Break

Dear All,

Thanks for all your comments and participation. I’m really surprised by the amount of feedback I got on this blog so my sincere appreciation to all of you and I hope we can keep it going. I unfortunately will have to take a break (a week or so) from blogging due to the immense amount of work load at the moment. I was awful at organizing my time schedule and I ended up with 10 massive things to finish in one week. Thanks to all who’ve commented and I hope to be back very soon!

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47 Responses to “Break”

  1. Sedition in Saar Says:

    An immeansly entertaining and necessary blog i must say. Ibarrid il Galb, much much more needs to be written on the porsche pushing pricks of seef, saar socialites etc…and yes they are a class, a growing one, one that many aspire to be members of, and that is just it, today we can finally talk about class in Bahrain, becuase of the very processes (economic and other) that have solidified the language, political opinions, attitudes, and aesthetic judgements of the Nidoer into a recognizable, although unfortunate CLASS, along with many others in Bahrian. 30 or even 15 years ago, dissent was not the exclusive abode of a sectarian, ethnic, or economic group, it was all over, although easily pacified. today we see discontent, and its flip side, depoliticised aquiesence (of the nido generation) being strongly associated with identifiable groups…

    Note: Boring accusations of innacuracy should be ignored, the reasons why stereotypes are funny is becuase they are accurate to a certain extent…

    also– accusations of hypocracy (an outdated accusation if there ever was one), should be ingored as well. Being a member of the nido generation/class does not preclude hating it, or exposing the fraudulent claims to “success” that it embodies, AT ALL, so go for it. !

  2. Aigre-doux Says:

    Nice. I wish all of us seditious, atleast somewhat conscious and aware residents of Saar could get together and discuss how we as a bougie/nidoized minority can ally with and support real resistance to the powers that be in Bahrain. Whenever I’m in Bahrain, it is truly painful to be unable to have a conversation about anything real. Its even more mindfucking when you realize nobody of your age or class background is capable, let alone cares about articulating anything beyond soundbite explanations that their equally ignorant and apathetic parents have fed them. I mean, when educated 23 year olds are too stupid to even understand what a discussion is, or how to make an argument, that arguments are not PERSONAL, that people can disagree and still have highly fruitful conversations – i’m lost i tell you, lost.

    To think about these things to realize how we are complicit and vested in maintaining them and the various perceptions and stereotypes that accompany them. If our parents didn’t make ten times the amount anyone else does – either because of race, nationality, gender, sect, and prioritized alliances, we wouldn’t have had our fancy high school educations and even fancier college educations that now give us a powerful voice which we happily silence… since.. “Duuude, that shit is too intense, can we talk about something else?” and “….blub.. blub.. blub.. like what does “hier…ar..chy” and huh? Stratifica…what? mean? You use way too many big words.” While i sit and think to myself, “You went to St.Chris/Bahrain school and have the thought capacity of a fucking toad. Moving on.”

  3. Sedition in Saar Says:

    yes the suburban phenomenon has finally hit bahrain, hard. in a way we live in one big suburb…but saar just has it all, coffee mornings, colonial and informally white only clubs, the suburban strip mall, leafy gardens, and soccer moms, can you believe it? its such a pleasure to be able to vent like this to people who actually know the place, i wrote a few papers on saar and its social phenomena for some shit class in college

    , i keep wanting to ask for a get together of self-hating nidoers as i read these comments, i’m sure we will manage to at some point. we should all go to cafe lilou and put a huge can of nido on the table and start throwing condensed milk at the overfed buffons that sit around and look at each other. can you imagine the papers the next day…

    all these however, are superficial phenomena that only partially explain a very nasty reality (on the other side of the road bumps in the case of saar, if you know what i mean) the social geography of the place speaks volumes. i also want to say that stupidity and apathy are to be found world wide, i think its safe to say that most of us on this blog recently came back to bahrain from studying somewhere, and thus are dealing with the reality of being back with the statements we make here, i for one, absolutely adore, and loathe this place as i am sure many of us do to…it is important though to remember that this place can be facinating, and endearing. enough with the apologetics, the people are starting to suck i agree ! but thats ok…cause we have the nido blog, and najeebi center.

