BAHREIN – BAHRAIN – مملكة البحرين

Spomenik koga više nema-The Pearl Roundabout-A Monument which is no longer there

Spomenik koga više nema-The Pearl Roundabout-A Monument which is no longer there

Deo finansijske luke-Bahrain Financial Harbour

Deo finansijske luke-Bahrain Financial Harbour

Palate i džamije glavnog grada Maname-Palaces and mosque-s of the capital Manama

Palate i džamije glavnog grada Maname-Palaces and mosque-s of the capital Manama

Svetski trgovinski centar-Bahrain World Trade Centre

Svetski trgovinski centar-Bahrain World Trade Centre

Velika dżamija Al-Fateh - Al-Fateh Grand Mosque

Velika dżamija Al-Fateh – Al-Fateh Grand Mosque

Biblioteka-Sheikh Isa Bin Salman Library

Biblioteka-Sheikh Isa Bin Salman Library

Bab Al Bahrein je glavni ulaz u Manama bazar-Bab Al Bahrain is a main entrance to Manama souq

Bab Al Bahrein je glavni ulaz u Manama bazar-Bab Al Bahrain is a main entrance to Manama souq

Pogled na deo luke-A view of one side of the port

Pogled na deo luke-A view of one side of the port

Spomenik koga vise nema-Pearl Roundabout-Monument which no longer stands there

Spomenik koga vise nema-Pearl Roundabout-Monument which no longer stands there

Vecernja kupovina u soping centru-Night shopping

Vecernja kupovina u soping centru-Night shopping

Bahrein, što u prevodu znači dva mora, mala je i bogata ostrvska država u Persijskom zalivu, nadomak Katara, čije je najveće ostrvo, dugo svega pedesetak kilometara, spojeno dugim modernim mostom sa pustinjskom maticom Saudijskom Arabijom. Poređenja radi, obližnji arabijski aerodrom, Kralj Fahd, veći je od čitavog Bahreina. I ovoj zemlji, kao i svim zemljama u Zalivu, priroda je podarila veliko bogatstvo u vidu nafte i gasa, tako potrebno savremenom svetu. Većina stanovnika osećala je blagodeti tog bogatstva, ali je, i pored toga, ovu zemlju 2011. godine zahvatio talas revolucionarnih težnji za demokratskim promenama. Iako su protesti uglavnom izbijali u siromašnijim islamskim zemljama severne Afrike i Bliskog istoka, očigledno nisu mimoišli ni neke veoma bogate, kao što je Bahrein. Prilikom rasterivanja demonstranata, vladine snage su srušile poznati spomenik sa ogromnim kamenim biserom na njegovom vrhu, koji se nalazi na istoimenom trgu Pearl Roundabout, verovatno zato da bi se izbrisali iz sećanja nemili događaji.

Skoro petnaest godina pre toga, putovao sam u tu zemlju na kongres plastičnih hirurga zemalja Zaliva. Čak je i moj sin Filip, kao dvogodišnjak, u kolicima, imao priliku da uživa u lepotama ove zemlje. Video je kako izgleda pustinja u koju se stanovnici Maname, glavnog grada, u suton izvezu u velikim americkim džipovima i drugim luksuznim automobilima. U toj pustinji uživaju na miru, u samoći sa duhovima predaka, koje su tada prenosile kamile, tako da katkada i sami srećni jašu na njima. Ponekad, sedeći ispred šatora, posmatraju zalazak sunca u dimu nargila, koji često zakloni oblak ili plamen sa obližnjih naftonosnih polja i tako razbije blagu nostalgiju za minulim vremenima, o kojima su samo slušali. Poneko od njih pusti sokola, koji se uz blagi krik vine u vazduh, osmotri teritoriju i poslušno se vrati gospodaru na ruku. Arapi obožavaju sokolarstvo, koje je deo njihove tradicije. Nisam siguran da je Filip zapamtio te lepe trenutke u pustinji, ali mislim da su, ipak, ostavili neki trag u njemu.

Manama poseduje takav arhitekturni sklop modernih zgrada futurističkih oblika koji, posmatrano s druge obale Zaliva iz pustinje, deluje kao pogled na njujorški Menhetn. U njemu se, međutim, krije tipični arapski suk sa kafedžinicama i malim prodavnicama začina i zlatnog nakita, koje vešto prkose modernim tržnim centrima, izgrađenim u mermeru.

Tradicionalni način života je u krvi ovog naroda i njega moderna vremena ne mogu promeniti. Nove generacije intelektualaca, obrazovanih u engleskim školama, kao što je moj prijatelj plastični hirurg doktor Tarik Said, to veoma poštuju. Ipak, i u ovakvim konzervativnim društvima zemalja Zaliva, u kojima kralj, emir, kalif ili sultan imaju neprikosnovenu vlast, demokratija uporno traži svoje malo mesto pod pustinjskim suncem.

Možda će ga čak i pronaći.

Novembar 1997.

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Bahrain – which actually means two seas, is a small, rich island state in the Gulf of Persia, close to Qatar. Its largest island, only around 50 kilometres long, is connected to the desert mainland of Saudi Arabia by a modern causeway. For comparison, the nearby King Fahd Airport is bigger than the entire Kingdom of Bahrain. This country, like all others in the Gulf, is endowed with huge natural wealth of oil and gas, so much in demand around the world today. Despite the majority of its inhabitants being able to enjoy this wealth, in 2011 Bahrain was taken by the storm of revolutionary unrest demanding democratic changes. Even though the protests originated in the poorer Islamic countries of the North Africa and the Middle East, they obviously did not pass by some very rich countries such as Bahrain. While trying to disperse the protesters, the Government forces pulled down the famous monument with the huge stone pearl on its top, on the Pearl Roundabout, probably so that the unhappy events are forgotten as soon as possible.

Almost 15 years prior to this I travelled to this country to the Congress of the Plastic Surgeons of the Gulf countries. Even my two year old son Filip had a chance to enjoy the beauties of this country sitting in his pushchair. He saw the desert where the residents of Manama, the capital, go at dusk in their big jeeps or other luxurious cars. Sometimes they ride their camels, like their ancestors used to do in this desert where tranquility and solitude is to be enjoyed. Sometimes, sitting in front of their tents they watch the sun go down, through the smoke of narghile which sometimes blocks out a cloud or a flame from the nearby oil fields, and so brings back the illusion of the olden times they have only been told about. Some of them would let a falcon fly up in the air, and the bird would, with a muted cry, shoot up, survey the territory and obediently return to his master’s arm. The Arabs adore falconry which is part of their tradition. I am not sure if Filip remembers these moments in the desert, but I think they still left a lasting impression on him.

Manama’s architecture is full of ultramodern buildings and futuristic shapes, which when observed from the other side of the Gulf in the desert, look like New York’s Manhattan. However in here a typical Arabian souk is tucked away, with coffee bars and small shops selling golden jewelry and spice, successfully challenging the modern shopping malls built in marble.

The traditional way of life is coursing through the veins of this people, and modern times cannot change that. The new generations of intellectuals, educated in British schools, such as my friend, a plastic surgeon, Tariq Saeed, know how to appreciate that. However, even in these conservative societies of the Gulf States, where the king, or emir, caliph or sultan have unequivocal power, democracy is fighting for its place under the desert sun. Maybe it will eventually find it.

November 1997

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