Who is Mahmood?
It’s very hard to summarize your life isn’t it? What can you really say about yourself other than born on whatever date and in wherever country or town? What schools, college or university you went to? So what? Just about everybody on the planet does the same – give or take.
I guess you’re here because you want to know a little bit about me, that’s fair enough. You want to know who is behind this site, or just feeling voyeuristic.
I am a person.
Ok, I’m also male.
My achievements so far include being a husband of 16 years, father of two girls and a boy. Have two stupid dogs, 3 cars one of which is up for sale. I’m my own boss. I own and operate a company that attempts to make life easier for creative professionals to tell their stories better and faster, so they can produce more. At this moment I’m enjoying moderate success, but put in another place I could do a lot more. I’m certainly not as financially stable as I want to be.
I have always excelled in my studies and enjoyed maths and science most.
I’ve had many hobbies through my life and still participate in most I started a long time ago, the format might have changed, but the enjoyment is still there. I have always been fascinated by the visual arts having a father who is one of the founders of the contemporary art movement in this area of the world is bound to rub off on you.
At school I started the first ever photography club. I have entered just one photography exhibition in Bahrain, and won 2nd prize. I should do more and participate in these exhibitions more often.
I’ve also am fascinated by computers and their potential. Especially communication and how that marriage can bring disparate peoples together. I started one of the first BBS (bulletin board service) in the Gulf in ’86. Called it Stray Cats BBS and proceeded to commandeer my wife’s monthly salary to pay the telephone company! I put a stop to that in ’91 I think much to my wife’s happiness!
I became an aircraft avionics maintenance engineer, did that for 10 years, realized that I wasn’t going anywhere fast so I went to the States and came back 3 months later with a commercial pilot’s license. The 2nd Gulf War started soon after my return, so employment opportunities for pilots disappeared.
Started my company and left the airline industry behind.
Now I try to dispel the image that Muslims and Arabs suffer from – mostly by our own doing I have to say – in the rest of the world. I am no missionary and don’t want to be. I run several internet websites that are geared to do just that, create a better understanding that we’re not all nuts hell-bent on world destruction.
I hope that I will be judged that I made a small difference.
1st June, 2003
Tariq Khonji of the GDN sent me ten good questions to answer for his “60 seconds interview” spot in the paper, published on 6th February 2006, obviously there wasn’t enough space there to publish all of my replies, but reading it in print gave me the idea that it would be good to attach these to my About page:
1. How long have you been blogging and how did you get into it?
Since 2001. I got into it simply to test internet technologies I was helping develop together with over 40 programmers around the world; specifically that development created the Xaraya content management system which is available free to whoever wants it. The blog was just simple entries to test the system. As people started to visit the site and interacted with those “posts” by entering comments, Mahmood’s Den took a life of its own.
2. How popular is your site? What kind of visitors do you get and how many?
Mahmood’s Den’s popularity surpassed all my expectations. It currently receives an average of 4 million hits, about 1.2 million page views and around 175,000 unique sessions a month! The cross section of visitors, judging by the comments entered, belong to a wide cross-section of political and social backgrounds and I am thankful that for the most part, they are courteous and genuinely interested in understanding this part of the world which they see through my eyes.
3. What is your background and how did you become so politically outspoken?
By training I was an aviation electronics engineer, I’ve changed my career twice since then and now am a businessman dealing specifically in broadcast equipment and professional systems.
To understand my outspokenness you have to understand what a blog is: in its basic form, a weblog is nothing more than a personal web-based diary or journal in which a person records his or her thoughts and discusses issues that person is interested in.
My posts reflect my hopes and frustrations with the socio-political environment in Bahrain and the apathy and insincerity of some parliamentarians whom we have wrongly elected to the first parliament of my era, coupled with my frustration at the dogmatic interpretation of Islam by extremists which has sullied its good name in the international and national arenas and I find unrepresentative of the tolerance that Islam is.
4. Are you pleased that the blogging scene has grown so rapidly in recent years? How does it feel to be the first?
I am always happy to welcome another blogger into the burgeoning Bahraini blogosphere. We are an active bunch with disparate backgrounds, ages and disciplines. The one thing we have in common is our passion for our convictions.
Being the first is neither here nor there. I am privileged to have inspired many a friend and site visitor to start their own blogs and start discussing their own points of view. This has increased Bahrain’s awareness of the world, and conversely the world’s awareness of Bahrain as one of the pioneers of free speech in the Arab world.
5. How did the handle ‘The Blogfather’ come about?
You have to thank my good friend Nader Shaheen for that honour. I have no idea what brought that term into his head while he was entering a comment a while ago; it seems to have stuck and was further perpetuated by my other good friend Amira Al-Hussaini. It does make me feel old however!
6. Do you think that some of the blogs out there are being too negative? What do you think a blogger’s responsibilities should be?
A blog is a personal space. You cannot force that space’s owner to be a good person if he or she doesn’t want to. Peer-reviews normally will take care of overly negative spaces just as happens in real-life. They would simply be shunned if their writing does not hold any water, nor contribute positively or constructively to a situation. They will simply be forgotten.
They will not be forgotten; however, if they receive unwarranted and heavy-handed attention by official channels by closing those sites down or restricting their access as a disciplinary action, in fact experience has shown that their popularity will sky-rocket. Time will take care of them. Their freedom to voice their opinions, even if negative in the extreme, should be respected. People are intelligent enough to make their own mind up whether to return and re-visit that blog or just move on… most will choose to move on, there are millions of blogs out there to choose from.
7. Why do you think blogging has grown so much in popularity?
In this new era we are experiencing, people have found their voice. Although quite a number of them continue to blog anonymously, a lot more have chosen to write under their own name, especially in Bahrain. More so now under the assurance of his majesty King Hamad in the interview published in the local press on Feb 4th in which he categorically stated that freedoms of expression are sacrosanct; much to the detriment of the archaic and stringent laws which our elected parliament is trying to foist on us.
I think every writer, citizen and resident of this country should be thankful for having such an enlightened leader who has proven time and again that he himself accepts constructive criticism, and that feature has now started to slowly percolate throughout the establishment.
So blogging, with the easy-to-use interfaces and mostly free availability of hosting engines, was chosen as platforms of choice by individuals to voice, organise and discuss their thoughts.
As people love to discover other places, peoples and minds, blogging has become the excellent bridge between cultures and is quite a popular way to disseminate “real” information distanced from official channels and traditional news sources.
8. You obviously invest a lot of your time on the blog. What do you do when you are not blogging?
Feel guilty that I should do some honest work to put food on the table. That feeling soon passes and I return attention back to blogging!
9. What does your family think about the blog? I understand that your daughter sometimes gets embarrassed when you write about family life.
They’ve gotten used to it. It did generate unwanted attention sometimes as people who read my blog assume that by reading my writings they know me personally and regard me as a friend, or enemy, which I do not mind and welcome. Unfortunately a minority extend that familiarity further by assuming that they know my wife, children and dogs too and expect them to reciprocate!
10. Are there any funny incidents involving your blog that you would like to share?
By having the blog, I have gathered quite a number of new friends both in and out of Bahrain whose company I seek and cherish. They have certainly give more value to my life and I am privileged to know them. There are hundreds more of course who are still anonymous and would like the opportunity to meet them, in their own time, one day.
One of those anonymous friends stopped me at the Seef mall a while ago and asked for my autograph. I know how a celebrity must feel now! Not an unpleasant experience and I was flattered by it.