  4. nido Says:

    Thanks Sedition for the great comments.

    Of course we all love Bahrain, adn this is why I started this blog. I’m sure people are more interested however in hearing what needs to be changed rather than an endless prose in praise of the place. Our leaders do enough of that!

    I’m amazed by the number of people who actually agree with a lot of what I said. I was expecting endless comments of insults and accusations of being “negative”, or worse still, complete ignoring! As you said however, we probably went through similar experiences of living abroad and coming back. I definitely hope that a self-hating nidoers club does emerge. Ones who are aware of the status quo and are interested in changing it. After all, we are the ones who need to take an initiative in transforming this place!

  5. LiB Team Says:

    This reminds me of one of the comments on one of our posts, why do we write about negative things only in Bahrain? I do acknowledge that Bahrain has some good in it, but it’s not for me to highlight, besides I do talk about good things every once in a great while, but it’s the crappy stuff that makes me angry and makes me want to express it and vent it on my blog. I want to bring to attention these bad things, I wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t love or care about my country, I am saddened to see it get ripped apart by different kind of people, every kind trying to get attention through shitty means.

    This is why we put our hands in yours and join the fight to try and at least do our part in correcting things in Bahrain. And the first step is by getting these fuckers to change their attitude, and by fuckers, it’s not only the glows, anyone who thinks they can get attention for their own benefits and not Bahrain as a WHOLE.

  6. Aigre-Doux Says:

    LIB: This is why we’re all compelled to speak out.. because in the meantime, our prime minister is busy doing this
    http://www.gulf-daily-news.com/Story.asp?Article=170396&Sn=BNEW&IssueID=29336

    And then stripped of GDN’s and his speech writer’s euphemisms:

    PRIME Minister Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa yesterday asserted that national unity is the kingdom’s only alternative.

    (Translation: All dissenters shut up or get yourself thrown in jail where I’ll happily torture you like I have every other dissenter for the last half a century)

    He exhorted citizens to hold on to the one-family spirit and values of solidarity and affection and denounced all those seeking to stoke sectarianism and sow division in the country.

    (Translation: Yes, because critics don’t care right? That’s why we waste so much analyzing Bahrain, yes, because we hate it so much. Oh yeah and we’re all one big homogenous happy family with no differences and no competing stakes and interests)

    He pledged full support to all those wishing to strengthen national unity and urged religious scholars, media and the country’s representatives in international gatherings to highlight and not disparage or underestimate the kingdom’s achievements which have earned large-scale international acclaim.

    (HEAR YE! HEAR YE MULLAHS!!! COME OUT IN FULL FORCE and tell people that critical thinking = blasphemy. And to the now free-er media and *gasp* MOBILE people academics/activists etc who speak to international audiences – Remember that we ALLOW you to speak when we want and that there are consequences for crossing the line. And yes, talking about trafficking in Bahrain to Human Rights Watch means you’re hurting my project to build a nation-state where we pretend that there is nothing wrong here. We have earned “large-scale international acclaim” for opening up our economy to the US so we can now become their next sweatshop zone and we gave the clash-of-civilization Islamophobes the illusion that everything’s alright here with our fraudulently democratic new electoral set up unlike our neighbours, so SHUT UP)

    He called for the utilisation of technical developments such as the Internet in media and communications to strengthen national unity.

    (Stop using the internet to spread the word and talk to each other about how fucked up things are. Also, STOP BLOGGING – how many of you do I have to symbolically throw in jail or put on a blacklist to get you to shut up)

    The Prime Minister lauded the responsible attitude of the national Press and writers who strive to draw attention to shortcomings, provide constructive criticism and confront attempts to rake sectarianism.

    (Why can’t all of you be like more Anward AbdulRahman? Pretend to offer criticism but really just pat my back and tell me I’m great)

    The Premier was speaking as he received at Gudaibiya Palace yesterday morning a number of senior executive and legislative officials, religious scholars, intellectuals, members of the media and Press and a number of citizens who extended their greetings to him.

    He said that the slightest insecurity and instability will hinder the development march.

    (‘Development’ even if I define it as having a monopoly on pointless and ugly construction projects and a larger Rolls collection is not for anyone in Bahrain to question)

    The Prime Minister stressed that Bahrain would always stretch out its hand to the rest of the world and welcome every kind of co-operation that serves the common interest.

