31 March 2008

Dare to Break the Rules

Don't let anyone hold you back. Beautiful.

30 March 2008

No Walking Here

Watching the streets of Bahrain fill up with foreigners, here for the Formula 1 race next week, gives the country a whole different feel. Driving around Manama I see random nationalities walking on the sidewalks; Americans, Europeans, Chinese, and so on. They're walking because, unlike us, they actually consider walking a reasonable means of getting around.

If you've lived in Bahrain for anything longer than a few days, however, you would understand that walking is probably the least pleasant method of moving around. First, there are hardly any decent paths for pedestrians to walk on, making the whole experience a 'try not to get hit by car as you walk on side of road' exercise. Second, the places most people want to visit are few and far in between, and coupled with very rough walking makes cars a bit of a necessity.

Still, I do see the tourists walking from place to place, walking on the edges of the roads, on half built pavement, over uneven surfaces, looking a little frustrated. I don't blame them for being frustrated; we really have made the country very inconvenient for walkers. Public transport is really lacking, so everyone has to have a car. Everyone has to have a car, so more roads are built to accomodate cars, and somehow the pedestrians are forgotten. Fine when everyone in the country is used to not walking. Not fine when you have thousands of people visiting and would like to have a decent walk around town.

I personally love walking. Besides the exercise, you get to see and take in your surroundings. You get to mingle with the people around you, see everything one step at a time. I love walking around whenever I visit a new country, to look around and discover, or just to breathe some fresh air. I tried walking in Bahrain too. I tried. Only to walk solely on half broken brick pavements on the side of nowhere, and then almost get hit by a bus.

So remember, dear Bahrain visitors; our country has a lot to offer, lots of things for you to see, and lots of places for you to go; just make sure you drive there!

29 March 2008

Yalla Bahrain Extreme Stunts

F1 fever is in full effect in Bahrain, with less than a week till the actual race! With events going on all over the place, I managed to check out the 'Yalla Bahrain' extreme stunts show thingy going on. It's a two day event (28 & 29 March) with music, food and quite a bit of entertainment, so if you haven't already passed by, check it out. A few shots of the events:

Bicycle and skater stunts:

Live breakdancing, and they'll teach you how to dance, too!

A mini-car and bike show show, new cars and some classics:

Some very tall people:

As well as live painting, jet-ski stunt shows, kid's games etc etc

Good fun. If you want to pass by, it's on the little beach between the two old Muharraq bridges, facing Diplomat Hotel, from 3:00pm-9:00pm! Enjoy!

27 March 2008

you've been selected

Wondering what i've been selected for, I opened up my email. Not another bloody spam/scam message, I hope;




Smiles a little.


Smiles a lot.

Continues reading (ecstatically)

Groovy Baby YEAH!!!!! (Use Austin Powers accent for this one)

Here's the message in question (with some parts cut out to protect the innocent):

Hi Ammar,

Hoping you’re doing great. Just wanted to make sure that you know that your movie has been selected to be one of the featured movies on MBC2 Movies in Motion . We really liked your work, please keep it up.

I’d like to use elements from your clip on our next MBC2 Movies in Motion promo..

And there was a bit more here and there, but let's forget about that for now! My movie is gonna be on TV! Yeah! TeeeeeeVeeeeeee Baybeeee!! If you have no idea what this is all about, then you haven't seen The Package yet (short movie I produced). WATCH IT!

Thanks everyone for the support! Love you all! Mwah mwah! See you at the Oscars! I'd like to thank my actors, my family for the support, my producer (ie, me), MBC for providing this wonderful opportunity, Quentin Tarantino, Samuel L. Jackson etc etc (rambles on to himself for a few more minutes)...

Bahrain Fort

Although it is one of Bahrain's most important historical sites, Bahrain Fort really doesn't get near as much attention as it deserves. Although very near to downtown Manama, the fort feels very isolated from the hustle and bustle of the rest of Bahrain.

