Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Bahrain and the Concorde

A Majestic Metal Bird in the sky. The Concorde.
Ah yes, the majestic and iconic Concorde, probably one of the greatest breakthroughs in the History of the Airplane industry. This fantastic plane could break the sound barrier and travel at supersonic speeds!

In fact, it has a special place with Bahrain, it was (either) the first destination of the Concorde jet from London in 21 January 1976. The flight took a mere 3 and a half hours compared to the usual 6 hour flight (If I'm not mistaken). Or it was one of the first destinations.

Regardless, it was an iconic moment for both the Concorde and Bahrain, it was the Concorde maiden Commerical flight as part of the British Airways fleet and it also brought a lot of publicity to the otherwise unknown island of Bahrain.

In fact, newspaper archives reveal the atmosphere of the event (thanks to Google Archives!) :
And of course, an actual photo!

True as it is. The Concorde's legacy was now a part of Bahrain's History.

Some photos on Flikr too (they're not mine!) -

Concorde Taking off from Bahrain airport in 1979

Concorde at Bahrain Airport in late 1979

Sunday, 26 June 2011

A Notice

I've recently setup a new blog called A Teen and His Blog , where I hope to post about some casual stuff or so. It does not mean that I'll leave or forget about this blog, I'll try to post whenever Something historical and such comes to mind.

But I would have to say that you should expect some time for the updates, from a minimum of 2 days or so. I'll try to update as much as I can.

And feel free to check out my new blog too! :)

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Summer in Bahrain- Flowers in a Concrete Jungle

Previously, I've stated about how Summer was the ideal time for plants to grow. With its sunshine at its highest, we can expect many plants to grow and bloom their flowers off this summer.

It is quite a relief. For the regular Bahraini, a sight of green and pink are always welcome in contrast to the sands of Bahrain.Amidst the concrete jungle of Manama lies a blooming flower :)

Well, many blooming flowers actually.
I thought it was good practice to snap some shots of the plants that decided to lay their foundations in my garden .

And, even you have to admit it, these are some pretty flowers. But, any comments on my photography ?

Good ? Bad ? Give me cookies ? :P

Now, it would be a challenge for me to find out the names of these flowers, since I'm no botanist.

But I have to say, this is a refreshing change from the dust hazes!
 So people, what do you think of my shots ? I'm an amateur at this, I know, but practice makes perfect, right ?
No ? O,o

Ah well, a little green and pink always brighten up the Bahraini landscape.
So do Camels too! :)

And I'm off.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

A Study on Bahraini Food & Cuisine


As Bahrain is located in the Middle East, it obviously possesses a Middle Eastern type cuisine, the usual rice and kebabs, lamb or chicken. Fish and olives, herbs of all types (well, not all but you get the picture) such as Parsley and Rosemary and of course, Spices!
Hummus (made from Chick Peas)

Now, it should be said that Bahrain has practically the same dishes made up in other Arabian and Middle Eastern countries, like Hummus and Tabouleh (which are from the Levant region) the Felafels are also very popular here.

Bahrain's Food and Products:

The Shawarma - The Middle Eastern answer to Hamburgers!
But, that doesn't mean Bahrain doesn't have any of its own unique dishes.Bahrain, being the small island that it is, produces a stable amount of fruits and vegetables, especially Dates. Indeed, Dates are the  pride of Bahrain and because of so many Date Palm trees located here, Bahrain was nicknamed the "Land of a Million Date Palms" (sounds better in Arabic!).

Its fair to say that Bahrain has its own livestock industry but not a very big one (like Australia!). But farmers here rear cows and goats for their meat and milk, as well as Chickens (for the meat!). Bahrain imports a majority of their livestock from Australia and such countries (I believe they are alive when brought here). But Bahrain provides itself with a lot of fish and shrimps, the most notable one is the Hamour.

A typical snack in Bahrain almost always features bread or rice. (Its a fact!)

Popular Dishes:

Now, the staple crop of Bahrain is , without a doubt, rice. Its available in almost every dish, rice with fish, rice with chicken, you name it! Rice is always there!

This is regionally called the Kabsa, but known in Bahrain as Machboos
A popular dish where it is used is called Machboos (مجبوس) which is basically rice mixed with either fish or chicken, its appearance is a brownish colour (depending on spices used).
Rice is also used to make sugary treats for festivities such as Eid al Fitr , these are called muhammar(محمر) which is Rice mixed with sugar or dates.

