Red-Indians? Aborigines? Indigenous Bahrainis? They existed at some time? Wow!

It took them six months, reports, research, questioning, exploring, insider information, legal advice, interviews, and testimonies and our illustrious exalted MPs couldn’t determine that there were extra-legal naturalisations.

Let alone the fact that a Bahraini passport would cost you between BD 4,000 to 10,000 to get, no questions asked.

Let alone that virtually the whole of the Bahrain Defence Force and the Ministry of Interior’s “foot soldiers” are foreign.

Let alone that these same “foot soldiers” get a house, a job for life, free health and education for themselves and their brood, hell, even free underwear, bath towels, tooth brush and paste and instructions on how to use them when they get off the plane.

Let alone that we have by some estimates 30% unemployment.

Let alone that we’re suffering a BD 700 million budget deficit.

Let alone that the areas that these “new Bahrainis” live in are “no-go” areas for “old-Bahrainis” with threats of life and limb.

Let alone that these “new-Bahrainis” have no concept of human rights.

Let alone that in a population of 450,000 citizens, 20% of these are “new-Bahrainis”

Let alone that in a country which is just 600 square kilometers you can’t afford to buy a house or land.

Let alone that if you are fortunate enough to buy land, you won’t be able to afford the building materials.

Let alone that ALL Gulf Cooperation Council citizens are now automatically eligible for Bahraini dual-citizenship, yet Bahrainis are NOT in their countries.

Our MPs have all but unanimously endorsed the “report” exonerating the government of any ill-doings in granting citizenship haphazardly, politically and in a clear attempt to change the demographics of this tiny island.

It will be no wonder that the indigenous Bahrainis will be recorded in history as a race that has disappeared from existence, as the North American Indians and the Australian Aborigines.

I wouldn’t be surprised that we get put into “reservations” now. All of course thanks to our MPs, the guardians of democracy, transparency and the Bahraini ancient culture.


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  3. mahmood

    Re: Red-Indians? Aborigines? Indigenous Bahrainis? They existed at some time? Wow!

    Is there any documented proof that Bahranis constituted that huge number 150 years ago?

    If you listen to Al-bin-Ali, the lawyer for the Ministry of Interior’s Passport and Immigration Dept, he has proof based on a western historian that the Bahrainis constituted more than 60 – 70% of the population in the late 19th century. He suggested that the Bahranis were mostly Iranians who have come into the island less than 100 years ago. This information he presented at the “naturalisation face-to-face” on Bahrain TV when he met with Al-Samahiji and Abdul A’al, live.

    [for those who don’t know the distinction: BahrAni = Shi’a, BahrAIni = Sunna Bahrainis]

  4. anonymous

    Red-Indians? Aborigines? Indigenous Bahrainis? They existed at some time? Wow!

    welll …

    methinx we are jumping to conclusions a bit here. lets ask this question .. why are we so afraid of immigration and naturalization?

    also – the unemployment rate for bahraini’s is lower than 30%.

    and most people in the world cannot buy houses or land in their home countries without the help of a mortgage.

    as for non bahraini’s not having any concept of human rights – neither do most of the bahraini’s!!

    a 1/2 bahrani, 1/2 bahraini devils advocate …

  5. anonymous

    Red-Indians? Aborigines? Indigenous Bahrainis? They existed at some time? Wow!

    Insurgent ..

    Let me tell you what I think is about to explode. It is the economic reality of this country. It is the fact that the citizens of this country, (naturalized or natural born) are living off the government where electricity, water, gas, educaiton, health care, blah blah blah is so subsidized… and part of the budget deficit goes into maintaining this standard of living for the citizen. Where the citizen thinks that it is the government’s duty to give him a job. Where it is virtually impossible to fire a bahraini in the public sector. Where we have a significantly large amount of expat workers in our population and we jump up and down about it until we realize that a significant portion of them are domestic help (which we would never do without).

    I really really wish that all politicial activists would take a course on Econmics 101. Our problems are economic in nature. And in ALL countris, immigration policies are used to attract the best and the brightest to stay and spend in country. We should be focussing on these issues – not politics. The day someone comes to me and argues for or against a naturalization policy that makes sense given the economic vision of the country, is the day that I will listen. Until then .. there’s a lot of noise about nothing. Its just fodder for politicians to rile up the public without fully understanding that the Bahraini citizen today has a hell of an easier life than most other citizens in the world….

  6. mahmood

    Re: Red-Indians? Aborigines? Indigenous Bahrainis? They existed at some time? Wow!

    And in ALL countris, immigration policies are used to attract the best and the brightest to stay and spend in country.

    I completely agree with you on this point. I have a Palestinian/Jordanian friend who has invested over BD 1 million a year for the last 7 years in Bahrain and employs some 40 Bahrainis, yet he was denied naturalisation. For him and his like, I completely agree that we should naturalise them as they have brough benefit to this country.

    What benefit does a “natour” (night watchman) have other than sleep (on the job,) eat, and and go to his paid for home? Does he and his like deserve to be naturalised?

    What about policemen, riot-police, defence forces and other menial jobs (for this is what they are, it’s the number that seems to count here rather than the quality) shouldn’t those jobs in the first place be offered to Bahrainis rather than importing illiterates and giving them the nationality?

    Sure our problems are economic in nature, we don’t hear any grumblings from our neighbours like Qatar (who have also drafted foreigners in their security aparatus) and the Emirates (who have not as far as I can tell). That’s because the citizens ARE taken care of multiple-folds than what a Bahraini can expect.

    We DO have a problem, and its solution is so simple that it boggles the mind why not just do it!

    Here’s my solution: I am prepaired to pay into the kitty to thank these foreigners profusely, let them keep whatever they earned here throughout their stay in Bahrain, then put them on flights back to their original countries, after stripping them of the Bahraini nationality and returning their original passports or travel documents to them.

    Here’s a funny story, 4 or 5 years ago I was called continuously by a customer from Jeddah but I was very busy to take the calls. When I had a few minutes I called them back and they put me on to their OFFICE BOY who is a Yemeni who ASKED me to fax him a Bahraini Passport Application Form because he heard (in Jeddah and Sana’a) that it’s a free for all and really really needed a passport!

    After a few minutes silence on my part, I got so furious that I told him to (&^** off and NEVER ask me to do such a thing for his dimwit ass!

    I just wonder how many more like him got through!

    Economy? How much drain do these people have on the economy my friend?

  7. [deleted]0.31014800 1099323478.248

    Red-Indians? Aborigines? Indigenous Bahrainis? They existed at some time? Wow!

    Hi, yes I acknoweledge what you are saying about the Economics. And I totally agree that having stringent labour laws impedes the capitalist invisible hand theory of demand and supply, price signalling etc. And yes we all know we cannot live without cheap Asian labour, and yes we all know Bahrainis have high expectations. And yes every economy needs a skilled workforce even if it is foreign in order to build the economy. That is not the topic of debate my friend.

    We are talking about mercenaries here and clandestine naturalization of thousands of foreigners inconformable with immigration and citizenship laws. This policy is a political one therefore we have to talk politics.

    The first lesson in Economics 101 is reconciling infinite demands on finite scarce resources, and that for economic development, the basic ingredient is a transparant, non-corrupt, preferrably democratic open regime.

  8. mahmood

    Re: Red-Indians? Aborigines? Indigenous Bahrainis? They existed at some time? Wow!

    why are we so afraid of immigration and naturalization?

    Speaking for myself, I am most definitely NOT. It is an established fact that what made America and Canada great ARE the immigrants who brought a wealth of knowledge and experience which in a very short space of time they made those countries the greatest in the world.

    But try to emmigrate to any of those two countries now, what do you have to go through to get accepted?

    Let’s adopt their rules and regulations and transparency and I will have no problem at all by those rules being enacted in Bahrain.

    and most people in the world cannot buy houses or land in their home countries without the help of a mortgage.

    True. That’s what I was alluding to. How many years does a Bahraini have to wait to get a mortgage approval and for how much?

    If you’re self employed, or are employed by an SME you can absolutely forget getting a mortgage or an improvement loan from ANY bank.

    as for non bahraini’s not having any concept of human rights – neither do most of the bahraini’s!!

    granted, but our own culture has taught us these values instinctively. Still, the Human Rights organisations should redouble their efforts in educating everyone about the meanings of human rights and personal freedoms.

  9. anonymous

    Re(1): Red-Indians? Aborigines? Indigenous Bahrainis? They existed at some time? Wow!

    “What about policemen, riot-police, defence forces and other menial jobs (for this is what they are, it’s the number that seems to count here rather than the quality) shouldn’t those jobs in the first place be offered to Bahrainis rather than importing illiterates and giving them the nationality?”

    How many people do you think are employed in these jobs? (Not counting menial jobs.) Place an economic value on it – and then lets take a stab at assessing whether thesejobs, if given to bahraini’s would make a dent in the unemployment problem …

  10. anonymous

    Red-Indians? Aborigines? Indigenous Bahrainis? They existed at some time? Wow!

    Dear Insurgent …

    ‘That is not the topic of debate my friend.’

    Yes it is!!!! Of course it is!!!

    We need to put a quota on expat labor in this country – allow companies to hire and fire bahrainis at will – stop protecting them at all costs – let the market reward productivity by higher wages – and then, and only then, can we afford to talk about what kind of immigration policy we need for naturalization!

    The expat labor problem in this country is as significant as your politically charged immigration policy!!! Do you realize that average real wages in this country have been declining? Due to demographics alone?? And that the pressure on the public sector to maintain its welfare state policies without changing life on the ground for the average Bahraini is becoming more and mroe expensive? And that we are going to fund this by debt? And that means that your kids inherit debts? Because no one wants to go to parliament and tell them that the real cost of electricity and water is significanlty higher than what is being charged?

    Insurent – dont let the politics lead the economics. it should be the other way round.

    jasra jedi

  11. [deleted]0.31014800 1099323478.248

    Re(2): Red-Indians? Aborigines? Indigenous Bahrainis? They existed at some time? Wow!

    Political naturalization is estimated at 20% of the population. Although with the lack of transparancy, and as is recognised by the one of the MPs, the Ministries have definitely played with the figures.
    It is at tens of thousands.

    BDF, security forces etc are one area they were specifically imported for, which i’d say is about 80% foreign. Normally these areas are used by most economies to absorb the non-skilled labour force which makes sense.

    The argument we are making, is neither political or economic. It is the principle that extrajudicial naturalization is wrong. Is that so hard to understand?

  12. anonymous

    Re(3): Red-Indians? Aborigines? Indigenous Bahrainis? They existed at some time? Wow!