The actual fort was built around the early 1500's, but the whole site is an archaeological treasure; recent excavation work has shown it to be composed of layer over layer of settlements, the earliest dating back to somewhere around 2300BC, when the area was the capital of Dilmun (the ancient civilization that existed on the island).

The fort itself was built by the Portuguese as a military base, as they took over Bahrain to help protect their trade routes between India, Africa and Europe.

Although quite eroded, you can still see and get an idea of what the old settlements used to look like. The view from the top of the fort is also a beauty and a bit of a contrast, as one side faces old villages and greenery, while the other looks at the fast rising towers and developments of Manama.

I personally love visiting the area; it gives you a glimpse in what Bahrain was like only a few decades ago. Bahrain was labeled the Island of a Million Palm Trees back then, but nowadays you see most of it displaced to make way for new buildings, towers and so on. Visiting Bahrain Fort takes you right out of the urban development and back to a simpler time, where the surrounding villages are covered in lush greenery and palm trees, while the houses are reminiscent of the older days.

The fort is open to visitors between 8:00am and 8:00pm throughout the week, and entrance is free.

26 March 2008

We love you GDN!

I love the Gulf Daily News (Bahrain's top English newspaper), who always enjoy turning the most simple things into grand scale news reports. I mean, you will not find more amusing source of non-newsworthy articles anywhere else in the world; lets take a look at one from today:

Youngsters go bananas in store...
Wednesday, 26 March 2008

TWO Bahraini youths, who were caught stealing bananas from a shop in Muharraq were released from custody without any charges and allowed to keep the fruits by the owner.
Yep. That's a totally news-worthy article right there.

"The defendants were lurking around in the store before they were spotted trying to steal the bananas by an employee," a Public Prosecution spokesman said yesterday.
Gotta love the vocabulary. Makes the event sound oh so exciting.

"They were immediately reported to police by the Bahraini shop owner after she was informed about the incident. When they were taken to the police station they denied the charges."
Oh no, they denied stealing the bananas; this is getting more intriguing! So what really happened?

"However, during interrogation, both confessed that they did not mean to steal anything but were craving for the bananas and did not have money to buy them." The shop owner decided to drop the charges against them and let them go with the bananas.
Awwww, that's so sweet. They were just craving the bananas, so he let them go. Beautiful ending to a beautiful story.

Gotta love Bahrain. We may not have any live comedy clubs, but we got all the funny we need right here, in the papers of the GDN.

Traditional Houses of Muharraq - 1

The impression most visitors get of Bahrain, is that of a rapidly growing economy with modern villas, buildings and skyscrapers, with little to show in terms of traditional sites. However, if you take the time to venture deep into the heart of Muharraq, you will find a wealth of tradition showing you what life was like in Bahrain years before the oil wealth started pouring in.

The Shaikh Isa Bin Ali House was built around the year 1800, was the residence of the ruler of Bahrain from 1869-1932, and also used as the center of government. The architecture is very distinct, with it's wall carvings and stained glass windows.

One of the most prominent features of the house is the wind tower, or Badqeer, which was the traditional method of air-conditioning. This is a small tower built with openings on four sides, which lets the cool air funnel into the room below. Visitors can feel the cool breeze as they walk into the room.

The house is open for visitors Sunday - Wednesday from 8:00am - 2:00pm, and from 8:00am - 6:00pm on Sunday and Thursday. On Fridays, the house is open from 3:00pm - 6:00pm only. The entrance fee is a whopping 200 fils (approx $0.50), so make sure you have some change handy :)

24 March 2008

My Issues with this "Fighting Inflation" Thing

Inflation has hit Bahrain hard; the price of basic goods has increased dramatically, and the people on the lower end of the earning scale (ie, most Bahraini's) are feeling the pressure. Give it up to our government to get up and do something about it; BD40 million has been assigned to help combat the inflation issue (approx USD105m), and the decision to decide what to do with it has been given to our parliament.


