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Condolences

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I wish to offer our deepest condolences to our friend Sadeq Al-Shehab for the sad demise of his grandfather, and my friend Mazin’s (of Mazin Computer Centre) father, a couple of days ago after a short illness. May his soul rest in peace.

Due to this sad event, may I propose that we postpone the bloggers’ gathering which is supposed to be tomorrow night to next week as a mark of respect?

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BBG18 done and dusted

Just back from our 18th Bahrain bloggers’ gathering, which this time happened at Cinnabon in the Diplomatic Area, by the Crown Plaza.

Present this time were Strav, Sadeq Shehabi, Mohammed Muskati, Salman Rahmah, Tariq Khonji and myself. It was fun and lively this time. It’s the first time for me at Cinnabon, it’s quite spacious and although Salman complained that the music was a bit too loud, it was tolerable and we could hear each other talking.

The talk was good and constructive; we discussed not only ways to increase the awareness of blogging in Bahrain, but also giving something back to the community by creating seminars/workshops, as well as other initiatives concerned with blogging:

    1. Meet with relevant newspaper editors to talk to them about blogging and explore ways to get them to feature us in their papers in a regular fashion.
    2. Firm up the place and time of the monthly gathering so that everyone knows where it is without it having to be announced every time, and without going through shenanigans every single time! So from now on, the Bahrain Bloggers’ Gathering will happen on the first Thursday of the month, at 8pm at Cinnabon in the Diplomatic Area and you are more then welcome to join us, bloggers as well as our esteemed readers.
    3. I will once again do a weekly roundup of Bahraini blogs and post it here. The best day for me to do that I think is Friday. This is by no means in competition with GV, it’s more like a complementary thing.
    4. That roundup will be issued as a Press Release and sent to ALL the local papers where they are more than welcome to publish it.
    5. I will create a free blog hosting service on my server. I’ve still to find the technical details and consider bandwidth budgets and all that, but I think it is very doable. If you know of a WordPress multi-site plugin or installation method/documentation, please let me know. If you are a business and would like to sponsor the creation of this new service, please contact me

This is all done in the hope of increasing blogging and its awareness in Bahrain particularly, and the region of course, but as we currently enjoy much better freedoms of expression in Bahrain compared to others in the region, it would be foolish not to use this right.

Thanks to all who attended, and we really missed those who didn’t but hope that you enjoyed your evening nevertheless… which brings in another question that was raised: do you think that we should move the gathering to a weekday night instead of Thursday? Would that encourage you to attend? How about doing the gathering on Thursday but earlier in the day, say around 5pm?

Do you have any other input to the thoughts outlined above? Your thoughts would be highly appreciated.

G’night!

update: 060505L1624 – forgot to mention that Strav was actually with us too! Me bad. Anyway, please visit his blog for his take of he gathering and some pictures too. Sorry Strav!

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Bahrain Bloggers’ Gathering

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It’s almost that time of the month again…

What: Bahrain Bloggers’ and their readers’ monthly chinwag
Where: Al-Bareh Cafe
When: 6th April 2006 at 2000hrs (that’s 8pm to non-airline/military folk)
How much: Approximately BD6 per person if you’re having dinner, which is highly recommended!

We need to know the number of people coming; hence, I would appreciate you entering a comment here or giving me a ring to let me know who is/isn’t coming. Many thanks…

Map follows

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International bloggers meet

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We were fortunate enough to meet fellow bloggers last night at Dar Al-Bareh Cafe where we had a simply scrumptious dinner AND had quite a nice discussion going about blogging experiences as well as had the wonderful opportunity to attend the opening of “Contemporary Huroof” Arabic caligraphy exhibition.

Contemporary Huroof exhibition at Dar Al-Bareh Art Gallery, Bahrain

Notes were compared between Bahraini and Belgian bloggers where we found that we do have more common ground than we anticipated, even though most Belgian bloggers present belonged on a single “ShockLog” as they termed it, and we cannot and should not base this experience to generalise as to what the Belgian blogging scene is like.

