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Decoupage hand-made spiritual boxes at Frankie’s

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Spiritual boxes at Frankie's

Spiritual boxes at Frankie’s, originally uploaded by malyousif.

Fantastic Décollage Decoupage hand-made spiritual boxes in at Frankie’s in the Najibi Cenre at the Saar roundabout.

Today’s the last day.

Proceeds from the sale will go toward helping a lady receive breast cancer treatment. It’s a good cause and you end up with a wonderful (and very much undervalued) piece of art. Most of the boxes have been sold, a few remain to the lucky few who will immediately go and grab them!

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[FIKR6] Arab Strategies for the Global Era

FIKR6 logo - Arab Thought Foundation
500 intellectuals from over 30 countries have descended on Bahrain to participate in the Arab Thought Foundation’s FIKR conference, the annual think-tank that strives to make a change to the Arab world not by force or arms but those of thought.

These gatherings have identified and provoked a lot of thought in what needs to be changed in our societies in order for us to progress and integrate within the global community in an intrinsic and binding fashion. This year’s conference is not different, it challenges the participants to discuss various aspects which are germane to this region’s future and propose strategies through which we can ascend into a new Arab economy through which our transformation and shaping of this new era could be undertaken. The conference theme of “Arab Strategy for the Global Era” boldly plants the stake in the ground and invites the illustrious participants to keep that goal at the forefront of their minds.

Within the central theme of the conference, the areas of Energy, Investments, Media, Technology and Social Responsibility will be focused on as they all directly contribute to this new Arab economy and collectively provide a major impact to the way forward for all of our governments and societies.

The conference started today at the Ritz Carlton with a day-long Innovation Workshop which was open by invitation to our future leaders; those between 15 and 30 and were addressed by an excellent panel with varied backgrounds and each of which a leader in his or her field. The interesting thing about this, and one that is very indicative of how this conference is different, is that groups created from this workshop have been invited to present their solutions and innovative thoughts to close the whole conference with a very real possibility that one or more ideas might be chosen by those present for actual funding and transform it from an idea into a product. If this actually happens, then this will shows that this conference has transcended the “talk” and crossed the border into real action.

I look forward to my participation in this conference. My session is about education in the Arab world and specifically about the effects of digital technology and the digital readiness of the Arab world.

I am extremely humbled and fortunate to be joined on the panel by:

  • Haitham Obeidat, Factory of International and Political Studies, International Studies Department of Middle East an Far East Studies, Jagiellonian Univeristy (Poland);
  • Iman Al-Hindawi, Founder and CEO, Middle East Center for Culture and Development (Jordan);
  • John Davies, VP, Sales and Marketing, General Manager, World Ahead Program, Intel Corporation (USA); and
  • Nasser . Alardah, REgional Program Development Manager, Relief Organization – Schools Online (USA)

I am also thrilled to let you know that this event will be covered by five Bahrain-based bloggers so please also check their blogs for updates and their take on the conference.

Those who will cover the conference are:

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Lost in translation

Some words and phrases just can’t be translated properly from one language to another; take this for instance:

GDN’s atrocious translation

One might be forgiven for thinking that there is a new brand of spirits announced and being actively marketed. But the truth (excusing the endemic ALL CAPS) is stranger still!

Isn’t it time that the translators are put out of their misery or put out to pasture at least? But then, what fault is it of theirs, really, when the language they do translate from is so syrupy?

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Impaired vision, or just deaf?

Uh, do you guys see a glass hermetically sealed cage around his majesty in the following picture taken at the opening of the parliament’s second session on Oct 17th?

king opening 2nd session of parliament 17 oct 07

I only ask because maybe the government which he is its ultimate authority doesn’t seem to have heard any part of his speech, especially the words which confirm – once again – that he (as does our constitution) regards the freedom of expression as sacrosanct. He clearly said that the country needs “an enlightened press and publications law” unless of course – once again – my ears deceived me.

Why else would they ban the publications of not one, but two books immediately after the king’s speech?

I could only surmise; then, (and I submit that naive moi could very well have gotten it wrong) that the Ministry of Information’s Press & Publications Censorship Office are completely and unilaterally ignoring his majesty’s clear directives. Why else would they ban the publications of not one, but two books immediately after the king’s speech?

And get this: both books are just compilations of already published articles in the local press by their authors!

Taking this into consideration, and to save you – my dear readers – some effort, here are the links to the compilations of their articles. They are all in Arabic obviously, but I am sure you could use Mr. Google’s Rosetta Stone to avail of their contents.