Of course, the hamburger equivalent in Bahrain is the mighty Shawarma. This is made up of chicken or beef along with other sauces and vegetables , jumbled up together with Pita bread to make a delicious (and quick) snack.

A delicacy is Qoozi (قوزي) (Ghoozi), which is grilled lamb stuffed with rice, boiled eggs, onions and spices.

Back to the Fish:

Bahrain sure loves it fish, in fact as mentioned earlier, the most popular fish is the large Hamour fish which I believe comes from the Grouper family.
Bahrain's Favourite Fish- The Hamour (Grouper)

Many other fish are popular here such as the Safi (صافي) which belongs to the Rabbitfish (or Spinefoot) family.

Another delicious one, (and a small one mind you), is the Chan'ad (thats the Mackerel fish).

Sweets and Drinks:

As I've previously said, Bahrain takes a lot of the same cuisine as the rest of the Middle East, so it is no surprise that you get Turkish delights here!

What could be better ? Dates and coffee! (Image not mine)
But a claimed Bahrain-made dessert is the "Halwa Showaiter" or the "Halwa Bahraini". which is a Halva (see link here for description) made from Corn starch, saffron, various types of nuts and other sweeteners like honey.

The only drinks, as far as I'm aware of, that are popular in Bahrain (besides the Pepsi and Cola!) are the Gahwa (قهوة) which is basically Coffee and is typically served with dates.

Its seen as a traditional welcome in Bahrain when you are offered Coffee and dates (Best accept them :)

Well, I hope I've brightened your horizons and gave you a picture of Bahraini cuisine.

I've been talking about the Natural cuisine here but sadly nowadays, we've been too attached to Fast-food restaurants (hence, an Obesity epidemic is gripping Bahrain!)

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Away for a While

I might be away for a few days or so. Contributed somewhat because of a lack of topics for me to blog about. I'm open to any suggestions on what to blog about, History or Bahraini-related.

I guess the summer laziness is catching on to me...
Good thing I have my History book to keep me company! :)

Update: I guess I did find stuff to blog about! :)

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

To the Victor Goes the Pen

Ever heard of Carthage ? You know, that little place just to the lower left of Italy's coast. There's a high probability you haven't. For a civilization like the Carthaginians, who were based in Carthage (modern-day Tunis), who were arguably one of the strongest nations during the Roman era. Carthage is the home of Hannibal Barca, one of the greatest military tacticians of his time. 

The Carthaginian Empire at its prime.
Carthage's might was almost alike that of the Romans, so powerful was Carthage that Rome had engaged in a series of wars with Carthage over superiority in the Mediterranean, these wars were called the Punic Wars.
A clear testimony to this might was the fact that Hannibal led an expedition to Rome, bringing with him elephants (and the works). But, in the end, Rome was the victor and Carthage was sacked.

We know very little of Carthage's history aside from those from Roman sources (which were biased). The reason was that the Romans destroyed practically everything pertaining to the Carthaginian nation. Its history was lost as their tablets and scrolls were burned and destroyed. We have no idea of Carthage's religion at the time, aside from Roman sources which claimed they were Pagans and such.

History was always written by the Victor
This is a textbook example of a phenomenon that had gripped Man's history , many times did the victor wield the power, both literally and metaphorically speaking.
They wielded the pen of history at the time, they could choose to include or eradicate or demonize whoever they wished. This had worked for many times, in fact, we only know about Carthage via Archaeology and (once again) biased Roman historical tablets.

But, this is being challenged nowadays. In the ever-increasing and technological world, humans are closer than they were before. We can now inform and relate to each other information at the blink of an eye even if we are hundreds of miles apart

This proves critical, it allows the observer to have an opposing view of a particular situation. One that was not available before, for example Romans claimed Carthage had human sacrifices but records do not exist that both endorse this view nor oppose it, hence we often have to accept it.

Twitter and Facebook, seen as the vanguard of this new offensive try to break this phenomenon and give the opposing view, the defeated one's view on how it was. No longer would History simply vanish before our eyes, everything nowadays is recorded and we could safely say that the Pen is no longer with the Victor.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

103 Recognizable faces of the World

For Convenience, I've shrunken the image to fit it. Click for enlarged image.
Here's a painting of 103 globally-recognizable people, ranging from Politicians and Scientists to Comedians and Footballers. The painting was originally made in China (hence you notice a lot of Chinese characters present).