The wonderful thing about the evening is that we did exchange points of view, the Belgians were genuinely interested in our culture and were trying to find common-ground as well as trying to decipher differences between our Muslim culture and theirs. The only regret is that we didn’t have enough time in the real world to explore all of the points and questions raised.

This was also the first bloggers’ meeting where we actually had a semblance of formal structure where every person present was invited to share his or her thoughts on the basic questions bloggers always get asked: why did you start? when did you start? and what’s keeping you going? The answers received were as varied as those present. The “glue” between all of these answers however was invariably curiosity to explore, and exposition to invite exploration.

The impressive thing to me about the meeting was the points shared than those contended. The Belgian blogosphere is far more advanced that we have in Bahrain, or the Gulf for that matter. Two of those present have gotten married because of blogging! More power to them, even though the husband, due to “real life” had to give up blogging to take care of business, the wife continues to participate in the Belgian blogosphere and continues to create waves. She is not alone there, at wadda.be she is joined by some 40,000 unique visitors a day discussing various topics of mutual interest. Those distill to about 16 TERABYTES of transfers per MONTH! Thank goodness that the main blog is owned by Cain Ransbottyn (yes, that’s his real name!) and he is joined by 25 moderators to keep the main site ticking.

Technically, Cain told us what to expect if and when we reach his particular blogging stratosphere: he uses 42 (yes, forty-two) servers to serve his site, fronted by 4 other servers for distribution of load balancing, and backed up by several 40,000 Euro-priced database servers! Sure the equipment costs quite a lot, but Cain says that they are actually turning a profit due to the advertising (whom one person on this site had taken offense by) which is not always porn related.

War stories were exchanged of course. But those are not interesting. The interesting part of the evening; however, was to seeming convincing (finally) of Tariq Khonji to start his own blog! He hasn’t decided completely yet, so please encourage him to do so. It would be nice to have another accredited journalist blogging!

After a fantastic dinner, we adjourned to Fredrick’s house for a few hours where he proved that Arabs do not have the exclusivity on hospitality.

Fred the Belgian!

I really hope that we repeat these events more. What is blogging but exposing your thoughts and interacting with people? These gatherings are a perfect venue for doing so and I will work diligently now to involve other blogging groups in the Gulf with us in Bahrain.

This is our 17th or 18th bloggers’ meeting so far, we have tried a lot of formats and a lot of venues in order to get together. We have tried coffee shops, bars, and a restaurant in order to find a venue were we can sit and talk without loud music or inhospitable waiters. I really think that we have finally found the place and the format for our forthcoming meetings last night: Dar Al-Bareh Cafe incorporates everything we were looking for: a cultural place where we can breath and experience art, simply excellent food (the lemon hamour and couscous was to die for* and every single person at the table last night was lauding the cook!) and the place was quiet enough for us to actually hear each other talking!

Therefore, I propose that we adopt Dar Al-Bareh Cafe for our next meetings: it is central, it is unique, it is accessible, it is quiet, it is flexible (as far as seating is concerned), it is very reasonably priced and most important of all, the food is quite scrumptious!

Finally, thank you Fred for organising the Belgian bloggers visit to our fair Isles, and I hope that we will continue to meet and make new friends and pollinate our minds with new and wonderful ideas.

Thanks to all who attended last night, and those we have missed too, because they are part and parcel of the sphere, without whom we are not complete. So here’s to the Silly girl, the Silver girl who is more like pure gold, Abu Rasool and that doctor living currently near Anchorage of all places!

Next dinner meeting is on April 6th, at 7pm, at Dar Al-Bareh Cafe in Adliya.

* Since ancient times the Bahrainis have been excellent seamen, famous for their trade up and down the Gulf and for fishing. There is a wide variety of fish in the Gulf, but none is as prized as the hamour. The hamour or ‘hamour epinephelus tauvina’ is a member of the grouper family, but unlike many other groupers it can grow to two meters long, making it an outstanding sport fish. Prized for its firm white meat there is no end to the ways Bahrainis prepare this delicious fish. The meat absorbs the traditional spices perfectly and combines to create some remarkable and very memorable dishes. Fishing is carried out on the traditional sailboats called dhows which have been made by hand on Bahrain for dozens of centuries and are still made today exactly as they always have been. – from MouthfulsOfFood

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Cultural and Culinary Bloggers’ Meeting

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This is a reminder of our meeting tomorrow night, please make sure you attend.

