Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Removing subsidies on food

Alwaqt news paper carried the following report:
The government is considering removing subsidies on food items namely, live Australian stock, Chicken and Flour. The government is thinking of replacing the current subsidies with one of the following programs:
1-giving food coupons to needy families (which will probably not be implemented due to the complex nature of the program and the failure of this program in other countries)
2-Giving living allowances of BD30 per family to needy families

Three ways are mentioned in the report to identify needy families:
- Households making less the 400BD per month
- Households making less then BD500 per month
- Households making less then BD1000 per month

Another fact worth mentioning is that the total cost of food subsidies is BD11 million per year from total cost of subsidies of BD500 million per year, which makes food subsidies only 2.2% of total subsidies.

Now, referring to yesterdays news papers, Bahrain announce a surplus budget of more then BD100 million. We all know how high the prices of oil have gone in the last few years and we also feel the economic growth our country is experiencing (although as citizens we are yet to benefit from it).

Why would the government wants to change the food subsidies program?? What is it going to gain from it? It only represents 2.2% of total subsidies and we are experiencing a surplus budget, we are not in desperate need of cutting expenses, even if we did, don’t you think the amount we are looking at is insignificant to other things we can cut down on.

My second point, why is the middle class the first to suffer from the changes in policies and cutting expenses? (by the way I don’t think a household that makes BD1000 a month is in the middle class, maybe lower middle class).
Let me put this in prospective, The Housing Ministry announces that house holds making more then BD1000 a month will NOT get ANYTHING from the Housing Ministry (no flats, no loans, no residential units, NOTHING AT ALL), effectively saying to the middle class “ you are on your own”. Consider this, a decent house will cost around BD100,000 to 120,000, a rough calculation on a flat rate of 5% over 20 years, will result in an installment of BD1,000 (yes one thousand BD) a month for 20 years!!
Now, the government wants to cut the food subsidies on the middle class for no valid reason. Consider the current inflation in food prices, now the government will remove the subsidy on food, we all know what to expect, Higher Prices. What do we get for it?? Lower income families get BD30, and the rest get nothing.
In any economy, the most important class of citizens is the middle class. Every country in the world wants all its citizens to move to middle class. Except, of course our country, which is pushing them to the lower classes.

If this policy is implemented, expect more attacks on the middle class.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Are “Huwala” Arabs??

A lot of people believe that Arab Sunnis migrated to Iran for business and teaching Persians the Quran. Now, most of them believed that the migration happened when the Persian Empire was defeated and the Persians became Muslims. So my understanding is that this happened almost 1400 years ago, during the Prophet’s (PBOH) times or even during the Khalifa’s rule after the Prophet’s death.
This raises serious issues, if they lived in Iran during that time, there was no Sunni or Shiaa, there was only Muslims. When Persia turned Shiaa, the Huwala were there, so why didn’t they turn Shiaa as well?? are we saying that only the Arabs stayed Sunni? or maybe just maybe there were persians who didnt turn Shiaa , who then became Huwala. This puts a lot of holes in the theory that they migrated in the early days of Islam to teach the Persians about Islam. I am sure a lot of Arabs went to Persia to teach them about Islam, but I am not sure they were the Huwala.
The second point is, if they were going there for business, why did they get disconnected with their so called Arab roots? It even makes business sense to keep those roots. Nothing remained from the Arab culture at all?? not even names??
Lets for a second believe that the are from Arab origins, the question is doesn’t 1400 years (or even 500 years) of mixing with Persian blood, effectively take away the Arab bloodline ??

So the question is why do some of them claim they are from Arab origins??
According to Wikipedia, the Word Hewala means “Those that have changed".
The following is what Wikipedia says about what happened when our Huwala brothers came to Bahrain.
Due to racist movements against them, and not being accepted as citizens especially during the time of the Arab Nationalist Movement, most of the Huwala and Sunni Persians changed their family names, costumes and accent to fit and get mixed in the Arabian society. This was also a huge step toward getting a passport and a citizenship, since there was a time in Bahrain that foreigners and Persians or those who had non Arabic family names weren't granted passports.
One of the leading Sunni Persians families in Bahrain, are the Khonji family. The Khonji family comes originally from Khonj. Khonj is a township (city) in province of Fars south of Shiraz with 270 km distance and with a population of 60,000. Its history goes back to 2000 years and its inhabitants were known to be the followers of Zoroastrianism. The ancient names for Khonj has always been Hong and konj (corner in Persian) and over time it was changed to Khonj.
Another famous Sunni Persian family in Bahrain are the Bastaky family, who always admit and are well known to be Pure Persians, they come originally from Bastak, a large city in the province of Hormozgān. They are well known to be traders and have business interests, and are always being mentioned to be have "blue blood" due to the fact that they are Persians, or perhaps from the Aryan race as some may suggest. However their city of Bastak is mixed between Arabs and Persians, Al Bastaki family are well known to have strong friendship relationships with some of the biggest Arab leading families in the GCC countries too.

