Monday, 3 April 2017

B is for... But of course! Beiti Beitak!



is for

Beiti beitak!  

"My home is yours" the Arabs say to their guests. We use the exact same expression in India too, incidentally. The same way an English speaker might say 'make yourself at home.' 




Boshret Khair, a lively feel-good number by Emirati musician Hussain Jassmi -





Bahrain


Bahrain - the name means ‘two seas’ – comes from the presence of sweet water springs and the saltwater sea. It’s a tiny nation, with a population of roughly 1.4 million people, of which nearly 50% are foreigners. Made up of islands (think great seafood! and super-gorgeous aquamarine seas!) hot desert summers, and mild winters. 


Bahrain is where I live now, back after almost a break of ten years in the UAE and Egypt. Bahrain was my first encounter with Arablands, and well, you know what they say about first impressions! It's a remarkable country which debunks the vague (and wrong!) stereotypes  about Arabs. 


There is no legal requirement for veils for women, they are allowed to drive around freely, most Bahraini women do so in fact, and roughly 40% work outside the home. Alcohol is available for non-Muslims, you don’t need a permit to drink it, though it’d be wise not to swig it huge quantities in public places. Pork is sold through special sections in supermarkets.



Religious freedom is a word, rather a phrase! There are churches, of various denominations, I’m a bit foggy on the details, but certainly RC and Anglican. Places of worship for the Hindu and Sikh communities exist, no Bar on idol worship, which the Hindus do once a year publicly with great gusto for their annual festivals. 


However, no form of proselytising is permitted. I’m cool with that, because I’m not all that keen on proselytising anyways, you know?   Live and let live is my thing, and Bahrain and me are on the same wavelength on this completely.  


There are restaurants serving cuisines from all over the world, good hospitals, good schools, the Formula One, marine sports, golf courses, great telephony, and pretty passable shopping. 


And it’s heavy on history – Bahrain has a history going back 5000 years, it’s been ruled/influenced by Babylonians and Assyrians, ancient Persia and Greece, and has traded with Mesopotamia, Indus Valley and ancient Egypt. What’s not to like?!


View of modern Bahrain from the Karbabad Fort. 





Seef District skyline. 




Hawar Island, a short boat ride away from Manama, the capital.


Bahrain used to be a major pearling centre till the 1920’s.  Downstream petro-products, aluminium processing, light metal and chemical industries, and services are what constitute the economy today.


Causeway connecting Manama and Muharraq islands. 

And it's easy to indulge your wanderlust here - three continents pretty accessible…hop over to Cyprus or East Africa or Europe...

Muharraq. And the Manama skyline.  


Bab-al-Bahrain. The Gateway to Bahrain. This was the 
point where trading vessels docked in the past.  




So, that's Bahrain. Is island living your idea of paradise, or would you get Bored, suffer serious attacks of cabin fever?


And B is for Baghdad of course, much more famous than Bahrain, but less said about it right now the Better. Just awful how the heritage of the very first human civilisations has been laid to waste there. The loss of lives Beyond words.








Posted for the A-Z Challenge 2017 





76 comments:

  1. Brilliant.
    And I am with you on the protelysing front too. And Ballistic with rage at so much happening in the world. Ugliness Based on ignroance too often.

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    1. Yeah, ignorance and a lack of empathy and callousness. And some kind of arrogant myopia that 'my way' is best!

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  2. It is still April 2nd in the Southeast United States.

    I share your grief about losses in Baghdad. So much wonder, so easily destroyed.

    Bahrain sounds wonderful. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. That's the wonder of a global blogfest, all of us scattered over different timezones getting together - the A-Z never sleeps :) thanks for being here

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  3. I have known almost nothing about Bahrain; less than any other Middle Eastern or European country! Thank you for this useful and lovely introduction! And yes; Baghdad is a tragedy beyond any measure of acceptability. I am from North America yet if it were up to me the monsters who orchestrated the sacking of Iraq (in order to line their pockets with money) would pay for their crimes for the rest of their lives; preferably very short ones.

    http://fantasywriterguy.blogspot.ca/2017/04/anonymity.html

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    1. What is lost is lost - even if the perpetrators were brought to justice, but how and who administers the due process? even if that happened, some things are never going to be recovered/restored. Maybe nothing.
      Most of my family had no idea where Bahrain was when I first came here 20 years ago - they had to look it up in the atlas. It's a small country, easily overshadowed by both its huge neighbours SA and Iran, and clubbed together with them. But it's vastly different, from what I hear and read (never really travelled in SA, and travelled in Iran many years ago).

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  4. Thank you so much for sharing this part of the world (both good and bad). May the rest of the world share in your beauty.

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    1. Beauty is always in the eye of the beholder!

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  5. Whoa you Busted a lot of myths about Bahrain for me as I had it pegged down as another religious zealot nation where women are not considered anything at all.
    I had no idea it was such a cool country- thank you for such an informative post on an hitherto unknown land for me! Cheers

    B is for BodyArt #atozchallenge

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    1. Nope, it's not at all like that. It's been dealing with foreigners since antiquity, and therefore quite accustomed to diversity. Much cooler than its neighbours.

