Nido and Oil: Keep on Dreaming, and the Kids Will Hate

What’s Nido’s favourite drink?

Nido Milk? Wrong. A nidoer would never be caught drinking Nido. It’s too low class. He’ll most probably drink Danone instead.

Johnny Walker or Jack Daniel? Mr. Nido definitely loves his whiskey, but this doesn’t even approach his addiction to the liquid in question.

The answer is oil.

Is there any poor soul out there who’s still dillusional about how we are completely dependant on oil? About the sad reality that every aspect of our life and indeed our life itself has been shaped, dictated, and defined by oil?

Look around you. That ultra cool and silent Japanese Air Conditioner is due to oil. That swanky latest edition Swedish phone has been bought by oil. The philipino maid that sweeps your house, cooks your food and cleans your clothes is here because of oil. That German car, those American fast food shops, and even your Itlalian designed and Chinese made underwear.

Don’t be fooled by those who tell you that Bahrain has diversifie from oil. That’s utter and complete rubbish. “But wait!”, you say, ” oil Oil only makes up 11% of our GDP!” Yes, but it makes up 76% of government revenue. Yup, a whopping three quarters.

Still don’t get it? Well let’s take a detour into that murky and shady world of economics. You see, pretty much every thing in the country is dependant on that precious black gold. Oil pays the wages of government sector employees, which constitute two third of bahrainis employed . These wages in turn are used to pay for the Shawarmas, the cars, the computers, the houses we build, and the maids who sweep these houses. The money that is paid to the shops and companies that provides these goods become the wages of the workers in these companies and the profits of the hamoors (fat cats) who own them. We of course all know that the other third of bahraini workers and the expat workers (who constitute 67% of the workforce in Bahrain) are paid from these wages. They in turn spend their wages on shwarmas, cars, maids, houses, and the cycle goes on. In the case of expats a big chunk of their wages are sent oversees to never be seen again the economy.

You see, although oil constitutes 11% of the GDP, it is the most important component of GDP. It is the fuel (notice the pun) that propels the rest of the economy. Take away the oil and you take away the Shawarmas, the cars, the maids and the ACs.

Yes, you might say, my daddy worked hard to provide me with CK underwear. Yes, you might say, he opened a business to buy me the latest car for me. Unfortunately the money that makes up his wages and profits started from that good old fountain of oil. Take away the oil and the government can no longer pay his wages and people can no longer afford to buy his company goods.

But wait, what about that Banking sector? That glorious sector that is the pride and joy of Bahrain? Come on, you know better than that. Did you know the Banking sector employs a whopping 7200 people, including expats? Let me repeat that, including expats, and we all know how much expats constitute of the work force. Did you know that Bahrain’s Bahraini workforce is more than 120,000 (this is a rant, not an economic study, so don’t expact exact numbers), and it is growing every year? Now let us be generous and assume all of those 7200 are Bahrainis. In fact let us be even more generous and assume the country’s bank sector has a massive boom and suddenly there are 14,000 jobs, all filled by Bahrainis. That’s still less than 15% of the local workforce that the banking sector can employ. What are you gonna do with the rest?

Let us not forget as well that the money that fuels these banks is all oil money. It’s rich Saudis and Kuwaitis depositing their money in Banks like ABC and Investcorp. What are those banks going to do when the oil money dries up?

Formula 1? Really? How many BAHRAINIS can the Formula 1 employ on a regular basis (I’m not talking here about ushers that work one week out of the whole year)? 500? 1000? 10,000? Let’s be serious here. I mean…. does the Formula one even make money? How exactly is it going to rake in the money for the government?

Amwaj? Durrat Al Bahrain? Riffa views? Besides the ecological disaster that will ensue because of turning a desert into the French Riviera (what the hell are they thinking with Riffa views? The country is a desert for a reason. You can’t just screw nature and turn it into an English Countryside!), how exactly is this going to benefit the country? Besides the drain on the limited water and electricity resources to fund this Shenanigan, how many Bahrainis are going to be employed on this project? You think most of the builders out there at the moment and the employees and waitresses they’ll subsequently bring will be Bahraini? Do you even think most of the people that can afford houses on these projects will be Bahraini?