Without further ado, here are the compilations of Dr. Nader Kathem and here are articles published by Mohammed Al-Sawwad.

is it any wonder that the output of the Arab world altogether in books is so despicably low?

With these draconian departments and personnel who are obviously not only deaf to the people’s wishes, but those of their king too, is it any wonder that the output of the Arab world altogether in books is so despicably low? Is it any wonder that although we constitute some 5% of the world’s population we only number 0.5% of the world’s Internet users? Is it any wonder too that our education system is virtually non-existent and hope – general hope – has almost but left the building?

Your majesty, they’re not listening. Maybe it’s time for a reboot?

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Eid SMS Messages

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Following up from the original post about Eid SMS/txt Message in Nov ’04, let me update you with some of the messages I have received so far and challenge you into a competition:

Choose the best and the corniest of the following and share you own too!

1. عيدكم مبارك و عساكم من عوّاده

2. تقبل الله طاعتكم و كل عام و أنتم بخير

3. كل عام و أنتم بخير و عساكم من العايدين السعيدين

4. كل عام و أصحاب القلوب المفعّمة بالمحبة و السلام بألف خير

5. تقبل الله منّا و منكم صالح الأعمال. عيدكم مبارك و كل عام و أنتم بخير

6. تقبل الله منّا و منكم صالح الأعمال و أعاده الله علينا و عليكم باليمن و البركات

7. عندما تحل المناسبة يتذكر الإنسان أشخاص لهم في قلبه مكانة و لهم في وجدانه دلالة، فيقول يا رب إجعل عيدهم سعيد و عمرهم مديد و كل عام و أنتم بخير

8. نشكركم تهانيكم و يسرني أن أبادلكم أصدق التهاني بهذه المناسبة مقرونة بأطيب الأمنيات بعيد سعيد لكم و لأسرتكم الكريمة و بصحة و عافية و كل عام و أنتم بخير

9. تقبل الله صيامكم و قيامكم و أعاده عليكم باليمن و البركات

10. لكل من أحب عيدهم اليوم
و لكل من أعز عيدهم بكرة
و لكل من أهواه عيدهم بعد بكرة
أقول لكم جميعاً
عيدكم مبارك

11. نحن لا نرسل لمن نعيش معهم، بل نرسل لمن يصعب علينا العيش بدونهم.
أنت من النخبة المضيئة في حنايا الفؤاد و الأجمل في فيض الذاكرة.
لا أملك لك إلا الدعاء يحفظك المولى من كل أذى
أسأل الله الذي أهل الهلال و أرسى الجبال أن يبارك لك و يتمه و أنت في أحسن حال.
كل عام و أنت بخير

12. لك تهاني العيد أهذيها
في يوم ميعاده
من روحي أبديها
يعللكم للعيد عواده

13. بنور شوّال أمسيك و بقدوم العيد أهنيك و أدعي ربي من الكوثر يسقيني و يسقيك

14. أهنيك بالعيد و أطلي منه عز و جل ان يسدد خطاك و بيقيك بالصحة و السعادة و كل عام و أنت بخير

15. من سبق لبق، الكل من يصير الأول. أنا أبي أبدي من الصفر قبل الزحمة و إنشغال الخطوط
أهنئك بقدوم العيد أقول:
م(العايدين)ن
مزينة بأحلى بالورود
مبخرة بالعود
إنشالله أكون أوّل المهنئين 😉
بس ما أظن لأن في ملاقيف يعيدوم من أول الشهر!

16. أسأل الله أن يتقبل طاعتكم و يجعل صيامكم ختامه عيدين: عيد عتق من النار، و عيد الفطر السعيد. كل عام و أنتم بخير

17. يا ورد الورد يا عنبر العود مبروك عليك العيد و عساه عليك يعود

18. العيد أقبل و التهاني تتالت
و كل تذكر من يعزه و يغليه
و فزت لك غصون الأماني
و قالت
عيدك مبارك و أسعد الله لياليك

19. أهنئكم بالعيد السعيد و أدعو المولى القدير بأن يلبسكم ثوب العافية، و كل عام و أنتم بأحسن حال

20. أطيب التهاني القلبية بمناسبة حلول عيد الفطر أعاده الله عليكم و على جميع أفراد الأسرة الكريمة باليمن و البركات

21. لم أجد أجمل من إرسال باقة رحمانية
ورودها قرآنية
أوراقها ملائكية
أغصانها صلوات محمدية
أهديها لمن احبهم في الله
عيدكم مبارك

