Formula 1 is a truly international sport. A typical season attracts over 500 million TV viewers, and countries the world over host races and fill up their grandstands with people from all walks of life. It is these viewers’ eyes that are ultimately responsible for the hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue that the sport generates.
The fact that so many people love the sport means that thousands of people can make a living from it. While it’s easy to focus on the uniquely talented individuals who make millions like the drivers and executives, the reality is that F1 economically touches the lives of countless ordinary people: the camera people, the technicians, the reporters, the waiters, the chefs, the porters, the race marshals, the cleaners, the delivery people and the many, many others essential to the wonderful product you watch in your living room or, if you are lucky, from the grandstands.
On any given race weekend, while millions of viewers around the world enjoy the entertainment, it is the locals who will be reaping the greatest financial windfall, especially those involved in retail and hospitality. Fortunately, F1’s hectic travel schedule ensures that taxi drivers and bell boys from Malaysia to Brazil all get a seat at the economic table, and that it isn’t just one locale which monopolizes the income.
Bahrain’s F1 race is no exception to this economic ecosystem. According to data from the Labor Market Regulation Authority, 23% of the Bahraini workforce are in wholesale/retail trade and repair, with 7% in hotels and restaurants. Nobody really knows how much the Bahraini economy (or any other race-hosting economy) benefits from the race simply because the effects are so widespread (the Bahrain Economic Development Board estimates hundreds of millions of dollars). However evidence of the benefits is easily come by. For example according to Ernst and Young’s Middle East Hotel Benchmark Survey Report, in April 2012 (the month during which the race took place), the average amount of money yielded by hotels in Manama was $106 per room. The average for the three months before April and the three months after April was $78, suggesting that one race weekend in April was responsible for a 36% increase in hotel revenues in the entire month! An even starker comparison appears if we look at April 2011, when the race’s cancellation coincided with a room-yield of less than $30.
However what makes the Bahraini (and Abu Dhabi) races stand out is the very unique nature of immigration. In a time when Western countries are closing their borders as a reaction to economic decline, Bahrain, the UAE and others countries continue to give foreigners rich and poor the chance to search for better economic opportunities in the Gulf. Thus unlike most other F1 races, the beneficiaries of the Bahraini GP come from all corners of the globe.
About 75% of Bahrain’s labor force is non-citizens, mainly from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Philippines. In fact in hotels and restaurants sector, there are six non-Bahrainis working compared to every Bahraini, while in the wholesale/retail trade and repair sector non-citizens outnumber citizens around three-to-one. Working in the Gulf allows many foreigners to support their families at home through remittances (in 2011, India received around $60 billion in remittances from the Gulf countries). Do these guest workers have the most glamorous jobs or the highest salaries? No (though many do still work as financial professionals), and just like the US or China, Bahrain must continue to work on eliminating economy inequality.
However many of the foreigners who come to work in places like Bahrain work on securing visas for their families to join them, they have their own schools and places of worship, and the current generation of immigrants are voluntarily following in the footsteps of their parents and sometimes grandparents. These are indicators that Bahrain offers foreigners a genuine opportunity for economic betterment superior to their options back home, and that the region’s natural resource wealth is not merely consumed by a closed circle of citizens who live in suspicion of foreigners. That’s why a 2009 survey by HSBC found that Bahrain ranked first in a key measure of how easy it is for foreigners to set up a new life for their families, ahead of Canada and Australia.
F1 is a wonderfully inclusive enterprise and it showcases how humans the world over can collaborate regardless of their language, culture or nationality to produce something that is enjoyed everywhere. Like all countries that host F1 races, Bahrain is full of people who both love to watch the sport and whose living depends upon it. But what makes Bahrain particularly fitting as a venue is that the economic beneficiaries mirror the sport’s internationalism. So don’t forget to buy your ticket J
A couple of nights ago a white Toyota Avalon passed in front of me while I was waiting for my turn to get in lane. It was driven by a young lady in company of her friends. It was night-time, and the traffic light was slow. Everything seemed normal for a busy Ramadan night, until of a sudden the front passenger’s window opened, and out came a magazine!
It was a shock really. You’d think in these holy days people would be more mindful of their actions, but apparently they’re not. To be truthful, I hold no respect for anyone that dispose of their litter onto the streets in such manner. I’ve even called the Littering Hotline a few times to report such cases and would only hope that perpetrators are penalized. In the UK that would approximately be 50BD, in Bahrain its 10BD, while in Singapore its 100BD! Not only that, but in Singapore they make you cleanup after others so you’d get a taste of your own medicine.
