I’m not really sure where to begin. When it comes down to it, no other country, community, or leadership has proved their mettle and fortitude through the Covid-19 pandemic like my home country Bahrain.
We aren’t endowed with the most resources, nor are we the largest country around, and we certainly aren’t the most populous. Yet against all these odds, we’ve proven that sound management, solidarity and wise leadership helped us achieve so much with the little we have.
We didn’t need to enact curfew measures. While people in numerous First and Third World countries have been missing the great outdoors, I wholeheartedly hope this ends for them soon. We didn’t need to threaten harsh punishment for people to distance themselves from the habits that could potentially exacerbate the situation, either. The best part is that we proved that #Feena_Khair is and always will be our mantra amidst trying times.
This is the strong spirit of the people of Bahrain, which we’ve demonstrated time and time again. It’s the unsaid rule we live by, supporting the King and the country. It’s our unwritten constitution.
This solidarity did not come solely in the form of popular initiative; our government put their money where their mouth was. They showed no sign of hesitation when it came down to it; helping citizens, the private sector or expats who’ve flocked in from all over the globe to help build this prosperous nation. The Bahraini government went to the ends of the earth to help its country, starting initiatives to support affected businesses, subsidising EWA bills for nationals, residents and businesses alike, as well as paying the salaries of private sector Bahraini employees. Furthermore, and arguably most notably, our government exempted industrial, commercial and tourism businesses from paying rent and a number of other fees.
Another gesture of kindness from the Bahraini government was when our banking sector was quick to implement the government’s directive to defer instalment payments for an entire half year, without customers having to lift a finger.
The government’s far-sightedness was especially evident in the early decision to halt aviation activity. It seemed unwarranted at the time, yet now it is abundantly clear that this saved us from far more severe consequences.
I am certain that a country like this will emerge from this challenge more resilient than before. This crisis has shaken the world, yet we have not allowed it to shake our courage. Life worldwide has been disrupted, interrupted, upended; but not so much ours. Thanks to an eGovernment, ranked the Middle East’s best year after year, a technologically advanced private sector, as well as speedy and efficient delivery services, we have come out on top.
As of now, the world’s biggest fear has been that healthcare services will be overwhelmed by the number of infected people. By contrast, in Bahrain, the healthcare sector is so efficient that they go afield, testing people at random, and even go the extra mile to send people messages inviting them to get tested. I, myself, got tested – thankfully the results were negative – and was impressed by the precautions taken so as not to turn the field testing units into centres of infection themselves.
I feel compelled to mention the volunteers. The high turnover, and the educational calibre were unlike anything I had anticipated. There were doctors, employees, housewives, students and every other shade of our beautiful societal spectrum.
Bahrain is a country I happily chose to move to out of my own freewill, and I have never looked back. This is why I consider it an honour to be a subject of His Majesty King Hamad. I am wholeheartedly thankful to His Majesty and His Royal Highness Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa; His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Prime Minister; and His Highness Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the King’s Representative for Humanitarian Work and Youth Affairs, National Security Adviser and Board of Trustees chairman of the Royal Humanitarian Foundation (RHF) for their shrewd vision and quick action that helped avert far worse possibilities.
These are but a few reasons why I am in love with this island and its people, who’ve made me one of them and offered me a permanent place amongst them. I have had two countries in my life, but I’d always choose the one and only, the kingdom of peace, love and prosperity: Bahrain.