    (Hey Kuwaitis, keep the money pouring in – our common interest being multi-million projects that serve no purpose and further subjugating our populations. To the Western Europe and the US: If you invest your money here, we’ll put up more glass-cases of how perfect and progressive our society is, so you can run around and show your other buddies that democratization and capitalism do go hand in hand and your civilizing project has been successful atleast once. You can keep lecturing me about democratization till we both use the fat profits of our ventures to build yet another personal house in tacky, nouveau-riche Marbella)

    The government’s aim is to improve services nationwide and establish more projects in an attempt to provide citizens with decent and comfortable living conditions, he said.

    (Really, I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing, nor do I care. You exist to serve me as a ruler not the other way around)

  7. nido Says:

    LiB Team: The reason I pick on nidoers particularly is because they are the supreme manifestation of the problem in Bahrain. I think if one needs to change the situation one needs to take a bigger viewpoint and pinpoint where the problem lies. It goes beyond changing people’s views, although obviously that is the final intended goal. One needs to take a whole look at the structure of society and see what causes these differesnt “screwed up” views to emerge. I don’t think these views and attitudes came out of nowhere, and that they are in the “nature of people”. We need to look at the basic problems and factors in society that made them emerge.

    Aigre-Doux: Are you trying to get me jailed or something!! You made me crack up laughing. I really sometimes wonder what does the writer in GDN think to himself when he writes these articles. I mean is this great piece of writing the reason he did his journalism degree?

  8. Aigre-Doux Says:

    Nido: ; ) I’m glad you found that amusing.

  9. Aigre-Doux Says:

    and I highly doubt the author even has a journalism degree! Besides, its the pm’s laughable rhetoric I worry about not some gdn hack.

  10. Sedition Says:

    The GDN is not important. Its an English gazette…censored, official, and only interested in the ads it publishes…it has even become grotesquely sensationalist…at least before it just used to be boring.

  11. nido Says:

    I wonder who reads the gdn nowadays? I mean why would anyone spend their money on it when they can get much better news online. I bet most of their subscriptions and buyers are corporate rather than individual. It does make a good read for 2 minutes when you’re in a waiting room i guess. I mean seriously the amount of money that goes into that thing can be put to so much better use. Hopefully the internet hastens the demise of that rag.

  12. chanad Says:

    to answer your question nido, the gdn is read by more or less all of the english-speaking expat community. as crappy as it is, it is the only local news available to them. there really isn’t much news in english (or any language other than Arabic) available online. so while arabic readers can resort to bahrainonline.org, there isnt any equivalent for english readers.

    and this is why we should not be passive towards the gdn’s crappy pro-govt coverage. the gdn’s coverage of local news (or lack thereof) plays a key role in keeping expats out of the loop and maintaining the huge wall that exists between the two communities. the gdn continues be a tool in the government’s attempts to provoke fear and hide underlying issues from the expats.

    just a few days ago, the gdn’s front page carried the fake govt story of the bani jamra terrorist training camp. when my parents read it, they were understandably very concerned. but what my parents were not able to read was the follow up reporting done by AlWasat, since they don’t read Arabic. they bought the govt story.

    the same thing happened in the 90s. the gdn did not publish anything about the peaceful demonstrations, the various petitions, the statements by the opposition leaders, the hunger strikes, the mass arrests and deportations, the killing of demosntrators, or the torture. but when the govt found a small explosive device in the meridien, or when the 5 bangladeshis were tragically burned to death in sitra, the gdn had front page and inside coverage replete with photos and government theories about who committed the crimes.

    all of this is important in making sure that the large expat community always stays divided from the locals. for if the exploited expat workers were to one day unite with the downtrodden locals,… well…

  13. Aigre-Doux Says:

    CHANNADDD! *HUGS* for resurfacing from murky waters!

  14. Aigre-Doux Says:

    And for a non-Arabic reader, what was Al-Wasat’s follow up reportage? I was a bit thrown off by the Bani Jamra camp story.. as in.. I knew to question it.. but without context? Enlighten me por favour.

