Monday, March 23, 2015

Bahrain’s New Economy

Daniel Bell (1974) came up with the concept of Post-Industrialism or Post Industrial Society. It refers to the shift from a dominance of the manufacturing industry with its assembly line workers to the growth of the service industry and its accompanying service oriented employees. It comes with increased automation replacing blue-collar workers with machines and enhanced focus on service, lean structures and professional workers.

What does this have to do with anything?

I don’t know but it brings to mind a phenomenon that is taking place right here at home. The information above this paragraph came from Wikipedia, below it is just me theorizing on what is taking place with the market in Bahrain today and relating it to Bell’s theory. It has no merit academically, economically, politically, comically or otherwise. However, with all pieces of useless research must come the researcher’s own contribution and I will gift you mine; no citation required.

In its early days, Bahrain started out as a pearl trade country moving later on to manufacturing from aluminum extrusion to refining GCC oil. Jobs in large manufacturers like Alba or Bapco were highly lucrative and extremely competitive and the service industry was yet to be born. Then came the banking “revolution” creating our own little post industrial culture especially after opening the competition in the telecom industry and I observed that service suddenly became a priority on everyone’s agenda.

Now here comes my little contribution to this particular body of research…

The financial crisis and later on the political one have created an employment void. People lost jobs in the service industry and business have shrunk tremendously causing a shortage of positions available for the increasing number of college graduates. However, the amazing outcome of these mishaps is a new wave of employees: the self-employed. Home grown businesses have emerged with the social media spike and we have seen many of them flourish before our eyes on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and then move out of the virtual world and into the trade fairs and markets and permanent offices, shops and kitchens.

So Bahrain moves from the industrial revolution, to the service industry to the entrepreneurial industry; what I would like to call “post-post-industrialism”.

Please let us not focus on the ridiculousness of the term I’m about to coin and let’s pay attention to its meaning.

We, Bahrainis, do not succumb to market conditions or go around begging for jobs. We CREATE jobs for ourselves and we do it well! We have talents and business sense and we put them together to create innovative products and services that compete with those in medium and large companies. We do what we love and that is our job. The typical Bahraini is independent and resourceful. We don’t wait for handouts or help. We earn our respect and place in society and business and we make a name that sells itself. We don’t shy away from laborious tasks and we don’t look down upon those who perform them if we happen to be more fortunate. We are down to earth and amiable and we get our hands dirty and we are PROUD OF IT.

This article is a tribute to all of those Bahraini entrepreneurs who made it and those who are about to make it and even to those who might have failed because its only a matter of time until success comes-a-knockin’.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Blog Connection to Academia

As I embark on my next phase in my DBA journey I had a couple of months of stagnation where I just couldn't go through with my research. The originally intended topic was Migrant Worker issues in Bahrain and while it is a subject still close to my heart I was relating to a more potent internal struggle that screamed to be explored and studied and shared with the academic world. It is a topic to which many would relate especially in this patriarchal society in which we live. Those couple of months were a constant internal debate of the aspects of my life that I hold dear and important and the duality of my role as professional and homemaker where the time and effort distribution are not equal yet the expectations are high at both ends. It is a situation where societal norms are pulling me to one side while the need to maintain my place in the professional arena pull me to the other. The decision was then made for me that this will be the topic of my study.

I started reading feminist and post colonial literature on this very subject and while I've always struggled with non-fiction I found that I can actually lose myself into this form of prose. It is the first time I actually enjoy anything that is not bound by the parameters of a plot and a climax and a surprise ending. Currently reading Remaking Women: Feminism and Modernity in the Middle East; a compilation of articles edited by Lila Abu-Lughod with a primary focus on Egypt and secondary focus on Turkey and Iran.

Just looking at the title caused me to raise an eyebrow as it was the first time I see feminism and Islam in the same context where they two always seemed contradictory to me. The book uses post-colonial theories to analyze discourses on the role of women then and now and explores the notion of modernity as it is understood and adopted in the policy making of these societies. Modernity itself is highly debated among scholars with its roots stemming from a time that we would not characterize as modern now and with the added complexity of the existence of postmodernism in the mix. The dual role of women is a central theme of these articles which is where I hope to find the theoretical backbone of my research.

At the last peer review workshop I attended in Bradford I was audience to one of the best research presentations I have ever seen. She was a colleague from the Netherlands who is doing an auto ethnographic study of herself in the three roles that she holds in her universe. Her ability to draw and maintain the lines between her three roles throughout her journey was outstanding and I am so much more interested in the literary aspect of the DBA than its scientific merit that I am seriously considering this approach.

One of the integral components of writing such research is maintaining a detailed journal of not only what has occurred in my life but also my mindset at the time and the "conversations" I'm having about it. Hence I thought why not use my blog for this? It is after all a form of ranting isn't it?