A post by 7alaylia about an article in today's Al-Wasat reminds me of the above photo I took a few months ago in Muharraq. The kid must have been about 7 or 8 years old. I'm used to seeing kids searching through rubbish in my native Pakistan, but it's quite shocking to see this in Bahrain. The issue of poverty that was the reason for the Crown Prince's McKinsey report, and was the starting point of the Al-Khawaja affair, is very real. Levels of poverty have certainly been on the rise on the island, but its not on display to most people because it is hidden behind all of the shiny new skyscrapers and shopping malls. The contradictions are quite astounding.
For example, we've all been to the posh new Seef district built on land newly reclaimed from the sea, but right next door to it is the neglected Karbabad village which doesn't even have proper roads. Similarly, if you drive down Saar road you will pass by large houses in compounds with swimming pools, tennis courts and many other amenities, that are home to many of the island's well-off expats. But as soon as you enter "Saar village" the scene changes immediately to small houses with cramped bumpy alleys and few proper roads. The contrast is amazing, especially considering that "Saar" and "Saar village" even share the same name.
There is a very deep problem which goes far beyond mere labour policies.