There is more than a little irony in the decision by the Bahrain International Circuit to launch ticket sales for the event in April with the slogan “Unif1ed – One Nation In Celebration”. Bahrain has been anything but unified into recent months with regular violent clashes on the streets – and much more that the locals would like us all to ignore. The fact that the first anniversary of the troubles was somewhat muted was down to the fact that the protesters were pinned down in their communities by police using all the usual techniques that have been seen in recent months. This does not mean that the problem has gone away and there are some who feel that the danger now is that their inability to express discontent will be translated into a radicalisation of the opposition and more desperate acts in the future.
In the meantime the la-la-la brigade in Bahrain want us all to believe that everything is fine and that we can all live happily ever after watching noisy cars going round and round in circles. I wish that were true.
Elsewhere there are wiser heads, notably Saudi Arabia’s Prince Alwaleed, one of the world’s wealthiest men and a celebrated international investor. He has warned in Arabian Business Today that the so-called Arab Spring protests and uprisings will eventually reach every Arab state and that it would be wise to do something to address the problem.
“If there is a lesson to be learned from the Arab Spring, it is that the winds of change that are now blowing in the Middle East will eventually reach every Arab state,” he wrote. “Now is therefore an opportune time, particularly for the Arab monarchical regimes, which still enjoy a considerable measure of public goodwill and legitimacy, to begin adopting measures that will bring about greater participation of the citizenry in their countries’ political life.”
Unifying people is a lot more difficult than unif1ying them.