1- The 40 million hasn't been used to help subsidize some of the basic goods that are being sold, nor work it out with the companies that provide these products. Nope, it has been given out to people in cash. You're not curing inflation here, you're watering it and helping it to grow.

2- Each family is to get BD50, every month for a year, to help them fight inflation. Any family earning a total of less than 1,500 is eligible. That means that if you're earning BD250 and have 4 kids (and feeling the pinch of inflation a little too much), you're getting the same as the childless couple earning BD1,500 (who are relatively shielded from it).

3- Ok, so let's say we agree with their decision that giving the money out is the right thing (besides the fact that 50 dinars doesn't really do much anyway). Why is it taking so long to give out? 40 million dinars might seem like a big amount to you and me, but in terms of our government, it's actually peanuts. I'm actually ashamed that this is all they've decided to throw at this issue for a whole year, just to shut the people up because they're "doing something about it". Still, why does it take so frickin long? Is it the MP's? Is it the government? Whose causing this delay?

4- I know a number of (very) eligible people who have not been assigned this aid. How is this decided? Who makes the decision? Is there anywhere people can go to apply for it? As far as I know, you're supposed to go to the E.gov website, but many people who went to check have gotten an 'uneligible' message, even though they fulfil all the required criteria.

5- The scariest thing about this issue, is that 33,000 families have been chosen to recieve this aid. That's 33,000 families, getting 50 dinars, for a total of 12 months. Now, pull out your calculators for a second;

33,000 x 50 x 12 = Almost 20 million dinars.

Budget assigned, 40 million.

Where's the rest of this money going?

23 March 2008

Life Changing Decisions

Two roads to choose from.

The first takes you down a safe path, where everything is familiar, but routine, boring. It doesn't fulfil any of your dreams, or anything you really want to achieve in life, but it's safe. It's secure. Your existence will stay bland, colorless, but you're safe in the knowledge that you've done something to ensure your future is set.

The second path is a little more complicated. You don't know where it's going to take you, you don't know where it ends. There is a possibility that you will fall flat on your face, that you will get yourself into a bad situation. But there's also the chance that you make it, and make it big, live your dreams and be happy while you're at it. That you find joy, that you find true happiness. But remember, there's a risk. And yes, it's a big risk.

Which would you choose?

22 March 2008

Stupidity Tax

Orange Juice sold in Argentina. If you're a stupid tourist, you're taxed an extra dollar:

19 March 2008

New Money

Bahrain's new currency is now officially all over the place; If you haven't already seen it, go to your nearest ATM and withdraw something, you'll get some.

Besides all the new security features, designs, etc, there are a few things that get me puzzled over this:

- Is it just me or the do the old notes look a lot nicer? Especially the Arabic side; blugh. The colors are also pretty confusing - they're not very defined. Ie, the previous notes were BROWN, BLUE, RED etc.. These new ones are like reddish brown, brownish red, bluish green, greenish blue, etc..

- They put the Bahrain International Circuit on the currency. Goddamit guys, get over it! You're not the only country in the world with a circuit! It's not that big of an achievment (especially considering Dubai already has an Autodrome, Abu Dhabi is getting a circuit next year, etc etc)

- Why were they released now? Two weeks before Formula 1, when floods of people are going to be coming into Bahrain? Is it just to confuse the tourists? I mean, it's bad enough for tourists to meddle with a new currency, but now you have two different versions of our currency, besides the numerous Saudi currency floating around, as well as the Dollar and Euro notes all over the place.

Link to CBB website; New Currency

Macbook Air makes Life Difficult - 2

Yup, another reason the Macbook Air will make your life difficult; Charlie Rose, the American TV show host, loves his gadgets. His most recent? Obviously the Macbook Air. Last night, viewers of his daily show were surprised to see him go on the air with a huge black eye. So what gives?

