Tag Archives Culture

In memory of my father

His memory is still very fresh in my mind. His sense of humour, his easy manner, his friendliness, his openness, his kindness, his love, his single mindedness, his art, his determination, his touch, his smile, his smell, his personality. Everything about him is still in my mind and I don’t think that will ever leave me.

Slowly though, only the good memories remain and my utter gratefulness for having had a father like him; I hope when my time is up my children will remember me with half the fondness that I harbour for my own father.

Nasser Al-Yousif, the founder of contemporary fine arts in Bahrain - 1940 - 16 June 2006

My brother Jamal is in the process of making an excellent site in which he exhibits some of our dad’s work and also has collected a good number of articles written by and about Nasser Al-Yousif, the founder of the contemporary art movement in Bahrain.

I still miss you dad. You are, and will always be my hero. May you live for ever.


St Christopher’s School GCSE Art Exhibition 2007

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St Christopher's School GCSE Art Exhibition 2007

St Christopher’s School GCSE Art Exhibition 2007, originally uploaded by malyousif.

Panorama of one of the rooms used to display student’s artwork, some of which is very creative, others very daring and a few combine both facets.

Well worth visiting, which is by appointment only for the next two weeks. You need to contact the school to be able to view the exhibit from 8am to 2pm.

Both my daughters Amna and Hanan participated in this one.


Walla akher zaman… a poor foreign woman becomes a government minister!

Hah! What is this world coming to? Don’t they have respect for class, for the local people, for men? What the hell has she got to become the Minister of Justice in France?

Rachida Dati - French justice minister

Lawyer Rachida Dati, named as French justice minister by President Sarkozy, is the first person of North African origin to hold a top government post in Paris.

She was born in 1965 to an Moroccan mason father and an Algerian mother, one of 12 children raised in humble circumstances.

At the age of 16, she started working as a carer in a private clinic.

The premature death of her mother forced her to look after her younger sisters and brothers.

“My mother was the light of my life. When I lost her, I thought I had been punished,” she says.

Working by day, learning by night, she gained degrees in both economics and law, and went on to work for various public and private companies – including a spell working as an accountant for French oil giant Elf.
profile on BBC News

She should be ashamed of herself working hard from a poor background to even dream of becoming a teacher in government schools, let alone become the Justice minister in one of the major countries in the world.

Had this been in Bahrain – or any other Arab country for that matter – we’d simply tell her to not move from her designated place and be “pragmatic”. In other words, we would tell her مشّي بوزش Ùˆ ولا في عرس أمش إتحصلين شي حتى لو تقطعت جِبدش.

I wonder if she has to breastfeed anyone now to be able to work in a mixed environment.


Gimme Boob!

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Don’t laugh, this is serious:

احتدم جدل بين علماء دين في مصر ووصل إلى البرلمان بعد فتوى لرئيس قسم الحديث بجامعة الأزهر، تبيح ‘’إرضاع الكبير’’، في وقت انتقدت صحف عدة تدريس كتاب في هذا القسم يؤكد أن الإرضاع يحلل الخلوة بين رجل وامرأة غريبة عنه في مكاتب العمل المغلقة، بحسب موقع ‘’العربية.نت’’.
الوقت – ١٨ مايو ٢٠٠٧

What that little gem above states that a brainfartist at Al-Azhar, that “islamic university” which has imprisoned Kareem due to what they categorise as blasphemous comments on his blog which scorned the greatest and last religion on Earth, has done much more to completely insult our religion – you know, the one they are sworn to protect? – by a brainfart of a fatwa (or as we say in colloquial Bahraini – and this is a literal translation of the “fart” part of the phrase: faswa) – which is supposed to help women who share offices with male colleagues. This is in the same stream of “elevating women and putting them on a pedestal” of course.

What the right dishonourable twat issued his fatwa that should a woman share an office with a male colleague, which is haram (verboten, forgetaboutit, nowayjosé, gostraighttohellanddonotpassgo), as unmarried males and females should not mix, she must be accompanied with a chaperon, or she should breast feed that adult male five times in order for their unchaperoned existence together be Islamically lawful, halal!

How about that for flexibility? Who said that Islam was a rigid religion?

Now. I would not be surprised that men all over the Muslim world standing erect while a queue of women pass by, boobs hanging out and breast feeding the line in order to protect their rights and allow them to live in a halal environment with men.