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  6. Wow..debunking the myths...m father worked in Oman and he also holds a very good opinion about the place.
    https://nehakalra42.blogspot.in

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    1. O is for Oman :) and it's a super gorgeous country and people. Anyone coming here finds out the truth for himself/herself pretty fast but somehow outside of the region it's a different story...

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  7. Beiti beitak made me think of the words mi casa es su casa which is informal Spanish for "My house is your house".
    I've heard lots about the beauty of Bahrain.
    Great seafood and super-gorgeous aquamarine seas? Who can refuse?
    No legal requirement for veils for women...sounds relaxed!
    Just a stones throw from Cyprus, East Africa and Europe...makes it the perfect travel base from which to explore the world.
    Definitely lots to like about the place!

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    1. You know Michelle, I wouldn't be surprised if that phrase is a direct borrowing - Arabic to Spanish or vice versa. Spain has been majorly influenced by Moorish rule, and Spanish has a whole heap of loanwords from Arabic, huge intercultural exchanges, what's stopping a phrase hopping over too? :)

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  8. I am learning so much with your theme! So glad that you are debunking many of those myths and untruths. I honestly don't know anything about the area, so this is a real education for me.

    ~Mary
    Jingle Jangle Jungle #AtoZChallenge 1970's Billboard Hits

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    1. Bahrain is tiny, and doesn't make many headlines - relatively unknown outside the region. SA gets all the coverage and therefore forms the perceptions..

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  9. Beautiful photos! I love living on islands, was lucky enough to spend time in Ireland and on the Canary Islands.

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    1. Forget to say: On my Journey To Courageous Living today is about my fear of Being Seen. Come, check out! 😉

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    2. Ireland must be ten times the size of Bahrain :) no scene of claustrophobia there, Canary Islands- the individual islands might be comparable in terms of size..the total would be several times larger. Glad you liked the photos, thanks.

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  10. Beautiful theme, Nilanjana. And so very informative. Looking forward to the learning experience from your posts in April.
    Best wishes
    Moonmoon
    https://aslifehappens60.wordpress.com

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  11. Hi Nila - what an amazing post ... I never knew Bahrain was an island or for that matter all the information you've given us. Love the music too .. fascinating - I'd be happy living there for a while - I'd probably crave some cool English weather after a while! Would love the seafood ... Culture perhaps I'd need to get an English fix quite often - I certainly experienced that need when living in South Africa ... Fascinating - loved this .. thanks and cheers Hilary

    http://positiveletters.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/b-is-for-british-breeds-introduction.html

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    1. The song's filmed in Egypt of course, can't find anything that's filmed in Bahrain - it's too tiny :)

      Can't get you any English weather, but the rest you'll find - there's the British Club, and TESCO's stuff sold in the local supermarket, and Marks & Sparks, and most of the other UK brands..English is spoken quite widely too, all business done in English, though official language is Arabic of course.

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  12. Oh dear - as if my 'must visit' list wasn't long enough already, you've now added Bahrain!

    Click HERE to read my 200-word tale

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    1. Bahrain is a 50 mins flight from Dubai...just saying :)

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  13. Never knew Bahrain can be such a modern and progressive enclave in the conservative Arab World! Perhaps one is fed with wrong info by the media. Thanks for a wonderful post!

    http://imagery77.blogspot.my/2017/04/boosting-vegan-factor.html

    Hank

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    1. Not much media space given to Bahrain, tiny nation, tiny economy, much more publicity for Saudi where the megabucks are...and unfortunately that colours perceptions for the whole region...

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  14. Hi I have been to Bahrain once and loved it for its development and infrastructure. It was back in 2008. Your blog reminded me of that family trip.
    My everyday banters in my tin(y)sel town

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    1. Glad you had a good time here :) Bahrain's changed a bit more since 2008 possibly, larger malls, taller buildings and more flyovers in the making.

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  15. What you wrote about Bahrain's habits isn't so different to Morocco. Even the last picture reminds me of here!
    However, I think they must be quite different countries in other aspects.

    -----
    Eva - Mail Adventures
    #AtoZ Challenge Theme: Postcards
    Letter B: Bank. Have you ever received a postcard featuring... a branch of a bank?

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    1. I think Morocco is more diverse, it's got strong elements of Berber culture for one. Languages are more diverse, French more widely spoken than English (Bahrain leans heavily towards English), also Spanish I think from the historical contact and the presence of the enclaves. Plus Amazigh spoken as an official language. It's a way bigger country - varied topography, and possibly much older in terms of archaeological sites, though Bahrain might have really ancient Palaeolithic sites too, just that they haven't been discovered yet. Unlikely though, considering how small it is - more likely in the Peninsula.

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    2. You're right, of course: Morocco is a "big" country in some aspects. Regarding to languages, while Spanish is still widely spoken in the North, or at least understood, French isn't longer an important language. Well, it is still, but young people prefer English, and probably English will substitute French at schools soon (it is already very present at Universities).

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    3. I had no idea that French was waning in Morocco, my impression about the whole of NAf (except Egypt) is that it's French speaking - thanks for correcting that impression.

