Today is sadly the last day of 21st Gulf Cup tournament held here in Bahrain. Every couple of years this tournament is organized in a different GCC state plus Yemen and Iraq. A total of eight countries part of the Arabian peninsula compete in a much anticipated event, football, which is the most widespread sport in this region. In this competition, when a country’s team is playing, almost everything and everyone comes to a halt to follow and cheer.
Travelling around GCC, many friends of mine still ask about Bahrain and how events are unfolding over here. When I say that life is normal, I don’t see them really totally absorbing what I say as the truth. In a way I understand, because I will always be sceptical if I hear one thing on TV and another from a friend, who’s kind of perceived as a pro-government by default.
Ever since every Bahraini was tricked by a large group of people by thinking they were asking for legitimate demands, things haven’t returned to a 100% like before. Still, while hotels before always occupied and shopping centers were never empty, I’d say life floated at 60% normal since February 2011. Last year’s Formula One did help bring attention back to Bahrain, but many foreign journalists came with already written articles. Yet it was a big win that began showing the world that Bahrain is not an Arab Spring country, in what Arab Spring stands for.
The Gulf Cup is nothing like the Formula One, it is the national sport with years of history to it. It is prestigious event that attracts not less than tenfold of the Formula One crowd. For the past couple of weeks, tourists from nearby states flooded Bahrain. Their fear of possible uneventful issues occurring in Bahrain while they’re here was outweighed by their love to come and support their country. All of a sudden, for the past couple of weeks, I’ve seen Bahrain the way I used to see it before the nightmares of February 2011. In fact, I’ve seen Bahrain even more crowded than ever. Hotels are overbooked and malls are back in business. Life in Bahrain is thanks to God turning up very well.
While this event has no doubt stimulated the economy very well, which translates to benefit the citizens of Bahrain, there are unfortunately some who are emotionally flipping for such success. As everyone here knows, the culture in Bahrain is simple and straightforward. It is much easier to meet any VIP in Bahrain than in any developing and developed world. We never saw enough significance to invest in monitoring systems, be it in business sectors or security. So it was relatively easy for a few to run around doing what they falsely think is best for them, blocking roads with burned tires.
Bahrain is different, Bahrain is special, it is unlike any other GCC state. Each country is unique for something special, and Bahrain is unique for its people. As a Palestinian once told me, “Israel kicked us out of our homes, and we are scattered all over the world. We say amongst ourselves, the lucky ones end up in Bahrain.”
Blocking roads with burning tires sounds and looks more serious than in reality. It is a silly act that only makes people late to wherever they want to go 15 to 30 minutes max. Fortunately, this has greatly backfired because now, even GCC citizens washed away any potential chances for sympathy. The country has picked up itself once again, while pockets of extremists have further isolated themselves.
Football is beautiful and it unites people together. Bahrain has a colourful background team and the tens of thousands attending the game were cheering passionately and equally to all. A bright future awaits us all together because this is the beauty of Bahrain. Winners will win and looser will loose, that’s life.