  15. Mariam Says:

    Chanad,
    That’s a really good point. When I was in Bahrain last month I went out to lunch with my cousins co-worker – she’s British and she just moved to Bahrain recently. When I asked her where she lived she said Budayi3. I was just about to asked her how she liked it when she said, “but don’t worry, I don’t live anywhere near where those crazy shia are living.” I was horrified. One, because I am shia and it’s funny that she’s assuming that just because I dress is a more western way that I’m not; and two because who the hell does she think she is, coming into budayi3 and living there and then calling her neighbors “crazy shia!!!”.
    Another story is when me and my “friend” (a nidoer who loves her nido world), went to bahrain mall (which almost no nidoers go to) to get something we needed. The store manager was a lebanese guy who was only going to be in bahrain for a few months. I guess you could say he was one of those lebanese nidoers who think that they are so “civlized” and call themselves “phonecians”. Anyways, so he came up to and asked us where we’re from. So we said Bahrain. So he told us how shocked he was when he heard us talking with a bahrani accent and he had to ask whether we were half bahraini. We confirmed that we were completely bahraini. So then he said he never met any bahraini’s that were well dressed and sophisticated like the women in lebanon, and all the bahraini women he met were ugly and covered up. My friend laughed and said that there are a lot of bahrainis like us but no one hangs out here – everyone goes to adliya, and that the only reason we were here was because we needed to get something quick. I on the other hand was disguisted and horrified. The way you dress doesn’t say how “cultured” (what ever that even means) or educated you are. So I told him that you shouldn’t judge people by what they wear and that the comments that he made actually made me think of his as less “cultured and sophisticated”. My “friend” was of course embarrased and tried to shut me up. Later she told me that I embarrased her and I embarrased Bahrain!

  16. jasra jedi Says:

    mariam,
    i acutally think that it is perfectly normal to judge people by what they were. i dress differently if i am going to work, or going to the gym, or going to hang out at my friend’s place. and since i am old enough to choose what to wear, i think that one of the biggest indicators of who i am is what i am wearing.

    nido,
    you rock. good on you.

    sedition in saar,
    if you drive down saar road, past the starbucks on budaya and past najibi center and past the villas and the compounds, you will end up in saar village itself with all the new iconic religious art that is emerging as a direct contradiction to wahabbi islam which forbids representation of images of people … nothing suburban there.

    anyway, as any nido knows, muharraq is where its all at …

  17. sedition Says:

    I am very familiar with the iconography at the entrance to saar village. Tthere is no contradiction with that emerging in a suburban context. Becuase of Bahrains size, our suburbs are forced to accomodate various income/ethnic/linguistic groups etc, to the distaste of many suburbanites with interests in keeping thier neighborhoods “clean.” Also, the idea that suburbanism is an indivisible concept without local variations to its origional “western” expression is not accurate. The reason why its interesting to look at a place like saar, although i admit, a bit trite/cliche, is becuase of its contradictions and stark dichotomies.

    In any case, the point is that there are dichotomies emerging, that manifest themselves geographically nowadays, that need to be studied. The process by which stratification occurs etc. which brings us to the sadly ignored and often derided status of the social sciences in bahrain, and the Gulf in general. lets talk about that for a bit no? nido? aigre-doux? anybody?…

  18. Aigre-Doux Says:

    Sedition: I’ve thought some about conceptions and expressions of space in Bahrain (the usual exploratory college papers) although I’m not sure I have any more clarity on it.. Initially, I started from the same premise – that Bahrain’s hierarchies and stratifications were simply manifested in its development as an urban city-state that uses walls obsessively, is alarmingly segregrated but due the uneven, disorganized growth and concentration in a small space also has the rich and poor living side by side, resentment inevitably leading to conflict.

    I’m not sure what you mean though by suburbanism – do you mean that you see just increasing suburban’ization’ as a development pattern in Bahrain as a reflection of what is wrong? or do you mean suburbanism in the mentalite sense? I guess my confusion/uncomfortability with the term is probably because I’m also guilty of a partially narrow-minded use of the concept which you’ve pointed out is an issue to begin with.