22. أسأل من أعاد العيد
و طوى الضهر الفقيد
أن يمدكم بعمر مديد
و حياتكم عيد سعيد

23. من غلاكم ما نسيناكم
و بالتهاني خصصناكم
و بالعيد هنيناكم
متباركين

24. أرق و أجمل تهنئة بمناسبة عيد الفطر المبارك و كل عام و أنتم بخيو

25. أسمى و أجمل التهاني و التبريكات أرفعها لكم بمناسبة عيد الفطر السعيد، داعياً العلي القدير أن يتقبل صيامكم و قيامكم و يعيد هذه المناسبة عليكم و على العائلة الكريمة و الأمة جمعاء و أنتم ترفلون بثوب العزة و الكرامة و الصحة و العافية.

26. أفرح بالعيد و الورد و المحبة و الصداقة و بكم. عيدكم مبارك

27. تقبل الله صاعتكم و بالعيد أسعدكم و من النار أعتقكم و في الجنة أسكنكم و كل عام و أنتم بخير

28. اللهم إجعل أحبتي ممن شملتهم برحمتك
و ممن تشملهم بمغفرتك
و بلغهم عتقك من النار
و كل عام و أنتم بخير

29. كل عام و أنت في الكلم و الجمال و الحرف و الخير

30. العيد فرصة… حركت ما سكن لكم في القلب مودة
و أتمنى لكم عيداً مليئاً بالبهجة و الفرح

31. الله يجملني بكاسب الطيب ،،، والله يقدرني لكسب الجمايل
شمس الغلا تشرق Ùˆ لا يمكن تغيب … والود ما ينزاح Ùˆ الشك زايح
ما يعلم بقدرك سوى عالم الغيب … يوم ان مثلك نادرين Ùˆ قلايل
أبعث تهاني العيد لأهل المواجيب … Ùˆ أخص من هر يستحق الرسايل
عيدكم مبارك و كل عام و أنت بخير

Reveration for God
Happiness for the family
Success in business
Luck in friendship, and
Health in life
Eid Mubarak!

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Eid Mubarak!

Eid Mubarak from Mahmood’s Den

May Allah accept your good deeds and reward you in this and any other life He bestows on you!

While it is still not assured that we will be celebrating Eid (the end of fasting month of Ramadhan) tomorrow, as that is incumbent upon someone viewing the new moon, scientifically it is, and as far as I am concerned, that’s what actually matters.

So let me wish you all a very good, healthy, peaceful and prosperous Eid enjoyed with your kith and kin. Spare a thought too to those less fortunate and try to make their Eid enjoyable too.

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Muharraqi Girga’oun!

I had tremendous fun going all over Muharraq island looking for the mid-Ramadhan celebrations we call “Girga’oun” (the G as in golf, in both cases). I arrived early, actually before Iftar time by a few minutes and set up at the souq, to take the initial shots as it was far too early for anything to happen there. I soon left and went to the nooks and crannies of the island: from the old parts of Busaiteen through to Arad and Hidd and back again between all areas.

I finally saw some children going door-to-door in Busaiteen, which proved the best area for this occasion as it had plenty of kids really into it and you can see it in their faces, enthusiastic and happy.

I was thrilled to be invited (actually, I invited myself!) into people’s homes to shoot a couple of short scenes from within.


click for higher resolution video

I hope you enjoy this piece of true Bahraini culture.

I am really starting to enjoy doing these things and I think I will do more in the future to cover various aspects of our culture and traditions which I hope will gain your approval. I must apologise for the technical errors you might notice in this clip (in the enthusiasm of shooting, I forgot to check if the mic shows in the frame! Silly me.) Now I know better and this is a very nice learning experience. It’s a new camera and all.

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Gnashing teeth

I feel guilty if I shorten a word to miss its vowels

Are you the kind of person who grimaces every time you read a hacked up “txt”-like messages? Are you the kind of person who would rather listen to nails being dragged across chalk-boards and suffer the consequences than hack English and Aranglish words when sending mobile text messages or through Internet chat windows? Are you the kind of person who automatically label those who habitually use “ppl” to supposedly mean “people” and “w/” to mean “with” and rather shout out “LOL” than actually laugh as simple lazy individuals who should be put out of their misery out of compassion for future generations?

I must admit I am. I feel guilty if I shorten a word to miss its vowels, so rather than doing that, I actually dig into the vocabulary store to find a shorter synonym!

