The Sheikh, The Bannay (builder), and the nido bubble

The other day I ventured into Mirai, the fusion Japanese restaurant that is the darling of many a nido-ers. My nido friends were shocked this was my first time. “Never Before? REEAAALLLYYY??? Where have you been living maaaaaann? You gotta get hip with the times!”. Well I can happily say that I will never venture again into that dump unless it involves an opposite sex with the possibility of future bonding. The risotto tasted like it was made by Tesco Ready Made Meals, the beef was dry and tasteless, the portions were really small, and at 20 BD a head I thought this was outrageous robbery. I bet you if someone is bored enough he could surf the internet and find the menu of some restaurant somewhere in the world that Mirai ripped off. I doubt the resident chef sat down and developed that Menu. I’d rather any day walk down the road and go to Krumz its next door neighbour, which is 100 times better and at a better price. Heck, Bu Shanab the tikka place in Muharraq is a better option any time and any day.

Anyway, I digress. I was sitting there eyeing the waiters topping up every nido-er’s water glass the second they took a sip. This is of course a common trick in up-scale Bahraini restaurants, where at 2.500 BD a bottle these places can easily rack up 15BD++ purely on water. It doesn’t matter that a bottle of water costs 200 fils in shops. It doesn’t matter that the restaurant makes a healthy 1150% profit (not counting the 15% service charge that the waiters ironically receive none off) on each of those bottles. Of course not. A nido-er would never be caught complaining of this. He would die of embarrassment. He’s got to keep his image and pretension of being a rich, magnanimous nido-er that a trifle few BDs make no difference to. Even though the nido-ers life and thought is centred around money, how to make more of it, and how to flaunt it, he has to keep up the image that money is absolutely inconsequential to him. And the restaurant managers know this.

Anyway we were sitting there drinking our BD 2.5 glasses of water, basking in our glorious nido-ness and checking out other nido-ers. Of course that’s the whole point, to see and to be seen. The mediocre food is inconsequential. It is the sensation of being around other nido-ers that matters.

I then realized the absolute nido bubble that we live in. Nidoers rejoice in spending 20BD+++ a head at ONE meal sitting, while for the vast majority of the country that constitutes the spending of a household for 2 weeks of meals. What nido-ers spend at a night club without batting an eye lid is what most of their countrymen spend on their household electricity bill.

Nidoers live in an extravagant lalaland consumerist world that has been imported to them from the west that has nothing to do with the vast majority of the rest of the population. They cruise around in lavish German cars. They live in luxurious houses furnished by the latest designs from Italy and the U.S. They spend their free time roaming from Trader Vic’s to Mirai to BJ’s. They deck out in the latest fashion hits by Armani and Massimo Dutti.

Contrast this to the vast majority of the population. They struggle to feed their families meat everyday. They barely have a house to live in, having to share it with parents, grown up brothers, sisters, their spouses, aunties, grandmas, grandfathers, and the rest. A vast proportion don’t even have jobs. Some don’t even have air conditioning in every bedroom of their houses.

It is literally two parallel societies with little in common except having to share an island. One side is cramped in tiny villages and alleyways. The members of the other side own houses each that are as big as any of those villages. One side’s kids go to the best private schools and western universities. The other side barely can buy the stationary needed to send their kids to school. They don’t watch the same shows, they don’t hang out in the same places, they don’t populate the same food places. They don’t even share the same language. One speaks arabic, the other English or at best a bastardized form of Arabeezi or Arabenglish.

Contrast this to the country as little as 30 years ago, where this class dichotomoy pretty much did not exist. Everyone was literally pretty much piss poor. People lived in a harsh environment which they had to share with one another in order to survive. Even the rich were poor by today’s standards. Just go and look at Shaikh Isa Bin Ali’s house, the former ruler of Bahrain in Muharraq. Although impressive, it would not even be the size of a garage in a modern day’s rich man’s house. Most astonishingly, it is right smack inthe middle of old Muharraq. People back then lived in the same areas, went to the same schools, and even used the same khabazz. Nido-ers have only to ask their fathers to get a sense of this. It is amazing how people from the older generation know and shared their youth life intimately with other individuals from all walks life, whether poor or rich, highly educated or not, regardless of wealth, class, and nidoism.

I’ll recount to you one story that I found funny, revealing, and full of despair. In our old neighbourhood in Muharraq, there used to be a family friend and neighbour who was born and bred in Muharraq since the thirties. He was a builder by profession. This guy was 3ejmy, and back in the eighties he had a horrid time trying to obtain a paspport for him and his family. He would go several times to the ministry and every time they’d make him play the run-around game and then kick him out. He would never be allowed to see the person in charge. One fortunate day 20 years ago the guard was distracted away from the manager’s office, so the builder took his chance and barged right in. The chief was sitting on his chair.

-Yes, what do you want?
-El Shaikh, I have been coming now for years trying to sort out my passport situation.
-What’s your name?
-Flan, ben Faltan.
-Flan ben Faltan???!?!?!? didn’t you go to Al Hedaya school back in 1950?
-Yes.
-It’s me! Faltan ben Flan! Your school mate! My god what happened!!!!
-Well, I became a builder trying to feed my family, and you are a sheikh!

