Saturday, October 30, 2004
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
Dair Village, Local Road
Courtesy of : Ebrahim Al Baqer