Thursday, June 28, 2007

The 1% and beyond

I have read a lot of the 1%, different opinions with most criticizing the new law because it is directly affecting all of us. Some even asked religious figure if this was permitted in Islam. In this article I want to focus on beyond the 1% issue, however I will say the following; I don’t mind paying the 1% as long as I see an effective mechanism for implementing the unemployment scheme. Some people argue, rightly so, that the government can afford to pay for it, I do agree they can afford that but I think any surplus and other government income should be invested in infrastructure and other important matters. Just give an example of government waste, a week back, BDF announce the purchase of 9 attacking helicopters for total sum of US$205 million, imagine what we could have done with that. A simple calculation of how many home they could have built:

  • US205 million = BD77.258 million
  • Each house costs around BD77k
  • That’s 1003 homes
  • An average of four per family = shelter for 4012 Bahrainies
Not to mention the number of apartments they could have built. I am not convinced that this is a national security issue, if there is security issue then there must be a threat, where is the threat???
If we had a responsible government I wouldn’t mind paying even 5% tax. For now just remember "Bahrain is no more a tax free country" and there is more to come. The 1% is only the beginning, I refer you to the following:
"The GCC countries are likely to implement tax regime as part of establishing a workable and efficient tax base starting with introducing consumption tax or value added tax (VAT), a senior official at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) revealed yesterday."

"Rainer Geiger, deputy director, director for financial and enterprise affairs MENA-OECD Investment Programme, on the sidelines of the two-day MENA-OECD regional MENA Investment Policy workshop, said that the taxation model was currently being discussed by GCC member states as part of collective efforts to develop an integrated taxation system for the entire bloc."The initiative is a collective effort of GCC countries as part of regional integration and introduction of an effective taxation regime across the region."
So I say embrace for the worst, Taxes in general are good but when you have an irresponsible government then they are REALLY BAAAAAD.

Monday, June 25, 2007

At last work conditions a little better

The minister of labor has just issued a new law that outlaws working under the sun from 12-4 and limiting working hours per day to 8 hours.
Couple of days ago it was a suggestion by the government and now it’s the law. I seriously hope they enforce this law. Poor labors are under paid, harsh working conditions and away from their home, not to mention the labor camps. This was a long awaited decision, and I seriously don’t know why they didn’t do this earlier, anyways better late then never.
The new law might make it easier for Bahrainis to start working in construction and other labor intensive jobs. Add that to the new labor reforms, which basically make it more expensive to import labor, I can see some Bahrainis moving to work in those jobs. Now I refuse to believe that all Bahrainis won’t work as labor. Just look at ALBA for example, they work in the heat of August and in front of melting Aluminum pots, much worst then construction, yet most of the workers there are Bahrainis. So I say with the right working conditions and the right pay, Bahrainis will work in construction and other labor intensive jobs.
Having said that, I don’t believe that this should be our strategic target, our strategy should be to reduce unemployment by educating and retraining Bahrainis to work in higher skilled jobs with good pay. I refer you to the Singapore experience, actually the whole world praises, but I do believe that Singapore way works for Bahrain (not the Dubai way).

Thursday, June 21, 2007

a Sad Iraqi story

I don’t want to be seen as pro-American but the truth has to be said. The following link is about a really really sad story in Iraq. Its going to break your heart:,,31200-1271161,.html

Now on today’s alwaqt news paper, which is suppose to be less biased then others i.e. Akhbar khaleejand, and more liberal. This is how they reported it:
قُيّدوا عراةً بالأسِرَّة.. والمدير يتاجر بغذائهم فضائح احتلال العراق تطال ملجأ أيتام
i have to be fair though, the body of the article in alWaqt sounded fair.
Ofcourse lets see whats GDN reported (remember GDN is owned by Akhbar Khaleej)
photos of allegedly "starving and abused" Iraqi orphans as a propaganda trick. Iraq's Labour and Social Affairs Minister Mahmoud Mohammed Al Radhi criticised publicity surrounding the boys and said news reports about the case were inaccurate.
"We totally reject the tricks they used to manipulate and distort facts and show the Americans as the humanitarian party. That could not be further from the truth," he said.

As sad as this story is I can’t believe the way Arab media are reporting it, yes the occupation caused a lot of hardship and so did Sadam. I am not going to judge which one is worst but blaming every single act and problems in Iraq on Americans, even when they rescue those kids, is just unfair. I am not asking to give the Americans the benefit of the doubt, but come on the truth is so clear in this story. We seriously need a more responsible reporting, there are enough problems in Iraq and believe me they don’t need twisted reporting to add to those problems.
This is just to prove that there is no real un-biased source to take our stories from, I guess what we have to do is to look at both side, let your mind process it then create your opinion.
P.S. I think those people should be hanged in a public square.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The devil “Salman Rushdi” is to be honored !!