    I agree with you. What I disagree with you is the prioritization of what needs to be tackled in the country … i think there are more important issues that need to be addressed …

    jasra jedi

  13. [deleted]0.31014800 1099323478.248

    Re: Red-Indians? Aborigines? Indigenous Bahrainis? They existed at some time? Wow!

    Exactly I totally agree. It doesnt help having tens of thousands of unwanted Yemenis and belushis also competing with Bahrainis for jobs and benefits.

    Bahrain has an immigration policy, no one is debating it or refuting it. It says that you need to be in Bahrain for a minimum of 15 years and can speak the language. We are talking about ppl getting passports before they even set foot in Bahrain!! One example being the one Mahmood gave above about the Yemeni in Saudi. The government was throwing passports away, without adhering to their own immigration policy!! Where is the politics?? This is a situation that affects all Bahrainis, and the consequences of which will only manifest over the next decade, when the natural native population is expected to soar.

  14. [deleted]0.31014800 1099323478.248

    Re(4): Red-Indians? Aborigines? Indigenous Bahrainis? They existed at some time? Wow!

    That is a matter of opinion I guess. Lets pretend the bomb doesnt exist rather than attempt to diffuse it.

    I guess people dont want to give them time to get thier little ass’s nice and cosy. Like Mahmood said, the Passport and Immigration Ministry needs to book 20,000 one way tickets on Yemen Airways to Sana’a, I dont think Beluchistan has an airline, but we have a good supply of camals and donkeys which would ensure them a safe journey home.

  15. mahmood

    Re: Red-Indians? Aborigines? Indigenous Bahrainis? They existed at some time? Wow!

    We need to put a quota on expat labor in this country – allow companies to hire and fire bahrainis at will – stop protecting them at all costs – let the market reward productivity by higher wages

    JJ I completely and unequivocally agree with you there.

    then, and only then, can we afford to talk about what kind of immigration policy we need for naturalization!

    then it will be too late! This is not just a time-bomb, this is a nuclear bomb. EVERY single person I have talked to over the last 42 years of my life agrees. Every single one. These so called “keepers of the peace” are detested. They have been brought here for the simple reason of subjugating the people at all costs, and now we’re paying dearly for it. This is not their country, they couldn’t give a rats’ ass if it burns to the ground. WE see a palm-tree uprooted and we start crying!

    I don’t know, nor have I seen (yet) the Al-Wefaq video regarding the Al-Dawasir tribe, so I’ll hold my judgement on that part. But if there is a rumour this charged, wouldn’t you think that the authorities would immediately come out and prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is not correct?

    I just do not understand all the posturing and the loyalty demonstrated to these people. We even have a Shaikh Al-Dawasir writing in Al-Ayam with an asterisk next to his name, you look at the bottom of his dirge and it qualifies him as the vice-shaikh of Al-Dawasir tribe? Who the hot shit is that? What gives him the right to call himself a shaikh in the first place? Have they taken over the country officially now? Al-Dawasir as far as I know from cultural history were slaves, now they’ve become masters? For God’s sake, someone in government, someone high-up the chain, come out and TELL US THE TRUTH! What right have a tribe in Saudi Arabia to suddenly appear with addresses in Hawar (as Jawad Al-Arrayedh reported in front of the International Court of Justice!)

    JJ, I think this “problem” is MUCH more important than politics and economics. If the people of Bahrain become completely disillusioned with their identity: BAHRAINIS, if they BELIEVE that their identity has become completely diluted and they have become just “numbers”, then believe me there will be no output, no production, and NO LOYALTY to this land.

  16. anonymous

    Re: Red-Indians? Aborigines? Indigenous Bahrainis? They existed at some time? Wow!

    Hey, Mahmood, if you don’t mind my acting as the Metaphor Police, we haven’t killed off the Indians here in America. We still have plenty. There were about two million American Indians here when Columbus landed and there are about two million now.

    However, you are describing an interesting problem: What do you do with windfall wealth? What you are describing is much like the downward arc of dynasties described by Ibn Khaldoun. He points out that wealth and power are usually dissipated in three generations by descendants who are enfeebled by their inheritance and the easy life it brings.

    There is also an analogy in Roman history, where the population of Rome outsourced their defense to northern barbarians and sought to mollify their domestic population with a corn dole. Rome slowly rotted from the inside out. The citizens of Rome were well able to defend themselves against Hannibal’s army without need to recall their legions in Gaul but five hundred years later were unable to defend themselves against barbarian hordes, having given up the martial discipline and adopting a life of leisure.

    The example of the Saudis shows that subsidizing the population leads to greater social unrest as the population inevitably outgrows the source of wealth. It’s a recipe for revolution.

    My suggestion is to make service to Bahrain the test for receiving government assistance. For example, service in the Bahraini military would make you eligible for college scholarships, housing loans, et cetera. That would flush out the foreign recruits, put your defense back in your own hands, and build a new generation of disciplined youth. You could make equivalent programs in other branches of government.


  17. anonymous

    Red-Indians? Aborigines? Indigenous Bahrainis? They existed at some time? Wow!

    is it possible to de-naturalize?

  18. mahmood

    Re(1): Red-Indians? Aborigines? Indigenous Bahrainis? They existed at some time? Wow!

    hey Steve. Your suggestion is very valid and should be evaluated thoroughly by the powers that be. I know of some of the benefits of being in the American military as far as tuition, grants, guaranteed jobs to return to, etc. And would work very well in Bahrain.

    And as you described with ancient civilisations’ downfall because of “outsourcing” such an important organ as security to foreign mercenaries who have no loyalty but to their own bread, I fervently hope that someone in Bahrain is listening because WE (the people) can give them the same advice free, and have tried for at least a generation. The hope is that the new Minister of the Interior, being a militarily trained person with credits to his name, has an interest in history as well so he can learn (and teach) the lessons gone by in other civilisations, thus enact radical and courageous changes within his domain.

  19. Bani_Adam

    Red-Indians? Aborigines? Indigenous Bahrainis? They existed at some time? Wow!

    I think that high numbers of immigrants are a big problem for all ancient cultures. It’s certainly a major source of tension here in Europe. People understandably love their own cultures, which doesn’t mean staying stuck in the past but it does mean that people want continuity between the past and the future. Once immigrant levels start to rise above about 10%, there starts to be a significant demographic and political threat to the indigenous populations.

    I think it’s difficult for Americans and Canadians etc. to understand because their countries are relatively new (in terms of being nations) and were founded upon immigration quite recently. But for unique cultures with thousands of years of history, it’s undeniably a growing problem creating a lot of resentment around the world.

  20. anonymous

    Re(2): Red-Indians? Aborigines? Indigenous Bahrainis? They existed at some time? Wow!

    In developed countries these are NOT menial jobs!

    However if you ask an idiot to do a fools job then plenty will apply!

    Bahrainis are not trusted in these jobs because the majority are Shia, the ruling elite are Sunni… therefore in some quarters it is best to IMPORT MORE SUNNIS! Otherwise there may be an uprising if the weapons are in the hands of the majority.

    It is all stuff and nonsense IF you dont live here, but some of us do!

  21. fekete

    Red-Indians? Aborigines? Indigenous Bahrainis? They existed at some time? Wow!


    Thought I would come in as a registered user this time .. I have to find a way to do it automatically.

    A few points. I agree that the naturalization issue is an extremely emotional one and plays on people’s hopes and fears. And I fully agree that the law does need to be systematic and applied uniformly. (And, it might even need to be reexamined in view of what our current situation is ..)

    I just think that equal attention needs to be placed upon the underlying structural problems around immigration and social costs of expat labor:

    1. Developing a system where people can get mortgages, (I dont think people can get these now – merely loans) to help deal with rising costs.
    2. Develop a system where human rights are respected (and that goes for the slave labor policies that alot of Bahraini employers use – specially in domestic cases, which are not covered by the Labor Law).
    3. Realize how many benefits Bahraini’s get and how ‘un’sustainable they are in the long run.
    4. Seriously think about the population explosion and what that means for the cost of our welfare policies.
    5. Seriously think through the Bahraini work ethic and why our productivity is decreasing over time and not increasing.
    6. As for the Al Dawasir – if they are resident in Hawar, maybe we should send them back there?! 😉

    Steve .. welcome back. I was beginning to miss you – I had gotten used to your skewed and biased logic in Nick Berg. Nice to see you commenting on our immigration policy. Perhaps you need to know that the problem is not with attracting Bahrainis to that sector, it is actually the hiring of Bahrainis into that sector. I think Insurgent would be more qualified to explain and clarify that point – but you will have to ask nicely. He likes McDonald’s too. (Just make you get him the McNuggets meal where the proceeds dont go to the IDF fund) 😉

  22. mahmood

    Re(3): Red-Indians? Aborigines? Indigenous Bahrainis? They existed at some time? Wow!

    on the face of it, you’re showing yourself as a racist and suffer from an immense superiority complex. I hope this is not the case and you’re just playing the devil’s advocate.

    You’re suggesting that the ruling elite are insecure in their own minds? Therefore they resort to outsource their security?

    What do the Shi’a want that differ from the Sunnis of Bahrain?

    This is NOT a shia/sunni devisive issue. It is an EXISTENTIAL one. The Shi’a and the Sunnis of Bahrain have lived quite happily together for hundreds of years, neither Al-Khalifas nor the Sunnis of Bahrain (even the Salafis) have any security issue between them to worry about.

    The issue my friend is not that, it is not sectarian though a lot of people would make it so.

    I agree with you however that a small close-minded groups have used the misunderstanding of the Shi’a to further their own agendas and profitted from it.

    No BAHRAINI would hold a gun to another BAHRAINI’s head. Regardless of being Shi’a, Sunni, Bohra, Christian, Hindu or Jew. The reason for getting these mercenaries is to do what a BAHRAINI would refuse to do.

  23. Bani_Adam

    Re: Red-Indians? Aborigines? Indigenous Bahrainis? They existed at some time? Wow!

    Mahmood, where do most of the immigrants to Bahrain come from? Other Gulf states, or elsewhere? From your comments, they sound hostile to native Bahrainis. Is there any basis to this hostility – eg resentment or just plain old cultural differences?

  24. fekete

    Re(4): Red-Indians? Aborigines? Indigenous Bahrainis? They existed at some time? Wow!

    great explanation mahmood. i dont know how many times people use the sectarian card because its convenient and easy. and how this short cut comes back to bite us in the a** time and time again.

  25. mahmood

    Re: Red-Indians? Aborigines? Indigenous Bahrainis? They existed at some time? Wow!

    heh, hi JJ

    It is insurmountably difficult to “package” solutions. Bahrain is so unique that it defies logic how it has become so varied. With a population less than most cities in the world, it beggars belief why we have these problems.