I thought this story illustrates perfectly how not so long ago society was not so materially divided, and how the division has grown to mammoth proportions nowadays. How many nido-ers will encounter a similar incident to the above? Not so anymore. Nido-ers go to their own private schools with other nido-ers. They go to university with other nidoers. They hang out with other nido-ers in nido places. There is such a big schism between the two societies it is as if they are living on two different planets, where the only places they meet are the roads that each uses to go to his own different little planet.

As any blind person can see, this is a recipe for resentment, conflict, and revolution. A revolution probably will and should happen. When you have to bear living in a cramped room with four others of your siblings in a village cramped with thousands of others, and a few feet away a person you don’t even know or interact with owns a compound literally the size of your village, things don’t seem right to you. When that person stacks his compound with guards, nighswatchmen, high walls, barbed wire, and dogs to prevent you from even walking by his wall, things don’t seem right to you. When a person has no qualms about spending BD 2.500 bd on a bottle of water and you have to watch your spending on nekhi from your local khabaz, things don’t seem right to you. When you cannot even find an apartment to house your 8-member household while this guy own a house in Muharraq, Sehla, Budaiya, London, and Paris things don’t seem right to you. When you have to beg this guy for work while his kids can get away with clubbing, drinking and smoking the most expensive substances there are for a good prportion of their youth things don’t seem right to you. When you have nothing in common with this guy except that he seems to have set up a massive palace right next to your cramped vilalge things don’t bode well.

Indeed nido-ers have come to be perceived and indeed are a massive drain on the resources of a country. In a country with limited land wealth, they are seen as land grabbers in order to facililate their lavish compounds with their exotic gardens. In a land with limited oil wealth, the oil seems to be wasted on fuding the spoilt habits of the rich. While the rich waste the black gold money on drinking Johnny walker, buying fancy Mercedeses, and filling their big guts with fusion sushi, the rest of the country can barely make ends meet. They are percieved and indeed are, a waste of limited resources in order to fill their insatiable hedonistic apeitite for a lavish consumerist lifestyle.

And the recent oil boom has exacerbated this division. The rich get richer, and the poor get poorer. Nido-ers have never had it so good. All of them are making a ridiculous amount of money thanks to oil, Daddy’s wekalat (monopoly agencies), was6at (connections), land ownerships, and the ability to go the best education institutions. The money kitty gets bigger, and the spending on the lavish materialistic lifestyle ballooons. They buy more posh cars, posh houses and apartments, and an increasing number of upmarket restaurants pop up. Hoards of expensive new suits, sunglasses, and louis vetton bags are purchased.

And the poor get squeezed even more. Prices of basic goods shoot up. House prices have more than doubled and are out of the reach of most of the population. Foodstuff have become so expenisve that people are having to cut down on basic household goods. But why should the nido-ers care? After all, daddy and auntie own the land of which the price has shot up. Grandpa and mummy own the food wikalat that sell these expensive basics. It makes the nidoer able to enjoy more linguinis, bmws, and buy more apartments in amwaj or riffa views.

Do the nidoers know about the forces that their lifestyles have unleashed? Nope, and nor do they care. They are busy getting drunk, watching the OC, playing videogames, or debating whether mirai or sato has better sushi. A country that was once reknowed for its sense of community has now degenerated into a classic divide of rich and poor. The forces in society are ripes for some sort of uprising, and it will only get worse. The rich, however, are as usual oblivious in their lavish spending.

And when the poor complain, and when the poor protest, they just go, “Why do they hate us so much? Why can’t they just be good obedient poor buggers? Why can’t we just get along?”.

Nidoers, you better cut down on a few sushis and use that money to buy a nice penthouse in London. Because when the turd hits the fans, you are going to need another pad from which to continue living your la-la land materialistic lifestyle.

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32 Responses to “The Sheikh, The Bannay (builder), and the nido bubble”

  1. abdulla Says:

    great article, but dont you think that in any country, you will have to have the rich and the poor? They obviously dont get along … look at any place that is multicultural, ‘normally’ you would see people that come from the same region getting along with each other….so, why do you think that the bubble would burst?

  2. nido Says:

    Thanks for the kind words.

    You are right, in pretty much every country now in our globalized capitalized world there are the very rich and the very poor. Let us not forget however that pretty much every revolution or disruption throughout history had economics not far behind. I think Bahrain is more likely than others to experience something of that sort for the following reasons:

    1. The disparity between the rich and poor in Bahrain is so great that the only other place that has a similar situation is certain countries in South America. e.g. Venezuela, and we know how much to the left those countries have swung as a reaction to this. There are no taxes in bahrain and the gulf in general or any redistributive mechanism from rich to poor, unlike most other countries in the world.

    2. Bahrain is really tiny, which makes poor and rich live pretty much face to face and see what the other side is up to. In other countries the rich can afford to have their own vast neighbourhoods, stay out of the poor areas, etc etc. In Bahrain the distance between the two is literally a few meters.

    4. Unlike in many other countries, the non-rich sections of society in Bahrain are becoming even poorer. When people look back to the seventies and eighties as the golden age, and their future looks bleaker than their past, you know your society is in trouble. Society is supposed to progress, not regress.