Islam – according to the respected Al-Azhar, that edifice of education and protector of our religion and spreader of blaspheming law suits, not only condones this sort of behavior, but encourages heads of departments to research and produce this sort of edict!


Hands off our throats!

Shaikh Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, Bahraini crown prince

واعرب سمو ولي‮ ‬العهد في‮ ‬حديث لرئيس التحرير على متن الطائرة الملكية،‮ ‬عن آسفه لموقف الوزراء الذي‮ ‬وصفه بانه‮ ‬غير مسؤول من‮ »‬ربيع الثقافة‮«‬،‮ ‬وقال‮ »‬ان لا أحد قال كلمة طيبة وانا مستاء جدا وموقفي‮ ‬هذا نابع من حرصي‮ ‬على المستقبل‮«.‬

وحذر سمو ولي‮ ‬العهد من ان فكرا‮ ‬غير مسؤول وسياسات ضيقة تخدم فئة معينة،‮ ‬تهدد المواطنين والأجانب العاملين في‮ ‬القطاع المصرفي‮ ‬الذي‮ ‬يوفر نحو ‮٥.١ ‬مليار دينار لاقتصاد البحرين،‮ ‬مشيرا سموه إلى أن هذه التصرفات‮ »‬تهدد مستقبل أبنائنا وتفرح منافسينا‮«. ‬

ووجه سمو ولي‮ ‬العهد‮ »‬نداء شخصيا لكل مواطن أيا كان،‮ ‬حتى وإن كان قد عمل ضدنا في‮ ‬السابق أن‮ ‬ينتمي‮ ‬إلى حركة جديدة اصلاحية تريد الازدهار والتنمية وأن‮ ‬يتركوا عنهم الأمور التي‮ ‬تشغلنا عن الهدف الرئيسي‮«‬،‮ ‬مشددا سموه على أن ما‮ ‬يحدث في‮ ‬البحرين من مشاغبات واضطرابات لم‮ ‬يؤثر على ايمانه بالديمقراطية التي‮ ‬تحتاج فقط إلى الحوار المستمر والمشاركة والشجاعة‮.

Al-Ayam :: 2 April 2007

Finally, someone came out and unequivocally slapped those moronic Islamist MPs and put them in their place. And that someone is the crown prince, so we can expect our effervescent MPs to now dither and dodge and try diligently to look and act like headless chickens caught in heavy traffic to “revise” their positions.

Thanks your highness, you’ve set the required standard and showed not only our dear beloved elected MPs but the cowardly ministers who didn’t enough backbone to stand up to the dimwits and ensure that they protect the constitution by simply defending the guaranteed freedoms that taking a moderate line and abiding by the constitution they swore to uphold is no longer just talk but a basic requirement of their jobs.

Well done! It’s about time.

Update 4/4/07: English translation of the interview is available here

related: Gulf News coverage.


Shift Happens

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JJ sent me this video this morning (thanks!) which is a must see. It puts things in stark perspective.

After watching this, would you like to discuss the educational rut we are in in not only Bahrain but the whole Middle East? I have maintained that if we do not embrace this shift wholeheartedly then very soon the whole world will change our name to the Middle Ages, and quite deservedly too.


MPs with Religious Police mentality

I am quite convinced that this parliament doesn’t know why it was actually voted in. Apart from the sectarian overtones in almost every thing they do, they cannot distinguish between parliamentary work from that of the pulpit. Let me aid them in understanding the simple difference: the first is legislative and the other is advisory. To amplify the explanation on the latter; being an adviser does not give that person nor body the exclusive keys to nirvana, and the adviser should be prepared to see his advice be discarded regardless of how right he or she thinks it is.

وافق مجلس النواب بغالبية أعضائه أمس على تشكيل لجنة تحقيق برلمانية بشأن بعض الرقصات والأشعار التي قدمت خلال مهرجان «ربيع الثقافة»، الذي تنظمه وزارة الإعلام

A parliamentary probe committee was formed yesterday to investigate acts by performers in the Spring of Culture festival, which have been labelled un-Islamic.

Taking the above into consideration, what business is it of the illustrious Chamber of Representatives to force upon us their own myopic view of right and wrong? And which part of the legislative or even advisory mandates confers upon them the right to restrict what people should do, see or deem enjoyable art? Especially considering that the constitution of our societal makeup would never condone lewd conduct in any case, a fact that has been fully observed by the organisers, that we need these publicly elected representatives of the people to attempt to once again save us from our selves and force their own personal interpretations on a whole country?

