Archive for April, 2007

Time is Ticking……And Unconfirmed Rumours Regarding Mubarak’s Demise

April 25, 2007

Analysis by the US Department of Energy (DoE) – seen by Newsnight – shows that at $50 a barrel Venezuela – not Saudi Arabia – will have the biggest oil reserves in Opec.

The DoE report shows that at today’s prices Venezuela’s oil reserves are bigger than those of the entire Middle East – including Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, Iran and Iraq.

The DoE estimates that the Venezuelan government controls 1.3 trillion barrels of oil – more than the entire declared oil reserves of the rest of the planet.”

I hope you’re enjoying that Sushi….
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On, a different note, there is an unconfirmed rumour circulating around that I reservedly link to:

“Egypt: Is Mubarak dead? There is a rumor that Mubarak is dead. It is not confirmed yet, but there are multiple Egyptian sources that indicate the president since 1981 has died. At this stage, all the levers for lifting his son to power are not in place, and Jamal ‘s rise to power is not assured. As a prominent Egyptian thinker told me in fall, if the transfer of power is not completed by the the president dies, then it is wide open game.”

Now I’m not a person who is into or likes spreading unconfirmed rumours, but if true this is humungous.

Check out Angry Arab for a discussion on the authenticity of this as well.

Update: So far it looks like a false alarm. Apparently he was seen in the Ahli-Barcelona game. With hindsight I should’ve stuck to my better judgement and kept to not perpetuating rumours. My apologies.

hanger #1: Parliament MPs

April 22, 2007

شماعة:

literally: a hanger.

used as a metaphor, referring to someone who is blamed for misfortunes, generally as a way of distracting attention from the real causes. false pretext, scapegoat, fall guy.

We in this part of the world face a lot of problems. This is not controversial, but it is extremely worrying. Even more worrying however, is how many refuse to deal with these fundamental problems. Not only that, they in fact refuse to recognize them. Instead, they set up scapegoats that have very little to do with the real issues and decide they are to blame. The deeper causes are ignored; they are barely even mentioned. Meanwhile we are distracted by demonizing, ridiculing and making fun of scapegoats that bare little to the crux of our mess, in the course distracting attention from what we should be focused on. This is an attempt to deconstruct this phenomenon.

For the first post I choose one of the more obvious cases of this scapegoating: MPs in Parliament.

No one needs to be told that parliament MPs have become the new fall guy in Bahrain, particularly in nido circles. They have been demonized and turned into the bogey man. Businessmen, journalists, newspapers and blogs have made a career of criticizing, ridiculing, mocking and blaming all our problems on them.

It is also true that our two most recent parliaments have been pretty much useless. This is an understatement. They have in fact been harmful to society. They have occupied themselves with tangential and ridiculous issues like gender segregation in universities, a witch-hunt of the spring of culture, and securing themselves fat pension plans. They are little more than a burden on the economy, costing millions of dinars. They barely amount to anything more than a vehicle for sectarian and political strife, holding punch-ups and swearing contests over tragic and serious issues like that of the massacre in Falluja.

But are they really one of the fundamental problems facing Bahrain? Are they the root cause of the mess we find ourselves in? Will our problems be that much solved if they are suddenly replaced? If they started behaving themselves and started discussing more important and serious issues?

To answer this question we need to look at the corollary of this viewpoint. This argument is premised on the idea that if somehow the current parliament is replaced by better MPs, then the problem, if not completely erased, will be greatly solved. For if the current MPs are the problem, then replacing them with better MPs will solve the problem! Let’s fill parliament with lawyers, economicsts, accountants and hey presto! Problem solved! Makes sense no? If the problem is current MPs, then simply take out the problem and replace it with something better. That should solve it. This is the logical deduction you reach from this line of argument.

It is also complete rubbish.