    Like someone else commented, I think the basic problem is the absence of trust between one group of Bahrainis and another. Isn’t that a shame in such a small country? Why is that? Why do we view ourselves primarily by our religious stupid sectarian strata?

    To go above that, we have to deal with the ultimate problem we all suffer from in this country and start trusting each other and start thinking like countrymen rather than opponents all the time.

    This stupid interpretation of religion which pits neighbours against each other, areas against each other, and villages against each other. Isn’t it time to just stop that rubbish and just say that we are BAHRAINI? Without missing or adding the ‘I’?

    This is so frustrating. Like you said in your other comment we should be concentrating on our economic development, recognise and fix our shortfalls and really start competing with the other countries around us rather than involve ourselves in our differences.

    A good friend of mine dropped a term which I was unfamiliar with: BSR. He works for the Ministry of Finance and was describing where our potential market lies, and that is the Bahrain Surrounding Region. This is the thing we should involve ourselves in and it is oh so easy to do, except of course the major stumbling blocks which must be surmounted to allow us to completely focus on our development. We have the people who are the main resource of these islands who can, from this little smidgeon of landmass can create an empire surpassing every country in the SRM probably, but we are encumbered with some stupid things which are so easy to get rid of. Ergo completely universally opposed naturalisation, incompetent police force, archaic and unjust press and media laws and incompetent ministers.

    If you submit that 70 – 80% of the Bahraini citizens are Shi’a, and if you understand WHY they have been victimised by the mercenaries, you will understand why they absolutely detest these mercenaries, so yes I agree with you, naturalisation to them is an overly charged emotional problem. Take that problem away and they will have nothing to complain about.

    If you submit that the Shi’a were the victims of apartheid for 10s of years and you know who their tormentors are, would you do something about it and at the very least enact an honest reconcilliation effort? Do that and their complaints are gone.

    What else? Nothing. Virtually nothing.

    The BAHRAINI person is more than willing to work in ANY job be that a sewage cleaner or a chief executive of a multinational. We have both types and plenty in between. Wouldn’t you think that we are capable of policing ourselves?

    As to the ruling elite not trusting the Shi’a with weapons, does that not intimate to you a complete breakdown of trust? Show me one Shi’a who would willingly kill, maim or harm his sunni neighbour and I’ll show you a parasite who has been wrongly brought into this country.

    There are solutions to this very simple problems. It takes a generous and courageous person to solve them.

  26. mahmood

    Re(1): Red-Indians? Aborigines? Indigenous Bahrainis? They existed at some time? Wow!

    We have no immigrants Ash. None worth mentioning because very few people would opt to emigrate to Bahrain over the last 40 years or so.

    Those who we call immigrants in this thread are the mercenaries (litterally) who have been imported from Jordan, Sudan, Yemen, India, Pakistan, Balushistan and other climes exclusively to serve in the security aparatus because the ruling elite thinking at the time thought – as someone mentioned above – that the Bahraini people themselves are not worthy, nor are to be trusted to look after Bahrain and its ruling family. So they bought those toys in order to wind them up, and set them loose on the “trouble-makers.” No conscience, no problem. Rather than thinking of a fix for the basic root of the problem that the Bahraini people have rallied and rioted for, which simply is democracy.

    Resentment? You bet!

    How would you feel if you stopped a Bobby in England to ask for directions and he couldn’t speak English? Well most of these mercenaries can’t, nor attempt to, speak neither Arabic nor English.

    Yet they have Bahraini passports!

  27. Bani_Adam

    Re(1): Red-Indians? Aborigines? Indigenous Bahrainis? They existed at some time? Wow!

    That’s an appalling situation to be in. I think that well managed immigration is a good thing, provided it doesn’t overwhelm the host population, but the situation you are describing is something else entirely and very worrying indeed.

  28. fekete

    Red-Indians? Aborigines? Indigenous Bahrainis? They existed at some time? Wow!


    I hope I have not misrepresented what I think. I agree with you re immigration and naturalization issues.

    The biggest challenge is for every Bahraini to think of himself as a Bahraini and not as a Sunni or Shia. In fact, I honestly think that we, as Bahraini’s will not survive in the long term until we start thinking of ourselves as citizens of the GCC where we have common interests and markets.

    However, we are a long way away from that. And the identity of a Bahraini, as in a modern, independent, nation state, is still very very young. All I am asking for is that we use the right filters to debate policy. And one thing that is missing from our editorials in the papers and from the debates on TV is the economic cost benefit analysis of what we are doing.

    I really beleive that the sectarian issue in this country is used by different people for thier own agenda. There is mistrust – some of it rightfully deserved. And that only be overcome by the building up for credbility over time.

    I do hope that we Bahraini’s are able to frame issues in Parliament and in the Government in a comprehensive manner, where we determine our objectives and are realistic about the opportunity costs that we end up paying by endorsing one policy over another.

    The real creativity in a country comes from the creative tension that exists between government and legal opposition. Out of that debate, we are usually able to head in the right direction. I hope that our Parliament learns quickly, and I hope that our Government listens. And I hope that everyone realizes from an economic standpoint – the good old days are over. And the room for mistakes is much less. Plus, we have our good old neighbours on our left in a wee bit of dissarray at the moment, which will have a spillover effect on us whether we care to admit it or not.

    Time for us all to wake up and smell the gahwa.

  29. Ash

    Red-Indians? Aborigines? Indigenous Bahrainis? They existed at some time? Wow!

    Wow-(sorry to repeat your word), but WOW, I am astounded! I feel a little dumb about making previous comments advocating for women’s rights in Bahrain.
    You are so right, Bahrain Citizens rights are at a serious risk!
    Do ‘new-Bahrainis’ get to vote as well?
    Do these ‘new Bahrainis’ pay income tax?

  30. [deleted]0.31014800 1099323478.248

    Red-Indians? Aborigines? Indigenous Bahrainis? They existed at some time? Wow!

    Lets be serious, call it cynical or hard-line or conspiratorial. The government was/is out to change the demography of this small country. Where once the Baharna were 95% of the population 150 years ago, now they are less than 50%. If this was due to natural demographic evolution over the years of immigrants seeking work and residence through legal means there is no problem with that.

    Having a minority ruling the majority never makes a good ingredient for the rulers. So they decided to take some tips from Israel and completely turn around the equation importing tens of thousands of mercenaries during the nineties (of which the current parliament has no right to investigate anything in this period).

    This in essence is an economic and political time-bomb waiting to explode.

  31. mahmood

    Re: Red-Indians? Aborigines? Indigenous Bahrainis? They existed at some time? Wow!

    It is very serious. I have no problem whatsoever with people getting their notarisation legally. I have no problem with just giving the Bahraini nationality to people of merit who can contribute to Bahrain’s development be that in sport, medicine, investment, science, phylosophy or any other needed persuit in the country.

    However, the problem happened in the 80s and 90s where a lot of mercenaries were imported and inducted into the police and defence forces because the rulers at that time (and some remnents of that rule are still holding high positions now) just would not and could not trust the Bahraini person.

    Now these imported mercenaries have all the rights of Bahraini citizens. Yes they can vote (provided that they were naturalised 5 years before the elections they want to stand for or vote in.)

    We don’t have any income or corporate taxation on the island. Zero. I wish that we did so that these people would at least contributed economically!

  32. kategirl

    Re(1): Red-Indians? Aborigines? Indigenous Bahrainis? They existed at some time? Wow!

    [quote]Why is it so difficult for a government to plainly admit that a wrong has happened and promises that it will seriously look into the error and fix it? [/quote] I agree with you that we should be demanding the government to admit its former errors. However I don’t think it deserves a question to ask why the government is unwilling to do so. We all know about the different division within the government, and we all know the questionable morality of several members of the government. These guys have their own interests to serve before the so-called “national interest”. My point is that in dealing with the situation we should not be relenting on insisting that everyone sticks to morals; and at the same time we should be aware of the political realities in which it should not surprise us when people act in their personal interests.

  33. Gail

    Nothing wrong with immigration


    Correct me if Im wrong, but I detect a certain uneasiness about you with regard to immigration to Bahrain.

    to be honest with you, I believe in open borders policy – you know, if someone wants to come to Bahrain to make a living, and become bahraini in the process, then let him! Bahrain would be the next Hong Kong.

    Immigrants who end up in a certain country do so on their own choice – it is amazing how we have immigrants come here to the States for example, with nothing but a rag covering their backs, only to have them become CEOs, bankers, and people in prestigious positions only 30 years later. By that time they are of course, Americans, and contribute to the economy, pay their taxes, and live the American dream.

    In Bahrain, I would encourage this too. You already have a liberal Arab country – use that to your advantage – of course work is being done to make it free-er thanks to people such as you, but once that is done, it could well be the free-est country – dare I say – in the WORLD. (Tax KILLS us here in the US). Dont fall into this trap – lay down a FLAT tax in the constitution and be done with it.

    Once that happens, think of it – people from ALL over the world, the willfull and the skillfull, pouring right into bahrain, bringing their dreams to a better life to fruition, because of this free country they want to be a part of. They will defend it, as Bahrainis would.

    This happens in the States Mahmood, its the American dream…. tell me, what is the Bahraini dream?

  34. mahmood

    Re: Nothing wrong with immigration

    I agree with you completely. I am a proponent of legal immigration. It is one of the few legitimate ways available to any country to enrich itself with the knowledge and hard work of people normally not available to it. This is what made America particularly great.

    What we’re discussing here however is completely different. It is political naturalisation through and through (until this government proves otherwise) borne of what the government thought was necessary because:

    (1) it couldn’t trust the Bahraini person to defend it, someone mentioned here that if they gave them guns, they will do an about face and topple the government by force. This is one extreme that we live with borne out of complete mistrust in one layer of society – what the honourable poster intimates here particularly is that the Shi’a of Bahrain are untrustworthy.

    (2) the Bahraini Sunna were perceived as to refuse direct orders to fire on the Shi’a Bahraini so they too could not be trusted by the government, although to a lesser extent.

    (3) bring in mercenaries from the dregs of society in Baluchistan, Pakistan, Sudan, Jordan etc and as they have no loyalty to the people, nor affinity with them, they CAN be trusted to point their guns at Bahrainis (regardless of sect) and shoot! To go around being pointed at and talked about that the Bahraini security forces are not Bahraini – a criticism I have heard and had to deal with from our immediate neighbours in the Gulf and elsewhere – the government conveniently naturalised these foreigners in order to avoid that criticism, as if a piece of paper would buy it loyalty.

    (4) The government has also been accused of naturalising people who have never set foot on the islands – sic Al-Dawasir tribe in Saudi – because of historical ties. These people could conceivably be used to the government’s advantage against the local indigenous Bahraini in several ways some of which I have outlined in another post.

