Tag Archives Culture

iPOD movies competition

Hayah iPOD film festival

My friend Magnus Nystedt, the main man behind the very active Emirates Mac User Group, has just emailed me to tell me about a new film competition in cooperation with the Abu Dhabi Women’s College which has a very nice and innovative twist to it; it’s a film competition which will be screened and judged on iPODs!

How cool is that?

The competition has its own website at hayahfilm.com which obviously has much more information and well worth the visit.

It is part of the ME Int’l Film Festival in Abu Dhabi and is open to anyone in the Middle East. The submissions end on Sept 27th and is open to amateurs and professionals, so if you have something you want to show, compress it in an iPOD format and go ahead and upload it. You might see your name in lights soon!


Hamad’s Cartoons

You will probably agree with me when I say that if a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth a few hundred thousand then a cartoon surpasses all of that and through it you can deal with political and social situations that no paper (or blog!) would dare tackle. Hence, we find that a lot of people the world over head to the daily political cartoon in their favourite newspaper first before even bothering to read the front-page headlines.

One daily cartoon that I enjoy is Hamad Al-Gayeb‘s. Hamad is the daily cartoonist at Al-Wasat newspaper. I have actually featured some of his cartoons on this blog previously as I found them quite apt for the occasion.

Hamad has now produced his second cartoon book (and probably his first eBook) and with his permission, I offer it here for your download and viewing pleasure. You will be happy to note that he comments on each cartoon in English too.

You can also find more about the artist as well as his contact information on his own site at http://hamadcartoon.com.

Hamad Al-Gayeb cartoons
Click the picture to start downloading his eBook (pdf 2.6MB)


Preparing for Ramadhan

It’s only a few more days before the holy month of Ramadhan is once again upon us. I wish you all a fulfilling and spiritual time for the advent of this month.

Ramadhan cycle

Generally though, as far as my observation of the traditions we have in Bahrain are concerned, it will once again become the month of gluttony, wasted enterprise, lethargy and living like bats: sleeping all day and essentially partying all night. Generally.

Some, however, take this opportunity by the horns and use it to cleanse themselves physically and spiritually. Others get caught up in hording foodstuffs and traders use the opportunity to once again cash in.

The government, on the other hand, recurrently finds itself surprised that it can’t provide enough meat to a hording public, giving the impression that mis-planning is quite endemic and that having an exclusive importer of meat is not really a good idea but simply trudges on year upon year with no change in the offing to offer a solution to this problem.

A friend remarked the other day that he finds Bahrainis quite strange; he said that “The Bahraini trait must be PANIC!” I asked why? He said: “Well, they always get caught out and get surprised that schools are about to start so they panic buy at the last minute all the supplies their children need forgetting that they had the whole summer to do so; they get surprised that Ramadhan is so close and they go out and sweep all foodstuffs from markets regardless of their actual need and never plan for it, doing so once again at the last minute resulting in unnecessary acute supply shortages; and lastly, the Ministry of Electricity always gets surprised that summer has actually started and people’s demand for electricity has increased!”

I must say that I tend to agree with his assessments.

Why people can’t just treat Ramadhan as just another month physically but invest it in spiritually is beyond me. It has become nothing more than a trade event commercialised to fleece people who happily throw their limited amount of cash away and then grumble that they don’t have enough while their uneaten and thrown out food could quite easily feed every hungry person in the world.

Ramadhan Kareem everyone!


Destination unknown

This post might not be safe for work or for those under 18Of course it’s bloody well unknown if you watch this kind of video on a MTV while you’re already killing yourself on an elliptical cross-trainer from hell with a pulse monitor to boot.

Is it any wonder that my pulse jumped from 145 to over 160 bpms?

This was what was playing that early in the morning on MTV (not this Mtv mind you) and with the prevalence of satellite subscription in our homes, I am left aghast when confronted with this crap!

What is it, music can’t exist without showing an inordinate amount of flesh now? I know I sound like an old fogey here but I am really surprised that the situation descended to this level and as it has, I can guarantee you that it will descend even further. The days of using sexual innuendos to sell songs are over, my friends. Please welcome the era of all out sexual acts on public television screens to sell records!

Had that channel been marked as 18+ I wouldn’t mind one bit, but come on this is now simply ridiculous don’t you think?

The following video might not be safe for work or those under 18.