I personally find this somewhat silly or humourous with relation to History. Come on, look at them. They're having the time of their lives! Now this is fine painting and creativity.

Look carefully, and try to find Bin Laden, Charlie Chaplain, Einstein, Napoleon and 99 others! Its quite silly (but in a good way).

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

An introduction to Ibn Sina: The Doctor of Doctors

Perhaps well-known amongst historians worldwide, yet forgotten by most people,  Abū Alī al-Ḥusayn ibn Abd Allāh ibn Sīnā, or more commonly known as Ibn Sina (Latinized Name – Avicenna), remains an often forgotten image to many people around the world. 
A portrait of Ibn Sina

To simplify his life, Ibn Sina was a Persian Polymath best known (in the medical world) for his pioneering works in Medicine. That is, a person whose expertise spans a significant number of different subject areas. In less formal terms, a polymath (or polymathic person) may simply be someone who is very knowledgeable.

Now, in this essay, we shall try to examine Ibn Sina’s life and understand his achievements and contribution to the many fields of Astronomy , Chemistry, Geology, Islamic  Studies and theology and of course, Medicine. To simply put it, he was an astronomer, chemist, geologist, Hafiz, Islamic psychologist, Islamic scholar, Islamic theologian, logician, paleontologist, mathematician, Maktab teacher, physicist, poet, and scientist.

It is without any question that he is regarded as the most famous and influential polymath of the Islamic Golden Age. Here, we shall examine the life and feats of “The Doctor of Doctors”.

Childhood and Early Years:

Ibn Sina was born in  980 C.E. in the village of Afshana near Bukhara which today is located in Uzbekistan, close to Iran, during the time of the Samanid Empire. His father, Abdullah, an adherent of the Ismaili sect, was from Balkh and his mother from a village near Bukhara. The fact that his father was a governor had allowed Ibn Sina to be educated by some of the greatest scholars in the Samanid Empire.

However, Ibn Sina had proved to be independent, having (according to his mentors) an extraordinary intelligence and memory. It is even stated in his autobiography that “By the time I reached 18, There was nothing that I had not learned.”

Ibn Sina was something of a child prodigy, he had memorized the Qur’an (Islam’s holy book) by age 10 as well as many of the contemporary Persian poems at the time. He had learned arithmetic from local scholars as well as studying Islamic Jurisprudence , Philosophy and Natural Sciences for the next 6 years. He was also believed to have studied Logic, Euclid, and the Almeagest (a work of Ptolemy). 
Ibn Sina traveled a lot during his lifetime, as shown above.

As a teenager, he was greatly troubled by the Metaphysics of Aristotle, which he could not understand until he read al-Farabi's commentary on the work.

Ibn Sina turned to Medicine at the age of 17 , and not only studied the theory of Medicine but he was also well known for discovering new methods of treatment. The teenager achieved full status as a qualified physician at age 18  and found that "Medicine is no hard and thorny science, like mathematics and metaphysics, so I soon made great progress; I became an excellent doctor and began to treat patients, using approved remedies." .His fame spread quickly, and he treated many patients without asking for payment.

Now, I shall not enter much into detail on Ibn Sina’s life , it is too vast to be covered in a single essay, hence I shall simply outline and explain his works.

The Canon of Medicine:

Perhaps Ibn Sina’s greatest work of the sciences, this was a medical text that had listed all of Ibn Sina’s findings and research. So great was this text that it was the standard Medical text for Europe until the 18th century. Ibn Sīnā was interested in the effect of the mind on the body, and wrote a great deal on psychology, likely influencing Ibn Tufayl and Ibn Bajjah. He also introduced medical herbs.

Latinized version of the Canon of Medicine
The Canon of Medicine, translates into “Laws of Medicine”.The book is known for the discovery of contagious diseases and sexually transmitted diseasesthe introduction of quarantine to limit the spread of infectious diseases, the introduction of experimental medicine, clinical trials, neuropsychiatry, risk factor analysis, and the idea of a syndrome in the diagnosis of specific diseases, and hypothesized the existence of microrganisms. 