Other well known leading families in Bahrain include Alansari, Alkooheji origianlly from the city of Kohig, Alawadhi coming from Awaz, Kanoo from Kanee, Khonji coming from Khonj, Janahi from Jeneh, Karmostaji from Karmostaj and Alnaser.
Although the Gerashi family from Gerash were former Sunnis, they changed their faith to Shia some time ago, this explains why they aren't called Huwala despite that they still speak with the same accent as the Huwala. The Gerashi family are well known in the business market, since they are the food agent of many trademarks.


There is a small discussion going on Wikipidia about this issue here are some extracts:
“I am Huli or Holi myself, and i know what is our true race, so allow me to correct the issue here please.
First of all, i am Persian, and we are sure of that, though i am sunni, the Huwala as the writer has writen are not all the same, they are the people who were living only in three places, which were in (Ahwaz)- near Iraq, Bandar Linga (a Harbour in Iran which had diffirent mixed kind of people, since it was a trading place, or something like an airport if you may assume), and Chira'agh, a town near Linga itself”


The fact that we all agree on is that they have done very well in business and as middle and upper class of the society. They have contributed immensely in building our nation or even the GCC as a whole.
This is I think due to the fact that they came from an advanced civil society compared to the Badwin tribal society. In addition, to being Sunni, which made it easier for them to work with the ruling families in the region.

I can say that Huwala are not Arab because:
-They came from Iran and didn’t speak Arabic or didn’t carry any kind of Arab tradition
-There is no trace of them leaving to Iran and no solid proof they are from Arab origins
-We all agree that their family names are Persian

And if all of that fails to convenes, think about this, they are too good looking to be Arabs :)
The way I see it is that the only way to prove that they are from Arab origins is to do a DNA test and prove they are not from the Aryan race.

Just want to add that i don't have any solid sources (because they aren't any), so i tried to think about it logically. i am open to any opinion with valid sources.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Meet Julian Beever AKA "Pavement Picasso"

Its the weekend, its time for a light article.
I am sure a lot of you received a chain email containing some of Julian Beever work.
Julian Beever is an English chalk artist who has been creating chalk drawings on pavement since the mid-1990s that create the illusion of three dimensions when viewed from the right location. These trompe-l'oeil drawings are created using a projection called Anamorphosis and appear to defy the laws of perspective.

Anamorphosis is a distorted projection or perspective requiring the viewer to use special devices or occupy a specific vantage point to reconstitute the image. "Ana - morphosis" comes from the Greek words meaning "formed again."

Besides the 3D art, Beever paints murals and replicas of the works of masters and oil paintings, and creates collages. He is often hired as a performance artist and to create murals for companies. Beever is interested in advertising and marketing, as well. He has worked in the UK, Belgium, France, The Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Denmark, the USA and Australia.
His official website is http://users.skynet.be/J.Beever/

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Our roads strategy

Pictures of Dubai metro system (under construction)

My recent visit to Thailand opened my eyes on an issue that is effecting our everyday lives. A few years back, Thailand established SkyTrains to transport people around the capital city of Bangkok. I got a chance to use them and i was surprise of how efficient these trains are. i have tried the subways in NYC and Washington DC but i think these are more efficient. Maybe because they don't cover as much areas as the metro in DC does or its not as old as the subways in NYC. anyways that's beside the point.
If my memory service me correctly, we read that BD500m will be spent on upgrading roads in Bahrain. All we have seen are 10 roundabouts changed to traffic lights!!!. i have to raise the following questions:
  • Are traffic lights really better then roundabouts?
  • Why is road work so slow in Bahrain? just compare it with Saudi or Dubai and you will see what i mean

Now back to my point, wasn't it better to spend the BD500m on a new Sky or metro train system?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Bahrain 2030 National Planning Development Strategies

In 2007, following an 18-month process of research, analysis, consultation and design, SOM submitted the Bahrain 2030 National Planning Development Strategies. The plan is the first project to inventory and propose virtually every aspect of a new national infrastructure. It exemplifies a forward-looking process designed to address the role sustainable land use development can play in guaranteeing stable, predictable, and long-term economic growth.

This initiative was taken by the EDB hoping for a more effective and efficient use of our limited available lands. The firm that did the study is a well known professional firm who has done a lot of similar studies in major cities around the world, like Chicago.The following link will provide some highlights of the plan.
i can just hope this will work for the better, haven't received any good news about Bahrain for a while now, inshallah this turns out to be one of the good ones.