Tag Archives frustration

The Reason Innovation is Dead in Bahrain

The Reason Innovation is Dead in Bahrain

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Tell me how this is helping innovation in Bahrain?

The slow speed and high cost of broadband Internet here ensures that innovation is dead in Bahrain. Shouldn’t someone pay attention to this? Isn’t knowledge capital the only thing we could have in Bahrain as every other resource is either depleted or just not available? Isn’t the fix more than readily available? Shouldn’t an island as small as ours be encased in free wireless broadband that will strategically encourage innovation?

This is so frustrating.


Update: After that tirade, I called my ISP (MenaTelecom) and they chirplilly told me that I’m out of bandwidth. Their suggestion? I’m on a “very old package” that has been replaced now with a lower price and more bandwidth capacity and newer devices. Yes. It doesn’t seem to be their policy to tell their incumbent clients of this new thing, but only do so when they complain.

I’m paying BD45 for 60GB per month at 10mbps. The new package is BD40 per month for 200GB and higher speed!

Go. [email protected] figure.

Meanwhile in other places in the world:

According to Starkloff, “Everyone has a bit of a different definition of what 5G is. But it’s the next iteration of cellular standards, with a goal of a 50 times faster data rate than the most advanced Wi-Fi networks today. To give an example, the expectation is that a 5G network can stream a two-hour movie in less than three seconds.”

start weeping by reading more about 5G


A Letter from Arif Aldoseri to the Minister of Housing

A Letter from Arif Aldoseri to the Minister of Housing

A video letter from a Bahraini citizen – Arif Aldoseri – to the minister of housing (in Arabic). Worth watching as it shows you what normal citizens in Bahrain are suffering from as they live in a country rich enough in resources and have many billions of US Dollars pumped into it by neighbouring countries.

This is symptomatic of the government’s continued failure in various sectors. The way that these situations could be corrected is by holding the government to account by the people. Unfortunately, those in Parliament whose job it is to ensure accountability and a sustainable future for the country are very complicit in those continued government failures. And unless proper representation is achieved, a more equitable distribution of national wealth and the establishment of social justice permeates all aspects of this country, we shall continue going through the strife we have experienced for decades.

Merry Christmas!


iOS 4.2 is out!

I’ve been trying to download the bloody thing for an hour and it keeps disconnecting with various errors. I guess literally millions are downloading it at the same time, I wonder if the servers have had enough? I’ve had the same problem with 4.1 I remember…

Apple should decentralise these updates to ease the load.

Anyone already has it installed who can give us a “real” review of how it is on the iPad and the other devices?


Frustration, a good catalyst for change

I can fully understand our Crown Prince’s frustration with the government and officially welcome him into our ranks, the ranks of I would say the majority of Bahrainis whose only recourse to their frustration is to habitually bang heads against solid walls of stasis and fear of change. To the government, they think that they are simply doing their job, to the rest of Bahrain, we once again recognise yet another missed opportunity to progress.

The cost is huge. It is truly a matter of life or death to this country. What is amazing is that for 40 years or more we have been on a downward spiral which almost got us to the state of a forgotten backwater, when those around us have been enjoying the fruits of their foresight. Yet, when we get someone who wants to effect real change, he and his sincere ideas for progress find inordinate opposition.

It is as if they are saying that change, whatever it is, is not welcome in this country.

Labour reforms, educational reforms, economic reforms as well as political reforms have all but died in the last few months. We are at a stage now of lethargic existence. ‘Who cares’ is a phrase oft repeated by all and sundry.

His Highness Shaikh Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, Crown Prince of Bahrain, addresses luncheon guests and members of the US-Bahrain Business Council

From the heydays of 2001 when enthusiasm for welcome change and new beginnings was palpable. When a Bahraini walked tall in the streets and wore a beaming smile welcoming an expectant and inclusive future is all but been destroyed now. It is a state that one is forgiven in believing that it is completely stage-managed: ‘Get the people so frustrated in order to kill every single spark of enthusiasm for this country and its people’.

The proof of this condition is quite plain to see: frustration is the norm, torturers continue to walk amongst us with impunity, sectarian hatred is rife and its perpetrators continue to go unmolested – in actual fact they continue to be promoted and enjoy complete immunety from accountability, the dangerous policy of demographic change goes unabated, transparency is opaque at best and corruption has escalated. Almost all international metrics about this country have deteriorated and there seems to be no will to correct them.

This of course translates into public unrest. People have become so frustrated that they now believe only complete change will correct the situation. 2007 saw some 113 demonstrations a lot of which turning violent. These resulted in imprisonment, hospitalisation and even fatalities.

Parliament continues to exacerbate the situation even further. They have not considered any action beyond narrow sectarian parameters. They have even abrogated their intrinsic responsibility of oversight by habitually refusing to utilise one of their constitutional tools to question ministers due to nothing more than sectarian considerations. Their role has been limited – willingly – to publication of press releases castigating people for using their constitutionally guaranteed freedoms of expression!

Anti-naturalisation demonstration in Bahrain

The country is directionless. It is in dire straights and requires a good captain to step up on deck and take control of the rudder to navigate it out of these turbid waters.