The prophet may peace be upon him said: “Removing any harm from the road is charity (that will be rewarded by Allah).” [Bukhari]
Litter from the vehicle is harm. Its harm to the environment, its harm to the workers, and its harm to the image of Bahrain. At least think of the municipality workers when you throw your garbage out the window. How many times during the day will they bend just to pick up after you? I’m sure you know how hot it is during the summer over here. Would you like to do their job for a day? (Actually that doesn’t sound like a bad idea for an awareness program.)
But really, has our society lost its empathy and mutual respect values? Whatever happened to good habits? You know what the girl who threw the magazine out the window did? She looked at me straight in the eye and laughed! A mental state of denial perpetrators enter whenever caught red-handed.
I kindly ask of you to utilize the Litter Hotline services and report such disgusting acts whenever you spot them. Here is what you need to take note of when making the call:
- License plant number
- Vehicle’s make, model, and color
- Time and Location of the offense
- Type of litter thrown (Which in my case was the magazine).
Motorist Litter Violations Hotline 80001855.
Another thing you could do, when you find yourself in that awkward situation when your beef Shawarma starts dripping of Tahina, is to spare a plastic bag for disposals in your car. I usually use the same plastic bags I receive from cold stores whenever I make purchases. You’d be amazed at how much trash you stash in your car! Here are also a couple of neat commercial bags that would be nice to have.
* Littering is a global issue, and not exclusive to Bahrain.
I just recently read an article titled “One Internet, Two Nations“, which was recommended to me by a very dear person. The article, written by Henry Louis Gates Jr. and published in the New York Times on October 31, 1999, discusses the degree of digital divide within the American society. It does so based on ethnicity, between the white and black communities. Gates’ conclusion was that blacks have a self-imposed segregation between them and new technological tools of literacy.
Gates uses the days of slavery as his starting point, noting that blacks were denied access to education; the first right they gained after a long legal battle. Then he wonders why blacks are reluctant to embrace the new digital tools, and why a type of cyber-segregation exists.
While Gates may have explored the topic from a brief economical point of view, including a focus on the content offered on these digital tools; I respectfully disagree with his conclusions. I understand that times have changed, and the article was written nearly 14 years ago. But I’d like to throw in a valid point when I think I have one.
Content is not necessarily what’s appealing to people when it comes to using technology or the internet. Its about the culture of a society and how they tend to behave. People of African, Asian, Arab, or even Latin decent, are known to cherish their family oriented values. Something they grew up with.
To prove my point, I suggest you take a walk in a neighborhood known to be predominantly populated by one of the ethnic groups mentioned above. You’ll notice that residents actually enjoy sitting on the porch, and children either skipping, playing sports, or simply “chilling”. They do that not because they can’t afford technology, but because they prefer to be around people.
In a 2009 study conducted by the National Center for Education (USA), only 33% of respondents reported their lack of access to the internet was due to its expense. This percentage however isn’t based on race or ethnicity. The same study found out that nearly 90% of Whites have/use internet at home, while 80% of Blacks or Hispanics do. Their variance to me isn’t significant when accounting for cultural values.
More recently however, the internet has played a major role in globalization, uniting different thoughts and cultures through keyboards and extended networks for different causes. Social Media has been successful due to the fact that it revolved around people. Not technology, research, or literature. Thus expanding its users base by appealing to people oriented cultures.
Twitter for example has a “trends” functionality that highlights what people are tweeting about globally. In fact, the term “The People’s Republic of Twitterstan” was used in this article which speaks about Twitter’s trending topics in 2011. Whether it’s a tsunami in Japan or wildfire in Colorado, you can bet that thousands of people are tweeting about it around the glob. Other terms such as twittersphere and twitterverse have also become common, reflecting on the effect of Twitter on its worldwide users.
So if I was to rewrite the title of Gates’ article, I’d call it “One internet, One world”.
Once upon a time, there was a lumberjack seeking work. During his job hunt, he found a woods merchant with plenty of people working for him. This merchant had the reputation of being fair and honest. So the lumberjack decided to work for him.
The lumberjack started his first day at work with enthusiasm and went on to cut 15 trees. The merchant was very pleased with his achievement on the first day, and encouraged him to uphold his performance.