Stocking parliament chocful of nice, liberal professionals, economists, accountants and lawyers won’t cause the massive earthquake you are hoping for. Even if, for the sake of the argument, Wa’ad wins every single seat in parliament, not much will change in terms of what it can achieve. I won’t go into the arguments of why this parliament is uselessin detail, you can find a good summary of them here (look at section No. 2). The ridiculous voting constituencies, the shura parliament, the outrageous time-lag rules for passing any sort of laws, the absence of proper financial supervision, and the inability to question or criticize any of the top echelons of government make a mockery of even calling this deformity a parliament. Everyone knows this. Ibrahim Sharif, before he decided to participate in this shenanigan, described it best:

هو شكل فقط من غير مضمون، الإصلاحات التي قدمت يمكن تسميتها «قشرة هوليوود»..كما في أفلام الكاوبوي حينما ترى بيوتا، لكنها فعليا ليست سوى حائط كارتوني من الديكور لا شيء خلفها، والنظام أعطانا الحائط الكارتوني..انتخابات والمرأة تصوت ودوائر انتخابية وحملات وقوانين ودستور، لكن عندما تنظر خلف هذا الحائط تجد خواء وحسب..!

This Hollywood parliament is nothing but that: a big extravagant expensive Hollywood production. So how can you expect anything but Hollywood fireworks? How can you expect anything but posturing on Big Brother and Nancy Arjam, Spring of Sex, and sectarianism? They cannot criticize any influential person in the government, they cannot even have a good look at the government budget let alone set it, and they definitely cannot pass any useful laws. What much extra will we gain if we had “better, more enlightened” people in parliament? Sure, they’ll be able to raise more important issues, but then what? What more than hot air? Can they pass anything? Can they change anything? The only positive thing that can come out of such a utopian parliament is a massive clash with the government, deadlock, and finally being dissolved, a la 1975. The best thing that can come out of this parliament is its death.

This, remember, is IF all of those elected are “qualified” and suitable. This is assuming they can get through the voting irregularities and warped constituency setups. And this is assuming that the people vote them in.

What astonishes me the most is how can so many people vote for this thing. More than 50% in the first spectacle (although that figure is highly dubious), and an excess of 70% in the latest shenanigan. Isn’t it obvious? Isn’t it obvious that this is just one big hullabiloo? Isn’t it obvious that this is a mockery of the concept of democracy? Isn’t it obvious that this parliament is a joke, a prank, and not a funny one at that? Starting from voting-manipulation right down to its actual set up? You get what you vote for: one big over-hyped scam.

It’s high time we recognized what this thing is: a diversion. One big massive diversion. A scam, a scapegoat, a fall guy, a hanger. So much ink, time, money, and energy that could have been implemented in much more useful ventures has been wasted analyzing and sensationalizing this farce. Look how many articles, blog pieces, seminars and talks were wasted on this thing? How many times has parliament and its members’ antics taken up the first pages of newspapers? Compare this with how many times the problems of our health services , water, electricity and education infrastructure has taken centre stage? How about serious criticism of the higher echelons of government?

But MPs are after all an easy scapegoat. They are easy to criticize. They are one of the few things that you can criticize and mock in our country. Many of them even look scary. They are there. They are in the spotlight. Why don’t we just throw our problems and blame on them? Here are people who have actually performed badly, they are always occupying the news, and it is so easy and tempting to just place all our rage on them. Ater all, we often need something clear, someone definite that we can point to as the cause of all our problems. Someone to point to and put all the blame on. Someone that has to be the fall guy for the problems. Someone to demonize. And what easier target than MPs?

We waste our time sensationalizing and analyzing the antics of our esteemed MPs, and in the meantime we ignore more important issues. We get engrossed in squabbling over a red herring, an institution so feeble and so inconsequential that we lose sight of more pressing issues. And guess who’s laughing all the way to the bank? Guess what has escaped from the spotlight of criticism that deservedly should’ve been focused on it? Guess what has in fact been projected as a positive force, some sort of regularing authority that can keep a lid on the antics and extremes of parliament? While in fact it is the architecht and cause of this shenanigan and much more serious problems in the country?

Don’t get me wrong here. I am not defending the actions of the members of parliament. Neither am I saying that they should be immune from criticism. My point is that the members of this ineffectual parliament are the least of our worries. For example, the structure and setup of parliament itself is much more of a problem than the MPs themselves (and even this can pale into comparison with some of the other messes we face). Instead, this fetishization of MPs has been used as a distraction and a diversion from more important and pressing issues, and people have fallen for it. We have become preoccupied with their every single move while the real problems have remained and in fact have become even more entrenched. This energy would’ve been much better used if placed on the more important problems that face us. Water and electricity shortages, unemployment, sectarianism, corruption, lack of democracy and accountability, lack of sustainable industry, mediocre education and research facilities have existed way before this parliament and its MPs came into being. They are not the real cause of these problems and neither are they the solution. They in fact distract us from them.