Turns out Charlie was walking down the street with his sleek new Air, and somehow tripped on a pothole. Now the natural human instinct when falling would be to shield the most important part of your body, your face (well, for some guys that might be the second most important part, but anyway). However, Charlie decides that, nope, his Macbook Air is so nice, pretty and expensive, and with the thickness of a pencil it could easily break in two.

Yup, Charlie decides to save the Macbook Air.


Flat on his face, and one black eye for all his viewers to see. The producer of the show confirmed that the laptop was still in one piece: “The Macbook Air is fine, he showed us the blood stains on it this morning”.

(Link to original article)

So far, we know that Macbook Air's can make you miss your flight, AND give you a black eye. What next?

MacBook Air makes life Difficult - 1

17 March 2008

Bahrain's Real Estate Disaster

Almost a year after one of Bahrain's biggest symbols of being a financial powerhouse is open, it seems that not even half of it has been taken up yet.

Half of BFH towers yet to be let out

HALF of Bahrain Financial Harbour (BFH) is still unlet, it was revealed yesterday.

It could be a year until the current towers are fully let, according to the Bahrain Financial Harbour Holding Company and Financial Centre Development Company managing director Dr Omer El Mardi.

Isn't this a little worrying? You would expect that a development on the scale of the BFH would be gobbled up by willing suitors, and would have people fighting over office space, considering it is the 'most-prestigious' address in the country. But no, it turns out people aren't as willing as thought to be, which begs for a question; what about the other gazillion developments going on in the country?

Besides the BFH, office towers are springing up left, right and center; are these ever going to fill up? Or at least have enough tenants to justify their being? This and the World Trade Center isn't ready yet, and Bahrain Bay is still in it's mid-stages of development, as well as the coming stages of the BFH. Sure, it's all going to look nice and pretty when it's ready, but we sure seem to be on the brink of a bit of a disaster here.

And not only that; the residential developments going on all over the place are getting to the point where it's just, silly. Amwaj, Abraj Al Lulu, Marina West, and so on. Will these ever be occupied? Right now they're being bought and sold from (mostly non-Bahraini) investor to investor, rising in price as each investor makes a few dollars and passes it on. But whose the final buyer, who actually wants to live in these developments? Is there a final buyer? Are the people who would like to have some sort of residence (your local Bahraini's) actually able to afford these ridiculous prices? Already now the prospect of a house is out of reach of your average Bahraini, and if they don't have one already, they're pretty much screwed.

Looking a few years down, things don't look so bright. Way to go Bahrain.

More on similar issues:

Now BNP Paribas Moves in

Moving Too Fast

Steady Growth

15 March 2008

The Mist / 10,000BC / Vantage Point

Managed to catch up with a bunch of hyped up movies this weekend;

An adaptation from the Stephen King novel, the story is actually pretty chilling. One day after a rough storm, a mist appears from the mountains to overtake the town where the movie is set, and something in it seems to be killing people. Most of the movie happens over a period of a few days, all inside a supermarket, where a number of the locals get trapped as the mist falls. Should they stay inside and wait it out? Should they go out and risk it?

I wont spoil the plot, but overall the movie goes through some pretty strong topics; how crowds react in dire situations, mob rule, psychology of fear, and so on. Also, the ending is surreal, a breath of fresh air compared to your regular happy Hollywood ending.

So why does it get a low score? Well, the acting is medicore (I felt it was a waste of money 5 minutes into the movie), the directing is uninspiring, and the story moves really slowly at times. Overall, an excellent story and plot that you don't want to miss, produced really badly. My recommendation? Buy the book.

5 out of 10

This comes from the same director of Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow, so expect amazing sets, special effects, and massive crowds of people involved in high powered action scenes. Besides that, the movie doesn't really hold up to much, with your 'repeated-a-million-times-before' story of a nobody who rose up to become a hero, and saved the girl.