    These are the issues as far as I understand them. This has NOTHING to do with immigration per-se.

    There is not a single Bahraini I spoke to or come across that objects to professionals and entrepreneurs being naturalised. But EVERY Bahraini I spoke to or came across has nothing but derogatory comments about our naturalised security forces. Add to this boiling-pot the fact the 80% of the population are virtually and practically BARRED from ever being employed by the very organs in the State which employs these foreign mercenaries, and you would approximately get the picture.

    This is a charged issue as you might have gathered and I personally feel passionate about. Let me reiterate: I have no problem whatsoever with naturalisation given to deserving people who would enrich our culture, thinking, economy or world-standing. I welcome those with open arms.

    Maybe this anecdote will help you understand things a little better, and make you understand why we (Bahrainis) are bitter:

    A Jordanian friend of mine observed during one of King Abdulla of Jordan’s visits to Bahrain that OUR (Bahrainis) King is coming for a visit! I asked him to explain. He said “virtually the whole of your CID, police, and armed forces are composed of a large contingent of Jordanians, so what makes you think that he is not your King? On his command they (the Jordanian mercenaries and their like) would crap on your passports and turn their guns on your own so called ruling family!”

    Now do you understand the depth of this problem?

    What *I* ask for is transparency, owning up to mistakes of the past, and putting workable practical solutions to eradicate these problems and end the Bahraini bitterness.

    Is this too much to ask of your own country?

  35. Gail

    Re(1): Nothing wrong with immigration

    Oh ok, well you cleared that up then.

    I retract my suspicion that you were anti-immigration. 🙂

    And I now understand what you were talking about – although it does seem complicated still…. I’m still learning the ropes of the problem.

    So basically the Bahraini Royal Ruling Family, has outsourced its security/army (what is CID?) to foreigners. Those foreigners are loyal not to anyone in particular, but only to the greenback. (Or whatever color your money is). Hmm. It HAS been done before, like someone mentioned earlier in the Roman Empire, they outsourced their security to barbarians on the frontiers, only to have them come back and sack Rome ala the Goths.

    It is dangerous. But mahmood let me ask you this – Im still not clear as to why the BRRF (Bahraini Royal Ruling Family) would do such a thing? You mentioned trust … you mean they are afraid the shias will rise up and remove the sunni BRRF and replace it with a shia BRRF?

    You have diagnosed the problem, I want to ask you about the solution – is it possible for you to currently print out a couple thousand flyers and arrange a team to go around posting them on public walls, parks, and putting them in mailboxes? The flyers would summarily explain this problem to the populace in a nice, consise, short but passionate format.


  36. anonymous

    Re(1): Nothing wrong with immigration

    Well said Mahmood,

    A few years ago as I was renewing my passport in the Directorate I witnessed something astonishing in front of my eyes. One official was sitting at his desk with a pile of over 150 green passports (which I think are Jordanian), with each passport was a newly issued red (Bahraini) passport, and this official was stamping something in each one. I just wished that I had a camera or something to take a photo of this, but obviously being female, I would have been severly dealt with were they to find out. What shocked me was the fact that back then it was completely illegal to have dual nationality!!!

    I havent been back to the Passport and Immigration Directorate since then, but the abundance of Yemenis and co, jumping the queues and getting their paperwork done was a common happening then whilst Bahrainis struggle over the bureacracy. Everyone knows about it, and everyone knows this is going on.

    The fact is, the rest of the GCC countries laugh at us. Bahraini citizenship is so devalued. Our King was ‘generous’ enough to allow the naturalization of all GCC citizens yet all our neighbours do not even care to reciprocate in the name of GCC unity!! Having one GCC nationality is one thing, but giving it away for free is something else!


  37. anonymous

    Re(2): Red-Indians? Aborigines? Indigenous Bahrainis? They existed at some time? Wow!

    Yes, absolutely Bahrainis should man their own military. Otherwise, you could end up like Rome where the Praetorian Guard sold the emperorship to the highest bidder.

    The US military has scholarship programs for those who join the military as enlisted and various other programs to help veterans go to school and guarantee down payment on a home. Veterans get some preference when applying for government jobs. I went to grad school with money from an Air Force program that matched every dollar I put in it with two dollars.

    These programs help the poor but ambitious and slyly promotes merit. It also fosters a love of country, a sense of ownership, and the feeling that having put oneself at risk for the country that you are entitled to have a say in its affairs.

    History demonstrates that mercenary armies do a lousy job of defense against a strong offense. They fold and flee. You can only really count on your own countrymen defending their own homes and families to mount a serious defense.


  38. anonymous

    Re: Red-Indians? Aborigines? Indigenous Bahrainis? They existed at some time? Wow!


    Why thank you. However, I’ll have you know I’m giving you the absolutely best logic you can get. I wouldn’t want you to think I’m offering you bad stuff. That wouldn’t be polite.

    I’m a little bit interested in everything so it’s interesting to see the issues bugging people in other parts of the world. As my friends will confirm, I’m excellent at giving advice to solve other people’s problems. It’s just my own problems that seem so resistant to resolution.

    And to show that I am not absolutely biased against the Palestinian cause, I skipped McDonald’s today and had Thai noodles.


  39. mahmood

    Re(2): Nothing wrong with immigration

    Absolutely NOT! If anyone produces fliers they will be charged with sedition. No less! And the firing squad beckons.

    Let me address your questions as best I can, but please remember that this is a personal interpretation. Others (I hope) would butt in and elaborate, disagree, agree, etc to make these points more globally understood and agreed upon:

    CID: Criminal Investigation Department. The most feared organ of national security which has been used to abuse the people of Bahrain for decades. If you want to see a Bahraini reduced to a gibbering idiot, just tell them that you are with the CID. Watch them quiver! admittedly maybe not so much now, but certainly a few years ago. This was the organ that was presided upon by the infamous Adel Flaifel, the penultimate Bahraini torturer and embezzler and primarily for him Law 56 was enacted which forbids bringing to trial ANY transgressor if the perceived transgression happened before the first session of the new parliament which was December 14, 2002. Therefore, the pot is still boiling and the hundreds if not thousands of Bahrainis who feel wronged by the government, cannot bring cases against their oppressors or torturers because of this law. So rather than “clear the air” and start a true national reconciliation a-la South Africa, the government is asking Bahrainis to just sweep all of the pain under the carpet and pretend it never happened.

    As for the fear of the ruling family of the Shi’a, this is a misnomer. I think every ruling family in the world are afraid to some extent of their populations, regardless of their ethnic origins or beliefs. In Bahrain the Shi’a were/are the scapegoat, conveniently forgetting that some of the leading luminaries of the resistance movement since early in the 1900s were Sunnis AND Shia. Since the 1950s through to the late 70s the opposition almost never made a distinction between sects. That started to happen in the 80s with Khomeini coming in. As an aside, I suspect that the Salafi (sunni fundamentalists – aka wahabi) resurged and reared its ugly head in response to the perceived Shi’a power.

    To get back to the issue, the ruling family must have felt in a quandary: their existence was threatened and they needed to perpetuate their rule, just as any other monarchy in the world past and present. As they found that society (bipolar) were perceived to be against them particularly, rather than the society were just demanding reforms and KEEP the monarchy as is, they outsourced their security thinking that the mighty Dinar can buy loyalty. On the surface, they succeeded, but practically they miserably failed, as evidenced by the various riots, unlawful apprehensions, torture, murder and sabotage in the “dark” decade of the 90s. I’m not saying that these acts were all the royal family’s fault, I maintain that the opposition was ill organised and went overboard by not just targeting their attacks at the institutions of the government, but also burnt and killed Indians whom were thought to have stolen the populous’ daily bread. That’s another story though and I digress again. In short however, there was a huge mistrust of the locals by the rulers, and an even bigger mistrust between the locals and the rulers. The quick and dirty fix is to import security and in order not to look bad in the eyes of the world, the government granted Bahraini citizenship to these mercenaries. They could then, on paper, prove that all the security forces of Bahrain WERE Bahraini. But it remained as such, on paper only.

    In time those figures on paper started to have demands as they should, they are legally citizens after all. Their children were schooled in the public schools for free, they fought for jobs, they fought for university placements, they fought for housing benefits, they fought for privileges, just like any other Bahraini citizen does, and why not? They ARE citizens. At the expense of the “other” citizens. If our exalted salafi and Islamist MPs would recognise that this is (1) a problem, and (2) that this problem is a NATIONAL problem as far away from sectarianism as it could be, then probably they would think of logical solutions. Unfortunately the Salafis and Sunni Islamists in parliament are just sheep blindly following the government’s wishes, and that includes the Speaker of the Parliament.

    The solution:

    I reiterate once again the the solutions is plain and simple: TRANSPARENCY. I am now prepared to accept EVERY naturalised person regardless of how they were naturalised as a fellow Bahraini citizen IF and ONLY IF the government comes clean regarding this issue. Assign and independent party – the UN is best capable of doing this or any other accredited human rights organisation – to sift through ALL the books and records and then publish their findings without any hindrance. If they find no wrong. I – and the vast majority of the Bahraini population who feel aggrieved – would hold our tongues forever. If on the other hand it is found that transgressions existed, then the government should be legally bound to execute the recommendations.

  40. anonymous

    Red-Indians? Aborigines? Indigenous Bahrainis? They existed at some time? Wow!

    The first step to any solution is recognizing the problem. Now the Government is solely responsible for this policy of extrajudicial naturalization the orders for which are from the highest ranks of government. They are completely denying it, they have covered up the numbers, and do not acknowledge that there is a problem. So how can we even begin discussing a solution?

  41. Gail

    The Solution

    Hmm Mahmood, ok, I have a clearer picture:

    The BRRF wants to stay in power (naturally), and they notice that the populace is not just pissed about lack of reforms, etc, but is specifically pissed about the very EXISTANCE of a BRRF with executive powers. Because of this, BRRF freak out, and quickly put up ads for bodyguards, rewarding them handsomely with Dinars and Citizenships up the wazoo.

    In effect, the BRRF creates a new joke: How does one create a Bahraini? Take a Jordanian, add water, and mix. Out comes a new Bahraini.

    Now those very same Bahrainis really DO want their payment, and since Bahrain is a nanny-state to begin with, the new Bahrainis start asking for their nanny to feed them, school them, put a roof over their heads, and wipe their asses for them. On top of that, they owe no loyalty to Bahrain really.



    Thats quite a rut Mahmood. Although I am an engineer, so my job is to find solutions, so naturally, I like this type of a challenge.

    But DAMN. Hmmm. And you cant put up a simple flyer?! Let me tell you something Mahmood, and this is just my assessment of it: In countries where freedom of speech is allowed, reforms can take place because the media, people and groups can talk and bitch all they want about what ought to be done, how it should be done, etc.