How about we just depend on “al keyada al rasheedah” (the wise leadership) and their economic management genius? I see…. so in the nineties when we were in a severe recession (which, by pure coincidence I assure you, is when the oil prices dropped considerably) did our glorious and wise rulers lose their deft econmic touch for a decade? Do you seriously think they will be our saviours?

Our glorious rulers, I can assure you, have more than enough money to satisfy themselves, their children, their grandchildren, their great grandchildren, their great great grandchildren and then some. When it all hits the fan and the oil runs out they can all afford to have nice houses in marbella and London to flock off to. What are you going to do?

You know, it’s not a a very hard and complicated formula to become a modern independent economy. You don’t need a legion of Economists, McKinsey consultants, and wise leaders to come up with a plan. Look at every goddamn country that has managed to develop. You need three things: education, strong industries, and a governmental and legal structures to support them. Look at Japan, Korea, Ireland. Those guys had sod all in terms of natural resources. They, however, built impressive industries, well educated labour force, and an impressive governmental and legal structure to support it. It’s not an extremely complicated formula. The hard part comes in executing this plan and in having the finances for it. It’s that good old economic dillemma: How in hell can I get the finances and money to build a modern industrial economy and the institutions and educational structrues to support it?

Now we in the Gulf have been given a great gift by god. We got oil. Good old sweet black gold. While other countries have to fret about where to get the finances, we literally have got oil to pay for it. Hell, we don’t even have to work hard to get this oil. You literally dig the ground and it sprouts out. No Siberian grim winters or deep reservoirs to worry about. It’s literally at ground level, and it’s even at a slant so that once you dig a whole and put a pipe in the glorious stuff spouts out of its own accord! You literally can put your feet up, lay back and relax!

The problem is we have put up our feet and just relaxed. Do we take that money and invest it in building moderny sustainable industries and in our education system? Of course not. We go wasting it on Merdeses, sushi bars, large fountains and Riffa views.

Do you know that Cambridge University’s total endowment is 4.1 billion pounds? This is of course including its land and buildings that it can’t do much about? Do you know that the gulf has spent more than 600 billion dollars on its defense in the last 20 years? YES, 600 BILLION. CASH. 600 GODDAMN BILLION. IN CASH. That is such a high number it sounds like one of those massive numbers that people spout out to show how ridiculous something is, like when you go “600 gazillion trillion billion.” Do we have ONE world class university to show for it? Nope, we’ve got universities that set up shop in shopping malls to make money. Do we have ONE world class research institution? Hell, we don’t even have a decent army! Der3 el Jazeera ou Der3 al Jazeera. The island shield and the island shield. Well that 600 billion piece of wonder didn’t even survive seven hours against Saddam’s army.

We all heard ancient fairytales or relligious stories about a destitute and poor society that was suddenly blessed by god and suddenly had a massive treasure dropped on them from the sky (in our case from under our feet). Does this society thank the stars for its fortune? Does it try to utilize this fortune into developing itself and creating more growth? Nope, it starts spending it on luxuries and leisurely goods. It starts to get arrogant. It forgets how it used to be poor and how lucky it is in the fortune it came across. It become addicted to its materialistic lifestyle, consuming more and more and growing fatter and fatter.

It is ironic that we never learn from history or from fairy tails. Any creature with an IQ of a sunflower seed can tell that this is not sustainable. Any bozo can fathom that this oil glut is not sustainable and that we should take this limited resource and invest maturely into industries that will sustain the economy of the country. Isn’t it pretty simple? Oil is non-renewable and limited resource. Hence, we should take this great fortune and invest it into something renewable and sustainable.

We however have been drugged by the effects of oil. We have ceased to look at the world rationally. Our minds and senses have been enchanted by the swanky cars, the luxury houses, the servants who do our every bidding. We have closed our eyes on our reality in order to enjoy this dream of a materialistic lifestyle. Isn’t it amazing how our entire life has been consumed by oil? How it has shaped our houses, roads, cars jobs? That black, guey, lifeless, substance? Heck, it has even taken over our thoughts, creating in front of us a mirage of a well functioning easygoing lifestyle that can last forever. How can this commodity have come to control us nay even enslave us so thoroughly?