Vlog 41: The Nasfah

The 15th of Sha’abaan, the 8th month on the Muslim Hijri calendar holds special significance to Shi’a Muslims. On that night – called the Nasfah – they celebrate the birth of their last Imam, Imam Al-Mahdi, the 12th and last Shi’a Imam who went into occultation in 939AD. It is said that on his reappearance he will establish justice in the world and save humanity.

That’s the historical perspective. The practical one is that it’s yet another reason to celebrate as a community, give the children another reason to go from door to door singing ditties and getting coins and sweets! Another one is that it marks the real count-down to Ramadhan, only 15 days hence.

This year the celebrations coincided with the 28th of August and I was determined to shoot the scenes from a couple of the nearby villages of Duraz and Barbar despite the horrendous heat and humidity on that night, and the possibility of a yet again wet camera. I knew how to crack that one!

The result is the following vlog which I hope you will enjoy.

Have a wonderful Friday my friends, and happy celebrations wherever you are.


Big business delays progress of democracy in Bahrain

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Firm vows to bear 1pc cut in salary
The Bahrain National Holding Company announced yesterday that it is to bear the costs of the government’s one per cent unemployment benefit tax for its nearly 200-strong workforce.

Officials yesterday said the firm had already begun making deductions from staff salaries last month but that following a thorough management study, it was decided to ease the burden on employees. This includes employees of both of its fully owned subsidiaries, Bahrain National Insurance and Bahrain National Life.

This is a message to those companies whose officers are deluded by their “magnanimous gesture” of bearing the 1% unemployment benefits contribution on behalf of their employees: You are not doing Bahrain any favours, what you are doing is simply delaying the country’s progress in the long term.

We’ve all heard that idiom which says that the only two constants in life are death and taxation. Taxation has been hidden in our Gulf countries and has been named anything but its real name because of the prevailing thinking is that taxation is bad and we must promote our countries as tax havens. This is not a good thing. Whether we like it or not, we will have to pay income and corporate taxation sooner or later, and the sooner we get used to paying taxes, the better we will be.

Why? Because our lethargic and submissive culture will gradually change. When one pays their hard-earned cash into the government’s coffers, that person will ultimately demand to know how that money is being spent with all that simple demand entails: ultimately, a proper political representation and a proper voice in how our governments are run.

What these “do gooder” companies are doing is nothing but robbing us of that proper representation chance and delaying its onset by several years if not decades.

They should most certainly re-examine their position and think of the long term competitiveness and political stability of the country rather than providing this silly and unneeded momentary band-aid which will do nothing but prolong a much needed healing process.


Happy 36th Independence Day Bahrain!

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Bahrain F1 Grand Prix 2005 - 107

Today is the 36th anniversary of Bahrain gaining its independence from Great Britain. Although the day is not officially celebrated saving that holiday to the National Day which falls on December 16 of every year, it should not deter us as Bahrainis from reflecting on this historically joyous event.

Happy Independence Day Bahrain, may your people live long and prosper in social harmony and much happiness.


Shi’a Triple-Play

It’s like the Shi’a “leaders” in Bahrain are aiming for a home run; the bases are pretty loaded now, we just need one more good screw-ball pitch and we’re in!

Brilliant. Well done. Let’s ignore the first two points and concentrate on the third for now. The thing that prompted it is this picture:

Mixed shia and sunna prayer in the Bahraini parliament led by Jassim Al-Saidi, an Islamist Salafi Wahabi MP

The above, my friends is a prayer conducted in parliament led by Jassim Al-Saidi, a known Wahabi extremist and the guys praying behind him are (from L to R) Jawad Fairooz, Ali Salman, Adel Al-Moawdah and I don’t know the fourth person, but from their stances you would know that the first two are Shia while the second are Sunnis. Big deal, right? Actually, it should have been a cause for celebration as it shows that “the leaders” of both communities can actually co-exist and can accept the others; thus, firmly planting the seed of social cohesion and anti-sectarianism.

That’s the theory, but some has seen this event as a total and utter humiliation of the Shi’a! “Why would Ali Salman, the protégé of Isa Qassim – the defacto leader of the Shi’as in Bahrain – pray behind a known sectarian person from the Sunna? This is totally unacceptable, off with his head!”