The story doesn't feel fully thought out, and the hero doesn't even feel like a real hero (he actually became a hero by accident, not through his own courage and strength). The creature special effects were also pretty cool, but besides the mammoths, there wasn't much else. The Sabretooth Tiger, pretty much the coolest creature in the movie, only got featured for a total of less than one minute. Shame. Anyway, if you're looking for lots of fancy special effects and graphics, the movie won't disappoint, but don't expect much more.

7 out of 10

The first thing I noticed about this movie was the poster; besides the all-star cast (Dennis Quaid, Matthew Fox, Sigourney Weaver), this looked like a movie with some sort of twist, and I was definately not disappointed. The story starts off with the President of the US on his way to a summit in Spain, and gets shot as he is about to make his speech. From there the story takes many twists and turns, playing with your thoughts as you suspect one thing, which turns out to be another, which then turns out to be another, until the grand finale at the end where all the pieces come together.

The movie isn't filmed in your regular way, though. I won't spoil it for you, but be prepared for a masterpiece of directing; everything seems to be produced perfectly, the acting is immaculate, the storyline is flawless, and the movie keeps you on your toes till the end.

The ending was a little bit too much of a coincidence for my liking, but that still didn't bring down this great movie (currently number 1 in the US box office). Definately watch this, especially if you like a good action thriller.

8.5 out of 10

In reply to the Spitzer Issue

(Reply to comments in the previous post)

A lot of you seem to be throwing the hypocrisy word around, but then again, I have to turn around and say, "so what"? Who cares if he's a hypocrite? Sure, we don't like hypocrites, but if being a hypocrite doesnt stop him from doing his job, then by all means, go ahead.

Sure, he was fighting corruption and prostitution, even though he slept around with a few hookers. But still, he FOUGHT prostitution, fought corruption, and he did it well; hypocrisy never affected his job, its a personal mentality issue that he has. Sleep around, Spitzer! Just make sure you clean up those hookers by the time you're done with office.

The truth is, we all look towards public figures as being moral, just, and so on. Honestly, I don't give a damn as long as they can do their job right. I don't care if we hire a leader to fight drugs, and he does it and does it right, clearing the city of drugs. If he enjoys the occasional puff of marijuana every now and then, then by all means go ahead, doesn't bother me.

QUESTION: Would you rather have a leader that initiates change, does good, brings improvements, but has a few shady issues in the background? Or would you rather have a totally moral and just leader who does nothing wrong, but doesn't perform well at his job?

And how do you think this issue related to our MP's? Most of them have been voted for because anything BUT what they can do at their post...

14 March 2008

How to Choose our MP's

Forced to resign. Not because he did his job badly, not because he didn't achieve the tasks he was meant to achieve. No; he was forced to resign because of something he did in his own private life, not affecting the outstanding job he was doing in any way.

The Governor of New York, Eliot Spitzer, was a great leader. He took his post strongly and vowed to crack down on corruption, shady practices, and he made a change. He was named by Time Magazine as 'Crusader of the Year', while others called him 'The Sheriff of Wall Street'. Many saw him as a potential candidate for president; yes, the future for Spitzer was very promising.

So what brought the man to resign? Very simply, his involvement with prostitution; in his free time, he spent money on a high-end prostitute service. Not that it affected his job, his efforts, or even his output, at which he was doing amazingly well. But because he was doing something considered immoral in his own private life, the people struck down, and demanded he resign, or otherwise face impeachment.

And so the past few days have seen a huge fuss being thrown about over this 'scandal', to which Spitzer finally announced his resignation. And therefore, New York has just lost a valuable leader, one capable of stimulating progress and brining about beneficial change. And why? For something he did in his own private life? Something he did not let affect his position as Governor? Something that could in no way affect any of the people of New York?