Location: Dar Al-Bareh Art Gallery Cafe, Adliya
Time: 7.30pm
Date: 8 Mar ’06

Price: approximately BD 5 per head
(yes, we’re actually having dinner this time!)

The agenda is:

Fred and I have prepared a few questions and short presentations on the blogging scenes in both Belgium and Bahrain and maybe then we can talk about our individual experiences and what we see for the blogging spheres in Bahrain and Belgium going forward.

My questions (if you wish to prepare a short presentation about you and your blog it would be highly appreciated)

    1. Why did you start blogging and how did that affect your life so far?
    2. Do you see your blog effecting change in your chosen topic or the sphere you chose to blog about? Did it achieve any change so far?
    3. Do you intend to “turn professional” at any point and following on to journalism or somehow make money out of your efforts in blogging?
    4. What are your reading habits like? What are your favourite blogs/sites?
    5. Is there a specific topic that you will not blog about? Why?

You can choose to answer any or all questions posed above, the more the better. However; as we only have 90 minutes (interspersed with eating) and that we anticipate 15 – 20 people to attend, maybe I suggest that everyone limit their presentations/talks to no more than 2 – 3 minutes each? We can of course carry on discussing these topics at Fred’s after dinner if you are attending.

9.45+ Fred’s residence to sample some Belgian hospitality and more discussion and intermingling.

address and map after the break

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BelBah Meeting!

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Ok guys and gals, another bloggers’ gathering is coming up, this one is to mingle and compare notes and make new friends: East meets West and all that. The meeting with be at 7.30PM at Dar Al-Bareh Cafe in Adliya, then at 10.00PM you’re welcome to drink and be merry and mingle some more at Fred’s house in Burhama (map to follow) – if you’re coming to Fred’s, bring a bottle of something with you to replenish what would be a depleted bar!

Here are the details in summary:
What: International Bahraini & Belgian Blogger Meetup.

    When: Wednesday, 8th of March
    Where: Albareh Art Gallery Cafe
    Time: 7.30 pm

After-Party:

    Time 10 pm
    at House 1858, Road 5657, Block 356, Salihiya (burhama))
    It is near Kanoo Gardens, next to the Italian Embassy.
    At the after party there will be a delegation of the
    F1 GP marshals!
    Contact Person: Frederik Haentjens
    Contact Tel: 3646 4586

For the party, people who join are welcome to bring a bottle of wine or spirits. Better would be if you find a company who wants to sponsor BD200 for the beers and spirits 😉

Make sure you register for this one please by entering a comment here so that we know at least the approximate numbers.

Next international bloggers’ meeting should be Kuwait and Bahrain and it should be a pool party with plenty of liquids as well! 🙂

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Bahrain Bloggers’ Gathering

It’s coming up again guys and thanks go to Tariq Khonji for reminding me. This time it will be at Cappucino Cafe in Saar.

Location: Cappucino Cafe, Saar
Time: 8pm
Date: 2nd March 2006

Agenda:

(Tariq is trying to organise a guest speaker whom you would want to listen to. Details will be updated here once I receive them.)

Talk topic: TBA
Personality: TBA
Other business: Discuss forthcoming Belgian/Bahraini bloggers meeting

I need to know numbers to talk to the management of the cafe and maybe do a set menu for dinner and negotiate prices. So please do enter a comment here if you are coming and if you are bringing anyone with you. The sooner we know, the better organised the gathering will be.

As discussed the last time, I think we should make this “guest speaker” thing a regular to best utilise these gatherings, or at least have an agenda where we discuss things structurally. Topics suggestions welcome.

If you disagree and just want it to be a friendly gathering (which it is in any case, the guest speaking part won’t take the full time) do let me know and we’ll think of another format or indeed revert to what we had before.

A hint of what our guest might talk about this time is the Role of Political Parties in Bahraini Society or something of a similar stream, ie, democracy development in Bahrain

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