The Al-Wefaq PR machine was overworked in the few days and weeks following that incident with various talks about that there is nothing wrong with it, etc. It was almost forgotten – well, in Bahrain things like this are never allowed to be forgotten, grudges are held for centuries! It has now resurfaced due to a huge stinker of a brainfart by the ex-labourer-now-member-of-parliament-turbaned-good-for-nothing-guy:

brainfartist MP Hamza Al-Dairy

منتدى الدير: ما هي قصة صلاتكم خلف السعيدي؟

الشيخ: أنا لم أصل خلف السعيدي لحد الآن، وكل واحد يعرف تكليفه، والأمور تقدر بقدرها، وبظروفها الموضوعية، أنا شخصياً أقول هذا هو ما يدعو إليه مذهبنا، هذا ما يدعو إليه أئمتنا صلوات الله عليهم، هذا هو ما يدعو إليه فقهاؤنا، هذا هو ما يراه ويلزم به الإمام رضوان الله تعالى عليه والسيد علي الخامنائي، أنا لا أتهمه بالنصب، لكن أقول إذا كان الشيخ السعيدي ناصبياً فإمام الحرم أكثر نصباً منه، ومع ذلك فالإمام الخميني والسيد الخامنائي يحرمون أن تصلي جماعة في بيتك في مكة والمدينة ويوجبون عليك أن تصلي خلفه.

منتدى الدير: في تصريح سابق للسعيدي لمنتدى الدير عندما سألناه عن إذا كان سيصلي خلف أبرز الرموز الشيعية في البحرين مثل الشيخ عيسى قاسم وذلك من أجل التقارب بين الطائفتين قال بأنه لن يصلي خلفه أبداً ما دام على عقيدته، لماذا دائماً تكون المبادرة من طرفنا نحن؟

النائب: لأننا مأمورون، أئمتنا يأمروننا بكذا، تكليفنا الشرعي يأمرنا بهذا.

منتدى الدير: هل تكليفنا الشرعي يأمرنا بالصلاة خلف النواصب؟

الشيخ حمزة الديري: نعم، نعم، يقول لنا صلوا خلفهم.
منتدى الدير – Google translation

This is beyond disgusting.

Now, as expected, the “wronged” party – Jassim Al-Saidi – has mounted his horse (rightly too I think) in demanding an apology not just for himself, but also for the imams of Mecca and Medina and wants Al-Wefaq – to which Al-Dairy belongs – to issue a statement declaring their position from Al-Dairy’s assertions. But Saidi, true to his reputation takes it even further:

وقال ”إن القول إنني ناصبي وإن أئمة الحرم هم اشد نصبا للعداء مني فهذا قول لا ينبغي السكوت عنه، وهو دعوة صريحة من احد أعضاء اكبر كتلة نيابية إلى التكفير والإرهاب ودعوة صريحة لتكفير الطائفة السنية في البحرين وخارجها وهي دعوة صفوية خبيثة تشبه إلى حد كبير الدعوات التي يطلقها التكفيريون بين حين وآخر في منتدياتهم وأقلامهم المسمومة التي تفرق ولا توحد وتكفر المسلمين من دون وجه حق”ØŒ حسب قوله. وأضاف السعيدي ”أن الديري اليوم لم يقذفني ويتهمني بالكفر ونصب العداء لآل البيت فحسب بل تعدى ذلك بالتطاول على رموز أهل السنة والجماعة وتعدى على أئمة أهل السنة والجماعة، واعتبر أن أهل السنة ينصبون العداء لآل البيت وتعدى بذلك الحدود الوطنية ليجعل القضية على مستوى الوطن الإسلامي، ويقول لهم إن صلاتكم في المسجد الحرام تعتبر صلاة وراء ناصبي، فأين هو من دعوات التهدئة وعدم التكفير وعدم التطاول على العملاء وشيوخ الدين؟ وأين هو من احترام مشاعر المسلمين الذين اتهمهم زورا وبهتانا بأباطيل لا أساس لها من الصحة؟”.
وأكد السعيدي ”أن صلاة الوفاق ورئيسهم ورائي لا ينبغي أن تكون بكل هذه الحساسية، فنحن المسلمين لا يوجد لدينا فرق بأن يؤمنا عربي أو أعجمي أو أسود أو أبيض طالما كان موحدا لله عز وجل لا يشرك به شيئا وأن التحرج الواضح من قبل الوفاق ومناصريها من الصلاة خلفي يدل على البغضاء المخفية في الصدور وعلى الحقد الدفين والكراهية لأهل السنة والجماعة”
الوقت – Google translation

And the spiral will continue with this slug-fest for a few weeks or even months and for tens of years it will be referred to to show “the depth of depravity of the other side” and what do we poor citizens get from this worthless parliament?

