Monday, July 4, 2016

Portraits of the Three Kings

After moving to Bahrain there were many reasons I started documenting our time into this blog. I used it to share my photos with family and friends. But mostly I used my blog to help me remember how truly wonderful an adventure it really was.

By putting words to paper (computer memory), I soundly imprinted in my memory the senses and feelings of our time in Bahrain.

I never expected to enjoy writing it all down as much as I do. I certainly never expected others to enjoy reading about my personal experiences as I am told they do. I am very happy for these unintended consequences and I am thrilled when I hear someone else enjoys reading the blog.

Although we have been away from Bahrain over a week now, I still have several blogs I want to finish and share. I hope you don't mind.

This is the Bahraini version of fast food - Shawarma Alley where you can drive up and order shawarma sandwiches. Hubby D took me here on one of my first nights in Bahrain. This street is also where our carpet merchant has his store. I will miss this street.
When I first arrived in Bahrain I found myself fascinated by the portraits of the King that were everywhere – billboards, signs, store windows, the side of buildings and even in the back window of cars.

Look closely, there are portraits of 3 men in the back window of this truck.
Today is the "National Day" for the United States of America. The Fourth of July when we celebrate our independence from England and our democracy. Today I will share with you some pictures of the King of Bahrain where it is definitely not a democracy.

This blog is in no way intended to be disrespectful to the King of Bahrain. I was simply surprised by the custom of putting his portrait all over the place. It is a very strange tradition and I was intrigued by it.

This was the first picture of a portrait that I took very shortly after arriving in Bahrain.  My good friend DW and I were shopping at the Seef Mall and trying to find a good place to have our hair done.
At first I thought all the men in the portraits were just the King, but soon I realized there were three different men being pictured and sometimes a fourth.  

At first when I saw these around the Island, I thought they were all pictures of the King.
The road leading to the financial district is lined with pictures of the Prime Minister.
If there were three men pictured, they were usually the King, Prime Minister and Crown Prince.  Occasionally the previous King was also included making it four men.

They are usually shown in the order pictured here when all four are shown.  Crown Prince, Prime Minister, King and the previous King. This photo was taken in a medical clinic.
This picture hangs in an historical restaurant in the Souq.

The Prime Minister is definitely older than the King, but why is he not King?

Once I saw SEVEN men in the portraits painted on a wall outside a school. 

I really was curious and I tried research the history of the Royal Family in Bahrain but it just confused me even more.

Here is an example of the confusion. In 1843 a battle on horseback was fought on Rufa Hill where Shaikh Ali was killed. He was the ruler of Bahrain at the time. Alas, Shaikh Mohammed (his brother) was not accepted as the new Shaikh, and was expelled and died in the Hijaz in 1890. He left 26 sons.

With 26 sons, who took over? 

I gave up and started calling them the pictures of the Three Kings.

This was at a construction site. If there are only 3 shown, they are usually the Prime Minister, King and Crown Prince.
Another construction site. In this portrait, the King has a golden Arab knife. The is a new portrait they just started using while we were living in Bahrain.
Once the Prime Minister returned from a trip for a medical checkup and the streets leaving the airport were lined with his portrait.
This is the King in a hospital foyer.
This is a school.
These billboards started popping up all over the place and it took me a long time to figure out who the other guy was.
This is the same man as is pictured with the King above.  He is the King of Morocco and he made a State visit to Bahrain.
 This billboard appeared right before Ramadan and I never found out what it said. I am sure it is a greeting wishing everyone a wonderful Ramadan -- Ramadan Mubarak.
This is the King pictured in military uniform on the side of a military building.
Hubby D is waiting to check in at the airport. The lounge there had these portraits.
This portrait of the King in military uniform is a bit weathered. It is located on a military base in the middle of the island in the desert.
I drove by this government building almost every day. It is located just down the street from where we lived.

The three Royal portraits appeared on columns lining the road where many of the Royal Family live.

I believe that the use of the portrait of the King to decorate the Island is much like we like to fly the American Flag in America. It is a sign of patriotism and pride for your country. I never met or saw the King in person. I was privileged to see his first wife, Princess Sabika bint Ibrahim Al Khalifa once at a Ramadan party. 

For Americans, a monarchy is a strange system, however Bahraini people have a great deal of pride in their ruler. My Bahraini friends were very proud of the King, the Royal Family and their country.

I believe this car belonged to a resident in the building where we lived. I saw it many times and it always caused me to smile. The man who drove the car was a rugged looking Arab and I could not help but be amused at the covering on his rear window.  It just seemed uncharacteristic.

But there were many things about the Arab culture that were odd to me.  I am sure there are many, many things about the Amercian culture that are odd to Arabs.

Now that we are back on US soil, I see things much differently than I did before I went to Bahrain.  There are many things I miss and some I don't. Awe, that is another blog.  :-)

Have a Happy and SAFE Fourth of July!


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