Dear king, well, I am not sure how to start this story, it seems that you are bombarded by letters and petitions from everyone in Bahrain so I have to send you my twopence worth too.
I came to the UAE thirty years ago, why? Why didn’t I stay in Bahrain and help build my own country with my brain? Thanks for asking, it is a very difficult subject for me, and for years I was angry at my country for letting it’s daughter leave and establish a life in another land just because if a certain situation.
I wrote letters and went to Bahrain so many times, to the embassies of Bahrain in many countries and fought for my return, nothing happened, hence I stayed here and I am still here.
I met my husband in 1975, he was iraqi at that time, then in 1980 he was kicked out of Iraq by Saddam HUSSAIN along with a million other people because their seventh ancestors were Iranian. This, I am not going to complain about, as he died now, so there is no point, and even then there was no point, as we all know why.
Anyway, we tried to get a visa for my husband to come to Bahrain, but all trials of my dad (god has mercy on his soul) had failed; he happened to talk to his friend who used to work with the late sheikh Rashid, and in a matter of hours a visa for my husband was in my hand; i went to Iran, and managed to smuggle him out of the country. One year later, my dad was still trying to get us to move back to Bahrain. When all attempts failed, dad moved my mum, brothers and sisters to Dubai too. My dad’s friend got us jobs, and helped in settling us in Dubai. We continued to live in Dubai until one day we found out that my son needs to leave Dubai when he becomes 18!! I almost Hit the roof, so I came to Bahrain, and went to the passport and naturalisation department, wrote letters, called people and tried every thing on this earth to be able to get the kids visas to enter Bahrain (their Mum’s country) to no avail.
Thus, we had to go to a country that can provide a passport that is neutral so the kids can travel anywhere and work anywhere without being limited to Dubai or Iran, and at the same time, my son can also stay with us until he gets married of course. The hunt started, we had to research all the immigration options available at that time, we choose New Zealand for its temperate weather and nuetrality. The point system was a piece of cake, as with all my qualifications, languages, and great health, plus of course having enough money to live on, the acceptance was quick. So we landed, and not wanting to just wait for the papers, I made a life, went to university, became an arabic teacher for Saturday school, worked at the university, became a member of so many clubs,worked as a finance and planning manager as well as looked after the children, grew veggies, made jams, cheese, pickles, took the kids to crafts classes, and made so many friends. Well that is a summery of 5 years, but so much happened in those five years, waiting for the passport is one thing, and living is another. Life is tough as we exhausted our funds, so we took up many jobs to cover the expenses and the mortgage, beside not being able to have a house keeper (something that we the gulf people are accustomed to) I was working literally for 18 hours a day.
What happened when the kids got the passport was really strange, they all decided that they had to go to Bahrain to see it and find out why they couldn’t enter it when their passports was Iranians but with a kiwi passports they can? They didn’t understand! They said mum but we are the same people (in a kiwi accent)! I know, I said, but didn’t want to dwell on this point, they were happy to see the land of their mum (as they called it then) and I was happy to see them happy.
Their discussion really made me sad, I remembered when my boy was 9 months old, I was in England then, I went to the Bahraini embassy to get him a visa to go with me to Bahrain, and almost everybody at the embassey was baffled, their faces said it all, I put my tail between my legs and left, feeling so disturbed, thinking what would he had done being of young age? I went alone and kept him with his dad even though he was still breastfeeding.
The amount of money we spent on this was phenomenal, we had to leave our jobs, leave our house vacant and spend our savings. What made it worst is that when we came back to Dubai jobs were not as easy, we decided to borrow and start a business. Thank god that we were positive and where able to support our kids until they finished their schools, and now universities. But the scar is still there, I am still upset about the fact that if the government allowed my husband to enter Bahrain, our life as we know it would have been different. I could be a minister, or an advisor, or anything of value to my country; after all, one can do anything in ones own country. The UAE is my country now, but I am looked at as a Bahraini, I cannot do what the Emirati people do. When some one says Suad Alhalwachi, they add that Bahraini woman, not just Suad Alhalwachi whose father is known for being the first electrician in Bahrain and the one who fixed the street lights in the 1940s, whose uncle runs a maatam, whose grandfather made halwa, Rahash and khanfaroosh, whose entire extended family lived on one road in Manama. I was isolated, things happened in Bahrain while I was sleeping (as they say) and changes happened while I was away. I missed all of that. My kids cannot speak arabic, and cannot recite Quraan the same way as me, as there was no Mutawa in Dubai, if I was in Bahrain I would have taken them to Muallema Khatoon to teach them Quraan and hit them on the head with her stick if they didn’t recite properly while smoking her Gadu. They would have gone to Kabab basheer and had khubz muhalla from uncle Jaafar’s shop, they would have played in the allies of Bahrain and spoke in a Bahraini accent. They would have joined probably CP scholarship programme and could have been sent to study abroad by the goverment. Many things would have happened. But it didn’t, why? Because the goverment decided that my husband would be a threat as his passport and nationality where from a country that Bahrain didn’t like for some reasons.
You will ask why I didn’t write to you personally? Well, do I have an avenue to reach you? In the UAE every sheikh has a majlis, and I personally went to these Majalis so many times, it is fun to go there as the palaces are open, no guards on the gates, the Sheikhs and sheikhas are very welcoming, and will jump to help. In Bahrain, this is not something that is followed unfortunately, which is a reason for the eruption of anger in the past one month. Thus since every one is pouring their emotions out, I decided I will too.
I think for government to correct what happened since 1981, an apology to my kids and to compensate me for my losses. I am not talking about financial loses, i am talking about emotional and career losses. How can they do this?
I have been trying to return to Bahrain since the kids got the passports, but the passports and naturalisation department had another view, they wanted me to first get a visa for the children, stamp a residence, get the ID card, then submit the passport, to receive the Bahraini passport? Why? Well “we must follow a process” they said? What process and who created it? We are only a few, our information can fit into any small computer, countries that have billions of people know everything about their citizens, and we in Bahrain do not even know that there were families living abroad because some government departments cannot move their fingers to punch few words on a computer?
Somethings need to change, and the change will not happen by calling neighbouring countries to fight the few hundred thousands. It will happen by you and the rest of the goverment officials embracing the fact that every member of the Bahraini society matters, no matter what religion he or she has, no matter which class he or she come from. Each one of us has something to contribute, if we were given the chance. So give the chance rather than suffocate the life out of the youth and not so young