I believe that our crown prince, with his amply demonstrated leadership qualities and commitment to the country, is the right person to lead this change. He has shown that he can take criticism with an open mind, is inclusive in his approach by eliciting and acting upon views even from the opposition as we have witnessed through his various reforms workshops. He is young and tenacious with a clear vision. He should be given an honest and unfettered chance to push that vision and ideas through.

playClick to listen to the Crown Prince’s interview with Turki Al-Dakheel at FIKR6
Arabic :: mp3 :: 38 minutes

His frustration has obviously been brewing for some time. The evidence of which was during the recent FIKR6 conference in Bahrain where to everyone’s surprise (and other’s chagrin) he digressed from his planned opening remarks by appending a passionate and clear appeal to the people to show the leadership that we are frustrated with the state at which we find our country. He went further and encouraged everyone to highlight government meddling and its hindering of necessary projects. “Get your voice to the leadership” was a resonating call in halls filled with intellectuals and decision makers.

He amplified on this call even more during his interview with Turki Al-Dakheel where he boldly pointed out that a government’s main job should be limited to three things: Defence, Security and Justice.

He was time and again harassed by the interviewer who rightly pointed out that this is not he case at all in any Arab government, but the prince was adamant in his belief. He time and again affirmed his vision that he wants Bahrain to go in this direction. He seemed to not have any doubt in his mind that this is the way to go. This is the ultimate vision he is working toward.

Those remarks, so publicly expounded, must have shaken a few cradles. His efforts continued to be thwarted. But now, it seems he has reached a turning point. In a highly visible public gesture, he has notified the King of his frustration and laid the ball completely at the King’s feet. It is now up to the King to ensure that the government change and that the role of the Economic Development Board – which the crown prince heads – is affirmed in unambiguous terms to be the exclusive agency in charge of national economic policies.

That mandate has now been given.

What the effects of this clear mandate is, will become clear in the next few days and weeks. I just hope that those effects will be expedited by the removal of the gargantuan guardians of that wall of regression. New blood must be infused into a representative and forward looking cabinet to effect much awaited and desperately needed change.

The world does not wait for us to make up our minds and does not stand on ceremony either. It wants results and a clear indication that we mean business in a modern and transparent way; else, other markets are wide open to receive the world’s benevolence. We are very welcome to continue to reside in the quagmire of one of the last remaining backwaters in the world.



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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?


The Housing Problem

Bahrain 2030 Master Plan by SOM

The topic du jure is housing. My friends Tawfiq Al-Rayyash is livid that one of his ex-colleagues at Al-Wefaq political society has suggested that Bahrainis should go vertical – we should be content enough to live in flats rather than houses – but in the process, Tawfiq also shares with us some juicy details of the inner workings of Al-Wefaq!

Mohammed Maskati is teed off too, but from the angle that the Ministry of Housing has now put procedures in place that only those who earn less than BD900 in combined salaries (working couples) are now ineligible for subsidized government housing, and as he is fortunate enough to earn much higher than that limit, he feels that he is left unfairly out although Bahrainis are constitutionally guaranteed adequate housing and jobs.

Guys, I understand your frustration but although I am thankful that I own a house, financed through sheer hard work over 15 years in business I was able to save the required down payment and plonk it down to buy it. It will be a while before I pay the off the loan, but I am happy enough to do so.

The inability to buy a house of my choosing and the lifestyle that I wanted were actually the chief reason for me leaving Gulf Air all those years ago although I was earning much higher than the current BD900/1200 limits, I saw that “a salary” will never allow me to live the way I want to live. So I opted out and started my own business and that has been difficult to be sure, but the reward at the end is worth it.

I am no where near the goal of self sufficiency and I am already seriously looking into ways to double my income. There is no way that I could do that by holding a job.

My advice? Manage your finances and create and abide by a personal priority list. Read Ammar’s excellent pointers on managing your finances and start implementing them now. If you feel that you don’t have time and want to have that house NOW, then maybe you should think of creative business ideas (which are full time, part time for this just doesn’t work) and start making your “serious” money! But that’s just a pipe dream as businesses can very easily fail and do carry various risks. There is unfortunately no easy short-cut for you to take.

Either way, I would rather not wait for a hand-out from the government – even though it is my constitutional right to have subsidized housing provided for me – and go out there and get it myself and that’s exactly what I did.

But let’s put things in perspective: the housing provided by the government and its subsidies for this housing/land purchase/building/renting etc is meant specifically really for those with limited income and those who earn BD900 and above could hardly be called limited income! Those are well within “the middle class”. The issue then transforms into that person’s inability to buy a house or land to build on because of the prices involved. Well, let’s look into that: Bahrain Credit asks for 25% as down payment and they would be happy to finance for 15 years.

I know in other societies, first time buyers are encouraged to buy small and then sell and move up the scale as their financial abilities become better. Taking this principal in mind, an average first-time house or flat would be in the range of BD50,000 – 75,000. The down payment required (BC KFH) would be in the range of BD12,500 – 18,750. If a young couple both work and save BD500 per month from their combined salary they would need just 25-38 months. That’s a reasonable timescale I think.

If you would rather wait until you can afford to buy a BD500,000 house then you’d probably be ill-advised in doing so as the waiting period is far too long for most people and all that time you are waiting you’re paying rent which does amount to a considerable sum.

The above, I think, is not the real issue though – but detractors are latching on to it because it is an easy to understand issue, they know the level of frustration associated with it and they also know that their audience will be receptive to what’s coming next, the real issues they want to tackle: absence of social justice, unequal distribution of land and wealth (pdf – 8.6MB – arabic), etc.

Unfortunately, doing it this way brings passion into it and it becomes an emotive issue which robs it of its importance. These entangled issues should be separated and explained in a concise manner to people so that they can be realistically identified and addressed to seek resolution. Continuing to shout that “we don’t have affordable housing” and then point at the vast tracts of undeveloped land while the Ministry of Housing continuing to maintain that all but 3% of the land is available to it to develop for the public good (97% in private hands) just mushes up the issues.