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Full timelapse video of the patio construction
MGS S01E06 – Constructing the Patio

MGS S01E06 – Constructing the Patio

I’ve always wanted a small “proper” sitting area in the front garden but never got round to doing something about it. Until now. Thanks to Almanaratain who wanted to parter with Mahmood’s Garden Show and offered to construct it for me using their material, staff and equipment to do so. How can I refuse?

In this episode, we follow the complete process of constructing the patio from start to finish. Yes, you will be able to see two days’ worth of time-lapse footage compressed in under a minute! Quite fun, I assure you. More important of course is finding out the patio’s construction process so you can be informed when you construct your own.

The process I adopted here is quite economical actually because I utilised cement-based tiles made exclusively at Almanaratain through a special process. The tiles are died through and not simply painted. They’re durable and look as good as natural stone because they’re not manufactured using one single mould, but have several types in order to produce the required “natural” variation. I know that these tiles vary in price between BD3 – BD6 per square meter. Check with Almanaratain for the latest pricing. The cost per square meter including full installation won’t exceed BD15, a real bargain in my book, and the results are quite acceptable.

I hope to have a few of you over for teas and coffees on the new patio once the weather changes for the better soon 😉

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Dig!

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The normal sight in Bahrain for people handling shovels and breaking ground is this:

Photo credit: Gulf News

This morning, we see how this image can easily be transformed for a US$580 million project, the labourers in this case, are of a higher class, uniforms and bishts:

Photo credit: US Navy

Not that the higher-end personages don’t know the value of manual labour or anything like that, but it’s good seeing them do what some might term “honest work” now and again. Even if they use gold-plated shovels in the process.

I’m glad to see that the American Ambassador (middle) seems to be quite adept at shoveling dirt, though he seems to be transgressing on the Bahraini in the process, or is it the other way around? No matter. All seem to be enjoying the experience. A few are definitely at a loss while others are putting far too much into it, thinking maybe that it is this – their effort – is really key to the start of the 28 hectare facility, signaling the intention of the US Navy to stay here ad infinitum.

Welcome welcome!

What say you we have a caption competition on the second picture? Care to share?

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15 seconds of fame = 1 billion?

Hardly, but a twit at the municipal council is vehemently opposing it for some farcical excuses, wrapped up in Class A Xenophobia. Here are some of Mr. Hameed Al-Basri brainfarts which he is using in the hope of putting the kibosh on the project:

it would result in the area being “invaded” by foreigners with different cultures and moral values

He also wants the land to be used for more “useful” projects which could benefit the surrounding villages:

“It could be used for a public park, car parks for residents or a government housing project,” he said.

“But the Northern Municipal Council members have taken the worst decision and that’s approving an investment project without properly studying it.

“I am worried that nearby neighbourhoods, whether in my constituency or Daih village, where the project would be built, will be invaded by people from different nationalities who don’t understand our culture and moral values.

“That’s not all. The area will see more traffic jams, more than what is making people complain at the moment.”

Aha. Okay, I agree that the country needs to revamp the road network and consider the traffic in 25, 50 and even 100 years from today, and they are doing a lot of roads network expansion now, much to the chagrin of a lot of drivers, but one hopes that with these developments we’ll be much better off in a few months’ time. But this ludicrous objection to a huge investment of over a billion dinars is, well, ridiculous. Having an elected councillor whose main job is to suggest solutions to zoning and the various other municipal matters object to such a lifeline in his area is insane.

He doesn’t stop there of course, he’s now dug himself a hole so he must proceed to dig even deeper:

Basri Class A BrainfartMr Al Basri said just because the investor was promising residents jobs, it did not mean the project should be approved.

“What jobs can the project offer? As security guards or ushers, or cleaning plates after the rich finish their food?” he asked.

“In the end, the area’s unemployed will not get good salaries because the investor is not there to offer high salaries, but to make a profit.”

He said that from his experience and the projects he has approved in the Seef District, Sanabis and Daih, only 100 Bahraini jobseekers had been employed.

While 100 jobs created is much better than none at all, and while his suggestion that of those 100 the majority received menial positions might be true, what he should be concerned with, especially in that area of Bahrain which is renowned for “skirmishes” with the police in almost every single weekend, he should be happy that projects are being considered for that area and that its local residents are receiving the benefit of coming out of unemployment. But he ain’t happy.

Mr Al Basri hoped other councillors would review their decision and stop the project.

Well, thankfully someone from his own party is rejecting his brainfarts wholesale:

Municipal councillor Hameed Al-BasriHowever, Northern Municipal Council towns and villages development committee chairman and the project’s area councillor Sayed Ahmed Al Alawi said that Mr Al Basri’s push to halt the project would not affect it.

“We are both from the same municipal bloc – Al Wefaq – but Mr Al Basri has never given me a call saying that he has a problem with the project,” he said.

“I have talked with Al Wefaq bloc president and area MP Shaikh Ali Salman and he was in support of the project, saying that he would work on securing the benefits for the people, which I am also currently working on.

“So far, we have managed to reach an agreement with the investors to have a public park and a mosque built.

“The hotel will not offer alcohol and will abide by Islamic and traditional values.

“The investor has agreed to our terms without any fuss, so why is Mr Al Basri – who is approving similar projects in his constituency – upset?”

Mr Al Alawi said that the Royal Court had recommended the project and when it came to the council, it was just a formality to look at it.

“This project has been supported by the government, so it wouldn’t leave the area without a proper infrastructure and other services. On the contrary, it is an opportunity to have new roads, sewage networks and other facilities in the area,” he said.

“Mr Al Basri should quit fighting the project because he will not change our decision. He should instead focus on getting public services from investors in his constituency.”

In short, he’s told by his colleagues to shut the hell up and not to be such a complete eejit.

I hope he listens.

Incidentally, if you want to see some very nice pictures of current and future projects happening in Bahrain, scoot on over to my friend’s Fred Haentjens’ Flickr set. Well worth having a look.

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The Plinth

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A couple of things I really came to appreciate today: the first is the wealth of information available on the Internet, again, and the second is those manual labourers who we continuously take for granted!

The story is this: I wanted to build a regular red-brick column/plinth in the Zen Garden onto which I would place my newly acquired Buddha. I brought a builder to survey the site this morning and he quoted me a reasonable labour charge of BD30 (about $110) for the complete job without materials. He also agreed that he would finish the job in one day, but I thought I could do the thing on my own, not to save money, but because I thought it would be simple enough.

That brings me to the appreciation of the Internet as a simple Google search presented me with this article which included a video and sufficiently explained what needed to be done. Simple enough and convinced even more that I could take up the job on my own, I came home and started working on the plinth with the aid of my son Arif, bless him. He got to appreciate that being wrenched from in front of a TV is not a very nice experience!

The plinth foundation

Following the instructions, I built a 50cm square wooden frame, dug a hole to accommodate the frame at at a depth of approximately 50cm, mixed the cement and filled in the frame to create the base. That was a simple enough process to do, what wasn’t is the time-factor. It took us about 90 minutes to accomplish this simple task and the amount of intensive labour required was unexpected. I didn’t think that simply mixing the sand and cement to make sludge was that back-breaking. Nor did I expect that wet cement was that heavy either!

Anyway, we finished the task by nightfall and I am leaving it now to set and solidify. Hopefully tomorrow or the day after I can start laying the bricks to create the actual plinth. I should finish the job completely and take a few pictures to show you the new addition to the Zen Garden by the weekend.

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