It is high time we stopped fighting over what M.P. flan ben faltan said in parliament, ate for lunch, or listens to for enjoyment. They are a symptom of the problem, not the major cause.

To be continued……..

Clip choices of the day:

مسلسل درب الزلق – ابيها

مطعم باكه ( باجه

Time is Ticking……

April 19, 2007

Time is ticking…..

Are you still sleeping……..?

Praising the Benefits of Nido

April 15, 2007

So I’ve been getting quite a few comments lately that this blog is too negative. That it criticizes nidoers too much. I’ve also been asked by Gardens of Sand for a positive post about nido.

To begin with I have to admit that praise when discussing the political sphere does not come naturally to me. Over countless years of my life and ever since my birth, I have witnessed so much grovelling and toe-kissing done in such a bad manner and in such low quality to the point where I have vomitted frequently:

صاحب السمو معالي الابهام العظيم, ان برثن* فخامتك العزيز لتعجز عن مجده الامم. ما من مصاعب يخشى قهرها ظفرك الوسيم, لا قاع البحار ولا اعالي القمم. ان لئيم غلط على شعرات ابهيهيمك** الكريم,اخبطه بساقك خبطا حتى واساه الندم.

*برثن = ظفر, مخلب

**تعبير دلع للابهام

I think I have been affected beyond repair. Anyway, I believe shock therapy can be good to overcome this problem, and so outward and full brown praise of nido might be good in this respect. So here it goes:

Nidoers, nido, nidoism, the nido generation, and the nido culture generally has some positives. Let’s start with superficialities. On the surface , nidoers can be quite attractive. All that tanning, whitening creams, waxing materials, vitamin tablets, body building supplements, expensive gym memberships, herbal teas, gucci handbags, bally shoes, armani suits, italian designed bikinis, fancy night dresses, bassam ghetras, revlon eyeliners, christian dior foundation, carreti sandals, nose jobs, teeth braces, Toni and Guy Hair cuts, De Beers Diamonds, Rolex watches, ck underwear, victoria secrets bras and thongs, hair straigtening products, hair dyeing products, hair plucking apparatus, liposuction, teeth whitening products… I could go on… The marvels of the modern world can have some amazing results. It makes for some serious eye candy. Come on, let’s be honest. We all sometimes go to nido functions and restaurants just to marvel at the “beautiful people.”

More substantively, one of the main strengths of nidoism is the education system. Schools such as Bayan School, Ibn Khuldoon, Saint Chrisophers, Sacred Heart, the Indian School and Bahrain school are quite good when compared with others in the region, and have a decent shout at claiming to be the best private education system in the gulf. Particularly worth noting are the “national” schools such as Bayan and Ibn Khuldoon, which unlike e.g.Saint Christopers and Bahrain school did not depend completely on expat and foreign expertise to set up. For example, their board of directors and trusties are made up predominantly of Bahrainis. The infrastructure and resources are quite impressive, with good sports fields, music facilities, art centres, and libraries. The subjects taught and quality of teaching is quite high compared to state schools and is of comparable international standards. You get to do subjects such as French and pottery that you would be hard pressed to find in other places. Sure, the arts and social sciences (discounting business and economics) are put on the backburner, and the standard of Arabic can be quite pitiful in some of these schools, but at least they’re quite good in other subjects.

This links to another positive in nidoers: They generally have a high level of skills and qualifications. Many of them are professionals. The country can now claim to have a considerable number of doctors, lawyer, accountants, engineers, It specialists, etc. Obviously not all of these are nidoers, but a good chunk of nidoers fall into these qualifications. This is a good thing. You can’t really complain about having too many professionals. In fact we probably need more of them.

The comparably high level of nido professionals and education, by GCC standards is praise-worthy. You can see this also in the amount of qualifications nioders have from “prestigious universities”. American, British, French, you name it. You could probably find a nidoer with a qualification from any of their posh universities. Bahrain can also claim to have the highest level of English in the Gulf and even has a shot at being top of the Arab world. Hell, many a nidoers only speak English, with a spattering of “Arabic” such as Shakbar interjected in the middle for good measure.