BD20 for every citizen which the government hasn’t even approved yet, so we realistically don’t get anything other than to continue to wade through the quagmire of sectarian strife perpetuated and propagated by none other than what we choose to call “our leaders” whom we have put in parliament and whom we pray behind.

We truly deserve the government we get.

The right and proper thing to do now, as far as Al-Wefaq is concerned, is immediately throw Al-Dairy out on his stupid ass. A person like this should not be allowed to represent us. He has damaged the cause of not just Al-Wefaq but the whole Shi’a community worldwide and has amply demonstrated his utter stupidity that Al-Wefaq does not need now.

By his own admission in the interview he classifies his contribution as zero, so Al-Wefaq will not be missing his brain-juice. Throw the stupid twerp OUT. NOW!

nasbi – ناصبي – is a person who declares his hate of the progeny of prophet Mohammed and regards himself as their enemy, which in essence makes the person a heretic. By inference that person also detests the Shi’a and all that entails. A very choice word for an elected member of parliament to use, is it not?



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I’m not going to bother to write too much about this as it happens again and again and they never learn, or maybe they actually do and it is the price they have to pay in order to keep their seats. Proof really that the US President and his whole government enchilada are simply the best salesmen and women the world has ever known.

We give them oil at preferred rates, they allow us to buy their weapons which we can’t use but are very adept at obsoleting before we even learn they are actually in our stores and someone (or more) keeps a fat commission – which is a wholly legitimate business practice of course.

This sales cycle this time has been aided and abetted by our dear beloved big neighbour to the East with dickheads like Shariatmadari fanning the flames and the pipers shriek and point their fingers across the swamp dancing frantically about like lunatics: “see they want to take us over, we have to protect ourselves from those Safawi turbaned mad men!” Completely forgetting that the best way to solve perceived problems with neighbours is discussion and engagement, not buying more useless weapons which will undoubtedly escalate mistrust and lead to an arms race the only winners of which are the arms manufacturers.

“Yeah,” they say, “look they are supporting Hamas, Hizbollah, Nahr Al-Bared, Al-Qaeda, and more that we don’t know about. They want to topple our governments, we have to prepare for them attacking us!”

You fools! They don’t have to attack us. They are not the danger. The real danger is your geriatric autocratic non-participatory and exclusionary rule!

What “they” might to do is just egg our people on by simply (and ironically) pointing out that we should demand that our regimes be made more democratic. Come on admit it, the prospect makes you shake in your Jesus boots, doesn’t it? Well, get used to it guys because inclusion and sharing power are the only factors that will allow your tenuous rule to last.

So what are we to do? Beg the Americans to arm us to the teeth, completely and docilely acquiescing to their requests, or should we think for a change and apply logic to our relationships, or should just plonk down our and future generations much needed funds to buy weapons of no use? That’s always the easiest well trusted option isn’t it? Throw money at a problem and hope that it will go away; if it doesn’t, just throw more money at it.

Shouldn’t that money be used for infrastructural projects, for education and health, save it for the future generations who will not enjoy the benefits of the oil dollar?

Nah, throw it at Mr. Bush and Co. and beg like dogs with tongues lolling about, paws up, waiting for that absent minded scratch on the head and the occasional pat with the soothing growl: “good boy, down, stay!”

Why is it so difficult for grown men – those we choose to call “our leaders” – to engage, sit around a table with a genuine will to solve problems rather than exacerbate them? Is it too difficult to comprehend that discussing regional problems sincerely provides lasting peace much more than whatever weapons could provide?

Didn’t we have enough of wars in this God forsaken region?


BBC’s “Crossing Continents” does Bahrain

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Bill Law will be persona non-grata for a while in Bahrain I guess after this program and his Telegraph article about our fair isle.

Unrest in paradise
direct link to radio program which might be customarily removed a week after it is broadcast

Bahrain is increasingly featured in holiday brochures as a relaxing winter-sun destination for the weary north European.

The image Bahrain projects is one of a wealthy, progressive and open society – an evolving Arab democracy.

But there is a different story behind the prosperity and glitz.


BBC Radio 4’s Crossing Continents was broadcast on Thursday, 26 July 2007 at 1102 BST.
It will be repeated on Monday, 30 July 2007 at 2030 BST.

Presenter: Bill Law
Producer: Linda Pressly
Editor: Maria Balinska