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Bahrain, be yourself…

Recently, I have had occasion to visit Dubai twice. The first time was for pleasure, to see the musical West Side Story, at the Opera House… 

which I must say was a magnificent performance of one of my all-time favourite musicals. The second visit was always going to be a mixture of business and pleasure; attending the Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature. Again, an excellent event and if you ever get the opportunity to attend, do so.

This wasn’t my first time in Dubai, but I still couldn’t help noticing the glitz and glamour of the place, and that got me thinking, a dangerous thing to do at the best of times.

Beneath the fantastic architecture, fountains and theme parks, there appears to be little else. The culture is subservient to the Dirham, lost in the sparkling lights. Sure, the old quarter is still there, with its rambling souqs, but it feels more museum than market. Dubai IS a theme park.

It’s the noisy cousin, you know the one, loud and always cracking jokes; nice to see for a while, but you wouldn’t want to live with him.

Bahrain has something Dubai sold long ago; its identity. Don’t try to compete and lose what you have. Be yourself, Bahrain, it’s all you need to be.

Bahrain is different. Bahrain is the favourite Uncle, the one whose visits are eagerly awaited, the one with whom time spent is time treasured.

Bahrain still retains a culture that is linked to a bygone era, when honesty and integrity were more important than a fast buck; when strangers were made welcome, irrespective of wealth, or creed.

Bahrain has a charm of its own, is more welcoming and cosy, not as keen to separate you from your money as its neighbour across the Gulf.

Tourism is calling, and why not? Tourist dollars are important to any country, and we could certainly benefit from a few more offerings of events such as West Side Story, but be careful what you wish for.

It is all too easy to get caught up in the excitement of bringing in something new, and not notice the changes you have made are not necessarily for the better. I think this is what happened in Dubai. Somewhere along the way something fundamental changed and no one noticed.

Bahrain has something Dubai sold long ago; its identity. Don’t try to compete and lose what you have. Be yourself, Bahrain, it’s all you need to be.

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Glen R Stansfield is an author, biker and self-described nutcase. He can be reached on glen@glen-r-stansfield.com. To know more about him, visit glen-r-stansfield.com.

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