    …. but what happens when there is no freedom of speech? Then the government has removed one method of communication, and provided the incentive for another: Force.

    I think, that nothing but armed rebellion by the few and the willing will end this sharade in Bahrain. It will end the nanny state, end the tortures, end this state of fear, end this all, and a govn for the people, by the people.

    Dnt be discouraged that no one dare participate Mahmood. Remember, only 4% …. JUST 4% of Americans rebelled against British Imperium. It was those 4% who made the difference today, and if it wasnt for them, we’d still be sipping tea at 4:00pm and have bad dental hygiene.

    I think its time to take a crash course on the only language those mullahs understand – Force. Yes, it will be terrorism. But terrorism is a tactic, not an ideology. Terrorism, under the flag of freedom and justice, is fully justified. You probably think im a nut, but what else can one do? Perhaps you could plot a graph on excell of number of draconian laws enacted over time in Bahrain, VS number of draconian laws repealled over time in Bahrain, and see what the trend is.

  42. mahmood

    Re: The Solution

    Ah, so the Palestinians and Iraqi freedom fighters were right all along? Damn! How wrong could I get!

    No. Violence in *any* of its manifestations is wrong. The only way in a modern society is dialog.

  43. anonymous

    Red-Indians? Aborigines? Indigenous Bahrainis? They existed at some time? Wow!

    “I think its time to take a crash course on the only language those mullahs understand – Force. Yes, it will be terrorism. But terrorism is a tactic, not an ideology. Terrorism, under the flag of freedom and justice, is fully justified.”

    No thanks mate. Lets keep the terrorists out of here. We’d rather take the long road there. Whats the point of fighting for the soul of Bahrain if by the time we are done with the sword – there will be nothing left?

  44. mahmood

    Re: Red-Indians? Aborigines? Indigenous Bahrainis? They existed at some time? Wow!

    You’ve touched on an extremely important point which when recognised, the solution will be easy though painful: TRUST.

    This is a highly charged portfolio and it won’t go away. Both sides of the story will continue to antagonise each other for generations if the government does not heed calls of transparency.

    This polarisation has weakened Bahrain considerably, for an issue which should be viewed as a national problem, it has clearly now been demarcated as sunni/shia, and the gulf widens.

    It was abundantly clear in parliament yesterday that the Asala/Minbar/Sunni (most) were FOR exhonerating the government, while the shia MPs were very much against. The Asala/Minbar/Sunni axis I think has completely abrogated their responsibility in thinking nationally, rather than in sectarian lines. This suggests to me that most if not all of the extrajudicial naturalisation has happened in their favour, ie, bolstering the sunni ranks, hence no objection was raised.

    Why is it so difficult for a government to plainly admit that a wrong has happened and promises that it will seriously look into the error and fix it?

    Let’s assume that no wrong has happened, wouldn’t you think that the government will open up its files and offices to prove once and for all that indeed no wrong happened and the transgressions if any were administrative rather than political and demographic?

    Is that asking too much?

    If they do sincerely open up the files, invite independent analysts and investigators – even from the United Nations or any unbiased observer to look into the problem and they agree to respect the findings and correct errors, then this island won’t be so polarised and we can move on building our lives and economy.

    No one wants to live in the past, we must look to the future, but if that future is based on the lies of the past how can one look forward to it?

  45. Gail

    Re: Red-Indians? Aborigines? Indigenous Bahrainis? They existed at some time? Wow!

    I respectfully disagree with you on this, … an respectfully because I still hope that there are other means to do this…im just not fully convinced of it.

    I mean, how efficient would dialouge with the King have been back in the late 1700s with the fate of America in the balance?

    Ok, I do admit that Mahmood knows way more than I do about how to get stuff done there – Mahmood, how much dialouge is NOT banned over there? Are you allowed to simply write in an op-ed in a Bahraini newspaper that I think blah blah blah and so so so is wrong, and I think that they should do yadda yadda yadda? Do you get arrested for this?

  46. anonymous

    Red-Indians? Aborigines? Indigenous Bahrainis? They existed at some time? Wow!

    Allah’s Cousin.

    1. I would suggest that you read some of our dailies and start learning about this little island of ours before you develop opinions on what works and what does not. Most of them are online.

    2. You could then start reading some of the periodicals on the region in general, and the GCC in specific to understand and appreociate how much Bahrain is (or isn’t) an anomaly compared to its neighbours.

    3. You could also spend some time googling Bahrain and perhaps even read some of the oppostion media and develop your own ideas of what is really happeneing here. (wrt free speech, naturalization and the appropriate size of beards).

    4. And then maybe, just maybe, you would be able to draw parallels between where we are in our history, and whichever appropriate benchmark country you would use …

    5. Incidentally, Allah doesnt have a cousin.

    Jasra Jedi

  47. mahmood

    Re: Red-Indians? Aborigines? Indigenous Bahrainis? They existed at some time? Wow!

    I have ALWAYS thought of myself as a Bahraini. I’ve never thought of myself in any other way. I have heard and continue to hear the shi’a/sunni talk and just naturally shy away from it and don’t get myself too involved other than sometimes playing the devil’s advocate, or come out fiercely defending the other side, whichever the other side may be in the hope of raising questions and encouraging others to think like me, Bahrain first and to hell with any other consideration.

    I agree with you that we have to rise above these sectarian issues and consider ourselves part of the Gulf where our bread and butter lies. We have immense resources in our own people. We are the only exportable commodity we have. Bearers of knowledge and hard work.

    But when such a divisive issue raises its ugly head, you have to stop and think logically.

    How I personally see this issue is a huge cover-up on what should be a natural progression in any country. What country refuses knowledgeable people or foreign investments? None. What rules must be followed to protect the indigenous populations.

    I am NOT against naturalisations. How can I be when my wife is one who directly benefited from it? She’s been here for 18 years, had three children and has contributed to the society in the various charities she’s involved in.

    I’m not against deserving naturalisations of sportsmen and women, of investors, teachers, doctors, nurses, business people, skilled workers, scientists, or engineers and the many other traits Bahrain needs for its economic and cultural development.

    Bahrain has been and will continue to be a great cultural melting pot of varied civilisations which benefited directly and indirectly.

    What I am against is primarily the imported mercenaries.

    Get rid of them. We don’t need them and never have. The Bahraini person is more than capable of defending our beloved country. We don’t need mercenaries who have no loyalty to this land and will never have. Their children’s children probably won’t have any loyalty to this country. So why entertain their existence here at the expense of local indigenous population?

    I am against political naturalisation. It has been said and documented that specifically the Al-Dawasir tribe has been given Bahraini passports when most of them have never set foot on these island, nor probably would ever do so. So why hand over such a precious document to them? Historically they have purportedly helped the Al-Khalifas to come to Bahrain. Fine. That was almost 300 years ago, don’t you think that the debt is already paid? Don’t you think that if they felt that they are indeed Bahraini they would have resided here? They have had 300 years to make up their minds and evidently they haven’t. So what do we do? Go to their tribal land in a foreign country and give them passports? Is this fair?

    One would say that as they probably will not use their Bahraini passports and will continue to reside in their own domain in Saudi, they will have no effect on the Bahrain economy. Ok, why then give them passports? With this document they have the full right of citizenship, and the worry is that they will be called upon to support one candidate or another, and that candidate will be hand-picked by the rulers. This is one of the worries.

    You’d say that the rulers don’t need their help now and don’t need to enlist their support to get an MP in. Ok, why give them citizenship then other than being politically motivated?

    And the room for mistakes is much less. Plus, we have our good old neighbours on our left in a wee bit of dissarray at the moment, which will have a spillover effect on us whether we care to admit it or not.

    How very very true. The margins of error are minute now, so why exacerbate a situation like this to cloud our vision?

    Just fix it! Open the files and doors. Enlist unbiased observers/investigators and then the government and the people should abide by their findings. This will re-establish the trust lost and allow us to move on. We don’t have time to waste on such a charged issue. We have been overtaken economically by every country which surrounds us. Isn’t it high time to retake our leading role?

  48. anonymous

    Trackback :: What does it mean to be Bahraini?

    TrackBack from Chan’ad Bahraini

    With all the talk about illegal naturalizations and immigration and stuff these days, I thought I would discuss what it means to be Bahraini for me, as an expatriate "Asian" on the island.

  49. fekete

    Re(1): Red-Indians? Aborigines? Indigenous Bahrainis? They existed at some time? Wow!


    We do appreciate the politness. And the analysis. And the historical references. We even appreciate the humor. Very witty and dry. Quite surprising for an American. 😉

    The logic is also infallible. The process is well thought through. Systematic. Consistent. Now, if only we could work on some of your basic assumptions, then perhaps the conclusions wouldn’t be so off ….

    p.s. I am glad that you enjoyed the Thai noodles. I think we need to get you hooked on shawarma’s myself ..

    May the force be with you ..

  50. mahmood

    Re(1): Red-Indians? Aborigines? Indigenous Bahrainis? They existed at some time? Wow!

    how much dialouge is NOT banned over there?

    You know what scare the bejezus out of me? It is that this blog is still running and “they” fully know of its existence and “they” have participated (constructively mind you) in some of the discussions.

    I have absolutely NO illusions as to what would have happened to me just 5 years ago. So just the fact that this blog and many others (some quite radical) are still online, indicates the amount of tolerance we enjoy in this country, MUCH more than ANY other country in the Gulf.

    I have personally written scathing articles in the papers in Bahrain, true that some of those articles were rejected by the editors and that’s fully their right, as it is the editor-in-chief and not the journalist (no I’m not a bona-fide journalist) who is held responsible for what is printed/aired in the local media. Thanks to the archaic press laws we have at the moment.

    So we do have much more freedoms of the media when compared with other stats in the Gulf.

    Here’s my view on what a viable solution might be, it is for EVERY Bahraini to write to their MP! This is a new a novel idea, we don’t know how to deal with MPs and people resort to the press or grumble at coffee shops, but a quick fax (forget emails for the moment as especially Alasala/Islamists are really computer illiterate, except for their leader Al-Moawdah who IS a computer systems anal-yst!) Just write even a hand-written note showing your objection to the way things are going and fax it to the parliament. That will shake them no end.

    Forget about petitions, just put pressure on the MPs. At least they will have physical papers to wave around the parliament sessions.

  51. [deleted]0.31014800 1099323478.248

    Dahrani concedes that 120,000 people

    وقال الظهراني: “ÙƒÙ?انا ما سمعناه أمس من حديث يسيء إلى كل من حصل على الجنسية البحرينية، علينا مسئوليات كثيرة. هناك ما يزيد على 120 ألÙ?ا تجنسوا Ù?ÙŠ العقود الأخيرة ويجب أن نصهرهم Ù?ÙŠ المجتمع لصالح وطننا وأبنائنا”.