This is what we get after 100 days of being in office?

While other parliaments strive to display what their members and governments have achieved in their first 100 days in office in order to show the seriousness with which they regard the trust placed in them by their electors; what we get here is a chamber full of prancing ignoramuses having foot-stomping fist thumping tantrums in response to a cultural show by a nationally renowned poet, an excellent musician, and a dance troop who attempted to translate both into motion.

Grow up, for goodness’ sake, just   g r o w  u p   already.

Your behaviour is shameful.


I didn’t go!

Marcel Khalife - originally uploaded by Mahnaz Ganji

And I’m kicking myself for not getting tickets ahead of time. I am really angry with myself, this was a golden opportunity that I was waiting for for some time now to attend Marcel Khalife’s performance and the last two nights were apparently magical especially that this time Marcel was in collaboration with Bahraini poet Qassim Haddad with an interpretation of Majnoon Layla.

Bahraini poet Qassim Haddad

The performance was so good that the Islamists are up in arms against it threatening to question the minister of information and sms messages have been doing the rounds against the Spring of Culture generally. And when these things happen, you know that you missed a major cultural event, as culture is the very farthest thing from those peoples’ minds.

I envy all of those who attended, but applaud them for showing “the others” that we – unlike them – do appreciate culture and want more of it.



Hoora Cemetery

We went to bury a relation yesterday. The old lady was ill for a long while unfortunately.

She was much loved by her children, relations and the community around her.

May she rest in peace now.

This is the "Shi’a" cemetery in Hoora, in the Bahraini capital Manama. Due to the copious rains we’ve had recently, even the cemetery got clothed in green and yellow all around, particularly the weed Senecio glaucus which is a nice change for this sad and normally drab place.

There are specific rights to the Muslim burials; chief amongst them is that the head of the deceased must be laid toward Mecca (the feet pointing away from it); hence you see all the graves are aligned in that direction (towards the West in Bahrain) the face, not the head, of the deceased must face Mecca. In Bahrain’s case, Mecca is to the West, so all graves are aligned North (head) to South (feet). The body is laid on its side so that the face faces the West (toward Mecca). The dead person must be washed in a specific way before burial, and then the body is laid in the ground shrouded in cloth.

The cleric then reads from the Quran and implores Allah to take mercy on the deceased then the grave is closed by heaping sand in.

After that the family line up under a specially constructed awning (it gets rather hot in this area, especially in summer) to receive the condolences.

They retire after that either to the condolence hall in their city or village where they continue to read from the Quran and receive condolences for 3 days.

On the afternoon on the third and final day they go back to the grave and read from the Quran and bid he deceased farewell and with that the official mourning ends.

Some people continue to visit the graves of the dead especially on Thursday afternoon or Friday morning to read from the Quran and continue to implore God to take care of their beloved.

Part of this process is a contentious point between various Muslim sects; what I described above is what the Shi’a do, the Sunna follow a slightly different route in the peripheral issues, but remain the same in the core.

The really beautiful thing about this particular funeral, is that it resolutely demonstrated the goodness of Bahrainis and that they do not care at all about sectarian differences.

Both Sunna and Shi’a stood behind the coffin and performed the "prayer of the dead" lead by a Shi’a cleric. There wasn’t a moment’s hesitation of whether one would stand and perform his duty by praying for the dead person; they just stood there, some crossed their arms as they would in their prayers, while others let their arms hang to their sides normally. Both listened to the words intoned by the cleric, and all responded by repeating "Allah Akbar" at the appropriate times.

This typifies Bahrain, I think. We might bicker sometimes about peripheral issues, but when it comes to the real thing, to the core issues, we are united and don’t believe in differences between us. There are only a few who promote sectarian differences, but because of the central goodness of within us Bahrainis, we will most surely defeat them. This funeral demonstrated this completely.

The picture shows people just leaving the grave site after the burial formalities.

May Allah accept the soul of the dearly departed to His bosom. I ask you to think about this lady in your prayers.

edit: thanks to Ali for correcting me on this major slip! Sorry :blush:


Spring of Culture 2007

34 cultural events over 6 weeks.