To me it’s really strange that no one other then Pakistan and Iran has raised their voice on the issue.
Salman Rushdi who has insulted every Islamic figure from the prophet to all his followers is to be knighted!!! he will be called Sir !!!!

Muslims everywhere protested those insulting cartoons, people died in those demonstrations. My question is why is no one talking about this?? No protests?? No Islamic State other then Iran and Pakistan voiced their displeasure with the British decision. This is by far much worst then those stupid cartoons, yet everyone is keeping quite.
This is an anti-Islamic move by the UK. Imagine if he had wrote a book questioning the validity of the holocaust claims, would he had been considered to be knighted??
This is how the British defended their decision to knight him
“"Sir Salman's (already started calling him Sir) knighthood is a reflection of his contribution to literature throughout a long and distinguished career which has seen him receive international recognition for a substantial body of work," Brinkley said in a statement
I think the Iranian Iran Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said it nicely “This (award) showed that the movement of insulting Muslims was not accidental but was a planned and organized move that enjoyed support of some Western countries”. Believe it or not, the British government is calling for bridges to be built between the British and Muslims!! Somehow I don’t think that will happen any time soon. one of the first reaction; Pakistan's religious affairs minister Ijaz-ul-Haq said that honoring Rushdie justified suicide attacks!!!!. So I say to the British government Bridges MY A** !!!!!!!!!

I am not puzzled by the British move; I am puzzled by the no reaction from the Muslims!! I really don’t know but something is defiantly wrong.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Which are you? House or Field ?

I was watching Malcolm X movie on Dubai one TV on Saturday and he made a comment that I cant get of my mind. It reminded me a lot with our situation in Bahrain.
He was asked “what do you say to black men who like the way things are” Malcolm X said “there were two types of slaves: The house Negro and the field Negro. The house Negro lived in the house next to his master. ln the big house, in the basement or the attic. He dressed good, he ate good, what the master left him. He loved his master. He loved his master better than the master loved himself.lf master said, "We got a nice house," you say, "Yeah, we got a nice house. Master's house caught on fire, the house Negro would put the blaze out. lf the master got sick, he'd say,"What's the matter? We sick?", "We sick" ! This is the thinking of the house Negrolf another slave (field slave) said "Let's run away, let's separate from this cruel master" he said, "Why? What's better than what we got here, l'm not going anywhere."This is the house Negro. ln those days, we called them house niggers. That's what we call them today because we still got a lot of house niggers.

Does it apply to Bahrain?? Rings any bells??
Just keep this in mind next time you discuss politics with people, you will realize whether they are House or field N*****!!
Read what he said again and try to picture people in Bahrain.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Gulf Air showing signs of intelligence

This was sent to me by a friend who found it weird for Gulf Air to advertise the sell of a plane in GDN. To make matters worst it was posted next to used cars!! So whether you are looking for a used Maxima or a Boeing 767, GDN is the place to look.
Come on Gulf Air we know you are in trouble but at least show some signs of intelligence!! If that’s the management mentality then “you are going down hill” !!!!!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

We made the CUT!! we are in “Trafficking in Persons Report “

The US state department issued its annual report on “Trafficking in Persons Report” and we are in it!! The list included other GCC states like, Oman, Qatar, UAE and Kuwait.
The reasons for why Bahrain is on the list are as follows:

“Bahrain is a destination country for men and women trafficked for the purposes of involuntary servitude and commercial sexual exploitation. Men and women from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Ethiopia, and Eritrea migrate voluntarily to Bahrain to work as laborers or domestic servants, but some are subjected to conditions of involuntary servitude when forced to pay off large recruitment and transportation fees, and faced with the withholding of passports and other restrictions on their movement, non-payment of wages, threats, and physical or sexual abuse. Women from Thailand, Morocco, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia are trafficked to Bahrain for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation or forced labor. The Thai government reported repatriating 256 Thai women who had been deceived or forced into prostitution in Bahrain”

I guess we all know the group that are exploiting foreign workers especially woman. We know the Hotel industry are making a fortune out this and I don’t think they are about to stop. Looking at today’s news we don’t see any flags raised or alarms going of. So expect Bahrain to be on the 2008 list as well.
We are treating them as slaves but they should expect it because we treat our own people as slaves. Not convinced ? Consider this:

  • More then half of the population are not allowed to own land in certain areas
  • We imported mercenaries to stop us from asking for our rights
  • More then half of the Bahrainies are not allowed to work in the ministry of interior nor the defense force
  • Access to the water fronts are minimal, with most of it being “private property”
  • We are forced to live in the north areas of the island and not allowed to even pass or drive thru the southern part.

So we are cornered in one corner of of our country, we cant ask for our rights and they do want us to leave (remind me of Gazan in palastine). The list can go on and on, I am sure we will make it as one of the top ten countries on slaving their own people, if such a report exists.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Only in Bahrain: 3rd time in a row, Ministers attacking their citizens

Am I the only one noticing this? Or some of have seen this?

