PS. I wrote this about a month ago but for some reason I never got around to posting it; that's why the below event looks a bit late
We, the people of Bahrain, wait for our turn.
This week celebrates the vision of Shaikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoom, and how he pioneered the vision to turn Dubai and the Emirates into a global powerhouse. Less than 15 years ago, Dubai and the Emirates was hardly known to the rest of the world; nowadays, they are synonomous with success, luxury and the new age of globalization.
I personally oversaw the growth of Dubai; back in 1996, I visited Dubai, a city with semi-empty shopping malls, huge markets, roads too big for the minimal traffic, and lots and lots of desert. It made you think; why would you build something so large for a non-existent market?
It didn't take long for the answer to surface. By 1998, I was studying in the UAE; the empty malls I had seen were all full of shops and shoppers, the roads were filling up, and the desert making way for huge new developments. By the time I left in 2003, Dubai was so ridiculously busy that serious expansion was needed, and the expansion was underway. We, the people of Bahrain, wait for the same success.
I left the city for 3 years. When I visited again in 2006, the city had doubled in size. The levels of growth have been so extreme, that I failed to recognize most of the city I was once knew like the back of my hand.
Prosperity for it's people, wealth for it's inhabitants, growth for it's citizens. Sure, there were the nuisances; the extra traffic, the rush, the stress, but still, the benefits far exceeded the negatives. Prosperity, wealth, and growth. That is what Dubai has provided to it's people. I feel a tear of happiness for my Emarati neighbors; it's a beautiful thing to feel so content, beautiful to have a leader so great help turn your country into the paradise that it is. And that is what we, the people of Bahrain, were waiting for.
Now I ask this; Bahrain, a country that only twenty years ago, was so far ahead of Dubai (and the rest of the Gulf countries) in terms of development, education, infrastructure, and so on, is where today? Dubai has managed to grow with the help of it's leaders, and with it grew the rest of the Emirates. We still see poverty in the nooks and crannies of Bahrain. Sure, we see development, we see a few new towers and buildings, we see new shopping malls, we see Formula 1 tracks, and so on. But real growth? Somehow, it all feels synthetic. It all feels synthetic because the local people of Bahrain have not felt this growth; the unemployed still exist, and more than the numbers shown through the official media. The low wages still prevail. The people are still not prosperous. Dig a little deeper and you will see discontent, sadness, and anger.
Why? Dare I ask why? Or should I try to answer?
We as the people of Bahrain have been looking and waiting, waiting for opportunity, waiting for hope. But over the years, we see others grow, and we keep waiting. It has still not been given to us; the children of this country are made to find their chance outside this little island, all over the rest of the world. Those of us who stay here suffer injustice, let-downs, and discontent. Yet, we wait for our chance, that one day may come and pull us out of the deep hole we have been pushed into.
We still wait.