    3. The rich in Bahrain are seen as agents of colonialism and colonizers. Indeed, the struggle against imperialism today necessarily means a conflict with the rich in this country. Nido-ers talk like americans, wear american clothes, eat american food, listen to american music, watch american movies, sell american goods for their money, etc etc. Indeed their whole position in society is dependant on American support, whether indirect or direct. For all intents and purposes they are seen or indeed are Americans or American wannabes. Thus the struggle against imperialism will necessarily mean a struggle against the nido class in this country.

    4. In Bahrain as in many other places in the Arab world this clash has taken a secterian dimension. Although in my opinion it is a primarily economic and class problem, it has manifested itself as a sectarian conflict. I don’t need to go into how disruptive sectarianism can be.

    5. Most important factor of all, this bubble was created by oil and will most probably crash with the disappearance of oil (or when an alternative to oil as an energy source developed). As Abdelra7man muneif put it when explaining his Cities of Salt, this is a salt bubble that is very unstable and could blow up at any moment. It didn’t come about because of underlying historical and economic forces in society, but came about because of the discovery of one particular commodity. A pre-capitalist society was suddently destroyed and a modern capitalist one was imposed on it lliterally overnight. The oil goes, the bubble breaks.

    I really hope I’m wrong, but I don’t see a very bright future to be honest unless things drastically change.

  3. 7oot Says:

    Excellent article, I really enjoyed reading it very much and I think by putting the “Nido Genration” ( I’m one of them ) under the spot light we will be able to see the negative things more clearly and hopefully be self conscious about what we do and why we do it at least. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK.

  4. Isa bin Tarif Says:

    Excellent post and congratulations on your excellent new blog!

    As you said, Bahrain IS experiencing a class struggle, so Nido-ers better smell the coffee soon.

  5. nido Says:

    7oot and Isa Bin Tarif: Thanks a lot for the encouraging words guys! I really hope that talking about us nidoers will help us in analyzing the phenomena. If you have any nido experiences or ideas please do share them! I really think more and more of us should wake up and “smell the coffee soon!”

  6. Mariam Says:

    Thanks for starting this blog. It reflects exactly what is going on with what you call the “Nido generation”. I am a Nidoer myself doing my masters in the US right now. Whenever I go back home, I am shocked with the materialism of the society that surrounds me – knowing very well that the majority of Bahrain’s population is stuggling and lives in a completely different world than us.

  7. nido Says:

    Thanks Mariam for the comments. I just really hope that people do start to realize how warped the life they’re living is, at the end of the day for their own good. I really do fear what might happen if we continue in the way we are.

  8. Click Says:

    Hi there,

    I’ve really enjoyed this article myself. You bring up some very good points… I’m a Nido-er myself… I’m sure you are not surprised that only Nidoers are reading this blog so far…

    I just wanted to say that a Nido-ers integration back into society is an option… Though our close friends and circles will always be only Nidoers but there is a lot to learn from trying to mesh with the real bahraini society through our work places…

    There is a lot for us to learn and we, as Nidoers, also have a lot to offer

  9. nido Says:

    Thanks Click for the nice words. I agree that Nidoers have a lot to learn and probably a lot teach. But are they willing to? It’s hard to get those who have the upper hand in a moment of time to see their faults and engage with the other side. After all they have the power, both politically and economically. And power usually overrides reason and common sense.

    Thanks for your comments!

  10. sam Says:

    Yes, your blog was quite entertaining for a chef, actually the chef who developed that menu at Mirai. Why dont you come in one night and ask to see me. I’d like to meet the person who thinks himself so highly qualified to critique food.
    For your information, we don’t make 1150% on water, we don’t charge 15% service charge (so I really don’t know where you ate) and of course if you asked for your beef extra well done like most Bahrainis, then of course it’s going to be dry. If you’re such a nidoer, why don’t you start being more educated about what you eat and where you eat. Don’t flaunt your money just because that’s your nature. Spend your money wisely.

  11. nido Says:

    Wow, the chef at mirai no less.

    First of all thanks for your comments.

    I hope you do realize that this is a blog and not an accurate survey, so I didn’t really check how much one pays for those fancy bottles of water nor did I scrutinize how much how much is charged for service. That would not be very nidoey you see. I’m sure the latter is between 10% to 20%, but maybe you would care to give me correct numbers for my benefit and the readers. Maybe you’ll let us know how much the profit on each of those bottles of water is as well.

    Secondly I’ll be the first to admit I’m no great food critic. However when we’re a group of more than 10 and pretty much everyone pans the food, you know something isn’t right. It doesn’t help when the waiters don’t get your order right either.

    I’ll be fair. Those who got sushi said it was ok, but not better than sato (I’m no a big sushi fan so I can’t judge). Everyone who got something other than sushi was not impressed, particularly when taking the price into account. I got to try the salmon, the risotto, and the beef. I didn’t like any of them. The beef indeed was well done, but even well done steaks should have some juice. This did not have a single drop.

    Maybe this was a one off. However everyone else I asked that I value their opinion on food also said it was not worth it. And what about those nido regulars that go quite often? Well the vast majority of them admitted the food isn’t particularly great, but they go there because of the “atmosphere” and to see and be seen.