    AlDahrani in Parliament yesterday said: “We have heard enough bad things said about those who have gained Bahraini citizenship. We have a lot of responsibility. There are more than 120,000 people naturalized in recent decades and we have to to utlize them and welcome them into Bahraini society for the benefit of the country and our sons”.

    I say we need every single one of those cases INVESTIGATED by an independent body with access to every piece of paper in the Immigration ministry.

  52. mahmood

    Re(2): Red-Indians? Aborigines? Indigenous Bahrainis? They existed at some time? Wow!

    Oh please don’t bring shawarmahs into the equasion! He’s much more intelligent than the consistent shawarma guzzler!

  53. fekete

    Gimme a Break

    Insurgent ..

    What are you grumbling about? Do you know how many more people should be getting passports based on their contribution to this society? What about the Bidoon?

    Get your priorities straight. There are some fundamental problems in this country that supersde the issue of naturalization in my mind. Yes, it is an emotional issue. But – Bahrain’s problems will not be resolved with this issue alone. And what is a stupid inquiry going to do? What did the parlialementary investigation do to Abdulla Saif? What did the congressional investigation do to Clinton? zilch. just a waste of time and money.

  54. mahmood

    Re: Gimme a Break

    JJ this is not a troll.

    Can you please explain your position more clearly on this issue? You have indicated in other posts that this naturalisation issue although important and emotional, you vere towards the economic aspects and the problems therein. If I understand you correctly you suggest that although that the naturalisation issue is a problem, but is not an issue worth wasting more time on, and that you would like the parliament to move on to economic development etc.

    In short, you see the naturalisation issue as unworthy of the attention it has been given.

    Please let me know why you think so (if I summarised your position correctly that is, if I haven’t then I apologise for misunderstanding.)

  55. fekete

    An Attempt


    I thought I was going to make it to bed in the next 5 minutes! Fat chance.

    Here is my deal.

    1. My problem is with the way that Insurgent is framing this debate. I think that the problem with our naturalization policy is that it is not systematic. I dont think there is anything wrong with naturalization, per se. I dont think that there is anything wrong with targeted immigration either. I do think there is something wrong with a policy that is not applied consistently across the board.

    2. The naturlization of security forces. I dont know where I stand on this. I dont know what most countries in the ME do. I doubt that they have nationals in these jobs. Most of us know that these forces are not really to protect against foeign invasions – but to protect against internal problems. So, it seems understandable whe the authorites would outsource these jobs to non nationals. (Ghurka’s, etc.) Is this sustainable or not in the long run? I dont know. Like I said – I dont know enough about how security services are set up. But – my main point here – is that the debate should be over whether these jobs should be done by Bahraini’s or forigners. (And not whether or not the foriegners doing these jobs should be naturalized).

    3. I dont know how many people have been naturalized in security forces. Shall we say, as an example, 20,000? We have significant unemployement and underemployment in this country. Even if every single naturalized job was given back to the Bahraini – we still have a structural unemployment/ underemployment problem. That, to me, is a much more significant issue.

    4. When reading the papers today and seeing the debate on this issue in Parliament, I was honestly left thinking how many MP’s used this debate to score sectarian points, on both sides. And how much of their desire to rile up the street was due to the fact that they were left feeling impotent after they questioned 3 ministers and came up with nothing? Something akin to George Bush saying that we now have a terrorist threat that wont be lifted until January 2005. (Anything to do with the elections in November?)

    5. In other words Mahmood, I just feel like the issue has been used and abused because it gets people riled up. But, I dont see, in the media, a real honest attempt to debate this issue Because, if there is an arguement that the security forces should be national because of their commitment to the country, then there is no way that we wouldnt be debating the precense of expat labor in this country (of around 200K and rising.)

    So – you see – between the issue of security forces, which is one sector of the economiy which has ‘expat labor’ and between the other sectors of the economiy that houses 200K expats – I obviously think that the bigger problem is our fundamental and growing reliance on expat labor.

  56. anonymous

    Red-Indians? Aborigines? Indigenous Bahrainis? They existed at some time? Wow!

    i read the papers today today, and the timing of this debate is quite ironic!! what got me was that it seems that beards got as much air time as political naturalization!

  57. kategirl

    Re(2): An Attempt

    Thanks to Mahmood for deleting my earlier post 🙂 Here it is again.

    I obviously think that the bigger problem is our fundamental and growing reliance on expat labor.

    Okay, I know this isn’t the topic of this thread, but I thought I would throw out some ideas and see what you all think. The way I see it, our reliance on expat labor is not “fundamental”. Most of the expat workers here are not doing skilled jobs that Bahrainis do not have the skills for or are unwilling to do (i.e. watchman, labourer, salesman, etc.). The main reason that Bahraini employers hire expat workers is that they are SO much cheaper than Bahraini workers. The government has provided incentives for firms to “Bahrainize” their workforce, but still most employers still hire a huge number of expats. The reason is simply that foreigners are so much cheaper, they will work in terrible working conditions, and can be bullied around — in short, they are low maintenance workers, compared to Bahraini employees who demand a minimum quality of life from their jobs. The minimum wage for Bahraini citizens only imposed by the government only increases the incentive for employers to hire cheap foreign workers.

    The solution? Well, if we get rid of the difference in costs available to employers, this might rectify the situation. Impose the same minimum wage on foreign workers as there is for Bahrainis. Further, ensure that employers provide the same benefits and working environment to expat workers as to Bahrainis. The effect of this will be twofold. Most importantly, everyone in Bahrain will be treated like human beings and we will not have to be embarassed about the miserable condition of life that many expat workers live under here. But at the same time, this equity will get rid of the incentive for employers to hire a foreigner when instead he can hire an Arabic speaking Bahraini with the same or better skills for the same cost.

    This won’t be an immediate solution, but over time I think it will provide a way to manage the situation. Obviously, someone has to foot the bill during the transition period, and I think it is only appropriate for those same employers who for so many years have been paying peanuts to foreigners to have to do this. And if the government wants to help them out a bit then they can do so also.

    Well, let me know if this makes sense.
    (Obviously, this does not apply the foreign mercenaries who are here for political, and not economic reasons).

  58. anonymous

    Biting the bullet

    I agree with Chan’ad on this. The only way to address the issues of unemployment and expat labour is to bite the bullet and introduce a reasonable minimum wage that Bahrainis can live on.

    The costs wouldn’t just be borne by the employers, but by everyone in Bahrain since costs for most services would rise. There would be a knock on reduction in the standard of living generally, but its would be a price worth paying.

  59. mahmood

    Re: Biting the bullet

    In theory that might work, in practice it will be a disaster for small businesses especially. What we first need to change in order for this concept to work is change the psyche of the Bahraini employee, the complete labour law and the complete labour courts.

    Make it easy to hire and fire Bahrainis and I’ll show you how the economy will grow. The main reason for NOT hiring Bahrainis in the first place is the extremely difficult processes to fire them if they are wrong, or even if the company cannot afford to keep them any longer in order for it to survice and save the jobs of other employees.

    I’m not saying that hire and fire willy-nilly, but based on fact and with proper AGREED compensation. Rather then that being left to the whims of a judge.

    Have a look at the developed world and learn from their labour policies.

    Setting a minimum wage arbitrarily without preparing and changing the necessary laws associated with the job market and labour just won’t do anything than increase unemployment.

  60. mahmood

    Re(3): An Attempt

    i.e. watchman, labourer, salesman, etc.

    The Ministry of Education advertised for about 10 (I think that’s the number) watchmen, and they got about 1,500 applicants for those spaces! It’s that bad! Bahrainis no longer have the luxury to pick and choose. I think it’s finally sunk in that if they don’t accept work commensurate with their own education or merit, then they starve. So I don’t think that there is a job that a Bahraini would refuse to accept. Would they prefer being managers instead? Of course, anyone would.

    The reason is simply that foreigners are so much cheaper

    As a businessman who have both local and Indian employees I can tell you first hand that this assumption is generally wrong. The reason we hire foreigners are many, but mostly for experience in the real world, education and expertise level and most of all for FLEXIBILITY! The contract you draw with the expat will be respected in court, and more importantly respected by both sides the employee and the employer so if the business is taking a dive, it is easy enough to thank that employee, pay the dues and book him a ticket with thanks. It’s not so with Bahraini employees. The labour courts will wait for you to drawn, and then sue your inheritors for wrongful dismissal!

    everyone in Bahrain will be treated like human beings and we will not have to be embarassed about the miserable condition of life that many expat workers live under here

    No, I don’t agree that racial mutual respect is tied with the amount of money being paid to the employee. This is a cultural thing more than anything else. As I commented on your blog, sadly I am guilty for having been a racist, I am ashamed of that, and I have to force myself to think and hold myself back now rather than throw a racial slur. I did that again – completely in jest commenting on one of my daughter Hanan’s best friends (an Indian girl in her class) and I promise you I won’t be doing that again, even in jest. I was lectured by my daughters not be such a racist. I deserved that, I should have set a better example, that case was do as I say rather than what I do. I apologised to Hanan for that, she’s still not speaking to me.

    It requires a lot of effort on everyone’s part to change perception and engrained racial stereo-typing. Education and the force of law are important tools in this regard. You can’t call someone a “hindi” derogatorily in the UK for instance, you will get your ass thrown in jail. That is because of the culture which frowns upon racial prejudice, as well as laws that ensure that perpetrators are penalised.

  61. fekete

    Attempt – Part 2.

    Mahmood .

    I went to bed thinking about this issues, and woke up thinking about it as well!! Shows the value of this blog …

    One more gripe I have with the naturalizaiton issue is the fact that very few people mention that it is discrimanatory against women. If Bahraini men marry foeign wives who then have children in Bahrain, the kids get passports, no? If a Bahraini woman marries a foriegn man, converts him to the ‘hood, and then has kids, they remain on her sponsorship .. no?

    I dont hear this being debated. And this has inheritance implications as well. I do hear that this is a problem that most of the Middle East has – but thats not an excuse.

    I honestly think that the solution will be to get some more women in Parliament. Or, the next appointed parliament has to have more women.

  62. mahmood

    Re: Attempt – Part 2.

    Incorrect. They have voted on this issue in parliament and passed a bill to naturalise husbands when the rules are satisfied, ie, if the couple has a child within 5 years of marriage, or 10 without children. I’ll look for a reference in the parliament’s minutes and post it here when I find it.

    I *completely* agree with you that more women should be in parliament and I will be the FIRST to vote for your and even manage your campaign! All joking aside, I think women in politics are a lot less emotional that us menfolk, so more reasonable, logical bills might at last be debated.