    I do think that physical forms in Bahrain are manifestations of many things… Jonathan Raban writes in his tritely Orientalist ‘Arabia through the looking glass” of his travels in Bahrain in the 70’s,

    “Jumbled together on this tight little island, every group lived inside its own protective social network. The sheer quantity of these intricate divisions struck me as baffling: male and female, sunni and shia, Bahraini and expatriate…from these basic distinctions, the islanders had constructed a fantastic maze of walls and discriminations…What appeared to be unique to Bahrain was the way in which so many nationalities had landed up on one small patch of ground, coming together to create not a cosmopolitan city but a multitude of tiny, provincial hamlets” (Raban, 42).

    I think we need to go beyond Raban’s naive assumptions that a) people just “landed up” in Bahrain and b) that everybody had an equal hand in constructing their respective residential settlements…but I do think that space in Bahrain today does reflect the consequences of multiple-labour migration (resentment against poorer migrant workers on the one hand that results in a caste-like approach to who can live with Bahrainis and wealthy compound-dwelling expats on the other hand) , the spatial patterns of settlements characterized by segregation that is institutionalized, i.e. each having its own services, commercial and social.. but also… interesting historical legacies such as the fact that dormitory communities of pearl-divers and palm-cultivators existed in what is now suburbia such as in Budaiya, Hidd and Galali. Budaiya is ofcourse the best example here of how this land was used after the tribes that once inhabited it emigrated en masse to Saudi during the Depression when their livelihoods were wiped out. I’m most fascinated though by how suburbanization in Bahrain has manifested itself through this “compound” concept though – I mean..I realize that the construction of Awali introduced this concept in the 30’s (oilmen involved in setting up facilities for oil production lived in quarters 15 miles away – huts next to a mess hall and a recreation room. When their families arrived, dormitories were built to house them but as the population of workers grew, a permanent camp was built to house them in 1937 – Awali – housing built of imported materials, tennis courts, a pool, completely fenced off with its residents needing to be exclusively American or European) but I also wonder if the use of walls also has a lot to do with a culturally specific emphasis on privacy. And how did this process of leasing old dormitory land long-term for the purpose of building compounds come about? Also, what the government intended as suburbia in the 70’s and where a traveler then would find it – Isa Town, Gufool, Mahooz, Salmaniya, Adliya and Umm-al-Hassam have since been encroached upon by Manama’s expansion further compounding the contradictions when people sharply separated by class, ethnicity live together.

    Sorry.. this is all written in a terribly confused fashion but I’m sleep deprived so forgive me…

  19. sedition Says:

    aigre-doux…excuse the presumption, but we have to meet. how, where, when should be disucussed on another platform, any suggestions?

  20. Aigre-Doux Says:

    LOL… are you sure you’re not actually going to be mukhbharat (sp?) in disguise and then proceed to throw me in jail?

  21. sedition Says:

    mukhabarat are just looking for someone discussing the politics of space to throw in jail…no but serioiusly, i mean ok i understand its a bit much, but we might as well make use of the fact that people on this blog can actually get together in a matter of minutes.

    the like minded in bahrain cannot afford to be isolated, from a sanity point of view, nothing more or less…what do you say?

  22. Aigre-Doux Says:

    ofcourse not, but they’d definitely take my mockery of the PM as sufficient rationale to do so. Anyways, I’d love to meet especially if you promise to dish out the sarcasm so liberally.. but there’s a slight hitch. talk about it on another platform is right.. contact me through the blog i never blog on – http://www.passtheroti.com I should have a ‘contact’ sign next to it in a couple of hours if technological ineptitude doesn’t pose an obstacle today.

  23. Aigre-Doux Says:

    ‘it’ means my name on the list of bloggers on passtheroti.com

  24. Aigre-Doux Says:

    in the meantime, you’re not going to abandon our suburbia discussion are you?

  25. Sedition Says:

    its not there yet…will keep checking for it, but yes in the mean time, our suburbia discussion must go on…tomorrow. also sleep deprived.

