International bloggers meet

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We were fortunate enough to meet fellow bloggers last night at Dar Al-Bareh Cafe where we had a simply scrumptious dinner AND had quite a nice discussion going about blogging experiences as well as had the wonderful opportunity to attend the opening of “Contemporary Huroof” Arabic caligraphy exhibition.

Contemporary Huroof exhibition at Dar Al-Bareh Art Gallery, Bahrain

Notes were compared between Bahraini and Belgian bloggers where we found that we do have more common ground than we anticipated, even though most Belgian bloggers present belonged on a single “ShockLog” as they termed it, and we cannot and should not base this experience to generalise as to what the Belgian blogging scene is like.

The wonderful thing about the evening is that we did exchange points of view, the Belgians were genuinely interested in our culture and were trying to find common-ground as well as trying to decipher differences between our Muslim culture and theirs. The only regret is that we didn’t have enough time in the real world to explore all of the points and questions raised.

This was also the first bloggers’ meeting where we actually had a semblance of formal structure where every person present was invited to share his or her thoughts on the basic questions bloggers always get asked: why did you start? when did you start? and what’s keeping you going? The answers received were as varied as those present. The “glue” between all of these answers however was invariably curiosity to explore, and exposition to invite exploration.

The impressive thing to me about the meeting was the points shared than those contended. The Belgian blogosphere is far more advanced that we have in Bahrain, or the Gulf for that matter. Two of those present have gotten married because of blogging! More power to them, even though the husband, due to “real life” had to give up blogging to take care of business, the wife continues to participate in the Belgian blogosphere and continues to create waves. She is not alone there, at she is joined by some 40,000 unique visitors a day discussing various topics of mutual interest. Those distill to about 16 TERABYTES of transfers per MONTH! Thank goodness that the main blog is owned by Cain Ransbottyn (yes, that’s his real name!) and he is joined by 25 moderators to keep the main site ticking.

Technically, Cain told us what to expect if and when we reach his particular blogging stratosphere: he uses 42 (yes, forty-two) servers to serve his site, fronted by 4 other servers for distribution of load balancing, and backed up by several 40,000 Euro-priced database servers! Sure the equipment costs quite a lot, but Cain says that they are actually turning a profit due to the advertising (whom one person on this site had taken offense by) which is not always porn related.

War stories were exchanged of course. But those are not interesting. The interesting part of the evening; however, was to seeming convincing (finally) of Tariq Khonji to start his own blog! He hasn’t decided completely yet, so please encourage him to do so. It would be nice to have another accredited journalist blogging!

After a fantastic dinner, we adjourned to Fredrick’s house for a few hours where he proved that Arabs do not have the exclusivity on hospitality.

Fred the Belgian!

I really hope that we repeat these events more. What is blogging but exposing your thoughts and interacting with people? These gatherings are a perfect venue for doing so and I will work diligently now to involve other blogging groups in the Gulf with us in Bahrain.

This is our 17th or 18th bloggers’ meeting so far, we have tried a lot of formats and a lot of venues in order to get together. We have tried coffee shops, bars, and a restaurant in order to find a venue were we can sit and talk without loud music or inhospitable waiters. I really think that we have finally found the place and the format for our forthcoming meetings last night: Dar Al-Bareh Cafe incorporates everything we were looking for: a cultural place where we can breath and experience art, simply excellent food (the lemon hamour and couscous was to die for* and every single person at the table last night was lauding the cook!) and the place was quiet enough for us to actually hear each other talking!

Therefore, I propose that we adopt Dar Al-Bareh Cafe for our next meetings: it is central, it is unique, it is accessible, it is quiet, it is flexible (as far as seating is concerned), it is very reasonably priced and most important of all, the food is quite scrumptious!

Finally, thank you Fred for organising the Belgian bloggers visit to our fair Isles, and I hope that we will continue to meet and make new friends and pollinate our minds with new and wonderful ideas.

Thanks to all who attended last night, and those we have missed too, because they are part and parcel of the sphere, without whom we are not complete. So here’s to the Silly girl, the Silver girl who is more like pure gold, Abu Rasool and that doctor living currently near Anchorage of all places!

Next dinner meeting is on April 6th, at 7pm, at Dar Al-Bareh Cafe in Adliya.

* Since ancient times the Bahrainis have been excellent seamen, famous for their trade up and down the Gulf and for fishing. There is a wide variety of fish in the Gulf, but none is as prized as the hamour. The hamour or ‘hamour epinephelus tauvina’ is a member of the grouper family, but unlike many other groupers it can grow to two meters long, making it an outstanding sport fish. Prized for its firm white meat there is no end to the ways Bahrainis prepare this delicious fish. The meat absorbs the traditional spices perfectly and combines to create some remarkable and very memorable dishes. Fishing is carried out on the traditional sailboats called dhows which have been made by hand on Bahrain for dozens of centuries and are still made today exactly as they always have been. – from MouthfulsOfFood

  • Citizen Quasar
    10 March 2006

    This is a nice article. I believe that your bloggers’ get-togethers provide a proper service toward worldwide peace and understanding.

    But who is the guy in the loud jacket with the funky glasses? Is that Fredrick?

  • mahmood
    10 March 2006

    yep! He’s also the Belgian plenipotentiary, ambassador without portfolio, project consultant and art aficionado!

  • apb347
    10 March 2006

    What a funny man… That must be our Frederik… 😉

  • sillybahrainigirl
    10 March 2006

    Thanks Mahmood for keeping US close to your heart 🙂

  • Citizen Quasar
    11 March 2006

    Thank you, Mahmood. ‘Way to go!

    Hey! Wait a minute! Is THAT the guy with twenty servers? I certainly need to re-read this article…and much more closely!

  • Citizen Quasar
    11 March 2006

    Oops, wrong guy. 42 servers? Who ARE these people? What is going on here?

  • Johnster
    12 March 2006

    Sorry I couldn’t make it…but yes, a great location…and in Adliya….no more travelling to darkest Saar!

    Now Mahmood, can’t you respond to Frederick’s jacket with a paisley thobe?

  • coralie
    17 March 2006

    i had a wonderful time at the meeting, despite missing parts due to chasing around my increasingly cheeky child & eventually taking him off to a babysitter so i could enjoy the rest of the evening in peace.

    well done to everyone there for attending & to those who organised it! 🙂

  • $ilver Girl
    18 March 2006

    Oh Mahmood, thanks for your sweet testimonial 😉
    Not being able to see you in the last meetup was a misfortune, indeed.

    And thank you for putting up with me 🙂

  • mahmood
    18 March 2006

    My pleasure!

  • Thommes
    5 August 2006

    funny dressed guy, seems to be a interesting person 🙂

  • Blog to America
    9 March 2007

    An international meeting of blogger…how interesting! We actually just started a blog that attempts to bring together world opinion about the United States in the form of letters addressed to the United States. Our site aims to encourage global communication and create an international dialogue between America and the world. Perhaps some of you might be interested in contributing. Our URL is: