Tag Archives blogging

It’s not ALL politics

or is it? I received this flier in this morning’s Al-Wasat Newspaper which offers the services of the National Democratic Action Society (Al-Demokrati) which is acting as higher education advisor to recent high school graduates. They’re convening at the Bahrain International Exhibition Centre between June 20 – 22.

This is a Good Thing. It demonstrates that they have breadth and depth into day to day concerns, rather than just a political aspect.

Good for you guys!

Share

Ward & Wardah

This is a true story of love and coercion. Ward and Wardah are two Bahraini citizens who grew up together in a small village. Ward and Wardah used to play together when they were kids. They were close friends. Innocent kids who liked hang out with each other. Wardah was Warda’s best friend. She used to tell him everything. When she comes from school, she would go to his house and do her homework with him. Warda was Wardah’s hero. He used to protect her from the other kids. He wouldn’t let anyone to make fun of her.

At 1 p.m. on February the 5th 1973, Ward came back from the elementary school as usual. After having lunch, he went to Wardah’s house. He knocked the door. No one answered. He knocked the door again after an hour and no one answered. He kept knocking the door. “Where is Wardah?â€? he thought. He sat by the house’s door waiting for someone to answer him. At 6 p.m. he saw Wardah’s uncle from a distance. He rushed at him. He wanted to ask him about Wardah. “Uncle, where is Wardah?” He asked him. He looked at him with teary eyes “You don’t know where Wardah is? Wardah is gone. She left the country. She will never come back.”

Another Bahraini blog is launched, this is a collaborative effort trying to document the forced estrangement of a girl, and the political timeframe in Bahrain since that estrangement by her protector, Ward (pronounced as in wa-rd which is flowers, rather than word.)

I look forward to reading their stories, trials and tribulations in the hope that we can learn something from the past, so it doesn’t repeat in the future.

Ward and Wardah, please extend them your support.

Share

Freedom of Speech my big toe!

Webmasters must register or face legal action

Webmasters face prosecution if they defy new rules announced by Bahraini authorities. All Bahraini websites set up here or abroad must register with the Information Ministry or face legal action, it was declared yesterday.

A six-month campaign is being launched next Monday to register all Bahraini websites, under orders from Information Minister and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Mohammed Abdul Ghaffar.

“The ministry will announce soon the details of how each website owner or supervisor can register,” Information Under-Secretary Mahmood Al Mahmood told the GDN.

“If they fail to register then legal action will be taken against them based on the country’s printing and publishing laws.”

He said websites would face similar laws to newspapers, related to libel, public decency and ethics.

Just as a newspaper editor-in-chief is held responsible for what he publishes, so will the webmasters be, he said.

Ministry printing and publishing director Jamal Dawood said registration procedures would be in line with those for all types of publications, including newspapers, leaflets, audio and visual media.

GDN

We woke up this morning to this. We first got wind of it through a very Silly site.

That the Ministry of Information continues to innovate and create new ways to drag the name of these islands in shite. The ministry being an extremely important appendage of Bahrain, Inc. can’t have come to this conclusion by themselves, they (the whole government) must be still smarting from the bahrainonline.org debacle, when sane people would think twice on generating adverse publicity once again by trying to control what is printed, this time they seem to have gone a step further and want to penalise us for our thoughts as well.

Nothing new of course, after all, the impression that the Ministry of Information is most concerned about is the complete destruction of Bahrain’s reputation nationally and internationally.

However, the Ministry of Information is really not to blame, it is an executive body trying to keep within the letter of the law. The blame is fully on the parliament’s doorstep and every single member of that impotent organ, be they elected or appointed. Functioning for over 3 years now without a single law that would improve Bahrain’s standing in the world, nor a single one that would improve our standards of living. Unless of course you consider that allowing veiled women to drive, protecting us from Nancy Ajram, or the requests to the Ministry of Works to install traffic bumps on roads achievements.

6 months.

We have 6 months to fight this brain-fart, or else just shut up and gobble it all up. And although we cannot depend on the parliament, unfortunately it’s the only place we have to petition to do something.

Therefore what I propose is:

1. Don’t register any site, if at the expiry of the 6-month deadline comes about without any progress, put up a statement on our websites declaring the death of freedoms of speech in Bahrain and abandon the sites.

2. Organise an on-line petition where all webmasters and website patrons can electronically sign. At the end of the 6 month period print it out and hand it to the Chairman of the National Assembly. As it is his chamber through Ibrahim Bashmi who is working on the new press and media laws rather than the moronic chamber of representatives.

3. Immediately organise a meeting and invite ALL webmasters to attend to take this issue further.

If they think that we’d be lying down and taking it, they’ve got another thing coming.

Who’s with me?

Share

Lil pink submarine

A different thinker who has other ideas about concepts that other find so commonly annoying. I started this blog to keep the things i think about fresh and well… in my mind. I just want to write up what I am feeling now and what I reckon my opinions are. I hope you enjoy 🙂

Share

Is it worth it?

A Bahraini blogger was reportedly arrested this morning, no charges are published yet, but the draconian way of the arrest is alarming. Probably armed with an arrest warrant from the public prosecutor, the police went to Ali Abdulimam’s house and on not finding him there, arbitrarily have taken his sister instead probably to ensure that he turns up at the station.

Disregard all of that. It remains to be seen why he is arrested, and what the arrest warrant says.

Ali runs montadayat.org bahrainonline.org a site very critical of the government, and its commenters even more so. So Ali is paying the price…

Holding judgment for a moment, I hope that Ali and other fellow bloggers realise where the line is. For not knowing definitively where it is, is a dangerous enterprise. We just have to follow logic, no more and no less. It is vitally important as well to understand that with freedoms of expression comes responsibility. It behoves us to realise that just as “regular” journalists, we have to ensure that we do not defame people, symbols or entities without just cause.

It’s too early for me to judge Ali and his arrest. It is however amply demonstrated that once again, the government has overstepped its line probably to derail yet another excellent attempt by the Crown Prince to right this country… just after his Economy Reform launch

update: Bahrania is a lot more “on the pulse” of this situation than I am. I suggest if you want quicker and more thorough updates, please go visit her site. On my side, I’ve done some contacts here and there and my contacts are as flabbergasted as I am. So hopefully some common sense will prevail soon.

update 2: The case has been taken up by various rights organisations locally and internationally:
• Committee to protect bloggers
• Reporters without Borders

update 3:
• Chan’ad posts about a protest in support of Ali Abdulemam which happened yesterday in front of the Public Prosecutor’s office in Manama.
• BahrainiBlogger suggests that we should have one day of solidarity with Ali and write one article severely critical of the government to (1) see how they react, and (2) to essentially tell them that if they shut one person or site down, tens of others will spring up.

Share

Single Gulf Passport and other thoughts

GCC interior ministers have recommended that a single passport be adopted at the next summit, secretary-general Abdulrahman Al Attiyah said.

The ministers “have recommended that the next summit, scheduled for December in Kuwait, adopts a single passport” for citizens of the GCC states, he said.

Source: Bahrain Economic Development Board

Oh no.. that means that Bahrainis will have trouble getting into Europe, the Far East and the States should that happen! But hang on, more important than that, does that mean they’re actually doing something useful for a change? They’ve been talking about monetary union since the 70’s and we’re still waiting..

Why the hell bother? What would this single passport and monetary union bring us? We hardly have any inter-gulf trade in any case, and if we are so bold as to even try we get a good lesson on speedy processes… a snail is an F1 super-car in comparison.

As far as I am concerned, the ONLY thing that the GCC brought it in all of its history is that Gulf Nationals (Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates and Oman) is having a separate queue at Gulf airports and we don’t need visas to visit each of the GCC countries. But the feeling you get as you cross borders, especially Saudi, Gulf nationals feel like criminals daring to go into/out of Saudi. Our leaders should take lessons from Europe and especially the Benelux countries to see what is really possible. But that’s another subject… let’s get back to the unified passport business.

Saudis at the moment are barred from going to Thailand for instance, and their government might have a very good reason for this, but as the biggest and richest country in this union, does that mean that when we do get a unified passport, we will be barred from visiting certain countries, because one of the member states has issues with it? Wouldn’t it be better just to keep our passports as is and concentrate on doing a EU-like region where every country keeps its sovereignty and identity?

What’s the big deal about having a single passport anyway? Wouldn’t easing the procedures at the various crossing points be sufficient? A European now just has to show his/her passport at the control point and away they go! No stamping, no double checking, no stupid little slips to give to a police officer at the airport before being allowed in the baggage reclaim area… nothing. So having a single passport will do away with these totalitarian procedures?

Not a chance! We LIVE for red-tape.

Governments in the Gulf should get their priorities right. For instance: joining the WTO will benefit every other country we deal with except ours, doesn’t that merit discussion? Free Trade Pacts with the USA as evidenced in both Canada and Mexico benefits the USA more than their so called partners, doesn’t that warrant caution?

Ok, I’m a simpleton. Explain to me this: how is the unified passport, monetary union, and the customs union going to benefit us as citizens of the Gulf?

  • Customs Union doesn’t work. I’ve experienced this first hand.
  • Montetary Union doesn’t have a hope of succeeding if even the Eastern Province vendors in Saudi (which is 30 minutes away from Bahrain by car across the causeway) refuse to accept the Bahraini Dinars although it is as near as humanly possible to the Saudi Riyal (10 Saudi Riyals = 1.0055 Bahraini Dinars and they count it as equal to SR9 if you’re lucky)?
  • Unified passports? TBD
  • So we don’t have inter-gulf trade to talk about… how about foreign direct investments (FDI) coming into our countries? Of the USD823.82bn in FDI generated worldwide, the vast West Asia and North Africa stretch of 21 countries accounted for a meager 1.29 per cent with just USD10.68bn. Pathetic.

    Personal experience coming up: I have a friend who’s been in Bahrain for about 8 or 9 years. Owns a factory employing some 50 or more Bahrainis, invested in his factory (hence directly in Bahrain) more than a million Bahraini Dinars in capital and multiples of that in turn-over the majority of which has been re-invested in the factory and staff. The kind of problems he’s continuously experiencing from the various government departments surpass Steven King’s horror stories by far! He’s a Jordanian/Palestinian and as he is an investor in the country he applied for a Bahraini passport. He’s eligible for it, but did he get it? No bloody chance! Yet, an Egyptian waiter who’s been on the island for a few months did! Huh? Yeah it’s true and I’m not making this up.

    So what would an Egyptian waiter bring to the island in capital, development and jobs? How about the thousands of Yemeni, Indian, Jordanian, Syrian, Pakistani, Sudanese and goodness knows how many other illiterate nationalities who’s been brought to the island to join the police or defence forces and given along with their underwear and toothbrushes (accompanied with demonstrations of use) Bahraini passports? What do they contribute?

    Shouldn’t the government encourage entrepreneurs who directly bring money, knowledge and jobs to the island? Shouldn’t we concentrate on these issues before discussing hair-brained ideas like unified passports and monetary unions which will not benefit anyone?

    Time to go home… maybe after eating something I’ll find the answers!

    Share

    Bye Laura, Gillian and Hani… see you next year!

    After two weeks in Bahrain, it’s really difficult to see my brother Hani, his lovely wife Gillian and their daughter Laura go back to England. To say the very least, they have left a huge gap in dad’s house! For another year we won’t hear and see Laura doing the “Piano Man” dance!

    Laura thoroughly enjoyed the visit to our house. She had a good swim in our pool, and chased Phoebe around the garden. And THAT was my “blackmail” spot to get her to come to me! Whenever I tell her that I’ll take her to see Phoebe, she volentarily comes to me to pick her up!

    Hani said that the first thing she asks for when she wakes up from sleep is “FEEFEE… WHAY AAA YOOO?!” I took a lot of pictures of her and hope that she’ll remember us by looking at those pictures.

    Now you would think the last thing that you do NOT do just before leaving a country is get involved in a crime!! Hani and Gillian can thank my wife for that, the criminal mastermind!

    Gillian lived most of her life in Bahrain where her father was an employee of the oil company here. They lived in a house in Awali (the oil town in Bahrain) for 14 years. That house has not been occupied since their leaving and it is scheduled for demolition now. But, it still has his name plaque on the gate! It was a tradition for Gillian to visit that house whenever she comes to Bahrain. This time was no exception where they went for a quick visit yesterday and took pictures etc. Especially of that plaque.

    After lunch yesterday she was telling us all about it. My wife of course suggested that they should have taken the plaque!! Gillian and Hani’s eyes immediately lit up! You can see it on their faces: why the hell didn’t we think of that?. My wife stokes the fire a bit more and suddenly Hani goes to the store and gets the tools. More than that, he roped both my daughters to go with him.

    On their arrival at the house in Awali, my daughters (obviously taking after their mother) immediately jumped out of the car; one went to the end of the street as a lookout and the other was handing Hani the tools to take the plaque off!

    He called on his way back to the house saying that they couldn’t get the plaque… we all thought “yeah sure”. Gillian was visibly dissapointed.

    In they come through the door a few minutes later and tarat-taraaa he got the plaque!! All smiles and feeling a real “he man”! Amna and Hanan of course are also over-joyed and beaming with smiles. The criminals!

    It was wonderful time all around for the whole two weeks though, and as they say, time does fly when you’re having fun. This is only the second time we meet Laura. She will be much bigger next time we meet and we all can’t wait for that to happen soon!

    God bless and God speed!

    Share

    The Linux Experience – Day 14 – wuhaaay!

    Yep, today is the 14th day of my using Linux almost exclusively! go on, congratulate me!! 🙂

    The feeling is that I really didn’t miss Windows as much as I thought I would. I have continued in business with only a few set-backs attributed mostly to tinkering with the operating system and its various programs to get it to work how I want it to. After two weeks I think I have now a more-or-less good operating system for my daily work that requires only very few additions in order for it to be complete. Working on any operating system is an evolving process and if you’re like me, you’re never completely happy and will continue to massage it to get it “just so”, then screw it up again and get it back to a production state. Sick I know, but that’s the fun of it, and as I can do it, let me just show off!!

    What things did I achieve over the last 14 days?

  • Fine tune Red Hat 9 to work the way I want it. This is mostly in the “look and feel” department as well as installing applications which are necessary for my daily life including OpenOffice, Mozilla, XMMS, Evolution, and lastly Ximian Desktop 2.
  • It also took me a while to get my home computer to work nicely with my SGI 1600sw screen, but that’s legacy equipment anyway so I am thrilled that I can use the full resolution.
  • I have found ways to get Mozilla to display fonts nicely so my surfing is more pleasurable. It’s still not as good as on Windows, but I can live with that.
  • I started using The Gimp for my graphics needs instead of Photoshop and have even discovered its availability on Windows!
  • With the use of a little rpm I was able to access my Windows XP Pro local partition and its files, so there is no need to reboot and switch to Windows just to grab a file I save there rather than the server which is what I normally do.
  • I’ve installed the lovely XD2 and am thrilled by it. I love “clean” desktops.

    So in the end – and this is my experience only – I can continue to use Linux for just about everything. The only reason I would boot into Windows now is for editing videos.

    Share