  26. chanad Says:

    aigre-doux, just want make one small thing clear.

    if i understand correctly, you are saying that the dormitory pearl-diving community of budaiya has now become ‘suburbia’ with lots of compounds.

    i get the feeling that you may be confusing the actual budaiya (the village) with what expats often call budaiya (everything on either side of budaiya highway between burgerland roundabout and the western coast — what we often mistakenly call “end-of-budaiya”). i think we’ve had this discussion in person once before. im sure you remember once when you were driving my car in budaiya village — that is the dormitory community of the dawasir pearlers. there aren’t very many compounds there.

    although budaiya has changed alot, it still exists as a village, much like hidd and galali, rather than suburbia. a major change in budaiya is the ethnic composition. there is now quite a large sudani population in the village, as well as some south asians who serve the village economy.

    the compounds alongside budaiya highway were made on former agricultural lands owned by the local al khalifa fiefs. part of the reason for the conversion of the land from agriculture into compounds is because it was no longer profitable. First, the British reforms of the 20s meant that the fiefs could no longer demand cheap/bonded/slave labour from the shia peasants who worked the land. Second, the growth of the oil industry meant that the shia villagers could opt for work at the oil company which offered better wages and conditions.

    (sorry if i misunderstood you and you actually know this already)

    now, on to the walls of suburbia. i dont think the walls have much to do with the culture of privacy, but is more due to the awali model that you identified — i.e., to keep the riffraff out. you cant provide swimming pools and tennis courts exclusively for certain people if there are no walls to prevent the people from the adjacent shia village or compound from using them also.

    the walls of course help maintain the stratified society required by capitalism. a moderately wealthy expat will live in a compound with small houses and maybe a just a swimming pool. the richer expats, like bankers, live in the miami park type places, with big houses, swimming pool, gym, bowling alley and other silly stuff. and the super rich expats enjoy their own villas with personal swimming pool and stuff, just like other rich bahrainis. the walls are needed to maintain the stratification between the different categories of expats. this is all quite trivial i assume.

    anyways more later, and thanks sedition keeping the discussion going.

    aigre, i will email you tomorrow about the jstor access… have to sort some stuff out.

  27. Aigre-Doux Says:

    Chanad – My comments were more unclear and messy than I thought now that i’ve read them again. I was goign to note that my response to sedition was going to be slightly tangential as well. I wasn’t actually saying that dormitory communities were replaced by today’s suburbia.. I was just speaking conceptually about different things that might have contributed to this compound concept. The idea that employees, workers should be grouped together in the same housing settlement which later then morphs (conceptually) into different classes of compounds with inhabitants being more mixed occupationally.

    I am aware (thanks to your guided tours of bahrain- what happened to your sexy vehicle btw?) of the different ‘Budaiyas’ that we refer to at different points in time but in my set of comments had an emphasis on form in particular, where certain forms are borrowed from, what purpose they serve (random exampe i.e. islamicization of architecture in bahrain to fit invented “traditions” of a re-imagned ‘national’ past, somebody tell these architects that you can’t PAINT every concrete building in bahrain to look like an orange aged limestone) and how these interact with older forms and don’t just merely replace them.

    Also, re: walls … I’m not exactly sure the causal link is so simple or trivial..because a) not everything is conceived of so instrumentally or consciously in an even fashion b) its too sloppy to assume that there was no interaction between existing notions of how people shoud live, organize themselves and incoming, newer notions of new populations, changing economic structures. As in… all i’m saying really is that in any discussion of Bahrain it is easy to assume that new encounters/phenomena did not have to mould themselves to or meet resistance from existing realities.. that changes don’t represent a clear, clean break with the past.

    Yes, maintaining stratification is definitely a part of it.. but I think it also has something to do with older forms of homes in bahrain… that were inward oriented to begin with, that had courtyards, that were designed to keep women away from public eye, that were also built with specific functions such as countering the heat and humidity. Houses were also built with shared walls and clustered around springs….. and so on.. How did these interact with the need to accomodate different populations, the influx of populations who were supposed to be there temporarily and would not build houses even if they were paid enough to do so.. Also, as sedition mentioned… there are local variations to suburbia as a by-product of capitalism… Could suburbia in Bahrain ever look like American suburbia were the houses face the street, the door opening directly onto it? I mean you have mansions in super wealthy areas in the states that haven’t built walls to keep the riff-raff away from using their gigantic pools, and mini-racing courses and all the other bullshit extravagance that one can drown money into.

