I spent three years at the International School in Geneva where, every so often, they organise something called the Student United Nations (SUN). The student body was divided into teams who were allocated countries to represent over a week-end at the UN building in Geneva. The idea was to mimic a UN General Assembly and debate the international issues of the day.
A fair amount of role playing went on as teams sought to accurately represent their chosen countries. However, as we were students, this was leavened by a degree of youthful optimism and naivety. As I recall, we wrapped up the Cold War, disbanded all nuclear weapons and settled Israel’s borders and security to everyone’s satisfaction. All in a two day period.
Our team drew Bahrain and you can therefore imagine my excitement on landing in the country that I had served so faithfully all those years ago. If Bahrain itself did not quite seem to share that excitement at least the whole visa, airport and transfer experience went smoothly. (And thank you Ramada Palace Hotel for allowing me to check in at 9.30 am – much appreciated after 3 hours of sleep.)
For those who haven’t had the honour of representing Bahrain, it’s an island in the Gulf and the smallest of the independent Gulf kingdoms. The ‘h’ is pronounced in a throaty Arabic style and the word ‘Bahrain’ means ‘two seas’.
Oil is a major part of the economy but so are banking / financial services and tourism. Much of the tourism comes from nearby Gulf countries drawn, some say, by a more liberal society. Alcohol is legal and you can’t move for Filipino (sic) cover bands. My apparently modest hotel turned out to have one live music venue, at least three bars, 2 restaurants and a nightclub. And lots of Filipino cover bands.
Bahrain figures prominently in the UK media on an annual basis when human rights protestors try to force the cancellation of the Bahrain Grand Prix. They succeeded once in 2011 but, generally, Bernie decides that the show must go on.
But who am I to criticise? I’ve also come to Bahrain for a sporting event- albeit one with a slightly lower profile. My 10 km run takes me from the hotel to the Andalus Gardens, the Al Fateh mosque (picture above), along a corniche or two, to the World Trade Centre (picture below) and back to the hotel. A lovely run in the early Manama evening.
Date : 17th January, 2014
Time : 50’14”
Total Distance Run to date : 90 km