But this is where it turns sour. Yes nidoers have decent English, but at what expense? Look at the pitiful Arabic that many of them claim to have. These are people who were born and raised in Bahrain, with Arabic being the main or only language of many of their parents. Yet they cannot mutter one full sentence in Arabic without interjecting in it some sort of “I don’t know”, “cool”, or some other silly English phrase in the middle.In fact, you can’t really say these nidoers speak Arabic, not Fus7a anyway. At most you can say they have a weak grasp of Bahraini Arabic, not Modern Standard Arabic. Have you ever tried testing a nidoers qawa3ed or grammar? Have you ever tried asking him to speak intelligebly in fus7a, let alone making him read it or write it? Many a nidoers I know have the Arabic writing skills of a ten year old, with the construction of any sentence going beyond:

الولد يلعب في الساحة

causing serious difficulties.

Seriously, isn’t it disgraceful? That many a nidoers get a headache reading three sentences in an Arabic newspaper let alone any sort of Arabic book? This in a country that claims to have Arabic as its first language, and where they were able to get the best education and schools the country has to offer? If this is their standard of Arabic, what will that of their kids be like? Does having competent English mean abandoning your mother language, let alone a language as important, rich, beautiful, ancient, holy, and dynamic as the Arabic language? Does modernity and advancement mean foresaking Arabic and replacing it wholeheartedly with English?

Really? Then how come the most advanced non-English speaking countries in the world hold on ferociously to their language. How come even the most nidoey people in those countries always use their mother tongue as the first language of speech, communication, and thought? Look at Germany, France, Spain, Japan and Italy, to name a few. Have you ever heard of a French person born and raised in France that does not speak French? In fact it is a ridiculous concept to start with. Try asking a German person “Do you speak German?” He’ll look at you quizzically and think you’re a moron. It does not even make sense. “A German who doesn’t speak German? Speak intelligibly boy!” Compare this to Bahrain. How many nidoers, if being honest, would answer “Do you speak fus7a Arabic” with “No”, “Not really” or “Huh?”? On the flip side, have you ever checked out how amazing the Germans speak English? Their level of English competency would destroy that of most nidoers. Then look at how dynamic these countries are, producing movies, songs, books, research, journals, and high quality professionals that enhance and develop their languages. Compare this to many of our nidoers, who don’t even know how to type in Arabic. Doesn’t the decline of an ancient and rooted language in the most educated and richest circles of a society show a comparatively weak society, one that is unstable, static, unsure of itself, in an identity crisis and unable to cope with modernity and advancement? Isn’t this the antithesis of being modern and advanced?

Same thing goes for education. It’s all good and well that nidoers, the richest in society, can afford these decent schools. But is this really all that great? Nigeria has private schools. So does Egypt, Indonesia, South Africa, etc. In fact I am finding it hard to even come up with a list of countries that Bahraini Nido schools would compare favourably with. The former Soviet block traditionally has good schooling even in the state sector. China and India, although the situation is very disparate, also have very good schools and universities. This is the rub. Pretty much every country in the world now has good private schools that cater to the rich. The rich can pay, and if you pay enough, you can get pretty much get whatever you want. If you’ve got the millions, you can setup home in the deep Jungles of the Congo and still get to have a decent education, if you’re willing to pay that is. There is nothing stellar in this. The more important thing is to take the big picture. Does Bahrain have a great education system on a global level? What’s the point if only the rich get to have the best education and to go to the best universities (the ten-odd people they send every year on the Crown-Prince scholarship notwithstanding)? I doubt many people can argue Bahrain has a great education system. Let’s look at schools first. Our state schools, although not extremely bad, are nothing to write home about. They lack the adequate infrastructure, resources, and training. Our universities, well let us not start (maybe that’s for another post). How about those universities? Well, there are only two establishments that can be really called universities: Bahrain Uniersity and The Arabian Gulf University (and the latter one is highly specialized and it is more accurate to call it a college). And we all know about the problems inherent in these two universities. Just look at how most nido parents decide to send their kids abroad. Is this a good reflection on our university sector? And the sad indictment is that many Bahrainis send their children to study in Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon (in fact some of these universities are setting up shop in Bahrain!), countries with much more limited resources than ours, but you don’t see a flood of Lebanese, Jordanian and Egyptian residents coming to universities in Bahrain. Then we have the research facilities, an essential part of any advanced educational system. Oh, our world class research facilities. Their output of new technologies, inventions, and academic papers is a non-stop stream. In fact it’s an avalanche. Countries all over the world cannot stop raving about and envying the embarassment of riches we have produced in research. Academics are falling over each other trying to be the first to come to Bahrain. Ivy League schools have been complaining that Bahrain has stolen their best professors.