  28. Aigre-Doux Says:

    Aside rant: Why the FUCK do we need a Hummer academy in Bahrain?????!!! So the stupid 18yr olds driving them can “maximize their capabilities” on Bahrain’s choked roads? This is why I can’t read the GDN in the mornings anymore.. my entire day is ruined.

  29. sedition Says:

    The question of neo-traditionalism, and the dissapearance of “modern” architecture we used to see around manama’s early suburbs (adliyya, gufool, um al hassam) is of particular interst. Urbanism in Bahrain is helpful becuase you can almost “read” the city and its environs and correlate/track with specific periods of political/ideological change. This stuff has only been tackled superficially, but is becoming more interesting as we turn ourselves into showrooms of mock islamic architecture, with the foreign eye being a primary design criteria. Its obviously not as simple as that, since much of what we see today architecturally stems from a deeper more salient belief in revivalism thats is indicative of the region’s political winds. However, what is problematic is how easily this “imagined past” is abused in order to legitimize the present, and project a future without the “messy pluralism” that we should be aspiring to. Instead, chauvanism is being architecturally expressed. I dont remember really who it was who said “Facism is the aestheticisation of politics.”

    Ok, how can we also talk about the fetishization of “hard work”…and how people making claims about our “national work ethic” (especially the overpaid little ones) need to be put in thier place.

  30. sedition Says:

    aigre-doux, sent you a message.

  31. Aigre-Doux Says:

    Walter Benjamin! – fascism is the aestheticization of politics. I actually remember something from school. Lovely.

  32. chanad Says:

    yes aigre-doux, i agree that it is very unlikley that there was no continuity between the older local forms of living, and the new forms of living for expats.

    however, i don’t think the “culture of privacy” had any significant impact on the use of walls in expat compounds. awali was built to look very much like US suburbia. houses on open lawns facing the street and very little use of walls and not much privacy. awali was a sufficient distance from the any other major settlement that walls weren’t required. the compounds however were built on the edges of much poorer shia villages, so high walls were needed to mark itself off. within any compound though, the walls separating each house are much lower and dont provide a great amount of privacy.

    the question of neo-traditionalism is quite interesting though, and your (sedition) point about “messy pluralism” is quite appropriate. one of the main reasons for this neo-traditionalist trend in bahrain and the gulf is the influx of migrants in huge numbers — so huge that the local populations feel that their culture is threatened and want to preserve a pristine imagined past. the aim is to make the local symbols identifiable and distinguishable from the supposed alien forms.

    a very good example is clothing. if you look at old photos/paintings of the royal family, you will notice that both shaikh salman and shaikh hamad (the grandfather and great-grandfather of the present king) always wore kashmiri shawls as a headdress. but since the time of shaikh isa, the headdress has been restricted to plain white or chequered red gha6ra. around the same time, the “national dress” for khaleeji men was standardized as the white thobe. and the project is still continuing. in the uae there was some proposed legislation a few months ago (im not sure if it was passed into law or not) that would require all local government employees to wear the white thobe to work, while expat employees would have to wear shirt and tie. it isn’t always easy to distinguish a gulf citizen from a south asian expat worker based on physical features, so clothes are required to make it completely obvious.

  33. bikeshed Says:

    OK, I can’t find my copy of ‘Arabia’, but I remember the section on Bahrain (kind of) and Raban was visiting someone who was living inside the souk near Bab Al Bahrain with both Asians and Arabs as neighbors. Yes, the conversation had a colonial tinge, but it seemed like quite the multicutural environment to me at the time. ‘Soft City’ is probably more relevant to this discussion, though. Very much like London, I find the best description of our current spatial economics is not politics, rather a bunch of villages that grew organically until the spaces in between touched. It is the in-between spaces where interaction occurs that are interesting; those posters in Saar road are only at the entrance to the village, not inside it. Now the economics (and limited space) definitely put people closer together than some would have liked, but again I think this is a good thing. The French put all their immigrants in HLM’s outside of Paris and created nasty suburbs where the police are afraid to go whereas the English put council housing in every neighbourhood and forced people to interact with each other.

