MAHMOOD'S DEN: BAHRAIN'S PRESS LAW, HAIFA, AND WHY MANAMA IS SIN CITY #8



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Mahmood of Mahmood's Den describes his blog as "an Arab man's attempt to bridge the cultural gap."

His blog is a mix of the serious and the mundane. For instance, he discusses at length the controversy over Bahrain's Press and Publication Law.

This week, the Cabinet declared that no journalist or writer is to imprisoned for publishing their opinions.

Wonderful, says Mahmood.

But wait a minute.

According to the Bahrain Tribune, "The amendment seeks to shield those who exercise their right to freedom of expression from punishment as long as they preserve the political system’s privacy and fundamentals, the Kingdoms heritage and general decency."

"Sorry? What does that bit about the as long as mean?" Mahmood asks. "To me - and I might be completely mistaken here - it means that nothing has changed, and nothing will change... So my advice to you guys is to not to start jumping up and down in happiness at this new development by the Cabinet. The "gotchas" in it are actually much more severe than even the older iteration."

But as important as the PPL is, there was much more talk about Lebanese singer Haifa Webbe's controversial performance in Bahrain, which the Islamist MP in the Bahraini parliament tried to put a stop too. In the end, Haifa prevailed but she was forced to wear what for her was a rather demure dress, which led one disappointed fan to say, "She was almost veiled."

Hayfa Wahbi sang in Bahrain inspite of objections from Islamist MPs

All of which could make people forget that Bahrain's capital was voted #8 on the list of the world's Sin Cities.

"The criteria for a locale to make our sin cities list is pretty simple: It has to offer a strong presence of gambling, sex, drinking, drugs, and/or partying," Mahmood quotes from the organizer's terms and conditions.

And there is plenty of that in Bahrain, says Mahmood.

"Connected by a causeway to nearby Saudi Arabia, Manama is a popular spot for Saudis to kick back from their country’s restrictive laws. Here they can get hammered, go clubbing, mingle with the opposite sex, and if they’re really daring, they can pick up prostitutes — a practice that’s illegal but widely available.

"While Manama is still largely a Muslim city, a third of its residents are foreigners, so it has led to a much more liberal culture that gave women the vote in 2001, and let them drive cars. For many Saudi males this proximity to an open culture is irresistible and many jam the causeway and fill flights to the city every weekend."

Which produces pictures like these:

Sin city Bahrain!