Ibn Sīnā adopted the theory that epidemics are caused by pollution in the air (miasma). It classifies and describes diseases, and outlines their assumed causes. Hygiene, simple and complex medicines, and functions of parts of the body are also covered. In this, Ibn Sīnā is credited as being the first to correctly document the anatomy of the human eye, along with descriptions of eye afflictions such as cataracts. It asserts that tuberculosis was contagious, which was later disputed by Europeans, but turned out to be true. It also describes the symptoms and complications of diabetes. Both forms of facial paralysis were described in-depth.

The Canon of Medicine was also the first book dealing with experimental medicine, evidence-based medicine, randomized controlled trials and efficacy testsand it laid out the following rules and principles for testing the effectiveness of new drugs and medications, which still form the basis of clinical pharmacology and modern clinical trials:

  •     The drug must be free from any extraneous accidental quality.

  •     It must be used on a simple, not a composite, disease.

  •     The drug must be tested with two contrary types of diseases, because sometimes a drug cures one disease by Its essential qualities and another by its accidental ones.

  •     The quality of the drug must correspond to the strength of the disease. For example, there are some drugs whose heat is less than the coldness of certain diseases, so that they would have no effect on them.

  •     The time of action must be observed, so that essence and accident are not confused.

  •     The effect of the drug must be seen to occur constantly or in many cases, for if this did not happen, it was an accidental effect.

  •     The experimentation must be done with the human body, for testing a drug on a lion or a horse might not prove anything about its effect on man.

Sounds familiar doesn't it ? This is the very basis of testing Medicine nowadays.
Much more may be found about his book, which I recommend for all Medical Students and History enthusiast (or simply, the curious reader), to read the book. You can find it here or even buy it.

Ibn Sina in other fields:

To say Ibn Sina was working only within the field of Medicine is an understatement. He was a "Jack of All Trades" as the saying goes. 

Ibn Sīnā wrote on Earth sciences such as geology in The Book of Healing, in which he developed the concept of uniformitarianism and law of superposition in geology. While discussing the formation of mountains, he explained:

    Either they are the effects of upheavals of the crust of the earth, such as might occur during a violent earthquake, or they are the effect of water, which, cutting itself a new route, has denuded the valleys, the strata being of different kinds, some soft, some hard... It would require a long period of time for all such changes to be accomplished, during which the mountains themselves might be somewhat diminished in size.

Due to his fundamental contributions to the development of geology, particularly regarding the origins of mountains, Avicenna has been called the 'Father of Geology'.

Wikipedia sums it up nicely: 

In mechanics, Ibn Sīnā, in The Book of Healing, developed an elaborate theory of motion, in which he made a distinction between the inclination (tendency to motion) and force of a projectile, and concluded that motion was a result of an inclination (mayl) transferred to the projectile by the thrower, and that projectile motion in a vacuum would not cease. He viewed inclination as a permanent force whose effect is dissipated by external forces such as air resistance.

His theory of motion is thus reminiscent of the theory of inertia, now known as Newton's first law of motion. His theory of mayl also attempted to provide a quantitive relation between the weight and velocity of a moving body, resembling the concept of momentum, a precursor to the concept of momentum in Newton's second law of motion.Ibn Sīnā's theory of mayl was further developed by Jean Buridan in his theory of impetus
In optics, Ibn Sina "observed that if the perception of light is due to the emission of some sort of particles by a luminous source, the speed of light must be finite.”He also provided a wrong explanation of the rainbow phenomenon. Carl Benjamin Boyer described Avicenna's ("Ibn Sīnā") theory on the rainbow as follows:

    Independent observation had demonstrated to him that the bow is not formed in the dark cloud but rather in the very thin mist lying between the cloud and the sun or observer. The cloud, he thought, serves simply as the background of this thin substance, much as a quicksilver lining is placed upon the rear surface of the glass in a mirror. Ibn Sīnā would change the place not only of the bow, but also of the color formation, holding the iridescence to be merely a subjective sensation in the eye.

In 1253, a Latin text entitled Speculum Tripartitum stated the following regarding Avicenna's theory on heat:
    Avicenna says in his book of heaven and earth, that heat is generated from motion in external things.

