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Smirk4Life
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By REBECCA SANTANA (AP)

MANAMA, Bahrain — This tiny Gulf island nation is sick of its reputation as a seedy off-shore Las Vegas and a hotspot of sin for Saudis, so it's starting to rein in the booze. Already it's flooded with Saudis looking for tamer fare they can't get at home in their ultraconservative kingdom — Hannah Montana and heavy metal.

The Muslim nation has long been known as a no-holds-barred island where glitzy nightclubs, Lebanese lounge singers and alcohol entice Muslims from the Gulf states who want a break from their more rigid societies.

It's a reputation that doesn't always sit well with many of Bahrain's citizens who take offense at the drinking and associated vices, and have recently moved to limit alcohol consumption.

Bahrain is particularly attractive for wealthy Saudis, who live in the region's most conservative state, and are as close as a half hour from Bahrain by a causeway linking Saudi Arabia to the island.

Saudis and others have been known to flood the tiny nation on weekends, filling Manama's bars and hotels, holding alcohol-fueled races through Bahrain's streets and patronizing the many prostitutes who crowd the hotels and clubs.

Both Shiite and Sunni Muslims in Bahrain, usually on opposite sides of the political spectrum, have found common ground in this fight to protect the country's moral fiber.

In April, Bahrain tried to appease conservatives by shutting down bars in one- and two-star hotels. Now some lawmakers are pushing the government to outlaw alcohol in the entire country and close down all nightclubs.

"So many prostitutes and so many drunk people from outside Bahrain, and this is corrupting the country," said Adel al-Moawdah, a parliament member pushing the anti-alcohol measures. "We call it dirtying the face of the country."

But while alcohol and vice have always been a lure, the recent hubbub over the anti-alcohol measures overshadows the fact that many Saudis also come to Bahrain for entertainment fare that in most parts of the world could be considered downright wholesome but are banned in the ultra-strict Islamic kingdom.

People "think that Saudis are always in the bars, restaurants. But I see Saudis who are families, who are very respectful," said Mahmoud Jadbeer, who supervises a chain of cinemas on the island. "We have a huge number of Saudis who come over to Bahrain."

There are no movie theaters in Saudi Arabia, and public concerts are all but banned. Cultural events that do take place are sometimes targeted by the religious police who monitor the country for mixing between the sexes and other offenses.

In Bahrain, Saudis can enjoy such cultural events. Parking lots outside malls are packed with Saudi vehicles bearing the tell-tale KSA markings for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia — some even driven by women who are barred from getting behind the wheel at home.

Saudi customers flocking to see such movies as "Fast and Furious" are easily identifiable by the Saudi riyals they hand over for tickets. Men and women who are rigidly separated back home can be seen walking side by side or even holding hands.

While cultural events are on the rise in Saudi Arabia in recent years, many residents still need an outlet where they can let their veil down.

"For many girls and boys who come here, it's a kind of freedom," said Duaa Muneer, a 21-year-old Saudi woman who studies fulltime in Bahrain. And, Muneer said, they take back to Saudi Arabia a new perspective. "I see things from different angles."

When there is a holiday in Saudi Arabia, Jadbeer who supervises the movie chain, estimates that as many as 85 to 90 percent of his customers are Saudis. The number falls during non-vacation times but is still very significant.

Saudi kids enjoy animation and Hannah Montana, while horror and action movies are popular with the adults, he said.

At the Virgin store in one Manama mall, Fatima Mohammed waved to the rows of T-shirts featuring bands such as IronMaiden, Megadeath and System of a Down, and said Saudi teens love heavy metal.

And lest there be any confusion, it's the girls who like heavy metal, Mohammed said. The guys prefer rap. Many Saudi teens come to Bahrain to take part in battle-of-the-band type competitions on weekends, she added.

Saudis buy books banned from shelves back home, such as novels by Salman Rushdie whose book "Satanic Verses" has been deemed blasphemous, said Howard Scott, who works at the Jashanmal Bookstore.

