It's time for this week's So Your Character is ... Post! This is a weekly segment where I interview lovely volunteers from around the world to give you a firsthand account of being a citizen of their respective country or having a disability. I'm hoping to encourage international diversity, break stereotypes, and give writers a crash course on how to write a character from these different places on our planet. If you haven't checked out last week's So Your Character is from Israel ... be sure to hop on over there and give it a read!
Disclaimer: The content below may be culturally shocking to some. Each of these posts is as uncensored as possible to preserve the authenticity of the cultures of each of the interviewees.
(None of the Images are Mine)
Hi! My name is Marwa and I currently live in a quiet neighborhood called Arad in the Kingdom of Bahrain. I grew up on an island called Halat Al Naim and then moved to my current place at the end of 2014. I am a postgraduate student who loves everything related to art, nature, movies, books, and blogging about books. I love to draw anime and I love to share my love of reading through my book blog and bookstagram.
What do you feel is unique to your country? Landmarks? Celebrations?
Definitely the people themselves. Bahrain has a beautiful culture that is being upheld by a mixture of nationalities and different religious backgrounds who have been living in the same neighborhoods for years. Like all Muslim countries, we celebrate Ramadan and Eid but a lot of people also celebrate Christmas here. You can say that Bahrain is prettiest in December because of all the beautiful light decorations installed to celebrate the National Day and the King’s Inauguration day (on the 16th and 17th), Christmas and New Years. Also, the weather during that time is perfect for outdoor activities.
This country is also well known for its natural pearls and for the fresh fish. In addition, it has unique forts that were built in old times that are very beautiful. The old markets or (Souq - such as the Muharraq Souq) are very popular in our country. They have beautiful traditional clothes with great prices that we usually wear during the month of Ramadan.
Tell me about your country's environment. What are some of your favorite places?
Bahrain is filled with sunshine. The summer season is the longest season and we rarely have winter that usually consists of a few rainy days and some wind. If you love the summer, then you should visit Bahrain at one point in your life. However, it does get extremely hot during July and August, so ice cream, pools and air conditioning are the perfect solutions for this type of weather.
I do have a few favorite places in Bahrain. Some of which are outdoor places such as Amwaj (which means waves in Arabic) that’s a perfect outdoor place that has many coffee shops and restaurants with a great view of the Arabian Gulf. I also love watching the sunset, flamingoes and the view of the capital city (Manama) during the winter in a small island that I grew up in called Al-Halat.
My country has some very tasty food. My favorite is the traditional eggs with tomato dish. I love experimenting with it by adding cheese and oregano sometimes. Another popular dish for breakfast is called (Balaleet) which is sweet vermicelli dish that has saffron and eggs on top of it. In addition, we have a boiled chickpea dish called (Nikkhi) which I love to have for dinner. Our lunch are mainly different types of rice such as (Saloona) which is rice mixed with vegetable gravy; Shrimp (Machboos) which I just had today where the rice is a beautiful yellow color thanks to cardamom. Other Bahraini dishes include meat Harees and chicken Madrouba which are very hard to explain, but very tasty.
If you’re ever in Bahrain and would like to try some of the food I mentioned, you can try some restaurants like Naseef, Saffron (has yummy chicken Madrouba), and Villa Mamas.
Describe briefly a regular day in your country.
During work days, a lot of people wake up at dawn for the first prayer (dawn prayer). There are five prayers spread out during the whole day and the beautiful thing is that you’re able to hear the prayer in every neighborhood. Some people rest until they have to get up to go to work or school which usually is around 6 - 7 AM while others take their time to get ready until they leave for work. By 8-9 AM, most people would have gotten to their jobs and would spend most of the day there. In the afternoon, people go home to pick up their children from school and eat lunch with them at home. During the evening, most people relax and unwind and do different activities with their friends and families.
During the weekends, most people spend Friday afternoon having lunch with the whole family. While at night and on Saturday, they reserve it for their own social or personal activities.
How does your country compare to others, especially the States since my audience is primarily American? Environmentally? Politically? Culturally?Bahrain is a beautiful group of island that is considered tiny compared to other countries in the world. The population is around 1.5 million with both nationals and expats. It is ranked as the top country for expatriates as it provides many facilities to them. Most Bahrainis speak English fluently and a lot of the younger generations love the United States and its culture (such as the food, movies, etc.). Politically, Bahrain is an ally to the United States and houses one of the US bases in it. Environmentally, it is a desert island which can be extremely hot during summer months. Temperatures can rise to 57 degrees at noon during July and August.
Briefly describe three of your country’s historical events that you feel are important.
Bahrain has a rich history that lasted since ancient times. Some important historical events that shaped the country to this day would include the spread of Islam in the sixth century.
Due to the location of the island, it has faced many wars and was occupied by the British until the 16th of December 1971 when Bahrain formally gained its independence.
During the 2000s, Bahrain became a kingdom and introduced democracy to its citizens while allowing women to both vote and participate in political elections.
Another noteworthy event was the discovery of oil in the country prior to its independence.
What are some stereotypes about your country that irk you? What media portrays your country badly be it a movie, a book, or a TV show?
This is not specific to my country only but what irks me is that the media portrays all Arabs/Muslims as either terrorist, or insanely rich people who have nothing better to do than show off their money and spend it all on girls.
Both of these are not true for Bahrainis. Most Bahrainis are very peaceful and friendly people, and a lot of them want nothing to do with the political scene except when they elect representatives during the elections. In addition, most Bahrainis are in the middle to lower class, which means not all Arabs are insanely rich and show-offs.
Another stereotype which I find very funny is that most people who know that I’m Arab ask if I have a camel or an oil well in my backyard. Just for the record, no we don’t.
What media portrays your country well be it a movie, a book, or a TV show?
I haven’t seen many shows, movies or books about my country. The only book I read was called Pecheures De Perles (The Pearl Fishers) by a French journalist called Albert Londres which was translated to Arabic. It’s a beautifully written book about the history and suffering of Bahraini pearl fishers who provide the highest quality pearls for women around the world. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to know more about the history of pearl diving in Bahrain.
Who are your top three favorite fictional characters native to your country in books, movies, or shows?
Unfortunately, since I rarely find books about my country, I don’t have any favorite fictional characters. However, popular characters in Ramadan TV shows and movies are Sadoon and Tafash. Tafash has many fans in Bahrain, especially the children.
Thank you, Marwa, for this very informative post! Come back next week for a post all about Bipolar Syndrome!
Are you interested in participating in this project? Check out the tips archive to see which countries have been filled and if you're from a different country, shoot me an email at howellvictoriagrace(a)gmail(dot)com. I'm especially looking for Cuba, Venezuela, Belarus, Zimbabwe, and Iraq.
Do you have any characters from Bahrain? Did this inspire you to write Bahrainian character or set a book in Bahrain? Are from this or been to this country and you have further input? Feel free to share! Do you have any questions for Marwa? Be sure to thank her!
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