    I meditated a lot on this issue of Walls when I was younger and eventually came to the conclusion that they were just walls. They have been used for many thousands of years for pretty much the same reasons: keep others off your property. I remember waking up one morning at a friends nakhal to find a random couple dipping their feet in the pool. Turns out they just wandered in, saw a pool and thought, what the hey! We do have a tendency to see what we can get away with here.

    Now the architecture is another issue altogether and I often wonder why we have never developed our clear superiority in building Wind Towers and using Jus and coral rock to protect against the heat. Instead we have columns (turns every hovel into a showplace) and micky mouse ears (little sticks and fort-like protrusions) on our houses. Calling it revivalist or even mock Islamic is a bit too much, I prefer to call it lack of style and substance.

    All of this aside, what do you guys think about the proposed rule to only allow people from Muharraq to own land there? Kinda reminds me of Saddam’s laws on ownership of land in Baghdad.

  34. nido Says:

    wow… this is a really interesting discussion going on here. Sounds like a lot of you are human geographists! I’m just wondering what is the area of research/ interests that you are into. It looks like there is a lot of interesting research/ideas out there and it would be really great if you could share some of it with us.

    It’s really great that there are so many people doing interesting stuff out there on Bahrain. It’s a big sigh of relief that there are a few of us out there who are interested in this stuff. Please if any of you have some interesting work/links to share on this stuff please do!

    p.s. sorry for being out of it for a while. It’s been a really hectic month. Hopefully I can get back to posting pretty soon.

  35. chanad Says:

    @bikeshed: i dont think that walls are “just walls”, as you say. yes, they are built to keep others of one’s property, but the question still remains: why are walls used much more in some places than others. to say that people in bahrain have a “tendency to see what we can get away with here” is not satisfactory.

    the whole google earth fiasco in bahrain was a perfect example. the walls were not only to keep people out, but also to prevent people from knowing of the lavish beach mansions, farms, yachts being built right next to impoverished villages. the walls are important for maintaining the huge wealth discrepancies that exist in bahrain. it took satellite and internet technology to overcome (partially) the function of the walls.

    nido, glad you are back!

  36. nido Says:

    Thanks chanad. I hope you keep up with your blogging as well. We desperately need great blogs like yours. Please keep it up!

  37. BB Says:

    I agree with most of the stuff said, that walls are physical symbols of separation and for some locations, namely palaces, the 10 foot or higher walls are more like the Israeli ‘security’ wall built to block off Palestine. If not why don’t we have nice ornate gates like the ones in Buckingham Palace where we can drive past and marvel at the splendour. Ok I guess the one for the Guest Palace near Adliya is like that but that palace is just eye candy built for decor rather than serving any real national purpose.

    For the commoner and the nidoer, could the fact that walls surround most newer homes be the result of lack of modern spatial/urban planning and that ppl simply need to mark their territory? Most of Bahrain only had pavements recently, how would u seperate ur land from the street? In the West, you take front porches and simple fencing for granted. Hell u can’t even change a fence without getting planning permission, and not all four fences of ur garden belong to u. Maybe it is a matter of taste, but is it just me or does suburban Bahrain look like one big mess. Some sense of order would be nice, not necessarily akin to rows upon rows of terraced houses, but just something where at least garages and front door are aligned. what would i know about this though…

    oh yeah welcome back nido

  38. nido Says:

    thanks BB! any chance you’re getting back to regular blogging soon?

  39. BB Says:

    i’m way too busy on facebook to care about blogging *kidding*. No ever since someone pointed out my template is screwed up I just lost it

  40. joeriza Says:

    can you post the philippines’ nido commercial here or in the youtube?
    i love that comercial and my friends are asking me where they could view those.
    thank you!

  41. joeriza Says:

    i am referring to the “i’m sorry commercial pleaseeeee…..

  42. Assegephosy Says:

    Как обычно, автор круто опубликовал!

  43. setneporiet Says:

    Не поспоришь, глубокая заметка

  44. houmnIllums Says:

    Пожалуй, верная новость

  45. Diovoramedaro Says:

    В целом, хозяин сайта качественно накреативил.

  46. Traledeerly Says:

    Писака молодца

  47. ethethype Says:

    Как обычно, тот кто писал голимо опубликовал.

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