Saturday, October 30, 2004

What is 7alaylia?

الباحة. القرية: حلايل

7alayli is a derogatory word used to describe people who come from the villages of Bahrain, and implies that villagers are backward, uncivilised and uneducated. People still find this term offensive nowadays even though the distinction between city and village is not so clear. But I chose it, to try and prove otherwise. I feel the nicest place to be is in the village where traditional values and social customs are preserved, and to some extent where urban decadence is still at bay.

My preamble goes like this. Years of political sidelining, economic impoverishment and lack of infrastructure have all served to marginalise the villages of Bahrain, but with massive population growth rates, the voice of the village is growing louder.
Historically, the village was a hub of cultural unity, self-sufficient in social welfare and charity, organised its own social and religious activities. Central to this is the local mosque or ma'atam (generally translated into a funeral house-more on this another time). One argument goes, that this self-sufficiency reduced the need for the welfare state/government to help out. Indeed, this may explain the survival of the village to date. The role of the family and community reduced the financial burden on the individual and low incomes sufficed for the basic needs of the village. But with the technological revolution, the oil boom, rising land prices, high unemployment, the village has been sentenced to the lower end of the income inequality curve. Some villages havent seen infrastructure projects for over 20 years and the small amount assigned to them is just a drop in the ocean. Obviously, there are political repercussions to this.

I'll leave you with some images from around the villages of Bahrain:

Nabeh Saleh Village


Muharraq Souq

Karraneh Village

Dair Village, Local Road

Courtesy of : Ebrahim Al Baqer

Posted by Bahrania @ 10/30/2004 06:19:00 PM

Read or Post a Comment

it's wonderful that you have at last decided to start a blog! Your voice and your analysis is important and welcome. I wish you the greatest luck with the blog, and more importantly that you should see your rewards for starting it and voicing your opinions in the changes that you will contribute to the large and temperate fabric of our society.

Good luck!


Posted by Blogger Mahmood Al-Yousif @ 11/01/2004 07:55:00 PM #

7alaylia, its great that you've decided to start your own blog! It's good to know we have another comrade-in-arms.

I do like your theme about village-centred life, and it is something which seems quite peculiar to Bahrain because of the long history of settled life on the island. It is amazing that even upto today you can still almost guess which village someone is from based on their accent, which really says something about the influence it has on everyday life. One very interesting thing that I have just become aware of is how the internet is now playing a role in continuing village-centred life in Bahrain. I think I'll write a post about this on my blog. Thanks for the inspiration!

Oh, and do consider coming to the first Bahraini blogger's meetup this weekend! Get details here.

Posted by Blogger Chanad @ 11/01/2004 11:51:00 PM #

Thanks guys. You are the Bahraini pioneers of blogging and who am i other than a humble follower.

As for the invitation. Its not quite the right moment YET to take it up :) Please understand the sensitivities. Its more than just paranoia.

The villages are not just signposts on Budaya'a Highway. The villages are another world all together.

Posted by Blogger Bahrania @ 11/02/2004 05:21:00 PM #

Just been cycling through the internet and came across your site. Generally speaking, I have a negative image about Bahrainis when it comes to speaking English. Besides the high quality English language, I find your site well-organized and quite helpful.

I've no idea whether you know this or not, but the ruling family of Bahrain and their slaves, called "fadawias" - singular for "fadawy"-, used the term "7alylia" to dub Ba7arna (Bahraini Shiites). This is due to the fact that they considered 'us' as legal targets to killing, robbing, ...etc.

Anyway, that's all I have to say for now. Gotta go sleep. :')

Good night.
H Ali

Posted by Anonymous Anonymous @ 3/09/2005 05:20:00 AM #

Hi H,

yep i've heard that one, but I wasnt sure how true it is. It sounded like an old grandma's tale. like i said in the post 7alayl refers to villages so i thought it probably has some sort of language reference before it became a derogatory term.

glad u like come again!

Posted by Blogger Bahrania @ 3/09/2005 08:32:00 PM #
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