    And thanks for your advice in the final three sentences. In fact I try to follow exactly those recommendations in my everyday life. That’s why I’m not going to be going to Mirai any time soon and I’m not going to be recommending it to anyone based on food. However, if someone does not want to be “more educated” about their food, does not care to spend their money wisely, and is just looking for an “atmosphere” place to impress other nidoers, it will definitely be near the top of my list.

    I don’t mean to combative or hostile in this comment (unlike in the post, but I hope you understand this is a blog made for ranting) but this is my sincere opinion. Then again, I’m sure your restaurant does great anyway, and will continue to do so as long as nidoers don’t get bored with it, so you don’t need to listen an obscure little blog like this.

    I wonder what others think?

  12. Sushi Man Says:

    To be fair, I think the quality of food at Mirai is excellent. The sushi is up there (and sometimes surpasses) the quality of some of the best sushi spots in London and New York. Expensive for Bahrain, but not by International standards…

    Great blog BTW, and keep up the good work…

  13. Anonymous Says:

    I just have to say that this is one greatest articles I have ever read about my own country and the people within, I try and ask myself everyday why people are soo superficial and material oriented and can’t even open their eyes for a second to realize that they are not the only one’s living on that land. And the money they do spend on all those lavish ( show the people I have money Things) could actually be saved up and used for a better cause…Thanks to Nido, I hope this article opens alot more people’s eyes cuz so far more and more of THOSE PEOPLE are starting to exclude anyone who doesn’t fit into their heard of materialism and money.

  14. Jamo Says:

    I have no association with the restaurant but i’ve been there a couple of times and i honestly felt the food was very good and one of the better japanese restaurants i’ve been to worldwide for that matter.

    Nido: you seem like an intelligent young man. a few questions for you from an ex-restaurant owner. firstly, do you own your own business or have you ever managed a business?? if not, have you seen the financials of this restaurant mirai??
    Do you know how much this restaurant pays in rent to be in the most sought-after location for a restaurant in bahrain today?? Do you know how much they pay their staff?? do you know what the salary of a chef at a 5-star restaurant is?? do you have any idea about the costs associated with importing the fish by air just to ensure its fresh on your nido plate?

    I didnt think so.

    There’s a problem today in bahrain far greater than rich kids spending their parents money on expensive meals…you know what it is? it’s people being ignorant and judgemental. Not bothering to understand others before passing judgement. Rather than finding solutions they turn to the man dressed in a nice suit and say ‘look everybody.. that’s the bad guy!’

  15. Aigre-doux Says:

    Jamo: Two things – a) not that I have any clue as to the identity of nido but its quite presumptuous to assume nido is male b) I don’t think Mirai’s status as a restaurant or the industry itself is the real issue here is it. It’s symbolic of a larger set of problematics that people on this blog have identified – class conflict, an exploitative structure/system that exists worldwide and manifests itself in particular ways in Bahrain.

    p.s. How do you think Mirai’s “financials” would look if they paid their staff New York wages? and minimum wage in the service industry in New York is still quite a pittance – hence the must-leave-20%tip-or-get-spit-on. And how much higher do you think their costs would rise if they had to pay social insurance for their employees in addition to taxes? How does economy/society benefit in Bahrain from businesses structured like this?

    Oh yeah and as an ex-New York resident and Zagat-o-phile (perfect nidoer i know?), Mirai’s sushi is quite simply pathetic and by far one of the most unimaginative menus I have ever seen. There is no way in hell it is even on par with New York mid-range to upscale reliables from Yama, to Blue Ribbon to Nobu to Kiku.

  16. Aigre-doux Says:

    Oh and.. yeah… ‘the suit’ is sort of the bad guy here. but is anything ever as black and white as that.

  17. nido Says:

    Sushi man:

    Fair enough. Each has his own taste! Like I said I’m not a big fan of sushi and I did not try the sushi there. As mentioned the ones who did try it said it was good but nothing special.

    and Thanks for the encouragement!

    Anonymous:

    THanks a lot! Anyway, one thing I’ve noticed from this blog is that we are not alone in being disenchanted with certain charatcteristics of our society. It’s good to realize we are not alone out there. The next step I guess is to further push this critique, meet others who have a similar viewpoint, inform others who are yet to realize what they are doing, and think of a way to sort out the problem!

    Jamo: Thanks for the encouragement and the comment. Some of my extended family do actually own one of these high class restaurants, so I have a fair idea of how they work. So yes, yes, yes and yes to your questions! For example, I know that one of the big bills restaurants have to pay is the monthly alcohol license. Going by who owns Mirai my assumption (and I could be wrong here) is that Mirai most probably does not have to pay this monthy license, so their expenditure should be even less than the other high class restaurants. Yet the price is way higher than most of the other high class restaurants.

    And as Aigre-doux pointed out, and this goes for most of the high class restaurants in Bahrain, the wages in Bahrain, the rent, the taxes, etc are all lower than in London or in New York, but the prices seem to be very comparable!