This is what is promised for a cultural extravaganza par excellence in Bahrain.

34 events of art, poetry, music, dance, lighting, theatre, lectures, sound, sculpture, vision and emotion.

34 dishes to feed your mind and soul in some of the most thrilling locations in Bahrain.

Once again Arad Fort will host live events from all over the globe: the Caracalla Dance Theatre on March 7th, Youssou N’dour on the 9th, Osaka Dadada-Dan Tenko taiko drummers on the 11th, The Chehade Brothers with Tony Hanna on the 15th and just before the Bahrain F1 Grand Prix weekend, we’ll be able to enjoy Brasil Brasileiro on the 12th and 13th of April. I want to attend them all, but even if I attend a couple I shall be very happy.

Arad Fort, Bahrain

Other events I’m rather looking forward to is the first ever pharaonic exhibition to be held in Bahrain. The legendary displays and artifacts will be housed in the Bahrain National Museum from March through to July.

Then we have the various art exhibitions and displays at the most influential art galleries in town: Al-Bareh, Al-Rewaq and La Fontaine as well as the Art Centre by the Museum. Of those there are too many that I would like to attend, but two I shall make every effort to visit are my late father’s dear friend Ibrahim Bu-Sa’ad’s art exhibition at the Bahrain Art Society from 18th – 27th of March and the Zimbabwean sculptures at Al-Bareh from March 20th – 30th and I do hope that I will have a little money to add to my Zimbabwean sculpture collection!

This time, I will make sure that I do not miss Marcel Khalife‘s inauguration of the festival; this time I am especially looking forward to be there as Marcel will – for the first time ever – be premiering a performance based on our very own Bahraini poet Qassim Haddad. Marcel will be reinterpreting Qassim Haddad’s “Laila wal Majnoun” (Laila and the mad man) through his own particular brand of music, coupled with song and dance. An cultural Bahriani/Lebanese Opera!

More brainfood is awaiting us all as well, just look at who’s coming to share their thoughts with us: Professor Mohammed Arkoun’s going to lecture about “the issue of humanism in Western & Muslim contemporary societies”; Patrick Seale will talk about the “conflict in the Middle East” both of which I think would probably be well worth attending.

This year particularly, the Spring of Culture is a true cultural event catering to every facet of the word. This year, the partners that Shaikha Mai bint Mohammed Al-Khalifa – the undersecretary of culture and heritage at the Ministry of Information – has managed to bring into the events certainly add to the variety of the experience. She didn’t stop there, she announced that next year’s SoC will be bigger and better and will have a new major venue added to its location: next year we will enjoy these major events against the backdrop of Bahrain Fort! By that time, the Delmon Museum should have been finished too in the location of the fort and the venue really spruced up. Just imagine, the spectator stands will extend over the sea and they will watch the thrilling, artistically lit fort as a backdrop. That in itself will be a thrilling experience!

Caracalla Lebanese Dance Theatre

I applaud Shaikha Mai and her colleagues for their endeavors, they have certainly lynched the whole cultural arena in Bahrain from slumber. More power to them.

Kudos also go to the EDB and Batelco for helping create this event.

Batelco donated BD100k for the pleasure of being associated with such an event as a main sponsor and Peter K might actually take my suggestion of streaming some of the events on the net so that a wider international public can enjoy them. I realise that these broadcasts are mired in copyright issues; however, even facilitating a 5 minute wrap per day would be great to be made available for streaming, as well as those events that do not require much money for the pleasure of re-broadcasting of course.

I know that I will be vlogging the event as much as I can, and it would be great if I can coordinate with others who intend to shoot the events so we can create a program that we can upload to YouTube or our own websites.

The budget for the main Arad Fort events, the advertising campaigns and other functions exceeded BD800k this year. This does not include the contributions of private galleries who are footing their bills themselves. It is a modest budget for such a cultural event, one that other countries might blow on a single night’s function, but as Shaikha Mai recalled a remark made to her by a renowned poet (and I paraphrase): “Bahrain is small but packs a huge punch when it comes to culture!”

Bahrain, it is these events that help brighten the light at the end of the tunnel. It is these events that ameliorate the frayed edges of passions in this society. It is these events that makes one proud to be Bahraini. It is these kind of events that allow us to concentrate on the central message of being Just Bahraini.

Have a wonderful Spring of Culture my friends. I wish you all well.