This is the list of some of Avicenna's well-known works:
  • Sirat al-shaykh al-ra’is (The Life of Ibn Sina), ed. and trans. WE. Gohlman, Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1974. (The only critical edition of Ibn Sina’s autobiography, supplemented with material from a biography by his student Abu ‘Ubayd al-Juzjani. A more recent translation of the Autobiography appears in D. Gutas, Avicenna and the Aristotelian Tradition: Introduction to Reading Avicenna’s Philosophical Works, Leiden: Brill, 1988.)
  • Al-Isharat wa-‘l-tanbihat (Remarks and Admonitions), ed. S. Dunya, Cairo, 1960; parts translated by S.C. Inati, Remarks and Admonitions, Part One: Logic, Toronto, Ont.: Pontifical Institute for Mediaeval Studies, 1984, and Ibn Sina and Mysticism, Remarks and Admonitions: Part 4, London: Kegan Paul International, 1996
  • Al-Qanun fi’l-tibb (The Canon of Medicine), ed. I. a-Qashsh, Cairo, 1987. (Encyclopedia of medicine.)[
  • Risalah fi sirr al-qadar (Essay on the Secret of Destiny), trans. G. Hourani in Reason and Tradition in Islamic Ethics, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985.[
  • Danishnama-i ‘ala’i (The Book of Scientific Knowledge), ed. and trans. P Morewedge, The Metaphysics of Avicenna, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1973.
  • Kitab al-Shifa’ (The Book of Healing). (Ibn Sina’s major work on philosophy. He probably began to compose al-Shifa’ in 1014, and completed it in 1020.) Critical editions of the Arabic text have been published in Cairo, 1952–83, originally under the supervision of I. Madkour
  • Kitab al-Najat (The Book of Salvation), trans. F. Rahman, Avicenna’s Psychology: An English Translation of Kitab al-Najat, Book II, Chapter VI with Historical-philosophical Notes and Textual Improvements on the Cairo Edition, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1952. (The psychology of al-Shifa’.)
  • Hayy ibn Yaqdhan a Persian myth. A novel called Hayy ibn Yaqdhan, based on Avicenna's story, was later written by Ibn Tufail (Abubacer) in the 12th century and translated into Latin and English as Philosophus Autodidactus in the 17th and 18th centuries respectively. In the 13th century, Ibn al-Nafis wrote his own novel Fadil ibn Natiq, known as Theologus Autodidactus in the West, as a critical response to Hayy ibn Yaqdhan.

The remaining ten or twelve years of Ibn Sīnā's life were spent in the service of Abu Ja'far 'Ala Addaula, whom he accompanied as physician and general literary and scientific adviser, even in his numerous campaigns.

During the last years of his life, A severe colic, which seized him on the march of the army against Hamadan, was checked by remedies so violent that Ibn Sina could scarcely stand. On a similar occasion the disease returned; with difficulty he reached Hamadan, where, finding the disease gaining ground, he refused to keep up the regimen imposed, and resigned himself to his fate.
His friends advised him to slow down and take life moderately. He refused, however, stating that:

"I prefer a short life with width to a narrow one with length".

On his deathbed remorse seized him; he bestowed his goods on the poor, restored unjust gains, freed his slaves, and read through the Qur'an every three days until his death. He died in June 1037, in his fifty-eighth year, in the month of Ramadan and was buried in Hamadan, Iran.

My apologies for not elaborating much on this, I hope I’ve enlightened your views on this man. Because Ibn Sina will be forever known as one of the all-time greats in the world.

Monday, 6 June 2011

What would have happened if Hitler focused on the Allied Powers , Part Deux

Click the image to open in full size.
Operation Sealion - The Planned Invasion of Britain
You could say this is a revised version of the What would have happened if Hitler didn't invade the Soviet Union post, but more revised.

Operation Sea lion:

In recent historical speculation, most historians have speculated that , if it hadn't been for Operation Barbarossa (thats the invasion of Soviet Union) Hitler would have been the Fuhrer of the European Continent, his empire would've stretched from the reaches of Prussia to the Atlantic Ocean. In this post, I shall examine and (try to) accurately Speculate (if such a thing exists) what would've happened if Soviet Russia and the Third Reich hadn't collided.

Note- This post will not delve into the Holocaust nor will it involve much of the Russians, it is purely speculative with facts that would back up the claims.