On the second day, the lumberjack cut 10 trees, and on the third day he cut 7, and so on as the days passed, the number of trees cut by the lumberjack was less.
“Am I losing my strength? Am I getting old?” The lumberjack wondered to himself. He went to the merchant and expressed his apologies for his poor performance. “I don’t know what’s going on, I work from sunrise to sunset doing my best to cut down the most trees I can cut. But its not working!” , said the lumberjack.
The merchant then interrupted and asked: “When was the last time you sharpened your saw?”
“What? Sharpen my saw?” replied the lumberjack. “And when would I have time to do that?”
Moral of the story
We are all lumberjacks, and we face a variation of challenges at work. Sometimes we might feel confident in overcoming those challenges, at other times we might think we’re not ready.
The skills we develop don’t last for long, specially in this day and age when technologies are developing rapidly. We must always be ready, by taking the time to develop our skills, gain new ones and build up on the old ones.
This is one of the keys to success.
Don’t panic! The project isn’t going anywhere but forward inshaAllah. Its me who’s leaving.
To enhance the abilities of young Bahraini youth, and equip them with the skills needed to be financially independent, through a national and practical training program that promotes environmental preservation and optimum utilization of Information Technology.
After serving as the awareness leader for nearly 3 years, I find myself saying goodbye to the project’s team members. Being involved in the project during its early stages has without a doubt developed my skills and broadened my knowledge in the field.
I’ve learned for instance the horrible effects of burning electronic waste on the environment, and on us humans! Did you know for example that lead contained in CRTs can cause damage to the central and peripheral system and kidneys? Scary stuff!!
I’ve also had the opportunity to hone my presentation skills by dealing with stage fright and being able to enjoy giving presentations to large crowds. I was also given the opportunity to learn and implement a long term awareness plan, that involved various different activities targeting nearly all components of society.
This is the benefit of volunteer work. Learning while helping, and sharing a smile.
I’m sure success will be Recycle IT’s destiny, as an astounding group of young minds stand behind it, along with a team of advising expertise. Perhaps we will work again together in the future.
Welcome to the “Home of Motorsport in the Middle East“!
Since its inception in 2004, the Bahrain International Circuit has been home to one of the world’s most popular sporting events, the Formula 1. Bahrainis from all walks of life anxiously await the big even every year. Businesses flourish, hotels get fully booked, and tourists start pouring into the tiny island.
Nested 6 hours of flight away from destinations in Asia and Europe, Bahrain’s strategic location offers access to the Formula One race to more than 100 Million regional population that is less than two hours away.
With some 3000 temporary jobs to be created for the event (I know my cousin is excited to be a Marshal again), the Forumla 1 race is expected draw in foreign investments, something Bahrain welcomes in a move to diversify its income and reduce its dependence on oil exports.
More so, festivities and accompanying events have been keeping Bahrainis and expatriates busy and entertained over the past few weeks. Performers such as Maz Jobrani , Navi (Michael Jackson’s impersonator), The Red Hot Chilli Pipers, and many more are around for the 2012 Bahrain GP.
The atmosphere is filled with joy and excitement, with decorations all around the country for the big event. I’ve taken a few pictures while driving around and would like to share them with you:
I’m not sure if an English version of this story exists, so I will go ahead and do my best in translating it. If you’ve heard of it, please let me know where to find it.
Once upon a time, there was a young beautiful girl whose home was close to a small lake. She used to go out to the lake everyday and contemplate her reflection in the still water.
One day, she decided to take her younger brother with her, and while she was reflecting on her image in the water, arranging her fine hair, her brother took a small stone and threw it into the lake, resulting in waves. The young girl’s reflection was distorted. She became angry, and started an effort to stop the water ripples here and there using her hands, but to no avail.
An old man passed by and asked her what the problem was . She told him the story, and he offered to help. He said, “I will tell you the only solution that stop the water ripples, but its very difficult”. She replied, “I’ll do it, whatever the cost”. Very calmly the old man replied, “Just let the lake be still“.
Moral of the story
We often become so accustomed to the status quo that the slightest change or the smallest problem we face disturb us. Not only that, but when we try to solve the problems we’re facing, or fight the change we’re experiencing, we tend to make matters worse. We can surely give it a try once or twice, but when we notice a deterioration in the situation, just letting things be, could bring normality back. Being patient, and giving a chance to time is sometimes better than intervening.