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Why 56? Why?

Why 56? Why?

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To anyone who has spent even a little time in Bahrain recently, they would probably be familiar with, or have been taken to the now pretty famous closed shop in the old Manama souq to stand against it and take some pictures.

The abandoned shop’s door was taken over by Bahraini artist Ahmed Anan as an art installation. In the artist’s mind, he was asking the question “why” the shop was closed? The artist artfully depicts various characters tying to get the open the closed and shuttered shop; from one scaling the door to the air conditioning opening, to another trying to unlock the padlock.

This shop has become a landmark in the souq and many people make a point to try to find it to enjoy its art and take some pictures.

If you haven’t seen it, this is what it looks like:

I fell in love with the work the moment I stumbled across it a few of years ago. I had since taken many of my friends and visitors to that door to enjoy and take some pictures with it as a background.

I only recently discovered that the artist who painted it was Mr Ahmed Anan. However, I never had the pleasure of meeting him.

Mahmood Al-Yousif (l) and Ahmed Anan (r)
Artist Ahmed Anan who painted “Why 56” with me at my photography exhibition at Mashq Art Space on 15.4.’18

Lo and behold, he gets introduce to me at my photography exhibition at Mashq Art Space while he was admiring my picture of his door which is placed in the centre of my installation! That was such a nice surprise.

I wanted to know more about his work and asked him a few questions. I soon got immersed in his story and wanted to archive it for posterity. So I quickly whipped out my iPhone to video the interview. And here it is, enjoy:

You can buy my limited edition print of “Why 56” from artprints.me. Click here to get a framed and signed limited edition high quality art print.



The Ambassador Speaketh

The Ambassador Speaketh

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Interesting interview in Al-Wasat this morning in which its editor-in-chief interviewed the departing American Ambassador to Bahrain Mr Adam Ereli. The interview had three axes: reflections on his tenure in Bahrain, Freedoms of Expression as exercised (or lack thereof) in Bahrain and the Internet in particular and lastly human rights. It’s surprising and refreshing to read some straight non-diplo talk once in a while, and this interview is largely that, though judging by some of the responses the article received, a lot of people found his responses are a direct interference in the internal issues of the country while others were vehement in their refusal of everything American painting them as the Great Big Satan wherever they landed.

left to right: Rachel Graff, US Cultural & Media Ataché, Ambassador J. Adam Ereli and Dr. Mansour Al-Jamri

I must confess that I’m pleasantly surprised by the responses and his uncloaked advice to the government and his comments on the Gulf Air / Wikileaks exposé:

ليس هناك ما أخجل منه أو أخفيه، وكوني سفير الولايات المتحدة يعني أنني يجب أن أدافع عن الشركات الأميركية، وأعتقد بأننا نريد للشركات الأميركية أن تأتي للبحرين وتستثمر وأن تكون جزءا من الحياة الاقتصادية في البحرين، وهذا أمر جيد أن يتحقق لكلا البلدين، لأنها توفر فرص عمل وتعمق العلاقات الاقتصادية بين البلدين. ولكن إذا كان هناك من يعتبر أن الصفقة فيها تدخل سياسي، فهذا أمر يعود للبحرين فيما تريد فعله، أما بالنسبة لي فأنا أتحدث باسم الشركات الأميركية، بينما من حق الحكومة البحرينية أن تقرر ما تريد القيام به بسيادة تامة على قراراتها.


There’s nothing for me to feel ashamed of or hide, being the ambassador of the United States means that I have to defend the interests of American companies. I believe that we want American companies to come to Bahrain and invest in it and for them to be a part of the economic life of Bahrain. This is a mutually beneficial facet for both countries, because it promotes job creation and entrenches the economic relationship between both countries. But if there is anything that suggests internal interference with this deal, then this is for the Bahraini government to deal with, as for me, I speak for the American companies; however, it is within the Bahraini government’s rights to determine what its response should be within its own sovereign dictates.


وفي اعتقادي أن آليات التعامل مع المواقع الإلكترونية يجب أن تتسم بالشفافية والإعلان بوضوح عما هو مقبول أو غير مقبول والعقوبات التي يمكن أن تنتج عن ذلك، حتى تكون العملية واضحة، مثلما هي واضحة في قانوني التجارة والعقوبات على سبيل المثال، وإذا كانت هناك مبررات عدم وجود قانون ينظم استخدام الإنترنت لأنه شيء حديث، ولكن حين نرى مواقع أو نشرات جمعيات سياسية تغلق قبل الانتخابات من دون سبب واضح، فلاشك أن الناس ستصل إلى تفسير خاطئ في هذا الشأن.


وحين تغلق المواقع الإلكترونية لأفراد من دون مبرر، سوى بحسب ما تدعيه الحكومة من أنها تروج للطائفية أو تحرض على الكراهية، من دون معايير واضحة، أو أنها كانت عبارة عن مجرد قرارات اتخذها مسئولون في يوم ما من دون مبرر، فإن ذلك يعيدنا إلى مسألة ضرورة الالتزام بالشفافية في التعامل مع هذه الأمور.