Now, we all know the fact that Nazi Germany had an invasion plan for mainland Britain,Operation Sealion it was called. So here are the plans illustrated in this map.

As illustrated above (to the left) , the plan was to sent the 16th Army corps into the present Dover area, with the 9th Army Corps attacking Brighton, needless to say about the 6th Corps. But what Hitler needed for this invasion, was:
  1. Air Superiority- This would give the Germans an edge in their invasion and would prevent the RAF from interfering in their plans.
  2. Occupying the Royal Navy - Obviously, the Royal Navy was quite dominant to that of Germany, so hence the initial plan was to attack the Home Fleet with U-Boats and occupy ships positioned in Malta and the Mediterranean as well as the North Sea.
Hitler's conquered Europe. The Full extent of Nazi Germany
Now, assuming this invasion succeeded and the British soon surrender (they would probably HAVE to). Germany turns its focus to North Africa, also assuming that Gen. Montgomery has (I know its far fetced) still been fighting (Just because Britain was invaded, didn't mean they couldn't fight overseas). Germany would now bolster its Afrika Korps and this would eventually wear down the Brits at Egypt. Eventually, after an unknown period of time (I assume a Month), Germany conquered Alexandria and Cairo and are now literally on the Banks of the Suez Canal. Should this Canal fall into Axis hands , it would cut off Whats left of European Britain from the Rest of Her Empire in India and Asia. 

Axis Conquests outside Europe:

During this time, we could expect the island of Malta to finally fall, after a long siege had exhausted the civilian population. Gibralter would, if I am somewhat correct, been attacked and conquered by Nationalist Spain, headed by General Franco.

Now, assuming also that the Suez Canal is lost, the Allied forces in the Middle East now face the thread of a continuing offensive into the Middle East by the Afrika Korps. Chances of Arab Uprisings (no Pun intended ) now are very much high, with Iraq looking unstable. Eventually, the Germans would push the Allied Powers into the Iraqi Pocket. That is, into the province of Basra. It can only hope to escape if it had a Dunkirk style evacuation all the way to the Qatari side of the Gulf.

And during this time, we address another issue. The Neutrality of Turkey, surely by this time It is quite hard for Turkey to remain all that neutral when surrounded by conflict. Assuming that if Turkey joins the Axis, we could be seeing a potential reincranation of the ottoman empire (though highly unlikely) or else if they joined the Allies, they would form a protective bulwark against occupied Greece and Bulgaria, and could possibly stage an offensive into the Balkans!
The Reconquista , what would've happened if Mexico joined the Axis

Now, what about other prospective (or opportunistic) Axis nations ? Well, No doubt Italy would've had been the main powerhouse of the Mediterranean. But what about Mexico ? They would've and could've joined the Axis, so could Argentina. For a fact, Argentina's president at the time had a liking of Hitler and his ideology (it was believed that he was a Fascist himself). So.. you need not require me to paint an image of an Argentinean battle against Allied countries in South American such as Brazil (compared at the time, Brazil had a weaker army).

The outcomes and the Speculations continue to build up. No one really will know what would've happened, unless it did.

For Further Reading:

The following are a recommended books about this topic and of what would happen if Hitler did in fact, conquer the world (not literally!) , if anyone is interested.

Fatherland by Robert Harris
A Damned Fine War by William Yenne, Bill Yenne
If Britain Had Fallen by Norman Longmate

I've just written this because I was bored, to be honest. 
Although, I welcome all viewers to post their comments and suggestions towards what I should blog about. I very much appreciate it.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Bahrain's battle with Water Shortage- The Untold Story

Bahrain's Freshwater Springs:

The issue of water shortages in Bahrain is something that is rarely known, let alone discussed. Yes, even I had not been unaware of this until a colleague (on Twitter) informed me of it (I thank that Tweeter). Indeed,  the once prestigious, and pride of Bahrain, the spring waters and wells are drying up, the aquifers and a part of Bahrain’s namesake is almost vanishing into the abyss. In this essay, we shall examine and dissect this mysterious topic, about the shortages of water in Bahrain
Ask anyone on the streets of Bahrain today about any water crisis in the world, they would , most likely, point out to somewhere in Africa or other Less Economically Developed Areas (LEDA). Most ,if not would be surprised that Bahrain had been at this point many times before, yes , Bahrain has experienced water shortages. Lets focus on the freshwater springs, most of Bahrain’s springs originate from the Dammam aquifer (that’s in Eastern Saudi Arabia).