    I agree the problem is far greater than rich kids spending parents money. But I also think the problem is also far greater than people being judgemental. I’ve tried to point out these problems in other posts and hopefully in future ones : class problems, oil, sectarianism, colonialsim, globalization, and more. I hope it does get through that I don’t blame any particular person for this. The problem goes beyond pinpointing it and blaming it on a single or group of people. The reason I pick on nidoers is because I know them and that they are the obvious and most stark manifestation of these problems, but not necessarily the cause of all of them.

    Aigre-doux: My god! You put me as a nidoer to shame! And stop showing off the restaurants you’ve been to! That’s very nidoey!

  18. areije Says:

    I started out posting a reply to the above, but due to technical difficulties it may have been deleted or not been posted at all. Nevertheless, I will re-write my reply.

    First and foremost, I am appalled at the fact that you present yourself as a progressive and openminded individual. I think you are far from being focused or aware of anything that surrounds you within your island or the rest of the world. I belong to the so-called Nido generation, and I would like to start by asking a very direct question: What is the point of this blog posting? Is it Mirai? Or is it your bitter view toward the more-wealthy population of Bahrain?

    Let me begin by telling you that I am extremely particular about the food I eat and where I eat and how fair the prices are in restaurants. Mirai, has impeccable service, a unique menu, and a fair price range for the quality that they provide. You admitted that you are not the expert in Japanese cuisine, although you found it fitting to completely attack the restaurant and its chef!! You make me laugh only because I would think that someone with so much enthusiasm in creating awareness in his country through his/her generation has lack of awareness himself and has not considered doing a little more research on the topics he posts to not portray himself as being ignorant. So, to be brief and to the point, you are very incorrect in actually critiquing a restaurant’s food, ambiance, service, and price range if you for one are not a Japanese cuisine fan and not the Zaagat SURVEY!!!

    On to the next topic. You preach about materialism and class struggle as if it were unique to the little island of Bahrain.r Have you turned on the television recently, have you read the newspapers in your daily routine? Poverty, classes of wealth are prevalent in every single country of this world? Corruption is part of human nature and is alluded to in every religion, government policy, and the literature we read. You speak about this topic with such passion, but have no focus or goal when writing. I conclude from your writings that you are bitter and angry and I would like to ask you- What are you doing to improve this situation? One major issue faced by your Nido Generation – is to point the fingers at others!! This is a prominent attribute of many of the so-called Nido generation-ers as they are too lazy to actually be proactive! You spent quite a long time ranting about how people go out to see and be seen, spend money, enjoy life, flant their cars, and clothes AS IF IT WERE A SIN?! This is life, some live life wealthy, others are poor, some are blind, some are ill, some suffer in war filled countries, some become philanthropists and others choose to be thieves. You cannot control the natural course of life, nor can you create a communist country whereby its shameful to show wealth?! You really need to educate yourself and learn about the basics of the survival of the fittest!! We suffer from a lazy and passive disease in the newer generation of this island and your comments exactly coincide with many other selfish, bitter, youngsters in Bahrain that COMPLAIN, COMPLAIN, and COMPLAIN about the standards of society and living. So what are you doing about it, may I ask?
    Are you going out there to help educate the young students to work hard even if they are performing blue collar jobs? Are you teaching those who bear 10 kids on a 200BD salary that its impossible to sustain a living for that many children on such a low salary? Are you raising charity drives to help the poor? What are you doing?
    Go over to Europe, to the more developed countries with more regulations and modern developments whereby they also face poverty and have different classes. I agree that we do have many poor individuals in our country, but we do have free medical care, we do have unemployment benefits and we are far better than many other countries in the world. No one can create a Utopia my friend, but if you are so concerned and willing to help, I think you should stop worrying about the people who want to show off in the Ferrari’s and start helping those who need it! Everywhere you go, whether is Europe, the States, Africa etc you will find people who are pretentious and those who are humble. If we were all made to be the same people with idealistic intentions, it would therefore be quite a bland society!
    I suggest you start by being more focused in your articles, stop bashing restaurants for no reason and allow those who want to live life being seen and be seen to go one like that, those who want to be negative and pessimistic and complain (like the likes of yourself) continue like that, those who are optimisitic and progressive continue like that. You can decide for yourself whether you want to be part of the Whining generation or whether you want to be like the generation of our father and our forefathers who were hardworking, with good values like RESPECT, comradeship, acceptance and faith. You seem to lack respect, lack acceptance and have no faith in your people nor your country.

    Try and look toward the future and concentrate your efforts and energy to actually accomplishing something useful!!!

  19. To Mirai or Not To Mirai? « Nido Says:

    […] Well in a previous post I mentioned the restaurant. Well, mentioned is a bit of an understatement. I absolutely panned the restaurant. […]

  20. nido Says:

    Areije:

    First thanks for your comment and for actually retyping it. It shows that you are passionate about what you said.

    Having said that, you seemed to have completely missed the whole point of this blog. To explain this would require me posting everything I have already posted. So I ask that you please read the other posts and my other comments and you might get a feel about what I’m trying to say.

    I’ll try to give a few points however:

    1. I never said the phenomena I describe are limited to Bahrain. In fact I more than once explicitly said it is not. That does not mean the phenomena should not be critiqued or outlined.

