks the ball into the trees.  Jesus looks up into the heavens, raises his arms.  Suddenly, the sky darkens.  A thunderclap rings out.  Rain pours down and a stream rises among the trees.  The golf ball, floating on top, finds its way into the mouth of a fish.  Then a bird flies down and takes the fish and the ball out over the green, drops it in the cup for a hole in one.  Jesus turns to Moses with a satisfied grin and Moses says, ‘Look, want to play golf or do you want to fuck around?”

The Newsroom :: Episode 3

Sounds like a speech that the Opposition and the Regime might be having, with hands on hips, holsters unbuckled and revolvers loaded with one having a half worn golfing glove while the plebs, hands on hearts and the other having its finger nails chomped feverishly to see what they will have to suffer next.

Welcome to Bahrain politics!