Sunday, August 03, 2008

Bahrain Causeway "Madness"

We will not go to Bahrain on the weekend. Bahrain is a teeny, tiny little country right next door to us about a half an hour's drive away on a good day. On a bad day, it will take you hours and hours to get there. You can find some "normalcy" there. There are nice restaurants where you can sit down and order a bottle of wine with dinner - or beer - or whatever your beverage choice may be. There are no separate entrances and separate areas for men and women - unrelated men and women can be in the same place - without worry of being arrested. You can shop at clothing stores and try apparel you may wish to purchase on before buying. Most shops do not close for the entire afternoon and no one locks you in or out at prayer time.

The weekends here are Thursday and Friday - although Saudi Arabia is one of the only countries that has not changed this to Friday and Saturday - the weekend in Bahrain is Friday and Saturday. A Wednesday night trip to Bahrain will mean that you will spend several hours sitting in your car at the Causeway waiting to cross through both Customs check-points - with scores of unruly drivers who do not believe they should have to wait in any semblance of a line all muscling in to cut each other off. The roads for the ENTIRE entire trip to Bahrain and returning desperately need those big huge cement barriers to designate lanes and to keep others from making their own lanes as everyone pushes and shoves using their cars to get to the front of the line. I know I've said before the Saudis do not "que," they believe they are above that.

Sitting at the Causeway - waiting to cross - you would be amazed at the number of carloads of young Saudi men that are headed that direction. Yes, there are many families, and couples, but by far there are more men. Probably there would be as many carloads of young women, as well, if women were allowed to drive here. Women are allowed to drive in Bahrain. Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that prohibits women from driving. Why are so many Saudis going to Bahrain? Freedom. And alcohol. That is the only reason we go there.

I do not have to wear my abeya in Bahrain. No one has to wear one. There, it is worn by choice. Many women do wear their abeyas. But they do not have to - they choose to. Here - it is not a choice - we - women - have to wear an abeya or risk being confronted by the religious police. You can go to Bahrain and sit in a nice restaurant in a dress or in jeans. Ditto for shopping there - you can wear what you want. Bahrain is a Muslim country but one that is much, much less restrictive than Saudi Arabia.

Today's Arab News has an article on the nightmare of crossing the Causeway "going to Bahrain." Good to know that we should avoid going until after August 9th. Does school start then? What happens on August 9th that the Causeway traffic will slow down? Typically weekends are the worst time to go that direction - because everyone goes - and we just won't and don't. But if you go over on a Saturday evening or a Tuesday evening - you can pretty much avoid the entire clusterfuck of sitting and waiting at the Causeway. When Ramadan starts, the causeway will be empty. Very, very few restaurants serve alcohol during Ramadan - no point going over for dinner - in my view, anyway, since I'm not going to go out to dinner unless I can have a glass of wine. What is the point of going out to dinner and drinking milk or water? I can do that at home. [We don't go out to dinner at all, here. I refuse to go wearing an abeya.]

It is very curious. Why are so many Saudis crossing the Causeway to go to Bahrain? If you are a "family" you can go to amusement parks, here. You can shop, here, and go out to dinner, here. Many Saudi women will remain covered in their head-to-toe black - there - in Bahrain - so what is the point of leaving Saudi? No, the prices are not better for shopping. The prices are better, here. The only thing that Bahrain offers families that Saudi Arabia doesn't would be movie theaters. So all of the Saudi families are crossing to go to the movies? Doubtful. I honestly do not know why so many Saudi families go to Bahrain. Young men, though... I can answer for many of them. They are going over to drink. Simple as that. They are found in all of the restaurants and bars sitting on the stools drinking beer in their white thobes and gutras. Oh, sure, drinking alcohol if you are Muslim is "haram" [not allowed, forbidden], but that certainly doesn't seem to stop them.


  1. Sabra, it's the same here, young and old Omani men alike sitting in bars and nightclubs (which kind of remind me of highschool dances) pounding back the pints wearing their dishdashas and musars.

    I think it's to get a look at the ladies not covered head to toe which probably makes the trip extra worthwhile.

  2. But, but, but... Guess it isn't really "haram," then, is it? I can't speak for Oman, AIO - or for any of the other Gulf countries - but there are certain aspects to Saudi Arabia's "culture," if you will, that are just so hypocritical I can't stand it!

  3. I was sitting here shaking my head and thinking rules for one and rules for others......very two faced if you ask me, and all in the name of religion????


  4. Muslims aren't the only ones that sin. Doesn't make their drinking right, just makes them Muslims human, fallable, and sinful.

    Many Saudi families go to Bahrain to sit and relax. Something new to do. Sure there are places here but their crap. I know families that go every single weekend. Have lunch or dinner, see a movie or not go to a place for a pool or beach. Nothing earth shattering just something different than here in Saudi.

  5. Pretty much, Gill... Read the post on the man that had six wives. "Rules" ARE different for some. But, then, "rules" were made to be broken, right?

  6. Your comments ARE always insightful, NZ! Interesting to hear from someone who does know that the places "here" are crap. Driving the Causeway every weekend would be ANYTHING BUT relaxing, if you ask me. But, then, we avoid it totally during those times. I did make the mistake, however, of getting our tickets to the States out of Bahrain on a Thursday - what was I thinking?!? And we return on a Wednesday. Where was the calendar when I brilliantly scheduled that?!?

  7. Do you even have to wear your abeya to eat at restaurants on your compound? I'd like to read more about your compound, it sounds like a small town to me.

  8. We don't have to wear our abeya's on our compound, Wry. And if you want to call the dining hall a restaurant... Yes, there will be many there covered head-to-toe in black. And we do have a restaurant. We also have a cafe. We have a "steak house" and a pizza place... I'll find some information on our compound for you. There are actually quite a few photos out there.

  9. You forgot about the prositution in Bahrain. It's a huge problem bahrainis are having to deal with.

    But your right about the causeway, I actually got my car hit while a Saudi was trying to cut me off and get infront of my line.


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