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Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Bahrain - Insight and inside

Bahrain is a small country in the Persian Gulf. It is an island with an area of 665sqkms and a population of about 720,000. Males outnumber females by a small margin. The population growth is 1.34%
Foreigners constitute nearly one third of population, mainly from India and Philippines who are the working forces for mid and low level cadres. Main languages spoken are Arabic (majority) and English.
Oil reserves in this country is scarce, therefore country largely depends on tourism as well as petroleum processing and refinery. The capital city, Manama, has large number of new hotels, and most of the times are full, Saudis are among the leading tourists to the country thus boosting significantly the country income, they use the bridge erected across the sea to join these two countries. I was told by one taxi driver that the Saudis basically they come to relax during the weekends, and get spoilt by Alc and Pro which are forbidden in their country. Therefore if you like boozing, come with full purse, as each unit of alc is expensive here.
The kingdom of Bahrain has been expanded through land reclamation, where seafront is replaced by soil paving space for new buildings.
There are some narrow streets which resemble stone town in Zanzibar, this is old Manama, and most of Indians live in this area.
Generally the country is clean, however I was astonished to see broken bottles, food leftovers, cellophane papers scattered along the new beach.
According to Bahrain rules, all drivers in public transport have to be Bahrainis, thus, 100% of taxi drivers are Bahrainis. They are clever, as all negotiations they make are aimed to get more Dinars from the customers, and if you are not careful, they add 1-2 Dinars (3 – 6 USD) on the meter. The drivers are very thankful if you give them tips, You should remember that their currency is stronger than Euro, US dollars, Pound sterling etc, therefore any tip you want to give, you should make a quick conversion, as you may regret later to realize that the tip you offered was twice the actual fare.
On our trip, the driver initiated a negotiation before we start our journey to pay him 10 Dinars for the whole trip; we decided to follow the meter. At the end of our trip, the final cost came to 6 Dinars. That means we saved 4 Dinars (12 USD) in one trip when we refuse that negotiation. My friends, who were clever enough to keep an eye on the gadget at the start of trip, on arrival taxi driver, increase the fare a little more than on the gadget, when he was asked why he had increased the fare, He excused himself and said because they had many pieces of luggage. Well, he received neither a tip nor the word “shukran” (thank you), as my friends were already adamant! Wouh!
Something new for me, I noted that our flight were predominantly by young ladies mostly teens and early twenties. The last flight, on my way back, out of all passengers (more than 100), we were only 10 gentlemen, both in business and economy classes, and it was easy to locate gentlemen as we were all offered seats at the emergency doors! The rest of passengers were under 25 ladies! Probably they are vigorous wajasiriamali (Legal petty business ladies).

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