Now evidently, the World Resources institute, had said that “actual renewable water resources per capital had plunged to 154.5 cubic meters”. This problem isn’t limited to just Bahrain, as UNESCO had earlier predicted that up to 13 Arabian countries may experience a critical water shortage in the near future.

Bahrain's Reaction:
Bahrain had formed a ‘Water Resources Council’, which aims to control the water resources left in the Kingdom. In fact, it even unveiled a master plan to constantly improve and protect the water supply over the next few years or so. A major end-product of the funding, given by the Minister of Electricity and Water Authority, are the desalination plants.

Desalination plants remain the major source of water in Bahrain, estimated to produce around 143 million gallons of water per day (Perhaps that’s why not much water is left). However, this project is not immune from environmentalists’ concerns. 
A desalination plant in Bahrain
Some warn that Chlorine (which plays a disinfectant role in the desalination plant) may spew into the nearby sea and possibly kill or damage the ecosystems or living organisms present. Such accidents may prove quite costly considering many fishermen rely on these ecosystems for their fish. Others raise the concern of chlorine from the fish being transmitted (via their flesh) to humans and could potentially cause illnesses.

An article sums up a unique case of one of the Sewage Treatment plants available in Bahrain, albeit the most notable one:

In 1977, the government of Bahrain started treating sewage water to reduce water consumption. The project has been gradually developing, especially after the establishment of the Tubli Water Treatment Station. The project initially faced rejection with the formation of Parliament in 2002 when a majority of conservative lawmakers doubted the purity of the water. The government assured MPs that the water supply of the plant was strictly for domestic gardens and playgrounds. For lack of better options and knowing how badly Bahrain needed the plant, the MPs kept quiet for several years.
The plant became a public issue in 2006, when a health expert warned families about taking their children to gardens and playgrounds that are irrigated with the treated water. The Director of Public Health, Samir Abdullah Khalfan, then declared that the Tubli Station needed urgent maintenance to produced healthy water, as current conditions could cause fatal hepatitis A infection and food poisoning. In reports he drafted for the Public Health Ministry, he also called upon the public to thoroughly wash fruits and vegetables, warning that treated water from the Kingdom’s only sewage water treatment station wasn’t 100 percent clean. Khalfan’s announcements were denounced immediately by the three ministries concerned with the station which asserted that there was no scientific evidence linking treated water with hepatitis A. Their collective statement claims that hepatitis cases had actually declined in the last five years, especially among young children. After months of debate, the station was temporary closed to carry out further tests and was reopened later in the same year.

To add to the grim situation, the British risk analysis firm Maplecroft (conveniently) released a report that calculates the Water Stress Index (that is, which country is probable of having a water shortage). And guess what ? Bahrain was ranked #1 on that list (in the Middle East region) with having the least available water per capita (as of 25th of May , 2011) The report is viewable here.

Maplecroft’s research highlights current and future water availability as one of the foremost global challenges. The company states that the dual drivers of climate change and population growth will combine to squeeze water resources and affect the food security of governments across the world, regardless of how water secure they may be today.
Incidentally, the Discovery Channel had aired a documentary about water shortages in Bahrain  (viewable here )

So, now we’ve found out Bahrain’s vulnerability towards having a water shortage, and hence (not meaning to sound like the Ministry of Electricity and Water but) we have to stop wasting all the water we have. Turn off that tap when you’re brushing your teeth, turn off the water when not in use. Bahrain’s lifeline , as far as water is concerned, remains in the balance. 
Although, back in 2004, it was said that Bahrain wouldn't experience a water shortage until 2012 (spoke too soon ?)

And the likeliness of this happening you may ask ?
Probable, not impossible. Though some experts think (between 2012 to 2050) Bahrain will experience a shortage.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Summer has Arrived in Bahrain

The past couple of weeks (or to be straight-forward, month) have seen the weather drift from the warm and windy weather to HOT and Humid conditions. Its not something new that Bahrainis face, we face it every year, but its always the first month that just makes you go crazy.