I believe that transparency must be the mechanism to be adopted for dealing with Internet websites and [the government] must declare what is and isn’t acceptable in a clear manner and the determine the legal repercussions in order for clarity to prevail, just as in the commercial and criminal laws for example. If there are excuses for not having such laws governing the Internet due to being new, but if we witness websites or political societies publications being banned before the elections without a clear reason, then people will arrive at the wrong conclusion in this matter.


And if personal websites are banned without cause – either by what the government’s claim that the website propagates sectarianism without clear guidelines, or it haphazardly applies officials’ individual order without cause, then this brings back the question of the importance of the application of transparency in dealing with these matters.

as to the human rights situation:

حقوق الإنسان شيء مهم للولايات المتحدة، وجميع الأحداث الأخيرة تتم متابعتها بدقة من الولايات المتحدة، وباعتقادي أن ردة الفعل الدولية لما حدث في شهري أغسطس/ آب، وسبتمبر/ أيلول الماضيين (2010) في البحرين، تعطي مؤشراً واضحاً على ما تعنيه البحرين للعالم. كما أرى أن الحكومة البحرينية مهتمة بحقوق الإنسان من أعلى هرم فيها إلى أسفله، فاحترام وحماية حقوق المواطنين هو أمر مهم وأولوية للقيادة السياسية في البحرين.


ولكني أؤكد أن السرية لا تنفع في إدارة مثل هذه الأمور والشفافية مهمة حتى يعلم الناس ما يحدث في واقع الأمر، لأنهم إذا لم يروا شيئا، فمن الصعب عليهم الفهم ولكن من السهل أن يفسروا ما هو أمر غير صحيح، وقرار الحكومة بالسماح للمجتمع المدني بحضور المحكمة هو أمر مهم.


Human rights is very important to the United States and all the recent events were closely monitored by the United States, and it is my view that the international community’s repercussions to what has happened in August and September of 2010 in Bahrain gives a clear indication as to the high regard given to Bahrain by the international community. I see that the Bahraini government is interested in human rights from the top of its pyramid to the bottom, as respect of the citizens and their security is a matter of high priority to the political leadership in Bahrain.


But I emphasise that secrecy does not work in managing these issues and transparency is important so that people know the reality of what is happening because if they do not see something, then it becomes very difficult for them to understand but becomes easy to be lead to the wrong conclusion. The government’s decision to allow civil observers to the [so called terrorism] trial is important.

Impressive! I can’t add any more to this as his views – surprisingly – tally with my own and I have expressed them as such over and over again in my various writings. I wonder how the government is going to deal with this one. We’ll see how the barometer lies tomorrow by the headlines in the other local papers. Should be fun!

How long does he have before leaving again, and will that be accelerated due to this piece?

Note: the above are my imperfect translations but are current best efforts. I’m sure that the American embassy will probably translate the transcript and make it available on their website or to whomever asks.


“Bahraini Views” interview in Khaleejesque

Bahraini Views is in the news again. I’ve been interviewed by the lifestyle and popular culture online eZine Khaleejesque to shed some light on the Bahraini Views initiative.

A celebration of Bahrainis who inspire generations with their experiences and efforts, Bahraini Views is a pioneering project featuring Bahrainis in various fields talking about their experiences and work mottos. Those 2-minute short videos aim to document how those respective Bahraini role models from all walks of life rose above their circumstances and made something of themselves, their lives, and their communities. Produced and brought about by Mahmood Al-Yousif, these short videos have been a hit online and on Bahrain’s National TV Channels alike. Khaleejesque got in touch with this pioneering producer and discussed Bahraini Views, the need to share experiences, and inspire others.

read the full article here

It’s interesting to note that Khaleejesque got to know about Bahraini Views via Twitter and requested the interview via a connection with me there. Interesting this social media thing isn’t it?


On Al-Jazeera!

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I’ve been interviewed and filmed by Al-Jazeera’s Hashim Ahelbarra (the English channel) about a couple of weeks ago, the segment is airing in their news program throughout the day today Nov 8th, ’07. If you’re interested in watching, you can do so online (click here or click “watch now” on their front page).

Hope you like it.

update: If the schedule doesn’t change, it looks like they’re rebroadcasting it at around 25 past the hour every hour.

update 2: Al-Jazeera has just posted the interview on their website, and by the magic of YouTube, here it is too:


Friday Podcast/Pics – Martin Whitaker and some pitbabes

Miss V8

Miss V8, originally uploaded by malyousif.

It’s a beautiful day, you all should be out enjoying it, and what better way to do so but be at the track enjoying the symphony of engine music?

please click to download the interview with Martin Whitaker.

To put you in the mood, I’ve done an interview with Martin Whitaker, the CEO of the Bahrain International Circuit about various things, the circuit, the community, his experience, future plans, and whether the Abu Dhabi circuit made an offer for him yet! Listen to the following Podcast to find out!