The same can be said about the health sector, the industrial sector, the electricity sector (How crazy is it that we have electricity blackouts in a country with gas and oil?), water sector, and the housing sector. In essence, all the vital sectors of a modern life.

Why is it that only nidoers, a small fraction of the population, are the only ones that have comparable standards in these things to advanced countries? Why is it that the rest of the country, the vast majority of the population, have to be content with third-rate resources? Why can’t the majority of this tiny country be provided with schools, hospitals, and facilities of a decent standards, comparable to those in the developed countries?

And the sad thing about it all is we are an oil region. A region where literally a massive hoard of cash lies below the ground. All you have to do is shovel it out. Whereas other poor countries have to fret about where to get the resources to fund these things, our problem is we choose to waste it on other “advancements”. Somehow the Formula 1, with all its difficulties and the risks involved, deserves $500 million dollars, while the Arabian Gulf University had to give up its main campus, shut up shop and stop teaching the majority of its subjects because of lack of resources. Somehow, in a country that does not stand a cat’s chance in hell if it enters a war, 1 billion dollars are spent on military equipment (from the U.S. only) in the last 5 years. This while the country does not even have enough electricity supply. The list can go and on and on. It is seriously depressing.

And I wonder why most of my posts are critical.

Why is it that we cannot learn and adopt from the advanced countries? Why is it that we are industrially, educationally, and technologically so far behind countries like Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan, countries that until very recently were not all that developed? Did you know that Korea and Egypt had similar levels of GDP 50 years ago? Look at the where Korea is now and how Egypt is languishing. Why can’t we have similar levels of schools, universities, hospitals, industries? And the unfathomable part is that it should be so much easier for us! For one, we have their experiences and strategies to learn from, so we don’t have to “re-invent the wheel” again. Secondly, the population of the gulf is miniscule by world standards (not more thant 20 million nationals in the whole GCC, and even that is probably exaggerated), and so we don’t have the problem of e.g. China’s of how to educate, industrially and materially advance more than a billion people. Thirdly, and most importantly, we have oil! These countries did not have any notable natural resources to depend on! They had to work their socks off, with so much misery created in the process, in order to reach the stage they are in! We have oil to pay for the roads, the building, the schools, the hospitals, and the universities. And yet we choose to spend the biggest chunk of it on fake islands, big Hummers, useless F-16s, and fountains. Why is it that the main things we have imported and learned from these countries is where to buy the best bikinis, the best hair styles, the hippest movies and sitcoms, the latest fashion accessories, and the best guns? Where are the producers of Harvards, Nissans, Panasonics, and Nobel Laureates in the gulf? As they say, a Hummer lasts ten years; An education lasts a lifetime.

Alright, I think that shock therapy has worked pretty well. Enough optimism and praise for one post, back to criticism and ranting.

Any other benefits of nido some of you out there can think of?

ِAnyway, in the interest of “looking on the bright side”, from now on I’ve decided to post a clip or song with each post. Today’s choice is “khalah shakou” (Auntie What’s Wrong).

خاله شكو – مكادي النحاس

ِA faster version:

خاله شكو – حميد منصور

ُAnd this is the Abdel 7sain Abdel Redha version from Saif el 3arab:

عبدالحسين عبدالرضا – سيف العرب – خاله شكو

Enjoy!

Nidorino and Nidoking – any good sketch artists/cartoonists out there?

April 10, 2007

NIDORAN (female):

nidoran_f.png

“Although small, their sharp barbs render them dangerous. The female has smaller horns than the male. They are mild-mannered, but secrete venom from their small horns when they feel threatened. Although not very combative, it will torment its foes with its spikes if threatened in any way.”

