Saudi Arabia/Bahrain: Farewell from an Expatriate

My friend is an expatriate who worked in both Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.  She loved her work in both countries.  Until most recently she and her children considered Bahrain home and believed they had put down solid roots.  The job was secure, challenging, invigorating and what she loved doing.  The children had many friends and adapted well to life in Bahrain.  They called it home.  However, given the evolving events and unrest in Bahrain my friend has put her exit plan into motion.  The following are her words on what she has seen and why she has chosen to leave Bahrain:


Just a super quick note to tell you I am taking the kids home. The situation is very very bad here in Bahrain. It has deteriorated suddenly over the last few days. Schools are closed and our Embassies have told us to stay indoors at home until further notice. Yesterday the US Embassy advised US citizens to go home. Last night youths armed with swords and sticks barricaded the roads around where I live (which is 2 mins away from the US base!). I surmise that these were local lads from the village, it is the roads leading to the village that have been blocked. The villages have been the scenes of a lot of violence in the last few days and there are reports that non-Bahraini Arabs in civilian dress have been attacking the villages. There are allegations of government ids and paperwork being found on people involved in these attacks. All I can say for certain is that there seem to be two opposing vigilante groups emerging amidst general chaos, as well as what I am sure is a certain percentage of a rogue element (a universal constant globally) whose intentions are purely mayhem. I would classify the current situation as anarchy.

I’m sure you know that King Hamad has declared a State of Emergency for 3 months and troops and armoured vehicles have been brought in from Saudi, the UAE and Kuwait. It seems to be a choice between anarchy and martial law, neither of which is a particularly appealing option and certainly not anything I want my children to experience.

Personally I do not see any positive solutions to this situation, which I think will scar this country for years to come. I can see many negative options and some very cold, harsh political truths. I have told friends that I think that on Monday (the day that Saudi forces were invited back in), Bahrain ceased to exist. What remains is a square on a chessboard and at the table are Saudi and the US on one side and Iran on the other.

I have therefore yesterday booked us one way tickets home.

I am absolutely devastated and can not believe this has happened, especially after the positive way in which the earlier trouble was resolved and given the enormous concessions that the Bahraini government has made in recent weeks. I was really really loving my job, I was so happy in what I doing and I love Bahrain and its archaeology! I can not believe that I have to walk away from that. I am just concentrating on what I need to do to get my kids to safety and arranging for my belongings to be shipped after me. I don’t allow myself to think about what I am losing nor how I will live once I get there.

My prayers are with you my dear friend for a safe journey.  My heart is also heavy for you as I understand all too well what it is like when a departure is also a forced goodbye.   -American Bedu

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33 Responses

  1. Oh wow, I will be praying for your friend.

  2. Wow.

    Thanks for putting this on the blog. I wasn’t really following what was going on. After reading this I looked up Bahrain on the web and will follow the situation more closely.

    I’d love to hear more from folks living in the middle east.

    May God/Allah be with them all.

  3. I’m with Annie, I knew there was some unrest and protests, but I didn’t know it had gotten this bad! Things seem to be happening all over the place, and it’s hard to know where to direct one’s attention – especially if, like me, you have friends in most of these places!

    Thanks for the update, and I wish only the best for your friend and her family.

  4. Such an awful state of affairs, and personally dramatic for your friend. May this time of unrest pass quickly.

  5. I hope your friend and her children make it back safely. Maybe they will be able to return sometime later after this is over. May God bless and protect her and her children.

  6. The situation in Bahrain has been stunned. I was there a short time and knew of some troubles but nothinbg like this at all. I am shocked. While I was there, the only few things happening where power outages, tire buring and a couple of car explusions ( I think in Hamad town away from me anyway)
    I know it is sad to leave. I left because of my contract being met but nonetheless, left on a good note. I remember one american at the airport telling me ‘ah, the mideast is like a second home’ he understood as grew up a government ‘brat’ like me. So, I be empathic here that it feels like a loss but keep your head high—I have a lot confidence in region amid all the choas. Hang in there!!!!!

  7. My sympathies are with you and your family. We had a similar situation when we left Riyadh before the Gulf war. Hopefully you’ll be able to return before too long.

  8. “I have told friends that I think that on Monday (the day that Saudi forces were invited back in), Bahrain ceased to exist.

    Many are predicting “balkanization” of GCC countries with saudi arabia as the new and improved “soviet union”.

    “The villages have been the scenes of a lot of violence in the last few days and there are reports that non-Bahraini Arabs in civilian dress have been attacking the villages. There are allegations of government ids and paperwork being found on people involved in these attacks.”