I have noticed in the past few weeks a consistent attack on the citizens of our lovely country. Mainly coming from the government ministers by blaming the citizens for every kind of problem this country faces.
The story begins with the Minister of Electricity and Water, we all read the comment in the papers, blaming on the citizens for the electricity blackouts in different areas of Bahrain.
Second attack comes from the Minister of labor, blaming Bahrainies for the unemployment problem. Saying that Bahrainies are sitting on their behinds and expecting jobs to come to them.

Third attack comes Minister of social affairs ( the smartest of them all), and I quote “Bahrainies only want to work in offices and comfortable jobs”, as a response to the question why soo many foreigners working in Bahrain.

Of course, we all can see how weak their blame game is. Any one in the street can respond to the ministers’ stupid comments. That’s not the point I am trying to make though, what I am trying to show is a clear trend toward blaming this countries problems on its citizens and the sad part is, there is no political fall out, or no price these ministers will pay for such a comment.
I have never seen or heard of any minister attacking their own citizens in the world, this is an unacceptable behavior by any measure. Ministers are there to serve their citizens not to attack them; they are there to protect the citizens not to attack them.
By the way, these ministers are among the most unqualified ministers in the government, so its no surprise that they cant even talk right.
i guess i am not the only one who notice this, lets listen to Muneera Fakhroo.
Muneera the floor is yours:

نعم.. هناك فقر وفقراء
منيرة فخرو

الضجة التي أثارها تقرير فضائية الـ ''CNN'' بشأن موضوع الفقر في البحرين لم تهدأ بعد، وقابلها هجوم كاسح على المحطة الفضائية من أقلام معينة اصطفت كلها لتفند ما ذكره التقرير وتنكر وجود الفقر في البحرين. وشحذ الكتاب إياهم أقلامهم للدفاع عن ''كرامة'' البحرين التي أهدرتها المحطة الأميركية. المقابلة لم تقتصر على إبراز مناطق الفقر ولكنها استجوبت قيادات رسمية مثل وزيري الإسكان والتنمية الاجتماعية. وركزت المذيعة الحسناء هالة قوراني في مقابلاتها على التناقض الذي يميز البحرين بوجود مظاهر الغنى إلى جانب بؤر الفقر. وقد شاهد البرنامج أعداد كبيرة من المواطنين وتم عرضه على الإنترنت لمن لم يتمكن من مشاهدته على التلفاز. ربما الخطأ الذي ارتكبته مقدمة البرنامج هو اقتصارها على وجود الفقر بين الطائفة الشيعية من دون السنية على رغم إقرارنا أن بؤر الفقر تنتشر خصوصا في قرى البحرين وفي المدن الصغيرة. وللعلم فإن متوسط دخل الفرد في البحرين هو 17 ألف دولار وهو معدل يعتبر عالياً نسبياً إذا علمنا أن متوسط دخل الفرد في المملكة العربية السعودية أقل من ذلك بكثير.
وقد عرّف البنك الدولي الفقير بأنه الشخص الذي ينخفض معدل دخله عن 600 دولار في السنة، إلا أن برنامج الأمم المتحدة الإنمائي يضيف معايير أخرى تعبر مباشرة عن مستوى رفاهية الإنسان ونوعية الحياة أي أن هناك نحو 45% من الفقراء يعيشون في مجتمعات غير منخفضة الدخل. وحتى في الولايات المتحدة يوجد 30 مليون فرد (15% من السكان) يعيشون تحت خط الفقر ولكن الولايات المتحدة لا تنكر ذلك بل تسعى للحد من هذه الظاهرة.
نعم هناك فقر وهناك فقراء كثر في البحرين على رغم اعتبار بلدنا دولة غنية. تلك النتيجة التي وصلنا إليها نتجت من اعتبارات كثيرة أهمها ما يأتي:
* فساد كبير ينتشر وعمولات تدفع من جانب القطاع الخاص صاحب المصلحة.
* تجنيس مكثف ازدادت وتيرته في السنوات الأخيرة مما يبتلع كثيرا من الموازنة لتوظيف المجنسين ومنحهم السكن واستهلاكهم للخدمات المتعددة التي بالكاد تستوعب المواطنين.
* تركيز على زيادة موازنة الدفاع والداخلية وتجميد لموازنات وزارات الخدمات كالصحة والإسكان والتربية والتنمية الاجتماعية.
* البطالة المنتشرة خصوصا بين صفوف الشباب نتيجة عدم تناسب مخرجات التعليم مع متطلبات سوق العمل.
* عدم وجود سياسة سكانية لتنظيم الأسرة وإرشاد الأمهات إلى تحديد عدد الأطفال كي تتم العناية بهم بصورة أفضل.
* عدم العناية بالبيئة البرية والبحرية، والأخيرة تعد مصدر رزق للآلاف من الأسر البحرينية.
كما لا ننسى متطلبات العولمة التي دخلنا فيها ووقعنا الاتفاقات لتنفيذ بنودها من دون احتساب نتائجها وأهمها ازدياد أعداد الفقراء، لذلك لابد من استمرار الدعم الحكومي لبعض السلع الأساسية للمواطن إذ ربما يؤدي إلغاؤها إلى نتائج اقتصادية واجتماعية غير متوقعة.
إن الفقر يمثل في نهاية الأمر الإقصاء والتهميش والمس بكرامة الإنسان وبدلاً من إنكاره علينا الاعتراف بوجوده والتفكير بإيجاد أفضل الطرق للحد من انتشاره، ولكننا نرى المسؤولين يصرون على اتهام المواطنين بأنهم سبب الفقر، مثلما اتهم وزير الكهرباء المواطنين بأن استهلاكهم اللامحدود وغير المرخص هو الذي أدى إلى تدهور خدمات الكهرباء، ومثلما ذكر زميله وزير العمل أن شباب البحرين كسول ويريد وظائف مريحة. إن أول وسائل الإصلاح تبدأ بإصلاح التعليم والتركيز على التدريب للأعمال المتوافرة في البحرين خصوصا بالنسبة إلى فئة الشباب الذي طال انتظاره للحصول على وظيفة تضمن مستقبله ولكن قبل كل ذلك يجب أن تتوفر الإرادة السياسية للإصلاح.