Many Saudi artists unable to show their work openly in Saudi Arabia instead come to galleries such as the al riwaq, a prestigious facility in Manama showing contemporary art. A good proportion of the customers are also Saudis.

As customers, Saudi tastes run toward paintings and more classical or traditional works, said Mayssa Fattouh, the curatorial and program manager at al riwaq. Many look questioningly at more recent art trends such as video installations, but she said they are amazingly curious.

"They see everything as a new thing," she said.

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
 

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Great article Rabih :eek:kay:

I've saved it to read in greater detail later on...
 

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In the end they should be allowed to do whatever they want as long as its in accordance with the law of the country they are in...right? So why make a big fuss??
 

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Are you talking about Bahrain or Saudi (making a big fuss)?? ^^


They also come to our private schools and Universities...
(As even the handful of 'international' private co-ed schools in Saudi are not allowed to admit saudi students, loll)

They also use our airport a lot...

Saudi's come to Bahrain for many many reasons.....!
 

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No, I wasnt taking about Bahrain OR Saudi making a fuss, i was wondering why the media was making a fuss.
 

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^ I am sorry but i Disagree, these people who use alcohol dont even reperesent 10% of Saudis. Most Saudis are religious, these people who usally goto Bahrain or Dubai are usally very westernized people studying in western nations, they get there habits from there.
 

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My point is that there a 'good' Saudis, and there are 'bad' Saudis. Just because you use alcohol doesn't automatically put you into the 'bad' category.

It is also very convenient to blame the west...
 

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King Fahd himself was a known gambler (high-roller) and an alcoholic.You can find photos of him during his younger years stublimg out of clubs and casinos in Monaco and The French Riveira with beauiful women on his arms.The Saudi Royal Family believe that they are sacrosanct and it is the job of other Muslims around the world to follow Islam correctly.:lol:
 

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^ all gulf families are corrupt every one knows this and they would have gone long ago if america didn't support them. The royal families dont represent the people
 

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After living in saudi for 15 years I personallyknow many saudis who drink and screw girls, and I Know many saudis who are extremely religous. But that doesnt make them 'bad' or 'good' people. It just shows how religous or conservative they are.
 

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After living in saudi for 15 years I personallyknow many saudis who drink and screw girls, and I Know many saudis who are extremely religous. But that doesnt make them 'bad' or 'good' people. It just shows how religous or conservative they are.
What I was trying to say. You put it well.
 

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^ it depends how people are raised by parents, the ones who are raised totally in a westernized way with no idea of their religion will ofcourse do those things.

same thing with all muslim countries.

But its a shame to see that some guys from even the holy city of Makkah would be doing those things.
 

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^ it depends how people are raised by parents, the ones who are raised totally in a westernized way with no idea of their religion will ofcourse do those things.

same thing with all muslim countries.

But its a shame to see that some guys from even the holy city of Makkah would be doing those things.
ProudArabian, I think even 'religious' people can do 'bad' things. People who claim to be religious (irrespective of religion) are humans as well and thus, they are fallable too.
 

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Additionally, what one person may see as a 'bad' action, is normal in another's point of view.

eg drinking in moderation is mostly accepted in the west. It is used in alot of social occasions, and is proven to have some small health benfits. In our part of the world, drinking in moderation is seen as a precursor of binge drinking, and, ultimately, more 'sin'. We would argue that it is much more preferable to not drink at all, than to drink excessively.

Not one point of view is necessarily correct, but labeling people who don't happen to agree with you as 'bad' people who 'bring shame to Saudi', is wrong.
 

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King Fahd himself was a known gambler (high-roller) and an alcoholic.You can find photos of him during his younger years stublimg out of clubs and casinos in Monaco and The French Riveira with beauiful women on his arms.The Saudi Royal Family believe that they are sacrosanct and it is the job of other Muslims around the world to follow Islam correctly.:lol:
Some years ago there were pictures of a Saudi prince and his family in newspapers. They come in traditional clothes, all daughters are in hijab and.. well, just some hours later they were all having fun in bikinis around the beach.
 
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