    2. I don’t know why you think I want to set up a communist country.

    3. Again I didn’t say I’m a progressive and open-minded individual. Thanks for inferring and assuming that though.

    4. I take issue with your conception of everything as being a struggle of the survival of the fittest. I don’t have the time or the energy to write a full argument for this, but I’ve touched a bit on this in the post Laziness, Babu, Nido and Goddamn Economists. Your comment here seems to fit pretty well in the viewpoint I critiqued in that post. Your mention of the exact arguments I criticize in that post (having many children, survival of the fittest) is remarkable.

    5. Even if it were the survival of the fittest, I doubt that argument holds water in Bahrain. As I mentioned in Laziness, Babu, Nido and Goddamn Economists, it is not because nidoers are so much better than everyone eelse that they are rich. It is the fact that they are rich that let them get a good education, good jobs, etc. Obviously this does not hold across the board but then again no generalization does.

    6. I try to do what I can to help in my country thank you very much. I’d like to see this blog as one way of doing that, and I’m grateful to the many comments I’ve got, both giving encouragement and criticism.

    As for me picking on the rich only. I refer you to the comment I posted right above yours!

    Anyway, thanks for your comment.

  21. generationNIDO Says:

    Hello Nido.

    I am quite intrigued by your article and i do believe that you raise a some valid questions about the state of affairs in present day Bahrain. I believe that ‘Nidoers’, as you label them, are quite lavish and out there in their spending habits and lifestyle…but hey thats true of all rich kids in every society right? I have two issues really:

    1- Why do you so blatantly judge? You have to realise that you have have basically morally criminalized an entire generation with your words. I think it is important to step back and point out that these Nidoers are not all spoilt knowit alls using daddy’s money. The majority go to work every day and and work hard at that. They are educated, and do actually represent their country quite well and have a great deal to offer to our developing island. I just dont feel comfortable with your portrayal ..

    2- If, to help your argument, you are qouting innaccurate figures of an actual establishment in Bahrain( even if you see it as trivial), dont you think that takes away from your credibility? You are after all, responsible for the things you write…its an ethical issue..

    In the end we all know that we could all do more to close the social gap in Bahrain…Nidoers, as you call them, can do their part by choosing not to flaunt their assetts and also by using their money more wisely. On the other hand, let us not generalize and render them all ‘materialistic’. As i said the majority, i believe, are actually going to be a productive force in Bahrain’s future…But the few vices of this generation is not what we should be focusing on..How about education in our country? Isnt that what its all about?

    So nido although i think some of your points are valid i dont agree with the way you have gone about making all of them…

    and yes u might have guessed i am a ‘nidoer’

  22. nido Says:

    generationNido:

    Thanks for your comments. In response:

    1. I have pointed more than once now that this is not confined to Bahrain. It still does not make it right.

    2. I have also pointed out more than once that I do not hold particular people responsible for the mess we are in. I make fun of nidoers, that is true. But like I said more than once I see them as a symptom and a manifestation of this problem, rather than being the causes of these problems (although they do contribute to some of them).

    3. Why do I judge? Because that is what people do when they believe there is something wrong. You make a judgement. Yes, I am making a judgement. I am tryint to point out that certain things are unproductive, wrong, ironic, and sometimes even ridiculous. I may put in ranting and sarcastic language, but this is the style of the blog. I never claimed otherwise. If one was writing a paper for the Brismes conference or something he/she might tone down the language and try to be more academic, but I’m not!

    Same goes for “inaccurate statistics” I quote. I think most people can look beyond saying “15% service charge” or “12.5 service charge” to the actual argument. I’d be more than happy to quote the right figures if the chef would provide them for us! I still think this is a besides-the-point criticism to make.

    Finally, and this is not directed to you but to everyone but to those who have commented that why do I crititicize, why do I “whine”, why do I judge, etc. I answered some of that in point 3. above. I also do that because I am a nidoer and I find it healthy to criticize oneself. I also do it because a large swathe of the society we live in criticize and are angy at the state in the country. Have you noticed the demonstrations over the last few years? Now I know a lot would like to simply dismiss this as “jealous no good for nothing whiners who just complain the whole time,”; in other words, that it’s their problem and not ours (see the post Laziness, Babu, Nido, and goddamn economists); but I, like many others, think the problem runs much deeper than that.

    Thanks for all the comments guys. I think it is good to debate this stuff!

  23. Sedition Says:

    I see we’ve managed to lure in some ardent mirai goers…wonderful, unfortunately the more argumentative nido tends to disappear when a conversation gets “too political”, or when they decide that society’s critics are too “judgmental”. I hope you stick around…

    First of all, this toted line of “why are you judging” sounds like a helpless character from an American soap opera. People should come to terms with the idea that judgment is a very necessary part of forming an opinion, as nido points out. The social bankruptcy of certain lifestyles should be criticized, and maybe we need some guilt around the island, instead of shame being the primary enforcer of conformity and acquiescence to a nominally normative, but actually, a very exceptional social structure and its physical manifestations. Which brings me to the second point, mirai, is merely a manifestation of, as mentioned by many here, greater social and economic structures/realities. Gross inequality (increasing in booming Bahrain by the way, only that should be enough to “judge”) is a problem, and nidoers are its result, and one of its propagating forces.