The original upload was playing rather weirdly but after investigating the plugin I use a little, I found that the problem is with Flash which can’t play 48k files, it is limited to multiples of 11.025 hence we both sound like we are talking while under-water! Please download the file and play it on your computer rather than listening to it online. Next time I’ll change my mic’s setting to 44.1 so that I don’t fall into this stupid trap again. (We sell these mics by the way!)

Have a wonderful Friday my friends…


On Kuwait TV tonight

Diwaniyyat Al-Osbou - Kuwait

The bloggers’ episode of Diwaniyyat Al-Osbou is going to air tonight on Kuwait TV’s Channel 1 at 10.30pm (+3UTC) which should also be repeated at 1.30PM tomorrow.

I’ll stay up especially to view it and I hope that it’ll be okay and that you’ll enjoy it, if you choose to watch that is.

I would like to thank the tremendous efforts exerted by my friends and colleagues the Kuwaiti bloggers of getting the whole program back on the air after it being blocked by their Minister of Information for some reason; I just hope it wasn’t because of this particular episode!

Bo9agr was good enough to digitise and upload the whole episode on Google Video.

Many thanks bo9agr, you da man!


Goooood Morning Kuwait!

Kuwait City Panorama

It was a good show and I met with great people who I have admired for a long time. It was wonderful to put faces to name and online personalities.

The discussion was excellent, though probably too short of course to cover all the topics we wanted to cover; however, it is enough to entice the viewer to investigate blogging and maybe think of starting a blog themselves, which would be an excellent result of this program. Because of the topics discussed, I hope that the community too will be more aware of our activities and read our blogs to know us better and share in our passions and things that we choose to cover.

The program is anticipated to be aired in April. I shall let you know the actual date when the schedule is actually confirmed.

Diwaniyyat Al-Osbou - Kuwait

The topics discussed included the definition of blogging, what is normally covered in blogs, differences between blogs and forums, the credibility issue, the non-existing specific laws on internet media, how should bloggers be regarded (ie, journalists or normal citizens), how blogs affect political issues and of course how we – as bloggers – evaluate the future of blogging.

It should be a good episode and I am really glad to have taken part. Thanks to Tariq Al-Rubei and Bader Al-Fraih for organising it and inviting me to join this illustrious group.

Getting to Kuwait was a story in itself too! We were schedule to shoot the episode at 9pm so I thought there would be plenty of time to take the 4pm Gulf Air flight from Bahrain to arrive in Kuwait about 5pm. That is, if the plane did not get delayed, twice!

Gulf Air were good enough to actually contact me to tell me that the plane was initially delayed to 6.30pm, which means that I still arrive in Kuwait in plenty of time for the show, but by the time I arrived at the airport, the plane was delayed again and scheduled now to depart at 7.30pm which means there would have been very little time to get from the airport to the studio.

Fortunately it departed just after 7pm, landed at Kuwait airport at 8.10 and as I didn’t have any luggage with me I flew through immigration to be picked up by Bader and flew again directly to the station!

Diwaniyyat Al-Osbou - Kuwait

We arrived with just 5 minutes to spare. Even though it was a recorded show, the studio schedule was fully booked for last night which meant that we only had a specific period to record the show. TV cannot be delayed! Both Bader and I quickly changed at the station and were led to our seats for the recording to start.

It was worth it I think.

Thanks to KTV and everyone who worked at making this program a reality. We should have something like this done by Bahrain TV. I’ll talk to some people I know and see if they accept such an idea.

I hope the flight back to Bahrain this afternoon won’t be delayed this time.

This brings back memories of what GULF AIR actually means: Get Used to Late Flights And Incorrect Reservations!


Gulf blogging scene on Kuwait TV

I’ll be off to Kuwait this afternoon to appear on Dr. Shafiq Al-Ghabra’s forthcoming “Diwaniyat Al-Isbou – ديوانية الإسبوع” as one of the participants on the program which deals with the “Blogging Phenomenon” in Kuwait specifically and the Gulf generally.

I am so looking forward to this! The program will be recorded tonight, but I don’t know when it will be broadcast, I’ll let you know when the slot is confirmed.

With me on the program are the following illustrious bloggers:


Curtis Sliwa’s in Bahrain

For just a few days, invited by the Bahrain Chapter of the Young Presidents’ Organisation, a group of just 22 people, to address a few schools and business groups in Bahrain to talk to them about his various community projects, the most visible of which is the Guardian Angels of course.

Curtis Sliwa - The Guardian Angels - Interview in Bahrain

I was invited by Sofyan Al-Moayed – who is one of those 22 and the one who arranged for Curtis’ visit – to briefly meet Curtis which I did and thoroughly enjoyed doing so, but also took the opportunity to interview him and try to find common ground with his initiatives, and my Just Bahraini campaign.

I’m not going to spoil it any more for you, you can listen to the interview yourself; it’s about 30 minutes long and this constitutes my first ever podcast which I hope you will enjoy.

[audio:MtvPodcast1-GuardianAngels.mp3] Download [MP3 27.6MB] and/or [Enhanced MP3 14.4MB] (don’t ask!)) or just click above to listen online.