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  16. Such beautiful pictures Nilanjana!

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  17. I love the pictures and thank you for sharing such a nice piece of info :)
    http://slimexpectations.com/2017/04/1329/

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  18. Lovely write up. Your post has made me want to visit bahrain in the near future.

    Ridhii
    https://randommusing2017.wordpress.com/2017/04/03/boon-from-god-atozchallenge/

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    1. I strongly believe in a long travel wishlist always :)

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  19. I admit I didn't know much about your current home. It sounds lovely.

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    1. I didn't either before I landed up, and it turned out way better than expected. Most things do, I find :)

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  20. A wonderfully expressed "B" post, interesting to read and those awesome pictures. Well done.

    Yvonne.

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  21. I really enjoyed this post, and have learned a lot. Do you mind if I pin it for future reference when we study Bahrain in our homeschool country/cultural studies?

    Looking forward to visiting your blog again.

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    1. Not at all, please feel free. Thanks for stopping by.

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  22. I'm going to show up here every day to listen to the awesome music!

    26 Things To Hate About Writing: B is for Books

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    1. Arabic pop does have a kind of earwormish quality :)

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  23. Another fascinating post. While family members of mine have visited Bahrain I haven't yet. But I'm sure I'd love it.

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    1. Bahrain is a nice place to live and a great place a raise a family, would make for a great visit too.

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  24. Since you're not doing poetry this time around, I thought I would comment on your prose in verse:

    Nila, you're Back with A to Z!
    You're clearly a Better man than me!!!

    (I'm not doing the Challenge this year. I feel like I'm barely keeping my head above water as it is. But hurray for you!!!)

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    1. Blown away by the couplet! :) Sorry to hear you're feeling so overwhelmed though. Be well and feel in control soonest.

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  25. Interesting reading, Nilanjana. I didn't know much (if anything) about Bahrain, so thank you. I agree it's a shame that parts of the middle east and its ancient structures, artifacts, etc. are being destroyed, and even worse, that people are being killed or displaced from their homes and homelands.

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    1. Bahrain and Oman are the most liberal countries in the Gulf region. What is happening in the wider Arab world is just horrifying beyond words.

      Thanks for being here.

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  26. Better and better. Good B words and Bahrain sounds intriguing. I had read a bit on it in travel mags and it's quite cosmopoltan.

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    1. It totally is that! Cosmopolitan is such a great word, bummer that it doesn't begin with a B :)

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  27. I'm glad you set the record straight about Arab lifestyles! There's so much ignorance and bullshit out there (especially in the U.S. and it seems to be getting much worse now, for obvious reasons). Bahrain sounds like a fabulous place. Thanks for the education.
    Debbie @ THE DOGLADY'S DEN
    Latest Post: BORN TO BE WILD: From Teenybopper to Rockchick

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    1. Bahrain is different from the media image portrayed of Arabs in general and the Gulf in particular. It's a great place and the people are warm and friendly. Every place has its issues of course, not saying there are no negatives. But overall it's not half as bad as most people seem to think...

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  28. island living does sound nice :)


    Joy @ The Joyous Living

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  29. And 'Mi casa es su casa'. I wonder if that phrase is like every culture has a Cinderella story. Good addition to this list.

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  30. Fantastic article. I like learning about these places, because I don't really know a lot about it. I love learning it from someone living there. Thanks so much for sharing.

    @JazzFeathers
    The Old Shelter - 1940s Film Noir

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    1. Armchair travel is one of my favourite things too...

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  31. Bahrain sounds like a must see place for our travels. Thanks for sharing!
    A Piece of Uganda

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    1. Definitely worth a stopover if you're in the ME...

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  32. Looks like a real mix of old and new. Sounds like it would be great to explore the culture.

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    1. Always great fun to explore a new culture, especially where the people are friendly.

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  33. Wow, Bahrain really sounds fabulous!

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    1. It has its downsides :) but overall not a bad island at all :-)

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  34. Island living? Well, maybe I would be bored - for about five minutes. There would be so much to learn and to explore. Thank you for you visits to my A to Z blog and for including me on your blogroll.

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    1. Exploring any new place is so much fun...I am enjoying the series you're doing too.

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  35. Greetings from Dubai, neighbor!

    I've heard a lot about how lovely Bahrain is, but I've never really had a chance to experience it for myself. From your description, it doesn't sound too different from life over here, so it should be pretty easy to get used to.

    As for island living, I would absolutely love that. An island with so much culture, so many sights to see, new developments happening every day.

    And wi-fi, of course. :D

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    1. Hi, difficult to track down neighbour! :) Thanks for the link, couldn't get to your blog from your profile... WiFi is the most important, island or mainland or hilltop. Can't survive without :)

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  36. So lovely! And yes, live and let live! PLEASE!
    Great information, I'm enjoying the journey with you! Yes, it's only day three and already I'm behind. Oh, well! The best laid plans!
    I don't understand the need to destroy history either? So sad!

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    1. That is why I never make plans - they have a habit of going spectacularly awry in my case :) Live and let live - if only...sigh...

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