    A few more specific comments primarily in response to areije, but for a couple of other commentators too…

    nobody is “judging an entire “generation”, Nidoers are an offshoot of a class at best…an annoying and irrelevant inbred group of brats at worst, they are however referred to as a generation in this blog, to probably make the point that they are a young and recently emerged phenomena as opposed to an older elite that did not practice the same type of exclusivity and outlandish consumerism.

    also, for those who actually say things like “they represent our country well” they do absolutely nothing of the sort, if you mean they look fashionable, and can speak English, then, your standards are abysmally low. people should also stop thinking in terms of “our country” we are talking of an irrelevant elite, and for those who argue that they “developed Bahrain” then there was nothing altruistic about that process…and even that is an extraordinarily narrow definition of development. The issue I take issue with most of all however is when people talk of how we should be “represented” well, or “promote” our country, to some EXTERNAL entity who’s opinions we hold so dear. If it is judgment that you fear then why all this talk of representation, who are we representing, and to whom is this representation directed? why don’t we measure our success internally, instead of this obsession with legitimacy that comes from outside? Or is it that Bahraini’s opinions don’t really matter, lets try and keep the IMF and the World Bank happy, or perhaps some sort of formula one hero, his opinions are undoubtedly more valuable than the “average” Bahraini. This is in fact a very huge problem trying to promote Bahrain and, put it on some “map”, because supposedly we don’t really exist without mega projects that will make us look like a cross between Bangkok, Cairo, and the bad parts of Miami in a decade, and a few skyscrapers thrown in to make sure we have a “modern” skyline. As if any of these projects are intended to better the lot of anyone other than the owners of capital on the island. Trickle down theory is the best they can offer, a severely outdated and notoriously unsuccessful developmental model.

    And as for areije’s comments on progressivism and “open-mindedness”, you certainly don’t strike me as anyone with anything progressive on their agenda, in fact you seem to think that a society without rich and poor is “bland”, a disgraceful thought. Progress, you would think would be societal betterment for ALL, and for you to think that it will cramp your style to have more people coalescing around similar income groups, well that’s just the absolute opposite of progressive. May I guess that your definition of progressive is a few more skyscrapers with more mirai’s on the top floors built with slave labor and owned by people who’s capital is a direct result of privilege, a thought that you should keep in mind when you celebrate the supposed meritocracy that you seem to believe exists here (another delusion, especially in places like the Gulf).

    You should also reconsider using a really tired method of argument we see a lot of here, usually deployed by people who talk in sound bites and have degrees in “business” or a notorious pseudo subject like “management” and consider themselves “well-read” because they can throw around a few multi-syllable words. When you, and many people like you (areije) around us, accuse anyone with other than neo-liberal views, and ultra conservative economic opinions of being communists, or trying to “further a communist agenda”, is that all you can do? Throwing around a label masquerading as an actual argument is just really sad…this Europe which you seem to hold in such esteem, has regulations up the wazoo in order to make sure there is a minimum of social equality, access to manifold resources, progressive taxation that will make you part with up to 70 percent of your income, and policies that enforce everything from a decent minimum wage to strict labour laws, most of these things, conservatives, (like yourself, I assume, no?) will reject without questions in places like Bahrain, who’s most liberal elitists are abject conservatives on economic matters, status quo suits them very well. And if you think that discussing these very important matters is not being proactive, and just complaining, then again, I think you are mistaken because most of these matters are not even discussed, and this blog is very much one mechanism that will induct them into mainstream discourse. If you really want to be open minded, then open your mind to some really serious economic issues and redistributive policies that are actually progressive. Open mindedness is not a matter of being able to schmooz in different languages and accept the “lifestyle” politics of others. It’s a matter of coming to terms with the economic politics that the Bahraini establishment has yet to ingest, and accept the fact that if there is to be change then trickle down theory and mega projects are not the way to go, its taxation, redistributive programs, politically different educational policy (not depoliticized technical improvements) and a host of other things.

    Yes there are irate, bitter, and angry people here, sorry we don’t accept status quo just like that, and I’m glad you like nice suites and going to mirai, but please if you think progress is a place where only the fittest (like you I suppose?) survive, and that there is something “natural” about the majority of people living in or near poverty in what can be argued to be a relatively wealthy country, and that a place without rich and poor is “bland,” then I really don’t know what you mean by progress !

  24. Aigre-Doux Says:

    Sedition in Saar: I really enjoyed this last set of comments – they were really clear, well-written.

    “The issue I take issue with most of all however is when people talk of how we should be “represented” well, or “promote” our country, to some EXTERNAL entity who’s opinions we hold so dear. If it is judgment that you fear then why all this talk of representation, who are we representing, and to whom is this representation directed?”

    Those are exactly my thoughts every morning when I look at the GDN’s front page, I realize I’m in the middle of this bizarre nationalist project that is so subtle, to use the word nationalist is jarringly surreal in this context. But then I just drive through Riffa and look at the agitprop billboard competition between the Amir and the Prime Minister and I realize that there is something supremely strange about having our dusty roads and landscapes lined with pictures of our leaders in military suits holding a bird or being photographed playing with children… that absurd looking shopping malls designed to reflect the re-writing of a very peculiar kind of Islamicization into Bahrain’s past are shrooming everywhere…. ..that we keep getting flashed headlines on maintaining national unity and the kingdom’s glorious economic future “BAHRAIN SET TO SOAR….” and that this is all quite real.