While the weather forecast for the next three months would be nothing but heat,humidity and (if we are so unfortunate) Sand storms! Its a good thing we have a secret weapon. Yup, you guessed it, the Air Conditioner! Man's greatest invention! (with regards to the desert!).

But, summer is also the time (believe it or not) where the trees are at their greenest and flowers spurt and open up majestically for all those (hungry) bees and insects. We could be seeing some wonderful flowers this summer too (besides the Petunias!).

Here's a photo of my garden that I took this morning, looks good (greener than usual). I hope this summer would be one for the ages.

Green is always a good sign (unless its in your body part!)

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Johnny English Reborn - Trailer released!

The new trailer released! 

I know this is usually against what I normally do but I like to be diverse.

For those who don't know what Johnny English is, it was a spoof spy movie made in 2003, featuring Rowan Atkinson (that very silly guy from Mr.Bean, I reviewed him a while ago). Anyways, he played a spy for MI7 back in the old movie.

I'd recommend you watch it, if you're in the laughing mood or just wish to watch a guy make a mockery of himself.

While normally, I stick to my belief that, all sequels tend to disappoint me. It happened with Night of the Museum , Are We Done Yet? and others.

I just hope, for once, a decent sequel to a hilarious comedy movie could finally come into play.

Corruption, Election, Changes - Scandal Hits FIFA

Corruption Scandal: Eyebrows over alleged buying of the WC
Lets admit it, the past week has been a turbulent one. We have seen Bin Hammam, the Qatari President of the AFC (Asian Football Confederation) and also FIFA-Presidential hopeful , drop out of the race amidst a corruption scandal surrounding his (ironic) anti-corruption campaign.

During this time, several allegations and revelations had emerged (particularly, it had started to kick in, last month). A UK parliamentary inquiry into why England failed to secure the 2018 finals is told by member of parliament Damian Collins that there was evidence from the Sunday Times newspaper that Issa Hayatou of Cameroon and Jacques Anouma of the Ivory Coast were paid by Qatar. An ethics investigation was then opened into confederation presidents Mohamed Bin Hammam  and Jack Warner of CONCACAF concerning a meeting of the Caribbean Football Union.

Hmm.. I wonder who I should vote for..(from Daily Mail)
Prior to the committee hearing, Bin Hammam shocked the Football world by announcing his withdrawal from the race. In his latest fightback , Jack Warner had claimed that , in an email, Qatar's Bin Hammam had bought the 2022 World Cup, accusations which the FIFA general secretary denied.

In the run-up to the vote, the FA and SFA of Britain had called upon FIFA to postpone the election, citing that FIFA's reputation was tarnished and in rocky waters. Both Associations also abstained from the voting. Also worth noting during this time, several sponsors of FIFA, including Coca Cola , Adidas, Emirates and Visa, "expressed" their concern over FIFA's situation.

Blatter; successfully reelected.
To say that Blatter had a little scuffle with the Media at the FIFA summit is an understatement. He had a tantrum! His speech included a lash-out at reporters over their manners! (Sounds like a movie but bear with me).

However, during his speech , he also announced new reforms for FIFA including a new revamp of the voting system for future World Cups. Indeed, the 24-man executive committee would be stripped of their voting powers and "power would be given to all its 203 members".

In the end, Blatter was re-elected.

But now, with the FA's efforts to postpone the election at vain, they look to be on their own. At odds with FIFA and in a state of self-imposed isolation with their fellow members.

Perhaps, better articles would describe it, the Economist published an article (appropriately) titled " The British and Corruption: England ponders its isolation in the football world".

Update: Sepp Blatter himself had said that he would not "seek any revenge against the FA" who had earlier wanted to oust him (via calling on him to quit/resign/postpone the election).
He said:
There's no bad feeling with the associations that didn't vote for me. I'm the president of all the associations and will work with all of them - and with 186 votes I'm proud. Don't worry about the English.
The number one national association in Fifa - the FA founded the game in 1863 - have the right to be called the FA, Football Association. They should be an example, so that was a surprise.
I had heard about it, and Uefa made a special meeting trying to convince them. I thought this problem would be solved so was surprised when they tried to change the agenda of the Congress and not make elections.

Architecture Plan of Bab Al Bahrain from 1945

Double click for larger image. Reading through the Qatar Digital Library's massive digitised archives of British colonial files, I...