We have become dependant on oil for everything. We have become like a fat grotesque goblin that is absolutely addicted to the black guey substance. This obese creature lies there with tubes coming out of his every edifice pumping oil into hiim to sustain him. He is so fat that he can’t even move and be productive. He has to shower that black gold on others in order to build his house, feed him, and clean up his mess. He literally cannot even sustain himself, let alone sustain a job to pay for his grotesque lifestyle.

Has he forgotten so quickly how harsh life can be? Has he forgotten the days when he was an agile scrawny person who had to take on the sea for months on end, dodging sharks and infections, in order to fetch a small pearl? Has the coolness of the A/C made him forget the unforgiving heat of the sun, when had to slave away on the fields for hours on end? Has oil blinded his memory towards the fountain of life that the sea and the fertile land has provided him with for thousands of years? Has his betrayal reached the level of killing them in order to build a few artifical islands and palaces to satisfy his unsatiable greed? Is he oblivious that the oil will run out, and that when he will need the sea and the palms in order to survive, he’ll realize that he has killed his life-long friends for a whimsical desire?

What in hell are you going to do when the oil runs out? What will you get up to when the banks’ oil funds dry up and they leave? Will you go pearl diving? We have already killed the sea and the Japanese have developed synthetic pearls. Will you catch fish? We have already driven them away by building on them fake islands. Will you grow palm trees? You have cut them down and used their land for houses, their water for your backgarden. Will you sell Halwa or make a few 7asalat pottery?

You can’t forever expect that oil will import everything for you. You can’t forever import cars. You can’t forever import your food. You can’t forever import workers to build your roads, your houses, to serve your food, to cook for you, and to clean after you. You can’t import education, industy, and development. These require planning and hard work. You can’t simply just import a life by oil and then not expect that life to vanish when you no longer have oil.

Can’t we see how oil has become the source of life for us? From our underwear to our jobs? Can’t we see that it has become our life? Can’t we see that this drug has created an illusion, a la la land dream life that is unsustainable?

What will it take? Our kids and grandkids stoning our graves and going , “You bastards. God gave you this gift that you didn’t even have to work hard for, and you wasted it all on usless stuff like sushi, Mercedes, and a massive fountain? On top of this you killed all the land and the sea and left me with nothing? Is this what I have to show for your wealth ? A goddamn fountain?”

When will we wake up?

When will we wake up?

Keep on dreaming, and I’ll shut up.

Advertisements

11 Responses to “Nido and Oil: Keep on Dreaming, and the Kids Will Hate”

  1. Bahrania Says:

    Who is the “we”, of course you are addressing ur fellow nidoers. Black gold did you say? Trickle down effect? Mate, a trickle OUT effect more like, we’re contributing to Indian economic development more than our own.

    The only things that drive our economy is; [intra-gulf tribal] jealousy and myopia.

  2. Sandy Says:

    Oil for life…. you bet.. A well written piece my friend.. I agree that oil is the engine that runs the economy and about the depletion of marine life…. But things are changing gradually it is the lifestyle that needs to change. There will be a sea change of difference only..then

  3. Aigre-doux Says:

    Bahrania: Even if Nido meant just nidoers by the ‘we’… in ‘when will we wake up?’, everybody shares in the myopia which is generated by a society that has been engineered by its rulers (i.e. zero access to any information and freedom in general, and partly people’s own desire to sit back and be cerebrally lazy) to be completely lacking in any self-reflexivity and awareness. It’s not just those of privilege who need to understand how exactly Bahrain sustains itself (it does no such thing as Nido aptly pointed out). I mean, you wouldn’t have people who should be in solidarity with each other turning against each other if they had any knowledge of why the status quo is and who maintains it.
    Granted, it is the nidoer who is in the best position to get off his/her ass and do something, make some sacrifices but its not as if people who are underprivileged are incapable of any agency or incapable of waking up themselves. Infact, they’re the only ones doing anything and have the balls to do anything since they are treated like scum and have nothing left to lose – workers striking, shias protesting discrimination etc etc.

  4. nido Says:

    Bahrania: I really don’t know how to understand your comment! Are you criticizing me for saying there is trickle down effect in Bahrain? I never said there was! This is not trickle down! This rentaire state! A government giving out money to cronies and to gain supporters! My point was more oil has shaped our economy, our lifestyle, our politics, and even our thoughts! Basically oil controls us!