  63. Gail

    Pride part of the Problem?


    I do know of the issue of underemployment/unemployment in Bahrain and the other gulf states, (as JJ mentioned), and I think part of the problem I saw there when I was an expat (In dubai) was that alot of the bleu collar jobs were done EXCLUSIVELY by OTHER expats!

    I mean, people there are concerned about their own country men being unemployed, but at the same time they would never consider doing a menial job to make ends meet, and gradually work their way up the ladder of success. Its looked down upon.

    I am sure this cultural bias to starting off as a lowly janitor and working ones way up exists in Bahrain, but what do you think can be done to counter it. I think a general cultural streak that runs among most Arabs is pride, and face value, perhaps this has something to do with it?

  64. fekete

    Red-Indians? Aborigines? Indigenous Bahrainis? They existed at some time? Wow!

    Ooops – I stand corrected then. Does this mean that kids of a Bahraini mother, Expat father and kids of an Expat mother, Bahraini father are treated the same in the eyes of this blessed government when it comes to naturalization?

    Also – thanks for the offer to run my campaign. I am worried that both my beard and my hemlines aren’t long enough … ;). But … I would vote for you in a heartbeat!!

  65. anonymous

    Re(2): Red-Indians? Aborigines? Indigenous Bahrainis? They existed at some time? Wow!

    OK, Jasra, you made me look up shawarma on the Internet, which contains all knowledge, as you know. I’d never heard of it before. I must admit, it looks pretty promising as a tasty treat. However, I think it needs some Texas barbecue sauce on it to make it perfect.


  66. mahmood

    Re: Red-Indians? Aborigines? Indigenous Bahrainis? They existed at some time? Wow!

    I need reading glasses! My eyes aren’t working very well especially after spending the last hour reading the minutes of parliament. Heart renching experience, but still couldn’t find the reference, but will keep trying.

    As to your question: yes of course, at least that’s what logic tells me. Once you’re a Bahraini you’re a Bahraini. We no longer have those “classes” of Bahrainis as in the past.

    I’m off in about 30 minutes to look for a house to buy, I think Jasra ranks quite high on the wife’s neighbourhood-meter, I prefer Riffa actually if for nothing else other than standing against that dickhead Al-Saidi!

  67. mahmood

    Re: An Attempt

    Hope you had a restful sleep!

    Point 2: As far as I know and have observed, only Qatar employs foreigners for their security aparatus (mostly Sudanese for the armed forces for some reason, might be other nationalities, I don’t know). Oman being an empire in times gone by have naturalised both Baluch and Zanzibarian people and those constitute part of its security aparatus, but Oman is a very special case here and should be disregarded from this particular discussion. To all intents and purposes they use their own people.

    One of the things I run across quite frequently in my travels in the Gulf is to be asked WHY do we employ foreigners for our secturity? This questions continuously gets asked of me in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, all of which find the issue mind-boggling. None of these countries would even consider putting a foreigner into their forces and find it very queer that we do and accept that!

    Point 3: they might be 20k now, but add 5 – 10 children each as an average and how many do you end up with?

    Point 4: totally agree. unfortunately this has become a posturing debate rather than get results which benefit the country and its people.

    I agree with you that expat labour is a problem which must be tackled and attitudes to jobs must change as well, but naturalisation is also a very important issue which should honestly be debated and resolved as it affects the trust relationship between the ruler and the ruled which has also a huge impact on morale, productivity, ethics, etc.

  68. fekete

    Re(1): An Attempt

    Not to be facetious .. but … the Saudis and the Kuwaits are hardly in a position to talk about the effectiveness of their indegenous security forces. 1991 anyone?!

  69. anonymous

    Re(1): Biting the bullet

    Exactly correct, Mahmood. A minimum wage is a cruel hoax on the people it purports to help. It simply outlaws honest labor below an arbitrarily set price. In the short run, it outlaws the labor of those people, usually kids entering the job market, who are not productive enough to pay back the min wage an employer pays them. In America, this generally means that young illiterate kids from the slum can not get hired at any job.

    In the long run, companies reconfigure themselves to reduce reliance on unskilled labor that is overpriced at the min wage. Pizza parlors eliminate a dining room that requires busing and just do takeout. Fast food joints put the soda machines out front so the customers pour their own drinks instead of min wage workers. Gas stations go to self-serve and fire the attendants. Grocery stores go to bulk stores like Costco and Walmart where goods are stacked by pallets.

    The min wage laws force the business world to eradicate min wage jobs, which only hurts everyone. The government only hurts the economy when it attempts to “help it run better” by price-fixing labor.


  70. anonymous

    Re(1): Biting the bullet

    How many Bahrainis do you know employed for BD150 a month? That’s the crux of the matter.

    A Bahraini can be a metaphorical Mr Fantastic out of the Fantastic Four when it comes to being flexible on labour rights, but the guy still isn’t going to be able to compete wage wise with an Indian who has no overheads because he lives in a shack.

  71. anonymous

    Minimum Wages Dont Work

    I am with Chan-ad on this one. I am also against minimum wage.

    Here’s the logic.

    Our labor market is tied to those countries like India and Bangaladesh. That means, that as long as it is realtively easy for us to import expat labor, we will only ever need to pay marginally above what the wages are in that country. That means that the price floor is set in India – not here. That means that employers have very little incentive to invest in their industries because it will always be cheaper to pay 2 guys at bd 50 each than it is to buy a machine that costs 100 and have to retrain someone. Which means -very little ability to achive productivity gains.

    If we impose a minimum wage today – most of that money will go into repatriated wages back to the Subcontinent. BAsed on the sheer numbers of expats who work in these low wage jobs. (Construction, etc.)

    I would be against a minimum wage for Bahrainis only. Speically if we dont fix the Bahrainization laws. It would not only be an apartheid system – but also ineffective.

    So, I would suggest that develop a solid expat worker policy. (Quotas?) We make it relatively difficult for people to come in. We level out the cost of Bahraini vs expat laborers. We make Bahraini’s more attractive from a cost perspective to hire. The average wages will come up (due to restriction on supply), and we get the effects of a minimum wage without that policy. But – to work – it will need all the pieces of the puzzle to be fixed.

    Jasra Jedi

  72. anonymous

    On Shawarmas

    Steve Steve Steve ..

    If you havent tasted a Bahraini Shawarma or Tikkah – then you havent tasted heaven. You are hereby cordially invited to this part of the world for a bit of both. It would beat any gyro you would ever get in Texas.

    Incidentally, you might want to try eating food that is not genetically modified. You will find that you don’t really need that Texas BBQ sauce as much. Who knows, you might be able to develop those taste buds of yours and contribute quality cuisine to the world! At least Pax Romana and Pax Brittania gave us Usso Bucco and Roast Beef. Pax Americana gave us *drum roll* … hot dogs!

    (sorry steve .. i couldnt resist.)

    Jasra Jedi

  73. anonymous

    I forgot one ..

    And, I would back Mahmood 100% on easing the hiring and firing restrictions on Bahrainis. Which means proper labor courts and proper lawyers and arbtiration.

    Once this is all done – the invisible hand comes into play and the market sorts itself out ..

  74. anonymous

    Re(3): Nothing wrong with immigration

    Thank you, Mahmood, for all your clarifications. I am still wondering, though, about your being so sure about the perpetual disloyalty of those naturalized security forces people’s children and grandchildren towards Bahrain. It clearly seems to be such a lot more pleasant to live in Bahrain than in e.g. Yemen and it should be surprising if this simple fact should escape them. Also, don’t their children go to the same schools, universities etc. as the ‘indigenious’ Bahrainis? Are there no social contacts?
    Since it is (by now?) illegal to withdraw citizenship from anyone – even if he/she were illegally naturalized in the first place – it seems you have to live with them and integrate them somehow, don’t you think?

    Good luck with finding a new house anyways.

  75. mahmood

    Re(4): Nothing wrong with immigration

    Practically this is true, although theoretically the King can withdraw any person’s Bahraini citizenship just as easily as him bestowing it on anyone.

    It is probably a good idea to do a national reconcilliation event between the old and the new away from emotions so that we start to integrate together. But also accept that it will take several generations to put that line between the old and the new to blur enough and finally disappear.

    However just as important, put in a set of universal laws and define any exceptions for any future naturalisations. And declare audited numbers and complete information about the people who were naturalised in the last few decades in order to people to shut up about this issue and move on with their lives.

  76. kategirl

    Re: An Attempt

    oops, sorry. how do i delete a comment?

    [Modified by: Chan’ad (chanad) on May 28, 2004 03:11 PM]

  77. mahmood

    Re(1): An Attempt

    damn! I just deleted the duplicate not thinking that you’d go in and wipe out the original!

    I’m very sorry for that Chan’ad, can you repost your observation please?

  78. anonymous

    Re: The Solution

    Bani Adam

    If you want to better understand Bahrain then you should GO to Bahrain and EXPERIENCE Bahrain for yourself. Grab your passport and be like NIKE and DO IT. No visa is needed. You can get it when you arrive. Bahrain is by far the most open and liberal of all the GCC states in my view and I can’t wait to return so me and Mahmood can eat copious amounts of local food (get ready Mahmood) and polish it off with a Cuban cigar or two and some refreshing beverages.

    Seriously though think about a visit. I have never felt uneasy, unsafe or nervous at anytime in Bahrain and I go EVERYWHERE when I am there. Including attending Church. Driving is a breeze (compared to Boston) and there is plenty to do and see. If your worried the food don’t. Everything you could want is there from Burger King to Chinese to traditional local foods, Mexican food at Senior Paco’s. Pizza Hut, DQ, Fuddruckers etc etc etc.

    Bahrain is on the road towards THEIR form of democracy and I have faith the country will be successful. So far Bahrain has taken the lead in the Middle East in this area and I see no reason why that will change. Solutions that would or could work in the US or other parts of the world might or might not be viable in Bahrain. Just as what might work in the UK wouldn’t work in the US. They will find the solutions. This blog in itself is a SHINNING example of how things are moving in Bahrain. Now if we could just get Mahmood his own TV show in Bahrain. Live from downtown Manama it’s LATE NIGHT WITH MAHMOOD.


  79. anonymous

    Mamluks, Janissaries and Alawis

    This tradition in Muslim countries of drawing a military force from a completely different background to the population is a long one going back to the Abbasids with their Khurasan soldiers; later in Egypt you had various Turkomen, and under the Ottomans there was the Janissaries. More recently you’ve got the Bedouin dominated Jordanian military, Alawi, Druze and Christian dominated Syrian forces, and Saddam’s Sunni Republican guard.