And:

NIDORAN (male):

032nidoran_m.png

Next up in the ladder chain we have:

NIDORINO:

nidorino.png

“It is a fearsome Pokémon with vicious attacks…Nidorino is an aggressive Pokémon that is always quick to attack when it notices an attacker: its large ears are always on the lookout. The horn on its head secretes a powerful venom and on impact with an enemy, poison leaks out. This horn is harder than diamond and can easily punch through it simply by swinging. If it senses a hostile presence, all the barbs on its back bristle up at once and it challenges the foe with all its might.”

and:

NIDORINA:

nidorina.png

But the macdaddy that you seriously don’t want to mess with is:

NIDOKING:

nidoking.png

“Nidoking is a large, powerful (like a large purple tank) creature armed for battle. Its horn, hard enough to pierce a diamond, contains secreted venom, making it a deadly stabbing tool upon prey and Pokémon battle opponents, and its thick tail packs enormously destructive power capable of toppling a metal transmission tower.”
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I wish I was a decent sketch artist or cartoonist. Then I’d be able to draw decent caricatures of different nido characters. e.g. gangsta nido (decked out in full fubu gear making the west side gesture), feudal lord nido (with an army of expat labourers toiling under him), stoner nido, investment banker nido, cool nido (see cartoon below), fashion guru nido, etc. Each with a corresponding description/explanation underneath him. Something along the likes of this:

nido.jpg
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(CLICK TO ENLARGE)
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Are there any good cartoonists/sketch artists out there??

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Facebook and Nido Part 3: “Nido Liberal”

April 7, 2007

So back to Facebook. So other than “moderate” and “apathetic” the most common viewpoint put down is “liberal.”

In fact, many nidoers opt for “very liberal”, just to make the point that much clearer. So apparently nido is a liberal, sometimes very liberal. As usual, let us take a closer look at this, since things aren’t always what they seem.

How did this liberalism come along? Did he learn it at school? Did he adopt it in his eight and a half years in the U.S. trying to finish his undergraduate degree? Did he sit around reading J. S. Mill, Isaiah Berlin or Rawls? Maybe it’s from watching all those liberal hollywood movies and shows? Maybe he inherited it from his parents? Did he sit at home one day and deduce that he is one? Maybe from Facebook itself? No matter. It is not our concern here how he became a liberal. We are more interested in what this liberalism means.

Now what is usually meant by liberal? Obviously there are as many definitions as there are nidoers, and I’m not going to sit around here now defining stuff. I’ll pick, however, two features that are usually attached with liberalism. One is that a liberal believes that people can do whatever they want, as long as what they do does not cause direct harm to others. In more pedantic terms, each person has the liberty to do as he pleases as long as he does not infringe on the rights of others. Be and let be. You want to walk around in a bikini. Fine. It doesn’t hurt anyone directly (unless you want to argue in a convuluted way that it hurts the morality of society, but that doesn’t count for a liberal). It doesn’t violate anyone’s rights. Wear a wzar. Go naked. Go nuts. I’m a liberal and it doesn’t bother me. Actually, it might bother me, but I’m a liberal, and a liberal knows enough to let people do what they want.

This is usually associated with being “socially” liberal. People can say whatever they want, they can sleep with who(what)ever they want, they can do whatever they want. Just don’t violate my rights. More substantially, it would mean defending and advocating for the rights of those marginalized or oppressed in society. Expat labourers, minorities, women etc. They should at least have the same rights as others in society.

Then we have the “economic” or “welfare” side associated with liberalism. Liberal here means being pro the free market, private property, free competition, etc. This is not all however. There is another side. Let’s call it side B. Liberalism nowadays has come to stand for being pro the government having an active role in the welfare of people in society. The government should actively fund the “basics” or the most important things. They should spend on education, on health, on housing, and should try to have some sort of help for the poor. It isn’t enough to let people just do whatever the hell they want economically. You need to help those that are worse off. It isn’t fair that the rich get the best education, the best health system, the best roads. How are the poor going to get anywhere (and how is it fair to compare them to the rich) if they never have an education, a health system, decent places to live in? Aren’t these their basic rights? Wouldn’t it be a violation of their rights (and thus be very illiberal) if they couldn’t even have these basic things?

Of course this doesn’t mean that everything should be equalized, or that the state should subsidize caviar and champagne for the poor. Like what was mentioned previously, free market and competition is at the core of liberalism. All it means is that the state has a duty to provide its citizens with the basics for a decent life.