    See the two links below. Bahrain is now recruiting mercenaries in south asia to quell the local protests …

    Recruitment of Bahrain National Guards in Lahore to kill Shia protesters in Bahrain
    http://criticalppp.com/archives/42628

    Breaking News: Pakistan army exports new mercenaries to kill Bahraini protesters
    http://criticalppp.com/archives/42347

  9. “I have told friends that I think that on Monday (the day that Saudi forces were invited back in), Bahrain ceased to exist.”

    Yes, many are predicting the “balkanization” of GCC with saudi arabia as the new and improved soviet union.

    “The villages have been the scenes of a lot of violence in the last few days and there are reports that non-Bahraini Arabs in civilian dress have been attacking the villages. There are allegations of government ids and paperwork being found on people involved in these attacks.”

    According to media reports, Bahrain is recruiting mercenaries in south asia to quell the growing unrest. See the link below to a pakistani newspaper:

    Recruitment of Bahrain National Guards in Lahore to kill Shia protesters in Bahrain
    http://criticalppp.com/archives/42628

  10. I have friends in Bahrain who work for Gulf Air. They are definitely concerned about their children and wonder whether mom and kids should relocate for awhile. I also wonder about my Saudi friends who have their children schooled in Bahrain …..

  11. Wow. Hearing your friend tell her side of the story sure puts things into perspective.

    Hopefully, things will calm down during the next 3 months. The world doesn’t need another war, that’s for sure.

  12. the rioters and their terrorists Iranian backed leaders in Bahrain Have tarnished the honor of the Arab ” justified ” revaluations.

  13. Saud…the despotic corrupt Arab leaders that have not hesitated to slaughter their own people in desperate acts to hold onto their thrones and crowns have tarnished the honor of Arabs.

    Iran did not have a hand in what Mubarak did to his people or bin Ali to his people or Saddam to his people or Gadaffi to his people or or or….and now Bahrain. Every single Arab leader apparently subscribes to the same handbook that tells how to deal with a popular uprising….shoot shoot and shoot some more…then blame it on the people themselves for bringing chaos to the country where once it was supposedly peaceful and just.

    Whatever.

  14. According to media reports, Bahrain is recruiting mercenaries in south asia to quell the growing unrest. See the link below to a pakistani newspaper:

    Recruitment of Bahrain National Guards in Lahore to kill Shia protesters in Bahrain
    http://criticalppp.com/archives/42628

  15. A number of my Saudi friends who worked in Al Khobar or Damman but lived in Bahrain have shifted their families back to Saudi.

  16. In Egypt,Tunis Lypia it was the people’s movement against the bad standard of living and what so called ‘ republicans ‘. In Bahrain, its one sect’s movement that have been callinf for a Khomeni’s style state for years but they took advantage of the uprising in the mideast and the media coverage to cause stop of life and attacking the other groups. The huge gathering of people in front of Alfateh mosque to show support for the king and regain peace was enough. Bahrain is back today to its people, they can go to work again.

  17. I have just returned to Bahrain after a long time in the US taking care of family business. I am an American Muslim living here in Bahrain. I am sad by what is going on here but this is my home, I had to come back. Things seem to be getting a little better than what they have been, so I have been told. My journey home from the Airport was interesting to say the least. Armed men at checkpoints, neighborhood kids with sticks manning their own “checkpoints” into the local areas. Driving home on Friday evening was eerie because I can honestly count the cars we passed on the roads. Bahrain was deserted as people were in their homes due to the nationwide curfew. Many families have suffered due to this unrest. Bahrain has been brought down to the gutters because of this and I truly pray there is an end in sight. May Allah protect us all and I pray we are all safe tonight….

  18. Saud, *In Bahrain, its one sect’s movement that have been callinf for a Khomeni’s style state*

    This statement is untrue, this protest is from Shia ànd Sunni against a repressive evil government which has been habitually torturing civilians for decades.
    How evil this government and their buddy-governments are, is proven right now by their aggression and their willingness to murder whole families just to keep their power.
    If you are shortsighted enough to take their propaganda hook, line and sinker that’s your own lookout, but don’t repeat it here. We know better.

  19. Afake, the protests started with both Sunni and Shia participants.. however the protest shifted as Shia radical opposition hijacked and changed the tone to a very aggressive one, the Sunnis kept their distance from it after the shift. That was a critical and unsound move, it snowballed from there into a very anarchist situation.

    There is a story about this from NYT http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/21/world/middleeast/21bahrain.html?_r=2&src=twrhp

    It’s not Black and white in Bahrain case as in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya or Yemen. While reforms are needed, there are tensions between Shia populations in Gulf countries and the Monarchies. Both propaganda machines have been running for more than decades that its systematic. Tensions with Iran, Shia and Sunni Arab leaders have been around for a long while, its a long proxy war which is exhausting the economies of the nations involved and the blood of Shia in the Gulf.

    I hope Bahrain finds a peaceful existence and prosperity, away from the reach sectarian rift and puppet strings.

  20. ok now i’m worried .. My kids are travelling transit thru manama in june, I hope these thngs get resolved by then. even though it’s a 2 hr stopover, and they are not babies, it freaks me out to have any family go near the middle east at this time.
    I hope for everyones sake this is resolved peacefuly .

  21. Thanks for sharing this. How sad.

  22. radha, I know how you feel! My daughter thought that now would be a good time to take my grandson and spend 4 months in Pakistan. As if I don’t have enough grief in my life right now!! Well, one month down and I’m just taking it one breath at a time. 8-/

  23. @Radha – keep apprised of unfolding events and be prepared to revise plans if necessary as well as have a back up plan.

    @Lynn – where is your daughter’s destination in Pakistan? I lived there during two different periods. I understand your concern but Pakistan has been quiet in comparison to other parts of the world and she (and Grandson) will also be under the care and protection of her Pakistani family which is not taken lightly. Feel free to email me directly if you’d like: admin@americanbedu.com

  24. I believe she is in the Islamabad area. of course I realise that it’s not quite Kabul or Tripoli but there IS a US State Department warning on Americans traveling in Pakistan right now. I’m sure that Pakistanis take very good care of their families (a bit questionable in my eyes considering that her husband didn’t even travel with them) but all the care and protection in the world can’t save you from the terrorists’ bombs and that part of the world is just too unpredictable right now.

    I’m just pretty upset that they would think that now is the right time to be adding stress and worry to our lives let alone the fact that they are not here to help us through our grief. if my son’s death had done anything to help bring us back together she tore it right back to borderline complete alienation with her response to our concerns.

  25. Radha, if your kids are in transit at Bahrain Airport, they will be in Muharraq and not in Manana. Muharraq is safe. All the problems are mainly in Manama and in villages. So your kids will be okay. 🙂

  26. Thank you sarah for the info, the tkt says manama so is this muharrah an airport used by intl destination travellers or is it a diff city?

    The tkt says stop in manama, that’s why i was a bit worried.

    anyway I’d much preferet o cancel the whole thing and book safely by BA or lufthansa, but F considers himself ” the No. 1 expert of middle east and thinks i’m unnecessarily panicking “.. oh well ,

  27. Radha, I am surprised the ticket says “Manama”. Manama is the capital of Bahrain and all problems of this unrest is concentrated there. There is no airport in Manama.

    Bahrain International Airport is in Muharraq – another city/town. There is only one airport used by all passengers travelling in and out or in transit and that is the one in Muharraq.

    But it is safe now; And I am sure your kids will face no problem. F is right, btw. 🙂

  28. @radha… No need to worry dear. I live in Bahrain and just came back here after some time away. We flew into Muharraq as there is no airport in Manama as Sarah has said. Things are getting better here, alhamdulillah… People are going back to work and going about their lives again. Your family will be more than safe in a lay over at the airport. Nothing to fear…Sleep well.

  29. Thanks all, and thanks carol, for your reassurances, if my kids need help or are stuck, i’m glad there are so many around to ask for advise. so a big thanks to you carol .

  30. Things are getting better if u discount the checkpoints every other block…tanks scattered everywhere…helicopters…continued attacks…people still being killed…20 at last count…over a 100 missing….Btv still spewing lies and the local papers lining up to paint it all as completely one sided.

    Yeah…things are normal.

    FYI there is a huge protest planned tomorrowm, Friday after prayers…considering what has transpired in the past…the mood of the protestors after having some killed…and missing…and the continued efforts by the govt to silence them with Saudi forces etc…Im willing to bet its going to be one ugly day. All expats stay home …or run off to Dubai for the weekend.

  31. Ok… so the majority should suffer just because she has to leave her job and the kids found new friends. lol…

  32. Bahrain has been home for a loong time for me, where my heart has settled. British embassy told us to ship back to uk BUT i refused to for reasons that my son is arab and i dnt want to be distant from him and also because the bahraini people fighting for their rights are the very people who have supported me in ym hours of need and in their hours of need i shall be a support. The country has changed alot for sure, May Allah protect the innocent people and grant full haqq to all ameen.

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