** باحثة وناشطة سياسية

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Bahrain Metro ??

(picture of Dubai metro under construction)

Today’s alwasat carried an article taking some Bahraini experts and leaders views on building a Metro system in Bahrain.

The interviewers included: Farooq AlMuayad, Soud Kanoo, Hisham AlMadani (Bahraini university, civil engineering),MP Dr.Jasim Husain (economic expert) and Reem Akbari (transportation researcher, University of Bahrain).
They all agreed that such a system is desperately needed in Bahrain. They all also said it requires in-depth planning or such a project will backfire. Most experts believe such a project will require 10 years to complete and given how slow construction is in Bahrain, we can tag 5 more years to give us a total of 15 years.
Experts believe that such a system will cost billion of dollars but the benefits is worth the investment. No serious feasibility study has been done on the benefits but according to Reem Akbari, “we did a pool asking people if they will use such a system and we got 50% saying yes”.
I have talked about the metro system in a previous article, I think if done well, it will be very beneficial to our country and economy. We have 300,000 cars on the road with an increase of 10% yearly, the road upgrades alone will not solve the problem. We need someone to take a bold decision, like Dubai did . If anyone can take such a decision it will be the EDB, (hope they read this).
Phase one of Dubai metro will be operational in 2009 and second phase in 2010, Dubai will build 50 large stations and expected to be used by 250,000 people per day.
Dr. Jasim Hussain (an economic expert), believe that Bahrain can afford such a project. I my self don’t believe that we require a metro system as big as Dubai ( I mean 50 stations is a lot), but I do agree with Dr.Hussain, for our requirement we should be able to afford it, especially if the prices of oil stay high.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

The lost ART of cooking

Every weekend, I wake up around 9-10 o’clock, just grab a small bite and take care of some stuff waiting for the highlight of the weekend, MY MOM’s COOKING. Its either Majboos, Beryani, Safi or other Bahraini dishes.
If you think about it, you will realize that, most of my mom’s generation knows how to cook, and you will also realize that each of them have their own touch when it comes to cooking. You can really notice that in Ramadan, when the neighbors and family send food. You will find 4 dishes of majboos but all taste different. That’s what I call the “Art of Bahraini cooking”.
I have noticed that most of our generation girls (age between 21-30) don’t really know how to cook. I wasn’t sure about this assumption, so I ran small test at the place I used to work. I asked the girls a simple question “do you know how to cook eggs”, very simple thing to do right?? Wrong, I got crazy responses, example:
“ I am too afraid to go near fire”!!, “only if my mom warms up the cooking pan, I can put the eggs in”, with most of them answering NO.
A few years later (today), I ran another test; I asked “do you know how to cook”
We have 4 girls on the floor above us, and the result was 4-0. 4 saying No, and 0 saying yes.

I have heard a lot of reasons for not cooking, most of them saying, we work, we don’t have time. Let me answer that, you learn cooking when you are in high school, so you had time and you didn’t work. Second, even if you work, you have all weekends and believe me if you wanted, you would have learned.

I know these days girls don’t have to cook, we are not living in the stone age but let me give you a peace of advice, if you love your man, cook for him. This is one of the best you can do for him, Guys will love it. You do want to make your man happy right?? cooking is a start!