Now it is obvious that nido is not a liberal in the “B part” of the economic sense. Nido has no interest whatsoever in funding the poor. As argued before (so I won’t repeat the arguments here), nido sees the poor as lazy, uneducated, dumb individuals who breed like rats and deserve all the misery they are in. They don’t deserve to be funded. And who exactly is going to fund them? That would mean taxes, and nido, being the richest in society, obviously has nothing but to lose with taxes. Thank god the country here has oil, or else nido would be asked to fund this stuff. Imagine the gall! Nido having to give up some of his hard earned income to fund these poor fellas! If you want to see nido get really excited about something, mention something like this to him: “How about we tax anyone with income above 1500 dinars at, lets, say, 20% (pretty low by world standards)?” I recommend that you duck, because you are in serious danger of being punched or spat at by nido.

Alright, so nido is not liberal in the egalitarian economic sense (what we called the B side). How about the A side, that of free competition and private property? Surely nido is liberal in this sense. After all, nido loves the idea of private property. He owns a considerable chunk of the island. Surely nido is for liberalism in this sense? Nido owns most of the companies in Bahrain, so surely he loves everything that capitalism has to offer?

Again, things aren’t always what they seem. The fact that nido owns most of the companies shows how much nido likes to pick and choose what he likes in liberalism. For nido, or more precisely nido’s family, has a monopoly over pretty much anything worthwhile in Bahrain. Car dealerships, equipments, sale of alcohol, land, you name it. Nido’s fortune has been built on the ability to monopolize certain parts of the market and exploit it to the maximum. This has nothing to do with free competition. In fact it is the complete opposite! Just watch how nido and his family fight tooth and nail to keep and mantain the monopolies (or as they are more fondly called, “dealerships”) that rake in so much money for him. Once again, if you want to give nido a heart attack just casually mention that monopolies are to be abolished in bahrain and see his reaction. The threat anti-monopolistic legal action in Bahrain and of others from Bahrain being on the same footing as him entails a serious loss of money. Even more seriously, imagine what would happen if the Bahraini market is opened up to more serious hamours from the Gulf. Can you imagine nido competing with the Al Rajihis, F6aims, and Habtours in Bahrain? Nido would suddenly be a small Hamour!

Alright, so nido, shall we say, is “eclectic” (more accurately read as hypocritical) in choosing his liberal values in the economic sense. How about in the social sphere mentioned above? The ” people have a right to do what they want as long as it does not directly harm others?” Surely there is no argument here. Nido is a liberal. He has no problem with people drinking, sleeping with whoever they want, wearing whatever they want etc?

Again, superficially this is true. Let us also give nido credit in some of the issues dealing with minorities and the marginalized in society. For example, nido is much better than some of the other forces in society (e.g. some Islamists) when dealing with women’s rights. After all, many a nidoers are female (in fact roughly half). So it is settled then. Nido is at least liberal in the social sense.

But what about other questions that “socially liberal” entails being committed to? Let us take the issue of the exploitation of expat labour and their rights in Bahrain. Here it is very hard to argue that nido is liberal. In fact nido is the antithesis of liberal. He or daddy owns companies that employ thousands of expat workers that work in appaling conditions and for awful pay. They work more than 70 hours a week, live five or more in a room, toil away in the middle of the sun under awful conditions, and in the end they are lucky if they receive 80 BD as a wage. In fact, nido here is more like a feudal lord than a liberal. Bahrainis working for nido, although better off than their expat counterparts, also suffer. Because nido is used to cheap foreign labour breaking their backs working for him for minimal pay he expects Bahrainis in one way or another to compete with them. Or else why would he ever employ a Bahrain except because the government is perstering him with “Bahranization” quotas? Thus, nido grudgingly pays the Bahrainis more but not by much.

And you expect nido to be a defender of these expats rights? Can you imagine nido actively advocating for their rights? Of course not. He is the one that benefits the most from the conditions they are in. Can you imagine nido actively encouraging the idea of labour unions to help these workers? How about regulations that guarantee these workers a minimally decent working conditions, living environment, etc? Fat chance. He’ll give you something along the excuse, ” They should be grateful. They are much better off than in their home country.” Your generosity is marvellous, nido.