I know. Call me anal, but I don’t really care. Maybe it’s just my age, but it takes me an age (with a face that looks like it has just had a bad experience with a very bitter lemon) to read that “form” of communicable language – if you can call it that – and even longer to comprehend what the heck the person is talking about. It is even worse when it’s an adult who uses language in that abrogated form.

Consider this comment entered earlier today for instance. The system rightly (in my opinion) regarded it as spam and into the big bucket it went. Through my regular rifling through that bucket, I realised that it is legitimate and as such – and to the music of nails on chalk-boards – resuscitated it unmolested.

dis is so damn perfect…….da whole idea is awesum…..dis competition proves dt beauty is nt wearn biknis n standin naked infrnt ov da world…..beauty is 2 covr urself n luk hw elegant n beautiful dey luk lyk dis….keep it up!!!n u all miss arab contestant u all r superb….. 😉

Sickening.

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Calling Muharraq!

Could anyone who lives in or indeed anyone who knows about the traditional festivity of Girga’oun in the Kingdom of Muharraq please let me know where should one go to best capture the mood and festivities of this special occasion?

I would very much like to travel to the Kingdom and shoot some of the goings on, particularly kids going door to door getting sweets and the Fraisa and anything else that happens during that night.

Ta very much.

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Renewed official stance on corruption

Corruption

Like everyone else in Bahrain, I was thrilled to read our Crown Prince’s unequivocal statement that corruption will no longer be condoned and that even if a minister was implicated in corruption, he or she will get their just desert.

I also remembered that our parliament has discussed this issue and the committee tasked with formulating that new law has rendered its decision1 to approve a parliamentary discussion of this law. I hope that with the Crown Prince’s push, that law will see the light during the forthcoming new term.

This re-enforced political will is wonderful to behold especially in view of the accelerating corruption cases brought against various managers in government-owned companies like ALBA, Gulf Air and most recently ASRY. I hope at the very least these people being brought to justice will at least get those corrupt officials to sit up and feel a bit embarrassed and take their thieving hands out of the cookie jar for a while at least. One would hope that this new political will will also force them to refill those jars from whatever that had stuck to their nimble fingers.

Unfortunately however, these kind of promises have been heard before but never sufficiently followed up; or at least if they have been followed up no conviction was been meted out to the corrupt. On the contrary, in some cases, people implicated in corrupt activities were actually promoted, as we have most recently witnessed in someone who was implicated in the infamous Bandargate fiasco.

Cases like the Housing Bank, GOSI and others are still fresh in people’s minds. So calls like these – with all due respect – need to really be followed up and convictions of the corrupt be levied in order for this political will to have some legitimacy and for it to regain its credibility.

Let me remind you that corruption is not only monetary, but other forms do exist as well which must be taken care of. In Bahrain for instance, the financial corruption might not exceed other forms of corruption like nepotism, patronage, influence peddling, avoiding the law, etc. However, corruption is no longer just restricted to these traditional arenas, it is more completely defined as:

Corruption obtains when an official transfers a benefit to an individual who may or may not be entitled to the benefit, in exchange for an illegal payment (the bribe). By taking the bribe, the official breaks a legally binding promise he gave to his ‘principal’ (usually the state administration or a private company) to allocate the benefit to those entitled to it. Corruption is neither a property of a social system or an institution, nor a trait of an individual’s character, but rather an illegal exchange. Nowadays scholars have abandoned the classic view of corruption as the degradation of an individual’s ethical sense, or lack of moral integrity. If corruption is a type of exchange it can, at least in principle, be the subject of empirical, cross-country examination. For data, scholars turn mainly to three sources, the German-based NGO Transparency International; the World Bank, and, to a lesser extent, Freedom House. These agencies all produce large cross-national surveys and ranking of countries, although the data come with a variety of biases. Naturally, illegality makes it hard to measure corruption.

Which brings me to the last few years’ CPI rating for Bahrain which has degraded appreciably. One only hopes that with the affirmation and bluntness of the Crown Prince this time, that things will really get moving in the right direction. Finally.

If I may suggest a few small thing to aid in inculcating the culture of anti-corruption: create a provision in law to protect whistle-blowers, cancel that heinous Press and Publications Law 47/2002 to allow news reports to out corruption and its benefactors and let’s see some sentences handed down against high-profile corrupt public employees and appropriate their misbegotten wealth. I am sure that should these things be enacted, our CPI rating will most certainly rise. Much more importantly of course, Bahrain’s credibility both national and international will be much enhanced, and people’s lives here will be bettered.

Now what’s the Anti Corruption Hotline number again?

[1] pdf document in Arabic

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