What he does in his own spare time is nobody's business. He wants to sleep with prostitutes? Fine, as long as it doesn't affect his job. He wants to smoke up, drink? As long as he does a great job, so what? He doesn't poke his nose into your private business, why do you poke your nose into his? Remember Bill Clinton? The American President who moved the US into a stage of prosperity and wealth? Who made life good for the people? Who brought strength to it's economy? He was thrown out for having an affair. An affair. Something many people denounce but end up doing behind closed doors. How did the affair affect his job as president? Not in the least. But the American people decided that he should go, and so he did. And the sad thing is, he will always be remembered for his affair, and not for his great achievements.

Leaders shouldn't be chosen through what they do in their personal lives, but for what they can do in their position. You don't hire an Engineer because he doesn't sleep around, but you hire him because he can do his job well. You don't hire a Doctor because he doesn't drink, but you hire him because he can heal his patients. You don't vote for an MP because he makes a great religious speech, has a beard that goes down to his waist, or a thob that goes above his knees. You don't vote for an MP because he belongs to a specific relgious sect, or because he's your friend or your neighbor. You vote for an MP based on his educational and working credentials. Based on his knowledge of how to enact change, based on his experience. You vote for an MP based on his awareness of how political processes work, and perhaps on his familiarness with other fields that would make his position more useful.

Let's vote for politicians, bankers, and doctors. Let's vote for engineers, economists, and scientists. Let's vote for people who have enough knowledge to make a difference in our parliament halls, to make a difference in our country.

Until then, enjoy the ongoing parliament arguments every week, and the fights that start up 10 minutes into every session. We're not very far away from this:

13 March 2008

How Super Mario's World looks to Mario

Remember the Super Mario game? Ever wondered how Mario actually sees everything? Well, probably not, but someone obviously thought about it, and created this image... Very clever :) Click for full size:

Sort of depressing actually. Also pretty worrying running around and seeing your score and life posted up there in huge letters. Imagine having that in your own life, hehe..

12 March 2008

The solution to, erm, releasing gas.

I really thought this was a joke when I first saw it, but no, this is a very real product.

Ever got into a small, closed room with someone whose just had lots of beans? Or eggs? Or anything that causes their body to release deadly poison gases into the surrounding atmosphere, choking you to death??

Well, fear not, environment lovers, for Garment Guard has actually come up with the perfect solution; Subtle Butt. It's a very simple product; a peel-off adhesive that can be attached to your underwear, composed of soft fabric with antimicrobial treatment.

It basically sucks up the smell as you, ahem, relieve yourself, and ensures that the only thing released into the atmosphere is clean, non-smelly air. Also watch the video on their site for a more detailed explaination:

Subtle Butt

Makes the perfect present. The products people come up with, eh? Now all we need is a solution for the sound.

11 March 2008

MacBook Air makes life Difficult

If you don't already know, security in American airports is a bit of a hassle. Besides the regular metal scanners and baggage through x-ray machines, they make you remove your shoes and scan them (very smelly), not carry any liquids (besides a teeny weeny amount which has to be in some sort of transparent container), and take out your laptops to be checked and scanned too. Yep, travel in the States isn't really that much fun anymore.

To add insult to injury, placing stupid airport staff to check your stuff is not the greatest idea. A man who bought a spankin' new MacBook Air and decided to travel, missed his flight because the airport employee wouldn't believe that the Air was, infact, a real laptop. Obviously, sneaking in a metal slab of aluminium with no hard drive, and no ports does seem sort of suspicious. And he was kept there and investigated while his flight took off. Lovely. Original Story

So there you go, ladies and gentlemen. The ultimate proof that Apple products do, infact, make your life more difficult. And don't even get me started on iTunes.

10 March 2008

The Sky's the Limit

He put the convertible top down on his car as he cruised the highway, on this cool breezy evening.. It had been a good day. He went out, saw some friends, connected with old buddies, did things he forgot could bring him joy.

Nothing mattered right now, besides this feeling. It was all perfect; the top down as he sped down the road, not a care in the world, as the radio played nice, relaxing songs... He forgot all his worries, his stress, his problems, and just cruised until the sun came up...