It is apparent that nido’s social liberalism is of the superficial kind. It is of the kind of “I have every right to wear my bikini, to drink, to sleep with who I want, to watch and dance to Nancy Ajram.” More seriously than that, it is a selective, contradictory liberalism. Nido chooses what he likes in liberalism and discards the rest. Instead of liberalism standing for “the right for everyone to do what they like as long as it does not directly hurt others”, it stands for “the right for nido to do whatever he likes even if it hurts others, and the right for the rest to do what they like as long as it does not hurt nido,” even if nido in the process is hurting others. He is for private property because it protects his land and businesses. He is for capitalism because it gives him the money that sponsors his lifestyle. He is for the right to do what you want when it allows him to copulate, drink, and go clubbing with other nidoers. He is against rights for expat workers becaues it could seriously harm him. Similarly, the idea of discarding monopolies does not appeal to him because daddy’s company stands to lose from this. This is “nido liberalilsm” for you.

This contradictory, selective nature of nido liberalism makes much more sense when we realize the underlying theme behind it: selfishness. Nido is a liberal as long as this liberalism benefits him, and he discards what other traits in liberalism he does not like. It is self-centered. It is all about me and what is to nido’s benefits.

Let us take one final example, one where you find many a nidoers nowadays ranting about: democracy (which is obviously a core element of most definitions of liberalism). You hear many a nidoers paying homage and glorifying democracy, and talking about how “backwards” our region is because of a lack of democracy. Lo and behold, however, you find many a nidoers actually glad that democracy doesn’t exist in Bahrain. “Those Islamists. Those shias, those muslim brotherhoods (notice, as mentioned before, it could be anything, Nasserists, socialists, whatever poses a danger to nido). Thank god they don’t have more say in the country. We’d be screwed! This country does not deserve democracy.” It is a democracy of flagrant self-interest. If the country was populated with nice “nido liberals” that do nido’s bidding, then all hail democracy. If it is anything else, even if the majority of the country wants it, then no thank you.

Indeed, the only time nido deviates from his self-interest to do something that benefits groups other than him is when he comes under serious social pressure and risks losing even more by not giving in to some of these demands. Thus, let them have their fake democracy if this will quiet social unrest and stave off more serious revolts. Let them have their watered down unions in government companies if that will deflect them from proper restructuring. Even here, whatever social reform nido gives into is because he thinks it is in his own benefit, since it will stave off further opposition and losses of interest.

Even more blatant, a nidoer would often use the term “liberal” in order to score brownie points and court the other “liberals” in the west. After, all, “liberalism” as a commodity sells pretty well nowadays in the western media and world. And if one looks superficially at nido, as mentioned before, he will appear to westerners as “liberal”. A nidoer is drinking johnny walker, wearing a low cut cleavage dress, and talking about the dangers of Islamists. Indeed, the nidoer would strike one from the west as being “quite like us.” They are like us in looks, in mentality, and even in talking about “liberalism” and “moderate”ness. Indeed if one does not dig further he would fall into the trap of thinking nido is actually liberal.

There is a running theme here. Whether nido describes himself as moderate, apathetic, or liberal. In “moderateness” we saw it means a commitment to the status quo, a commitment to keeping things as they are since they are to nido’s benefits. In liberal it means selectively choosing from “liberalism” whatever benefits nido and violating the rest. There is a common thread here: self-centered selfishness. Nido cares only about what benefits him and actively goes against everything that does not benefit him. It does not matter who gets hurt or the amount of harm created, as long as the harm does not involve nido. Even the term “liberal” and “moderate” are often cynically abused for self-interest in order to look good in the eyes of the west.

Still not convinced? Find yourself a nidoer (it might be you). Ask him what his stand is on any political issue of relevance to him. Expat workers, Islamists, sale of alcohol, the status of monopolies in Bahrain, labour unions. etc. Watch his answers. He will either be “apathetic” and won’t care, or they will be those which maximizes his self interest, regardless of others. Sure, he might give you other excuses for why he supports these issues, but the pattern of selfishness in his answers will be unmistakeable.

If we want to be honest with ourselves we should admit that this is the main trait, characteristic, or in facebook speak, “political views” of nido: nido-centered selfishness.

Nido, there is not much that is liberal about you, your johnnywalker, bikini accessories and clubbing hangouts not with-standing. There is not much here other than egoistic selfishness.