    Sandy: Thanks for the kind words. I agree with you the word is changing and does not wait for anyone, not even for us! I wonder if people will realize that though before it’s too late.

    Aigre-doux: A wise man once said:

    …[They] have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win……….

  5. bikeshed Says:

    Just stumbled onto the blog and love the name! Also appreciate the rambling, rhetorical but somehow prose-like style. Still, there’s way too much to take point to (spelling aside) in what you are saying, but hey, it’s your blog and my first comment. I agree with your rant, but not much else. Perhaps the tag line should be, “A Blog by, for and about the Nido Generation.”

  6. nido Says:

    Thanks Bikeshed for commenting.

    I’d be really interested in hearing what you disagree with and what you take issue with. Other than the spelling of course.

  7. Ugh! Says:

    I dont know which part to be most upset about, the fact that we are a nido generation and deny it, or the fact that our economy is trickling ahead of us… either way… it might still not be a win situation..

  8. nido Says:

    Ugh!:

    As it stands at the moment, it is actually very likely to be a lose situation than maybe “still not be a win situation.” At the end of the day, however, we still have choices to make, and it is still possible for us to try to change the status quo before it deteriorates beyond repair. The question is are we bothered to do so!

  9. lebinbah Says:

    People just like to Nag …
    It is in their nature…
    I hope that you look at other people and compare yourself to them before bashing out at everything …..

    It is good you have oil otherwise none of the people would have been educated… sure the oil is going to be depleted one day, and plans will be made to ensure the country’s survival, i don’t think all the rich people nowadays are going to settle for going back into poverty when all the oil is gone.

    You have some valid views in your arguments but you simply nag alot and about anything that crosses your path.

  10. jinni Says:

    Lebinbah it is usually a good idea to read the posts and comments on a website before commenting on it. Otherwise you risk repeating stuff and looking like a complete idiot in the process.

    As for your silly little argument that rich people are not going to settle for being poor well how amazingly perceptive of you. As you can tell this blog is all about how to keep the rich being rich. Yes this is what the country should be worried about. How to keep the rich rich.

    Now crawl back to the hole you came from and stick to talking about how great Audis are.

  11. nido Says:

    Lebinbah:

    It does get tiring repeating the same arguments over and over again but I guess it’s too much to expect some people to read through the other posts. Since your comment nicely illustrates many of the things I’ve been ranting on about here we go again:

    1. First of all, I realize that the rich aren’t going to die of hunger any time soon. As I’ve mentioned many time before, they’ve got enough money and enough different places to live in that niether they or their kids or grandkids have to worry about poverty or if anything happens to Bahrain. They can just pack up and leave if things get really bad. I don’t know if you notice or not, but this blog is not mainly concerned with how to keep the rich rich. For that the rich are much better off going to their personal fund and investment manager. In fact “how to keep nido rich” is the complet antithesis of this blog, and it just illustrates perfectly what I was talking about in my last post about the selfishness and only caring about how to keep oneself rich and nothing else, so thank you for illustrating that perfectly.

    2. As for what you call “nagging”. Maybe some people nag because it is in their nature, but it is highly naive to say all the people out there are nagging because they like to nag. Do you think the events in Bahrain in the fifties, sixties, seventies, and nineties were just because people like to nag? How about the events in Lebanon recently? Is it just because people like to nag? There are legitimate reasons for people to complain about. It is not just because they like to nag, ironically an argument many nidoers use and which I’ve talked about quite a lot in many posts including “Laziness, Babu, Goddamn Economists, and Nido.” I refer you to that.

    I’ve also banged on enough about the important role criticism plays and has always played. It helps us realize the faults we’re in, introduces new possibilities and viewpoints, and can be a vehicle for change. Yes, this blog will mainly deal with criticism and analysis. If that’s not your thing, well there are many other websites that are more laid back.

    Finally, you say I bring up some good points but then the only criticism you have to offer is that “I nag too much.” You don’t spell out which arguments you don’t like or think are wrong, but simply that I am a “nagger”. This, I have to say, is one of the lowest form of arguments. It would be like me saying I could sit and explain my arguments to you but you’re too much of an airhead and happy go lucky to get any of them.

    Thanks for your comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: