30 September 2007

Hitting New Lows

I'm not even suprised as I read this. This type of news has just become totally normal;

Saudi divorces wife for watching male TV host
(AFP) 29 September 2007

RIYADH - A Saudi man divorced his wife for watching alone a television programme presented by a male, an act he deemed immoral, the Al Shams newspaper reported on Saturday.

The man, whom the paper did not identify, ended his marriage on the grounds his wife was effectively alone with an unrelated man, which is forbidden under the strict Islamic law enforced in the ultra-conservative kingdom, the paper said.

Men in Saudi Arabia have the authority to divorce their wives without resort to the courts.

Ok, so that just opens up a whole new door to excuses to get divorced; you can divorce you wife for reading a book by a MALE author. Or maybe, you can't allow your wife to watch TV shows that have male actors. Oh wait, it's ok if the scenes have both a man and a woman, because technically she's not alone with him, right? And if she watches a scene with two or three men?! Oh damn! That's like, total orgy, dude!

29 September 2007

GulfGT Ramadan Meet

I'm a member of GulfGT.com, a Bahraini motor enthusiast online forum. We usually organize meets every now and then, and a Ramadan meet every year for futoor has become a tradition. I had the pleasure of setting it up this year; we met up a little before iftar time a, took a few shots, and well, here they are (click on photos for large size). Enjoy :)

Finally iftar time! Everyone stuffs their face in:

Oh, and this really made me laugh. One of the guys ordered a steak with "mixed vegetables". This is what he got:

Overall, a good ol' time! (For more photos, go to galleries at the top of the page, under car photos, events, GGT meets). Thanks for passing by :)

27 September 2007

Shopping; A Man's Perspective

Let me get this straight; I don't enjoy clothes shopping, never have enjoyed it, and probably won't enjoy it any time in the coming future. My idea of clothes shopping is buying clothes for necessity, just to avoid having to walk around naked. Anyhow, with Eid moving closer, more and more women seem to be hitting the shops every day, armed with their cash and credit cards, ready to invade the clothes shops and strip them dry (my wife being one of them). I have so far managed to steer clear away from shopping malls and the whole "shopping fever" since Ramadan started, avoiding any confrontation with wifey as she goes shopping with her friends, family, and so on.


But last night was different. After a heavy iftar with the family, and after watching a few TV shows, I got ready to sneak out of the house to avoid yet another night of relentless, ruthless shopping.

"Honey?" She said.

"Dammit!" I thought, as I tried to slip my shoes on and make a run for it. "I need to go shopping today"

"Umm, ok.. Don't you do that with your friends, or sisters, or aunts? (or your cousins, or aunts cousins, or cat, or anyone else in the world except me, I wanted to add, but decided it would be safer to just stop there)", to which I got the answer that somehow everyone else in the world was busy and the only person seemingly free enough to go shopping with was (sigh) me.

So here we are in the parking lot of Bahrain Mall about to walk inside. She's already invaded and conquered Seef Mall, Aali Mall and a few others, so it was Bahrain Mall for today; as it was Gerga'on tonight, it seems that a lot of the festivities have shifted to the mall. There were a few colorful characters in costume, that I think were supposed to represent Disney cartoons:

Thats just distasteful, really. However, children were actually standing next to this guy and taking photos! What a freaky memory to keep. This is the kind of character that can haunt you in your dreams, but this wasn't the worst of it.

There was some sort of dwarf character (as in Snow White & the 7 Dwarfs) giving out balloons to the children, but this guy was even scarier than the Makki Mouse character:

Damn. Anyhow, I managed to delay the misery of shopping for approximately 2 minutes as I stood around taking photos of these freaky, freaky creatures, but I had to face reality and follow my wife from shop to shop as she looked at all sorts of clothes.

Thing I don't understand is how a woman can spend so much time in one shop. Seriously, it's not just my wife; the shopping mall was filled with women, and each one seemed to spend unreasonable amounts of time looking at every single piece of clothing in every single store. How can they keep up their interest for so long?

In my case, after walking into a clothes store, i'm able to keep up my excitement for approximately, ermmm.. 12 seconds.

Funny that. So we're walking around from store to store, the shopping bags are increasing in number, and my credit card starts feeling lighter.. During this whole shopping experience, I came to a number of observations; womens clothes are usually smaller than mens clothes. Seriously, take a look at any t-shirt in the ladies section and compare it to the t-shirts in the men section; they're usually half the size. That should technically mean they use almost half the material to make, and should therefore be cheaper. Why do they cost twice as much as ours? :S My belief is that it's a conspiracy, with clothes companies not even bothering to create a seperate clothes line for women; just using the same clothes the made for kids and labelling them "women" and then charging ridiculous prices for them.

Bluh. Another thing; it seems the newer models and mannequins are trying to promote a "sexier" image, so they just keep them semi (or fully) naked. Ooh err.

While straggling around one of the shops (which are always filled with women, it seems, I was the lonely male there), I spotted another of my kind. He walked in with his woman, and was obviously subject to the same kind of agony I was going through. We glanced eyes for a milli-second. It didn't last long, but there was some assurance there; it's as if we were both telling each other, "hang in there, you're going to make it". Freedom is but a few hours away (it was about half an hour before all the shops closed), and then we can be free to run away to whichever gahwa our heart pleases and hang out with the guys.

Well, a little later the torture was over. The back seat of the car was filled with shopping bags and my wallet seemed much lighter. But hey, it was over. Tommorow, i'm making sure to sneak out a little earlier, or at least find some way of becoming invisible before I get spotted leaving the house.

24 September 2007

Discussion; Poor or Rich?

I'd like to start a discussion topic; would appreciate everyone pitching in a little, giving some feedback, comments, and discussing the issue. It's pretty open ended so feel free to say whatever you like.

Discussion 1:

Which would you rather be? Poor, financially unstable, yet surrounded by friends, family, and love?

Or would you rather be Rich, unbelievably to the point where you can get anything you want at the tip of your fingers. Yet you have no real friends, no close ties with family, and so on.

I want to know everyones point of view, and why you think that way. Can the money make up for the other things? What makes a happy life?


Some excellent discussion and viewpoints raised, thanks everyone for participating. Click on 'comments' below to read how it went.

23 September 2007

Diary of an Adliya Dweller

His lane of traffic was at a standstill, but it was normal on a weekend night such as this. He glanced at the cars cruising slowly past him on the opposite lane; the fancy Benz with its triple-digit plate, the beaten down 80's Cressida, the shiny Cadillac with the polished wheels. "What are they all doing here?" he thought, as the car infront of him etched a few inches forward.

It's just another night in this popular road; although it doesn't contain much besides a few restaurants and number of shops, it seems to be a regular hangout for people. Driving by he saw gangs of teenage kids standing by the side of the road, glancing at the cars that come and go, waiting for the ocassional passing of a rare sighting; a fancy luxury sports car, or a pretty female, dressed up in her best.

The traffic light turned green, and his lane started to move. He passed by the cars on the opposite lane; a new convertible BMW, with an under-nourished owner and his friend, discussing what seemed to be a serious issue. Right behind was a Lexus, top of the line, with the windows fully blacked out; the driver window was partially lowered with the tip of a lit cigarette sticking out, and on the other end of it he could see the outline of an overweight driver slumped in his seat. The next car looked more fun; a red jeep overflowing with what seemed like recently graduated children; windows were down, music up loud, and each single person in the vehicle either laughing or had a huge smile on their face, going through their life without a care in the world.

He looked at his eyes in his rear-view mirror; "I remember when I used to be like that", he thought to himself, as he drove on. "I had no worries, no cares", but now he was driving alone on a weekend, with more worries on his mind than hairs on his head. He used to come to this same road years ago, before he joined the corporate world, before he left university, before he had responsibilities and stress in his life. He used to be like these kids; lost in a world with no worries, living life with his friends day by day. Tommorow didn't matter, never mattered.

The traffic light turned red, and the cars came to a stand-still. A golden Honda passed by, and stopped in the traffic right next to him, two pretty ladies adorning its interior. He glanced with the corner of his eye, and although he didn't make it too obvious, they knew he was looking at them. "This is ridiculous" he thought; he wants to communicate with them, exchange a few words, maybe a number, but it wasn't possible. In the 'rules' of this engagement, he has to drive around a few times up and down this road, find his prey, follow her to a dark alleyway or somewhere unfilled with people, and then make a move. That's just the way it was done here.

The light turned green, and as she moved her car he forced the gas pedal down turning the steering wheel, twisting the car through the traffic; it was a scene of tire smoke and a thundering engine, landing himself directly behind the two girls. They watched in amusement through their rear-view and giggled, not so innocently, as they pondered making their way through a side street. They decided to, eventually, and drove into a dark alley, with him on their tail.

He smiled. Something to ease the stress for tonight, at least.

21 September 2007

Pearl Roundabout to be Torn Down

Pearl Roundabout to be Torn Down
21 September 2007

Although once considered a national landmark, the Pearl Roundabout is to be torn down to make way for a new six-lane highway to combat the ever-increasing congestion in Manama. The Pearl Roundabout consists of 6 arms representing the brotherly GCC countries of Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE and Oman, which are adorned with a huge pearl, stating Bahrain as the pearl of the gulf.

What do you think of this for news? This event follows the tearing down of the Bahrain Map on Athari Highway a few days ago. Sure, the map wasn't the biggest national monument we have, but it was a well-known landmark, and it does hold some value to us.

But now its gone. As simple as that.

Over the years, i've seen thousands of palm trees torn down to make way for new highways and buildings. I've seen our public beaches and corniches turn into inland spaces, as land reclaimation pushes the sea further and further away from us. I've seen our traditional sites and cultural destinations all but wiped out to make way for newer business and money making-machines, and now, i'm seeing our landmarks destroyed to build infrastructure for the 'New Bahrain'.

But let me help you breathe a sigh of relief. The above article is false; I made it up. But is this future really that far away from the truth?

'God' responds to lawsuit againt him

Ok this is getting too weird. If you haven't already read up on the case, a U.S. state senator has filed a lawsuit against God. Now, it seems God has managed to respond; a reply just 'appeared'. See the article:

'God' apparently responds to lawsuit Thu Sep 20, 11:18 PM ET

LINCOLN, Neb. - A legislator who filed a lawsuit against God has gotten something he might not have expected: a response. One of two court filings from "God" came Wednesday under otherworldly circumstances, according to John Friend, clerk of the Douglas County District Court in Omaha.

"This one miraculously appeared on the counter. It just all of a sudden was here — poof!" Friend said.

State Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha sued God last week, seeking a permanent injunction against the Almighty for making terroristic threats, inspiring fear and causing "widespread death, destruction and terrorization of millions upon millions of the Earth's inhabitants."

Chambers, a self-proclaimed agnostic who often criticizes Christians, said his filing was triggered by a federal lawsuit he considers frivolous. He said he's trying to makes the point that anybody can sue anybody.

Not so, says "God." His response argues that the defendant is immune from some earthly laws and the court lacks jurisdiction. It adds that blaming God for human oppression and suffering misses an important point.

"I created man and woman with free will and next to the promise of immortal life, free will is my greatest gift to you," according to the response, as read by Friend.

There was no contact information on the filing, although St. Michael the Archangel is listed as a witness, Friend said.

A second response from "God" disputing Chambers' allegations lists a phone number for a Corpus Christi law office. A message left for that office was not immediately returned Thursday. Attempts to reach Chambers by phone and at his Capitol office Thursday were unsuccessful.

The case seems to get more exciting by the day. Lets see if they can manage to summon God to come to court on the day of the trial.

20 September 2007


As if we didn't have enough reason to hate Batelco already!

Mobile callers face extra cost
CHARGES are being brought in for Batelco mobile phone customers who use its directory enquiry service. From Monday, all calls made from Batelco mobiles to either 181 or 188 will cost 160 fils, the company said yesterday.

Customers will then receive the requested number by text message. Batelco says it will donate 10 fils from every request to charity, while calls from residential, public pay phones and business fixed line phones will remain off charge.

Mobile customers with sight-impairments will be given 10 free calls to directory enquiries every billing cycle.

First of all, 160 fils?! ONE SIXTY BLOODY FILS? It's cheaper to call international! I'm not against them charging the regular rate for directory services but come on, don't push it! (FYI, regular per minute rate ranges somewhere between 25 and 45 fils depending on your package).

Oh, and to ensure continuation of the "friendly" image of the company, they donte 10 fils from each call to charity?


So essentialy, you're keeping 94% of a new overpriced charge and trying to show your benevolence by giving charity a measly 6%?

Oh wait, it doesn't stop there! They're giving "sight-impaired" customers 10 whole free enquiries! Sight-impaired? What the @#%$ is a sight-impaired customer? Blind people? Those who wear glasses? And how the HELL do they know which customers are sight impaired? Are we supposed to go to a Batelco office and explain how sight-impaired we are to get the offer? How is this even relevant to directory enquiries?

MTC, Zain, whatever the hell you're called now, here I come!

**Ahh, venting feels so good**

Anyway, more from todays news and how our lovely GDN newspaper loves to turn an almost useless event into a full blown high speed chase, Bahraini style!

Chase drama over driver drinking water
POLICE gave chase after a Bahraini driver threw a water bottle at their car when he was caught drinking it while driving during fasting hours yesterday.

"The 40-year-old was spotted drinking water while driving in Hamad Town by the police patrol," said a Public Prosecution spokesman. "They tried to pull him over, but he threw the water bottle at their car and tried to escape by speeding away. They eventually caught up with him and were able to pull him over."

During questioning, it was found out that his car was not registered or insured. His case was transferred to the Public Prosecution, where he denied drinking water in the car. He has been detained for a week on charges of breaking Ramadan rules and assaulting police. His case will also be transferred to the Traffic Prosecution for driving an unregistered and uninsured car.

Wow. I wonder why they don't broadcast these chases on Btv! Imagine watching your daily Ramadan show in the afternoon, only to have it interrupted by live video footage of the chase; the guy throwing the bottle out of his car at the cops, the high-speed chase through the Soug Wagif traffic, vegtable stands falling and kids almost getting run over; very indian-movie-esque...

Anyway; more on the tension piling up just 100 miles away from us, in the glorious nation of Iran. They seem to be all over the news now - Article 1:

'Amateur' France rapped by Tehran
TEHRAN: Iran lashed out again yesterday at France's warning of a possible war against Tehran over its nuclear drive, saying its comments were the result of "amateurs" working in European politics.

Oh great, lets make more enemies, yipeeeee. This isn't going to end well. Anyhow, article 2:

TEHRAN: Iran will bomb Israel if attacked, it declared yesterday. Tehran has drawn up plans to bomb the Jewish state should it attack the Islamic republic, said Mohammed Alavi, deputy commander of air force.

I understand the Iranians are fond of taunting the US and Israel, but now it's getting a a bit too direct for my liking. I can smell armed conflict, it's so bloody close. And it seems that the Iranians aren't the only stubborn ones here, take a look here:

Iran's Ahmadinejad denied Trade Center visit
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been denied a request to visit the World Trade Center site of the September 11 attacks, New York police said on Wednesday.

Ahmadinejad, who regularly accuses the United States of arrogance in his speeches, had asked to visit the site while in New York for the United Nations General Assembly this month. "The site is closed to visitors because of construction there," police spokesman Paul Browne said in a statement. "Requests for the Iranian president to visit the immediate area would also be opposed by the NYPD on security grounds."

Police said they were unsure why Ahmadinejad wanted to visit.

What are you guys worried about? Him blowing it up again? There's nothing there! I dunno, todays news is kinda getting me down. Lets try and look at something more fun:

Someone tries to sell Belgium on eBay
BRUSSELS, Belgium - Hidden among the porcelain fox hounds and Burberry tablecloths on sale at eBay.be this week was an unusual item: "For Sale: Belgium, a Kingdom in three parts ... free premium: the king and his court (costs not included)."

The advertisement was placed on Saturday, offering free delivery, but pointing out that the country was coming secondhand and that potential buyers would have to take on over $300 billion (euro220 billion) in national debt.

However, eBay decided to pull the add Tuesday after receiving a bid of euro 10 million ($14 million). "We decided to take it down, just to avoid confusion," he told APTN.

That's pretty cool. Anybody wanna buy Bahrain? Bidding starts at $10. Anyway, before I go, i'll leave you with one last article to get your blood boiling:

Man refuses £2 million lottery win
A German pensioner who won £2 million on the lottery refused the cash because he didn’t know what to do with it. The 70-year-old man from Hameln, Lower Saxony, went to the HQ of the German lottery association in Hanover after finding out about his win and told them he did not want the money.

He said he had only bought the lottery ticket out of a habit because his late wife had been a passionate player. Lottery officials said they were trying to persuade him to keep the money.

WHAT?! He just REFUSED?! You don't refuse that kind of money! That's like my life dream, and he just throws it away.. I don't care if you were 110 years old and didn't know what to do with it; you can BUY people to find creative ways to spend it for you!


I'm never reading a newspaper again.

19 September 2007

The Mother of all Court Cases

Well, i'm sure you've heard of court cases where people have won millions of dollars for suing others over all sorts of issues. Anyway, this totally blows them out of the water; here, we have a Nebraska State Senator whose decided to sue... God.

Yep, that's right. The Almighty himself. And what's he suing him for? Well, read this:

- Chambers says in his lawsuit that God has made terroristic threats against the senator and his constituents, inspired fear and caused "widespread death, destruction and terrorization of millions upon millions of the Earth's inhabitants."

Umm, yeah, sure.

Anyhow; even if he DOES manage to win the case against GOD, how is the sentence supposed to be carried out? I mean, does God go to jail? Or is God supposed to pay him? How's this whole thing work out?

Nebraska state senator sues God
Tue Sep 18, 5:12 PM ET

LINCOLN, Neb. - The defendant in a state senator's lawsuit is accused of causing untold death and horror and threatening to cause more still. He can be sued in Douglas County, the legislator claims, because He's everywhere.

State Sen. Ernie Chambers sued God last week. Angered by another lawsuit he considers frivolous, Chambers says he's trying to make the point that anybody can file a lawsuit against anybody.

Chambers says in his lawsuit that God has made terroristic threats against the senator and his constituents, inspired fear and caused "widespread death, destruction and terrorization of millions upon millions of the Earth's inhabitants."

The Omaha senator, who skips morning prayers during the legislative session and often criticizes Christians, also says God has caused "fearsome floods ... horrendous hurricanes, terrifying tornadoes."

He's seeking a permanent injunction against the Almighty.

Chambers said the lawsuit was triggered by a federal suit filed against a judge who recently barred words such as "rape" and "victim" from a sexual assault trial.

The accuser in the criminal case, Tory Bowen, sued Lancaster District Judge Jeffre Cheuvront, claiming that he violated her free speech rights.

Chambers said Bowen's lawsuit is inappropriate because the Nebraska Supreme Court has already considered the case and federal courts follow the decisions of state supreme courts on state matters.

"This lawsuit having been filed and being of such questionable merit creates a circumstance where my lawsuit is appropriately filed," Chambers said. "People might call it frivolous but if they read it they'll see there are very serious issues I have raised."

U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf, in an order last week, expressed doubts about whether Bowen's lawsuit "has any legal basis whatsoever" and said sanctions may be imposed against Bowen and her attorneys if they fail to show cause for the lawsuit.

The Associated Press usually does not identify accusers in sex-assault cases, but Bowen has allowed her name to be used publicly because of the issue over the judge's language restrictions.

Cheuvront declared a mistrial in the sexual assault trial in July, saying pretrial publicity made it impossible to gather enough impartial jurors.

I would love to see the verdict on this one.

More from Bahrain Bay

More photos of what Bahrain Bay should look like, hopefully starting to take form around this time next year. If you're not already aware; Bahrain Bay is a waterfront 'neighborhood', hosting both business and residential districts; the plans look good so far. Click on the images for full-size:

Wow. Now, one more thing to think about; imagine the Bahrain skyline. Starting from Bahrain Bay, WTC, Bahrain Financial Harbor, Abraj Al Lulu, Moayyed Tower, and the multitude of buildings being constructed right now, and those that will be within the next few years. Spectacular, i'm sure. The road from Diplomatic Area, past Regency hotel all the way to Seef Mall is going to be the new Shaikh Zayed road (lets just hope they make bigger lanes!).


Just to help you visualize what is should look like, here's an image from Muharraqi Studios:

18 September 2007

Stage 2 of the new Manama Skyline

As I go walking every now and then by the Manama corniche, I see the sea slowly disappear, making ways for the base of the Bahrain Bay project. Stage 1 has now been completed (land reclamation and infrastructure development), and now the projects that will start to grace our Bahrain skyline within the next two years are going to start being built.

This is one of the projects i'm pretty excited about, actually. I'll just leave you with a few photos of what it should look like when it's done:

I'll post more photos as I find them :) Enjoy

16 September 2007

Driving to & from Work



Which idiot planned it this way? I'm supposed to be at work at 8:15 and everybody else starts at 8:00. I actually have to leave my house an hour earlier to get to work on time. Bluh. A full hour wasted.

Anybody have any ideas to occupy the time usefully in the car? I'm downloading audio foreign language guides, at least i'll get to do something while i'm in the car. I'm also considering putting a TV in there, but i'm pretty sure i'll end up in an accident sooner or later if I do.

Anyway, i'm still at the office, it's almost 3:00, even though I finish at 2:15. You know why? You wanna know WHY? Because the traffic is SO RIDICULOUS when every single company and ministry leaves at 2! So I decide to stay an extra 45 minutes; believe it or not, i'll get home around the same time I would have got home if I leave at 2:15

Anyway, time to go home. I'm like, so hungry.

MPs VS Minister

I don't know where I stand on this whole issue. For those not in the know yet, our lovely MP's have decided to investigate some of the irregularities going on at the Ministry of Health, and specifically Salmaniya Medical Complex. The issues include management and financial violations, lack of services, work negligence, among others.

Now, I assume most Bahraini's can vouch for that; the situation in Salmaniya Complex isn't the greatest at the moment after all. We've all had to deal with, or know someone whose had to deal with the place, and we all know its drowned in chaos (and that's only the side we see as visitors. Interally, a lot more issues exist). So the MP's decide to go ahead and probe into what's going on, on no specific allegation, but over the premise that the ministry has a lot of issues and problems that aren't being dealt with.

Now, the Minister of Health, Nada Haffadh doesn't like the sound of that. She claims there is no specific premise on which they are basing their investigation on, with the whole shamble being too 'vague', and warned that she would resign if they continue to push with it.

This issue has actually been going on for a while now, and unfortunately it seems to have become much more of a personal issue between the Minister, and the Head of the Parlimentary Committee Mohammed Mazaal (Nada Haffadh had previously told Mohd Mazaal not to interfere in the issues of the Ministry).

Now, again, i'm still not fully sure on what I should be feeling about this issue;

- I know our parliment members aren't exactly the most competent people, and i've seen them base a lot of their previous actions on feelings and emotions rather than logic.

- I know the Ministry of Health is riddled with issues, most of which have nothing to do with the current Minister, but are baggage from previous periods.

- But again, on no "specific" allegation has the Ministry of Health been placed under a full investigation, when there are a number of other ministries that also need to be fully audited, probably more urgently than the Min. of Health.

- And again, this is becoming much more of a personal issue than it is one that is supposed to fix things for the people.

Guys, get off your high horses and do something for the people instead of trying to do things to spite each other. As much as I see, this is a case of personal feelings driving action which is ridiculous. We do need investigations, but not just of the Ministry of Health; of the Ministry of Labor, of our Ministry of the Interior, Finance, and of so many others. We need to improve. We need to stop this childish behaviour.

This isn't going to go anywhere. People are going to start taking sides, and sooner or later a few people will get hurt on the way, and the whole issue will dissapear. When is anyone in power actually going to do something because the people will benefit?

Too Short

Is it just me or do you guys also feel this weekend passed REALLY QUICKLY??

I'm about to go to sleep now, and I should be in the office in approximately... eem... 6 hours... NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO


Update "around 6 hours later":

I'm at the office. I'm so dead.

15 September 2007

University Credit for watching YouTube

Don't you wish your local University would offer this course?

SoCal college offers YouTube class
Fri Sep 14, 6:52AM ET

CLAREMONT, Calif. - Here's a dream-come-true for Web addicts: college credit for watching YouTube.

Pitzer College this fall began offering what may be the first course about the video-sharing site. About 35 students meet in a classroom but work mostly online, where they view YouTube content and post their comments.

Class lessons also are posted and students are encouraged to post videos. One class member, for instance, posted a 1:36-minute video of himself juggling.

Alexandra Juhasz, a media studies professor at the liberal arts college, said she was "underwhelmed" by the content on YouTube but set up the course, "Learning from YouTube," to explore the role of the popular site.

Class members control most of the class content and YouTube watchers from around the world are encouraged to comment, Juhasz said.

She hopes the course will raise serious issues about YouTube, such as the role of "corporate-sponsored democratic media expression."

YouTube is "a phenomenon that should be studied," student Darren Grose said. "You can learn a lot about American culture and just Internet culture in general."

Really? And to know I had to go through class after class of excrutiatingly painful finance and accounting courses... Bluh...

So what's next? People graduating with a bachelors degree in YouTube Analysis, with a minor in Facebook Appreciation?

13 September 2007

Mixed Messages

A few days ago in the GDN:

"We live in a highly competitive world, which means we need to fight harder for visitors, investment and business opportunities.

"We must not lose sight of what makes Bahrain authentic and unique. We must be clear about who and what we are."

Shaikh Mohammed was speaking at the launch of the Brand Positioning Strategy for the Kingdom of Bahrain, at the Banyan Tree Desert Spa & Resort yesterday.

Yes, we're trying to promote a strong image of Bahrain, make it more attractive to foreigners, to investors, to everyone else..

So we go and do this:

BAHRAIN's hotels are facing their toughest Ramadan restrictions ever after being banned for the first time from even offering room service during daylight hours, it emerged yesterday.

A circular issued to hotels on September 3 also banned live music and the sale of alcohol during Ramadan, which begins today.

This is the third year running that hotels have faced a total alcohol ban after previously being allowed to serve guests during Ramadan once the sun went down.

However, this year is the first time hotels have been ordered not to serve any food to any guests before sunset.

Ok, we understand the point of no alcohol. But now you're banning hotels from serving their customer any food at all?

Oh man, I can just see it; that foreign investor on a visit to Bahrain, deciding whether he should invest millions into our country, walking back to his $1,000 a night Ritz-Carlton suite carrying a bag of groceries, about to make himself a cheese sandwich because he's starving and can't order room service.


Tips for Fasting

A few tips to better manage your fasting experience:

- When it is time to break fast, do not over-eat; try to slow down, take it easy, and don't push your stomache. This also goes for eating in general during the non-fasting hours; if you try to keep your stomache as full as possibly during the evenings, it's going to feel comparatively very empty in the morning, and you'll just feel hungrier (especially true for over-eating at Suhoor time). If you try to make it during the day with not so much food, your body adjusts, and you'll find it easier to fast.

- Drink lots of water and fruit juices over the non-fasting period, to adjust for the periods where you aren't taking in any fluids. Try to cut down on fruit 'drinks' (which are technically just flavored water and sugar), soft-drinks (coke, pepsi etc), and other non-natural beverages, which might actually cause you to feel more dehydrated the next day (due to excess amount of sugar and processed contents).

- Avoid fatty and fried foods, which give the illusion of filling you up. They make you heavy, but within a few hours you're hungry again. Try to eat more fruits/vegetables, and natural foods that include fibre, grains and seeds. Especially useful are:
* Dates; which are an excellent source of sugar, fibre and carbohydrates
* Almonds; provide protein and fibre with less fat
* Bananas; provide potassium, magnesium and carbohydrates

- Try to cut down/avoid foods with too much processed sugar (especially the sweets we find so many of during ramadan). Sugar is important, but it is much better to get natural sugar from dates and other fruits.

- Also try to avoid salty foods closer to suhoor time. These will dry you up and you'll end up feeling very thirsty the next day (Personal experience; avoid tikka late at night!)

- Overall, take it easy on the food, don't overstuff yourself, and use common sense. Try to take in more natural foods, and try to cut-down on processed ones, and just east wisely.

Hope these make for a better fasting experience; if anyone has any other tips, feel free to share them with us :)

12 September 2007

Breaking in Ramadan

The Holy month of Ramadan starts tommorow, but to break in the whole hunger-pain issue, i've decided to fast today starting today.

I made the decision at approximately 6:30am, and now, a little under 10 hours later, i'm sitting in the office craving every single type of food possible from Burger King burgers, to grilled fish, to pizza, to even brown bread with butter (ie, all the food items my lovely colleagues in the office decided to eat infront of me today). Ahh... Just another two hours to go!

Anyhow, I just wanted to wish all of you a happy Ramadan, and may its holiness be felt by you all :)

Embarak 3alakum el shahar!

Very Lame

A:هلا والله, شخبارك؟

B: والله زين اخوي. اقول, انا طلعت لي خط تلفون زين

A: صج؟ زين الارسال يعني؟ لو سعره زين؟

B: لا لا, ما فهمت, اهو الخط زين

A: اي فهمت بس يعني شنو الي زين فيه؟

B: لا شفيك ثقيل اليوم؟ الخط نفسه زين

A: يبه شفيك تستهبل اليوم. زين انك طلعت لك خط, بس شنو الزين فيه؟ اذا صج زين انا بعد بطلع لي خط وياك... الخط شنو, بتلكو لو فودافون؟

B: يا ربي, ما تفهم انت؟ اقولك الخط زين! زين! لا بتلكو ولا فودافون. فودافون صاروا زين! اف

A: شفيك ما تعرف تتكلم عربي عدل؟ قصدك فودافون صاروا زينين؟ خدمتهم يعني؟

B: لا حول ولا قوة الا بالله

A: شفيك احين؟

B: مافيني شي. انا زين

A: انت خط تلفون يعني؟ واهاهاهاها

(Sorry for البياخة الزايدة. Madri shfeeni elyom.)

مع تحيات عمارو دوت كوم (ammaro.com)

و شكرا



Someone just FWDed me the above conversation by email! Hey, whose stealing my jokes?!

11 September 2007

Yes, I think I see it, umm, no, maybe, wait...

So our people are standing on top of buildings and stuff for sightings of the moon, to confirm whether or not the Holy month of Ramadhan is finally upon us...

Moon-Sighting Panel Meets

MANAMA: A Ramadan moon-sighting committe will meet this evening at the Justice & Islamic Ministry to receive eyewitnesses' testimonies, from Bahrain and abroad, confirming the advent of the fasting month.

And so we're waiting for the sightings to see whether Ramadan is today, tommorow, or the regular argument we go through every year; the Sunni people decide it is today, but the Shiia decide its tommorow, and so on. Of course, all of this is based on "testimonies" of people who probably sit at the top of their house, mosque, or maybe even get clearance to go to the top of Al Moayyed tower (hopefully shifting to Bahrain Financial Harbour next year) to get a really close good look at the sky and see if the moon has, in fact, appeared.

Pardon me for being a little rude but this is all a bunch of crap. For one, not everyone has the same eyesight; some have stronger than others. Secondly, a sky can be cloudy, or unclear with haze, hiding the moon even if it has actually appeared. I can go on and on about how this method is subjective depending on the person, where he is located, etc, and thus brings rise to the whole complication between Sinna and Shiaa about which day to fast because the Sunni guy saw it but the Shiaa guy didn't, which day Eid is,and so on. This way of finding whether or not the moon exists is pure rubbish, in this day and age.

Why do I say this? Well, technology has given people the ability to literary stare into space with telescopes and satellites, using the latest technology to find the moon even through the murkiest sky. Not only that, but companies like NASA have the means to actually predict when the moon will appear way before it actually does (and this isn't restricted to huge organizations like NASA, but smaller astronomy centers now have the means to do this as well).

So you would think, ok, no problem, we're not using that because we don't have access to that type of equipment.

Erm... First of all, this equipment is a lot easier to get nowadays, and doesn't cost too much (especially under a government budget, whether it is from Bahrain or Saudi Arabia or anyone else). But even with that argument, we still don't NEED to buy it. You see, the internet, that invention giving the whole world access to all sorts of information and data, can link us straight up to the NASA website, the Farmer's Almanac website, or any of the other hundereds of people who set up live-cam moon feeds through their own personal computer. The technology is out there, it's pretty much accurate (well, definately more accurate than the naked eye), and it's accessible to ANYONE.

Does it still make sense that we're sitting on top of a rooftop squinting trying to see if the moon 'is' actually there? Lets just wish that this year our Sunii and Shiia brothers celebrate the joys of Ramadhan and Eid together, and blessed may this month be on all thee.

و مبارك عليكم الشهر

Bad Service?

Ever been into a busy restaurant, sat down, and had to wait for a LONG BLOODY TIME with all the waiters running around serving other customers? With no one even bothering to come and ask if you've been attended to yet?

Doesn't it REALLY get on your nerves?

Do you want to get them back for making you wait and wasting your time?

Do this:


10 September 2007

Now BNP Paribas moves in...

BNP moves into BFH

MANAMA: Global banking giant BNP Paribas yesterday announced it is to re-locate its regional headquarters to Bahrain Financial Harbour (BFH).

In a deal Bahrain Financial Harbour Holding Company (BFHHC) chief executive Stephen Rothel described as "one of the largest private sector lettings in Bahrain for some time", the bank will occupy five floors in the west tower of the development on a 10-year lease - covering more than 5,000 square metres of office space.

Yep, they have another tenant! I've been watching the occupancy rate of the Bahrain Financial Harbor over the past few months, which I have to say I still think is pretty slow.

I've had high hopes for the two gleaming emerald towers, but since their actual Phase I opening back on the 2nd of May (a little over 4 months ago), the place doesn't seem to be that lively just yet. As far as I know, Servcorp (a provider of virtual office services) and Reuters have started operations there. Besides those, Dexia Asset Management, Bank Alfalah and Gulf International Investment Company are planning to move there but haven't yet (If anyone knows of any that have already moved there, please let me know. For some reason, information about this project seems to difficult to get).

Anyhow; so far two companies settled in, and another four planning to move there. Obviously there is also Gulf Finance House, the company that facilitated this project, who are going to take a few floors.

For a project of this size, every month that goes by without tenancy must result in a considerable loss. A little over four months after the opening, there is still quite a distance to go; which just makes me wonder - was this project in the right place at the right time?

I guess something went wrong with this project; was it too much focus on getting the buildings done and ready, with little effort placed on approaching prospective tenants? Was it the expectation that clients would jump at the opportunity to rent office space at the BFH? Or maybe the demand for this type of facility still isn't required in Bahrain yet? Too much too quick?

Which brings up another question; what about the other buildings springing up all over the place; the World Trade Center, the unbelievable number of office buildings being constructed right now in Seef, Juffair, and so on? Is there demand? Or will they end up as deserted buildings?

This isn't a professional opinion, so don't get me wrong, but this is what it looks like to someone staring at the towers, basking under the sun in all their glory. Does it promote a confident image? I don't doubt that tenancy will be at 100%, or close to it at least a year or two from now. But does it really make sense that a project of this size, one that is supposed to be the pinnacle of a financial center's excellence and innovation, takes this long to bring in tenants? If this takes as much time as it did to fill up, how about the others? And again, why is information about the tenants etc, so difficult to come by?

Just seems a little confidence shaking to me.

9 September 2007

I heard of cheap, but this is ridiculous

زوج يترك زوجتة في ماليزيا خوفاً من ضياع ثمن التذكره

جدة - عبدالله القشيري

ترك أحد السعوديين زوجته في ماليزيا واستقل الطائرة بعد أن تأخرت في دورة المياه؛ وذلك خوفا من ضياع قيمة التذكرة على حد قوله. الزوج كان عيبه الوحيد (ظاهريا) عندما تقدم لأسرة الزوجة هو بخله الشديد وانكشف ذلك بعد أقل من أسبوعين من زواجهما. والقصة بدأت عندما قرر الزوجان قضاء أسبوع عسل في ماليزيا على حساب الزوجة المعلمة التي تكفلت بأغلب تكاليف الرحلة بعد أن كان الزوج يقترح قضاء الإجازة بالطائف. المشكلة حدثت عند الإعلان النهائي لرحلة العودة، حيث كانت الزوجة في دورة المياه، وعند خروجها لم تجد زوجها في مكانه. المسكينة لم تتوقع أن بخل زوجها وخوفه من ضياع قيمة التذكرة جعلاه يصعد الطائرة مفضلا ترك (حبيبته) في ماليزيا على ضياع قيمة التذكرة، ومتوقعا أن الزوجة سوف تلحق به. الأهل في مطار جدة وبعد أن استقبلوا الزوج بالأحضان ومن دون زوجته سألوه عنها فأخبرهم بكل بساطة (والله شكلي نسيتها في ماليزيا). أهل (المنسية) اتصلوا بها ووجدوها ما زالت منتظرة في المطار متوقعة أن زوجها حصل له مكروه، وبعد أن علمت بالأمر طالبت بسماع يمين الطلاق، وأقسمت بعدم العودة إذا لم يطلقها هذا البخيل، وهو ما حدث .

(Translation; A Saudi couple in an airport, Malaysia, were waiting to board their plane, when the wife decided to go to the bathroom. While she was there, the airline made the final announcement that all passengers should board; now, the husband was a seemingly good guy, with his only real problem being that he was pretty cheap (ie, stingy). After hearing the final call, he decided to board the plane without his wife, worried about losing the ticket (and how much he paid for it).

When the plane arrived back home in Saudi, the girl's family were at the airport ready to welcome them. When they asked him where his wife was, he said "I think I forgot her in Malaysia".

Good to know that, after this incident, she requested a divorce.

Funny to note that it wasn't even the guy who paid for the tickets, but it was his wife who paid for the whole vacation in the first place.)

Today's News Review - 9 Sep 2007

A quick look and rant at todays news from our lovely GDN (Gulf Daily News) with a quick bit of commentary to follow:


Smoking may be outlawed in Bahrain

BAHRAIN could follow the example of an Indian city where smoking in public has been completely outlawed, the GDN has learned.

Health officials here plan to contact their counterparts in Chandigarh, which banned smoking in public places, including streets, in July, as they prepare new anti-smoking legislation.

Umm.. Pardon me, but I think Bahrain is getting more ridiculous by the day. Don't get me wrong, i'm not a smoker, but this is really starting to go too far. Sure, there are health issues, sure, there are problems, but going out and banning smoking completely is just stupid. Take a look at the shopping malls where smoking has been completely banned; in Seef Mall, all you need to do is go to the stairs or the hidden corners to find stubs and stubs of cigarettes. Those areas have become disgustingly dirty and smelly. Just understand that you can't tell people NO SMOKING full stop. Whether it affects the rest of us who don't smoke isn't the point; create specific smoking areas, smoking rooms, etc, and ban it in other areas. You can't tell the smokers who are actually semi-dependant on their tobacco for a stress-free life to go screw themselves! We're all human, and we're all free, and I would like to think that if I wanted to smoke, as long as i'm not affecting someone else directly, I would bloody well have the right to!

Suq 'will cut off homes in Muharraq'

A SCHEME to turn Muharraq's old suq into a modern market to revitalise its business may result in blocking access to homes in the area, according to a municipal councillor.

The plan to turn it into a pedestrians-only market will make it difficult for families to reach their homes, said Muharraq Municipal Council services and public utilities chairman Ahmed Al Awadhi.

Oh great, another Suq (local market) modernization plan. I'm still waiting to see the results of the original Manama Suq modernization plan which was planned, what, 8 years ago? Bloody hell, why does everything go so slow here?!

10,000 visit new water park in first week
MORE than 10,000 people visited Bahrain's newest attraction, the Lost Paradise of Dilmun water park in its opening week, it was announced yesterday.

It is the largest water park in the region and is located close to the Bahrain International Circuit.

That's a pretty good turn out (if the numbers are accurate); anybody here visited yet? We would love to see some photos. I hope they do well, and although I have my doubts (based on many, many other disappointments faced in Bahrain), I wish the investors the best on this project, and hope it actually ends up doing good for the economy (which we probably won't benefit from as the little people, but hey, that just life in Bahrain, isn't it?)


Airline loses cool over hot skimpy skirt!
A 23-year-old US woman who boarded a Southwest Airlines plane in a short skirt for a flight to Arizona says she was led off the plane for wearing an outfit that was considered too skimpy. Kyla Ebbert said a Southwest employee asked her to leave her seat while the plane was preparing to leave the southern Californian city of San Diego on July 3. Ebbert said the employee told her she would have to catch a later flight. "You're dressed inappropriately. This is a family airline. You're too provocative to fly on this plane," she quoted the employee as saying. "I said, 'What part is it? The shirt? The skirt? And he said the whole thing." Ebbert was eventually allowed back on the plane after offering to adjust her sweater but said she was humiliated and embarrassed.

Really? Haha, that's just ridiculous; I wonder how short her skirt was. Seems Southwest Airlines have been getting tips from our Parliment members on how to run their business.


Gitex opens
DUBAI: The 27th edition of Gitex, the region's biggest annual technology event, was inaugurated yesterday by UAE Finance and Industry Minister Shaikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

More than 130,000 people from around the world are expected to attend the show, which features 3,300 companies including 572 first time exhibitors.

Oh man.. What am I doing in Bahrain; I need to be there! If you don't know, this is the coolest technology event in the GCC; all the latest computers, laptops, cameras, phones, TV's and everything else to do with electronics is unveiled here. And if you want to buy something, this is the place to do it! I think i'm taking a day or two off and going to Dubai.

Currency union talks set
RIYADH: Gulf finance ministers and central bank governors will meet next month to discuss a single currency plan that has become difficult to achieve by a 2010 deadline, Saudi Arabia's central bank governor said yesterday.

Central bankers of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and four other oil producers agreed at a meeting on Saturday that "exceptional economic developments" made a 2010 deadline for a monetary union project would be "difficult to meet" Hamad Saud Al Sayyari said.

"Has become" difficult to achieve by 2010??? NO $#!T!!!! Considering you guys kept delaying any positive or constructive discussion about it, even though it's been in the pipeline for years now, you come out three years before the deadline and say it has BECOME DIFFICULT TO MEET?! Useless...

That's all for today.

Decision to Make..

So I have a decision to make, i'm at a split road, going in two totally opposite directions.

First route takes me to new exciting places; I get to see the world, meet new people, explore new cultures. See places i've always wanted to see, work in new environments, totally different than what i'm used to. A totally refreshing situation, a great experience.

Money isn't great though; it's enough to cover accomodation, food, and basic living expenses, but not much else.

Second route; continuing what i'm doing now. Stay in the same place - the same people, the same routine, the same stress, over and over again. Nothing new to add to life, nothing really very exciting.

But it pays well. Really well, lets say. No, lets say REALLY really well.

What would you do?

6 September 2007

Moving too fast for our own good?

Standing at a pivotal location in the Middle East, Bahrain had the potential to be one of the strongest economies in the region. With the discovery of oil early last century, and the boom that followed placing the dependancy of the strongest world economies on oil, Bahrain had the potential to actually become one of the strongest economies in the world.

However, a few mistakes here and there, a few mis-calculations, a few bad judgements, a few people not taking action.. And Bahrain stayed stagnant..

Don't get me wrong, Bahrain's economy is growing, and growing pretty quickly. However, for the potential it had, it is nowhere near what it could have been. Other countries in the region jumped at the opportunity. The United Arab Emirates, and Dubai specifically, decided to take hold. They built the infrastructure, they created a new system, they opened up the market. "Build it and they shall come", it was once said. And yes, they came.

Dubai is now considered a hub in the region; whether it is business, technology, tourism, or any of the other specialities Dubai offers, it has taken control. Starting from almost scratch in the early '90's, in under ten years Dubai has created one of the fastest growing economies over the globe. And in the few years since then it has almost doubled in size. Unbelievably fast construction, unsurpassed growth, mammoth investment; Bahrain was left in the dust by comparison, and the economy of Bahrain, strong as it is, is dwarfed by the colossal Dubai only a few hundered miles away. It should have been Bahrain that had control of the region.

Obviously there is a lot of money in the region; unbelievable oil reserves have brought massive amounts of money into the area, and with the Dubai economy growing, everyone starts looking at it as a role model. Now it is time for Bahrain to pick up and take back what was originally supposed to be its own.

So I look around me here in Bahrain; from what was relatively slow growth in comparison, the past few years have signalled unbelievable construction. But only very recently, the past 3 years especially, the first Formula One circuit in the region was built, building of the Bahrain World Trade Center in Bahrain is on its way, the Bahrain Financial Harbor, and everywhere I drive I see some sort of great construction. Areas that were previously dead for years are blowing up; restaurants, coffee shops, new stores, all the way from Riffa to Juffair. Apartment buildings in Muharraq, new commercial buildings in Manama, land being reclaimed to build more and more and more. New companies, new banks, new financial institutions are popping up all over the country. Real estate is going crazy, prices in some areas are probably around 300% where they were 6 or 7 years ago. Prices are increasing. We are where Dubai probably was 10 years ago; and that is an amazing stage of growth.

Are we moving too fast though? We have always been a very small and close-knit community. Growth is promoting people working longer hours, families aren't as close any more, people get busy making money. And while some grow and start earning unbelievable incomes in their new jobs dealing with investments and real estate, and the general boom in the economy, others stay stagnant, earnning the same wages they have been earning for the past 10 years. And yet prices go up. Investment in the country is reaching new levels; investors buying and selling to other investors for large profits, who in turn sell to other investors for even higher profits.

Can we sustain this environment? Or will someone get hurt eventually? What about the people who cannot keep up with this growth; the lower-income earners? And what will the end to all this growth be? Is it a bubble, growing slowly, and then quicker, soon to reach a point where nothing will be able to help it grow but...


Where will everyone be then? Lets just keep an eye on whats going on. Take a look at what happened in the late 70's and early 80's. Lets just be very careful....

Bahrain World Trade Center in its last stages of completion...
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Bahrain WTC next to Sheraton Tower. A while back this was probably the tallest building in Bahrain
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Bahrain Financial Harbor; stage 1 is pretty much ready
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Construction everywhere (a view of Seef Area)
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Abraj Al Lulu (Lulu Towers)
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Bahrain WTC taking over Bahrain's Skyline
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