  80. mahmood

    Re: Mamluks, Janissaries and Alawis

    it’s high time to break that chain then…

  81. anonymous

    Re(1): Red-Indians? Aborigines? Indigenous Bahrainis? They existed at some time? Wow!

    “I prefer Riffa actually if for nothing else….”

    Now come on Mahmood… You and I both know the reason you prefer Riffa is the simple fact it is near the Golf Course.


  82. anonymous

    Back to the drawing board

    Yeah, here’s another idea that’s nice in theory, but in practise hasn’t exactly been an astounding success. Unfortunately, solutions need to be found for the here and now rather than some long term proposal – which this most definitely is.

    Back to the drawing board I think.

  83. anonymous

    Re: On Shawarmas

    …actually, hot dogs are just german-style sausages in a bread wrapper so you don’t burn your fingers.


  84. anonymous

    Re(1): On Shawarmas

    Yeah, we stole hamburgers from Germany too and made them American. I think I will become a millionaire by stealing the idea of shawarmas and selling them to McDonald’s as McShawarmas at two bucks a pop. We’ll put some pickle slices in them to Americanize them and say we invented them in Detroit. That’s how we made America great, pal, by stealing other people’s best ideas and taking them over the top.


  85. anonymous

    Re: On Shawarmas


    Hmmmm. The advantage of the shawarma over the gyros appears to be it lacks the cucumber sauce in the gyros that gives you the Breath Of Death the next morning.

    Almost all food has been genetically modified. They just found a way to do it faster lately. You may be listening too much to those Luddites on the BBC who fear new technology.

    I’ll have you know that Texas barbecue is the zenith of haute cuisine. It just doesn’t get better than a BBQ sandwich and a cold Coke on a summer afternoon. I pity those poor Frenchmen stuck with their brie and Chablis.

    And really, Jasra, you’re citing British food as quality cuisine? It might taste awfully good if you’re in prison but what free man really looks forward to boiled beef? It took skilled American chefs working for decades to turn that tasteless roast beef into delicious barbecue, dripping with tangy sauce to titillate your taste buds with pure pleasure.

    And I haven’t even begun to talk about Cajun food like jambalaya, America’s Savory Gift To World Civilization. One taste of that and you will realize it has been your Life’s Destination.


  86. anonymous

    Re(3): On Shawarmas

    That’s the story of my life, Mahmood. I have this great idea and somebody has already beat me to it. Oh, well. I guess I’ll go with my Lobster To Go fast food franchise idea instead.


  87. anonymous

    Re: Minimum Wages Dont Work


    I don’t think that making it difficult for low wage labor to enter the country would work. It would just drive the jobs out of the country to where the cheap labor lives.

    We had something like the same problem in the US where many companies avoided high-paid union labor incountry by moving assembly plants, called maquiladoras, over the southern border into Mexico. It was cheaper to make simple products with standard assembly on a long production run in Mexico. There was quite a ruckus about sending jobs over the border to no avail.

    Every national market is part of the world market. You can’t pretend it isn’t by setting up legal barriers and price-fixing. The market finds a way around all these or punishes you for making yourself a high-cost producer. You must discover your comparative advantage in the market and exploit it as best you can.


  88. fekete

    Re(1): On Shawarmas & Eminem

    Steve ..

    I dunno mate. A BBQ sandwich and a cold Coke is likely to give me Mad Cow Disease and an ulcer these days. I would much prefer a Shawarma and Fresh Mint Lemonade.

    Cajun food is good. Jumbalaya is very similar to Paella my friend. Paella is Spanish. A hybrid of the word ‘Bakkia’ in Arabic. Which means the leftovers. I am not claiming that the Arabs are the epitome of haute cuisine, but, either way – Cajun Food is not really pure American now, is it!

    All I am saying is that the US contribution to culture and fine arts is sorely lacking when compared to the other great super powers of our age. As you very culturedly noted; the French gave us Chablis and Brie. The Italians gave us Parmegiano and Barolo. (And that is not the kind that you in a Kraft plastic container ;). And I dunno – Mozart vs Eminem? Tough call, that …

  89. fekete

    Re: Back to the drawing board

    see… i dont know if agree with that. i dont think we can keep coming up with temporary partial solutions. i think we need a comprehensive long term goal with a clear policy of how to get there. i agree with chan-ad’s earlier comments.

  90. fekete

    Re(1): Minimum Wages Dont Work

    Mahmood – Steve.

    The issue as I see it is the following.

    The majority of new jobs that are being created are being created by the Private Sector. The Private Sector has a business model is that is built and reliant on low wage expat labor. Some of these industries are tradeables, some are non tradeables.

    In the segments of the economy where we are dealing with a non tradeable sector, there is significant room for subsitution of expat with bahraini laborer. However, in order to this properly and fairly – the following needs to occur. We need to equalize costs to employer for both the Bahraini and the expat worker. We need to ensure that the employer pays the cost to society for expat labor.We need to ensure that the employer can fire and hire based on performance – irrespective of Bahraini or Expat.

    So, we need to get the mechanism right. We need to determine what is a healthy amount of expat labor in the country. Right now its very high. It may be like the rest of the Gulf, but the rest of the Gulf is like nowhere else in the world!

    And, Steve – back to your point. The problem lies with the fact that our private sector have chosen to invest in businessess that are reliant on low skill jobs. They need to change this. And we need to take advantage of the FTA agreement that we have signed and look at value added industries.

    We will never be able to compete with China or Nepal. And we cannot afford to have unregulated access to low wage workers in these countries. That means our own wages in the country get pulled down to their average. We need to create blocks. And we need to invest in value add industries. And we need a private sector friendly investment and regulation mechanism. And then we need to to tailor our education system to provide for the needed jobs.

    Hope I havent rambled too much.

  91. anonymous

    Re(2): On Shawarmas & Eminem

    I’d be happy to box Eminem up and send him to you. I don’t particularly want to claim him. In fact, there’s a lot of American music I’d just as soon forget. They stopped writing good songs here about twenty years ago.

    Maybe jambalaya is similar to paella in theory but not on my dinner plate. Paella just lacks that sauce, the roux, that makes cajun food go. I’d say Cajun has some foundation in French cooking but it’s mostly American. There aren’t many alligator recipes in France but there are plenty in Cajun country. Andouille sausage, which is a feature of jambalaya, is unique to America.

    I suppose you’re right when you say the US has not contributed as much to fine arts compared to previous world powers, but then those great paintings and symphonies and operas depended on the patronage of nobility. So we may have lost a potential American Beethoven but we gained freedom for the ordinary guy who doesn’t have to kowtow to any aristocrats.

    As for culture, American culture is quite pervasive throughout the world for good and bad. The American movie, built on freedom of expression, is quite a powerful export. There’s hardly any competitors for Hollywood productions. You have to sort the wheat from the chaff in Hollywood products, but then there were a lot of mediocre European symphonies mercifully forgotten, too.

    Aside from popular culture, I’d say America’s contribution to world culture is the American model of democracy, property rights, free speech, and capitalism. The idea of America has quite decisively routed the socialist model. That idea of personal liberty is the best of American culture. And world culture.

    And I’ll have you know that Kraft makes many fine cheeses. I don’t know how I could do without Jalapeno-style Cheez Whiz, America’s finest cheese product.


  92. fekete

    Re(3): On Shawarmas & Eminem

    Steve ..

    I quite like Eminem, you know. I think he brought the reality of the cost of American capitalism into the forefront! Single mother, trailer park, drugs, angry youth … and voila, the birth of the hip hop movement which, granted, was free expression. Just very angry free expression!

    Democracy was not created by America. I thought it was the Greeks who coined the world? Demo kratis (or something like that?)

    The American movie is also not built on ‘freedom of expression

  93. anonymous

    Re(4): On Shawarmas & Eminem

    [quote]I quite like Eminem, you know. I think he brought the reality of the cost of American capitalism into the forefront! Single mother, trailer park, drugs, angry youth … and voila, the birth of the hip hop movement which, granted, was free expression. Just very angry free expression! [/quote]

    I side with the mullahs on Eminem. He’s obviously poisonous Western culture in its most virulent form. I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re using his albums to torture prisoners at Abu Ghraib. He’s basically the voice of Knucklehead America. In capitalist America, you are free to fail, though it can take a lot of bad choices to get it done. Even so, most people at the bottom end of the spectrum eventually get their act together and work up to the middle class.

    [quote]Democracy was not created by America. I thought it was the Greeks who coined the world? Demo kratis (or something like that?) [/quote]

    True enough. American expanded and improved it to its advanced form today.

    [quote]The American movie is also not built on ‘freedom of expression

  94. anonymous

    Re(2): Minimum Wages Dont Work


    I disagree that the answer is to erect barriers to low-wage labor. That’s like passing a law against rainy days. The government can not control the market and it should not try. It is a bad idea to try to raise the cost of low-wage labor artificially. You’re just shooting yourself in the foot.

    Mahmood has a better answer in lowering the cost of native labor. Companies are very reluctant to create jobs if they can’t rid themselves of unproductive labor. Quite naturally, bad workers accumulate in a company like silt on the bottom of a river if they can not be fired. Even a well-managed company will fail if it can not reconfigure its labor in response to its business environment.

    Germany has the same problem in that each new hire forces a company to shoulder a huge burden in welfare costs and difficulty laying off or firing anyone. The result is a sluggish economy and high unemployment.

    My guess is that Bahraini companies have created businesses with low-wage workers because there was a plentiful supply of them, just as river towns create shipping companies because they have access to the water or towns in forests create lumber mills. Businesses make the best of what their locale offers.

    If you eliminate the premium an employer pays to hire Bahrainis, it will drive the expatriate competitors out of the local market. By that premium I mean the extra cost and risk an employer incurs by hiring locals. Your best bet is to make Bahrainis more competitive rather than attach a ball and chain to expatriate labor.

    The natural course of action when facing a saturated market is to differentiate your product from the others, make it unique. Such a strategy might lead you to out-educate your competition. If you build a pool of educated workers, new businesses will form to make use of their labor, if the law allows. If you create a labor pool of rocket science majors, you’ll start building rockets. The Bahraini citizens educations will be a barrier to entry for unskilled expatriate labor. For example, there are many unskilled immigrants from Latin America here in DC, but none threaten my computer job. You can build a skilled labor market while retaining the unskilled market which will extend your purchasing power.

    I’m reading a very good book that recommends how to develop capitalism in developing countries: The Mystery Of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs In The West And Fails Everywhere Else. It’s written by a Latin American guy, Hernando de Soto, who focuses on how property law has hobbled the creation of capital in undeveloped countries. It is somewhat oblique to this particular labor topic, but addresses the general subject of improving the business climate. It’s not a dull economics read either but rather interesting with lots of quotable facts. You might be interested.


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