    “You should also reconsider using a really tired method of argument we see a lot of here, usually deployed by people who talk in sound bites and have degrees in “business” or a notorious pseudo subject like “management” and consider themselves “well-read”…many people like you (areije) around us, accuse anyone with other than neo-liberal views, and ultra conservative economic opinions of being communists, or trying to “further a communist agenda”, is that all you can do?”

    THANK YOU SOOO MUCH for saying this… I am constantly fighting with arrogant older men who think that having any sort of defunct education accompanied by financial success qualifies them to talk about society authoritatively whilst they scoff at you for having pursued the study of societies in the first place, “(smirk) and what do you plan to do with that?” And this “shut up you’re a commie ruining my capitalist high” is so dated. I mean, the McCarthy era is sort of over with. And maybe people should read Marx before they start throwing ism’s associated with him around?

  25. nido Says:

    Sedition:

    Great comment. I couldn’t have put it better. It’s actually really encouraging to see that there are people who think like us in Bahrain. Have you thought of starting a blog?

    Aigre-doux:

    I sometimes think of how really more “educated” this generation is compared to the educated class that grew up on the seventies. At least those guys got to read “radical” writings such as Marx. Yes their outlook was in certain ways naive and too rigid in terms of black and white, but at least they had the courage to question and try to change the status quo. Where are they now? How come most of this generation decided to shut up and not inform the next generation of their experiences, ideas, and mistakes? It seems they have become disillusioned and decided that they have nothing to give to the newer generation. I really think they should start talking about their experiences before they disappear from this life.

  26. Anonymous Says:

    Mirai: means “future” in Japanese, thats all LOL, im so random ^_^/

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  32. pure_hypocrisy Says:

    Well I stumbled onto this post through a link on the guardian and I was amazingly struck by the tone and your veiws. It’s something I’ve always struggled with but find it even harder in Bahrain’s current situation.

    I have/had a lovely group of friends, all nido-ers, who I thought very highly of. On the 13th of February they were all mega excited at waitrose opening up and wanted to drive up to go there. I forbade them from going out that evening, as I knew the 14th would see big demonstrations and I didn’t want them to get caught up in them. Their answer to me, that the demonstrations were nothing to do with them pretty much broke my heart and started me on the path I am today. The disconnect between the private school kids and the (as I see them) actual natives of Bahrain is shocking. It is inexusable that people don’t know how others are living just down the road to them. I’m a slightly unusual nido-er I suppose, Expatriate mother which gains you social points, father with a good education and position.. but I did my time in goverment schools with the poorest of the poor. I also have strong ties to the village my Dad came from were my aunty has only just gotten furniture (we sat on the floor in a crumbling house and didn’t see anything wierd about that)
    When I came of age, so to speak I married into a wealthy family and prepared to bring forth the next generation of upper middle class Bahraini’s. I ended up putting them in a really showy school whose ethos I was uncomfortable with to make sure they get some Arabic into their lives. More than that I wanted them to learn repect for people on a basis other than having an ipad and BB at the age of six so they have been forced to listen to long rants about the state of the poor and the level of respect you must show nannies, drivers and builders.

    My kids look “cool” but I wanted to make sure that with all the advantages they got they never forgot that the heart of Bahrain is in it’s villages, and not in it’s shopping malls.

    The result of this years crisis has been my joining a human rights society and actively working to save anyone who is in trouble. I have no interest in sectarianism, country of birth or political affiliation. If someone is in trouble, I will help them.

    But of course I do have my own beliefs, based on what I witnessed happening and through my interaction with people that this path has led me to. And the reason I can’t be around nido-ers any more is because of the heartlesness they evince towards anyone getting in the way of their next starbucks meet ups. It sickens and saddens and humiliates me. When they lecture me on what “the poor” are doing wrong and refuse to even consider that they have a point or two worth listening to I want to scream. These rants to me usually end with “if they are poor they shouldn’t have so many children anyway”.

    If someone I know, wants to know what happened on a particular day, I will tell them. If they want to believe in either sides propaganda then I can’t help. But regardless of “these villagers” making it difficult for you to get to the cinema on time, can’t nido-ers look at some situations like human beings? Can they have sympathy for just one of the dead? How bout the 14 year old boy? Or was he asking for it too?

    My main issue with nido-ers at the minute is that they will spend hours talking about the latest nail salon but not a second on real issues that Bahrain is dealing with. I don’t ask that they come out on one side or the other, but acnowledge that Bahrain is different now. Show me you care about someone, anyone other than your cool gang. I don’t care who it is.

    I find them terrifying. Utterly terrifying. If it’s true that they don’t know what is going on then shame on them. If they do know and still continue to whinge and moan over a shopping mall then please excuse me while I run screaming for the hills. Are we building a generation of alpha personalities who would kill their grandma? Because count me out of that.

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