Interview

The best Bahrain memories at my age of course are linked with the early days of Bahrain where, for us, the whole of Bahrain was one sheet called Bab-Al-Bahrain, Awali linked through Riffa and the airport and RAF linked through Muharraq.

To me Bab-Al-Bahrain street is really the root of all development in Bahrain as a cultural centre as it was the meeting point of all the cultures; philosophers, doctors, business men, lawyers, all types of visitors from all the countries of the world.

The meeting place used to be a couple of tea shops lined with wooden benches with jute mattresses. Serving Mallah, Rhob topped with sugar and Khubaz. It is here that we learned the rich culture of this country and some of the most important lessons of our life. Everyone older to us was our uncle to be respectful and listened to and whose complaint to our aout parents about playing marble on the streets, or swimming in the sea next to Naim hospital, or any kind of misbehaving, could result in a thorough court martial at home.

It is here, in our fathers shop in Bab-Al-Bahrain that we overheard Mr. Ahmed Ali Kanoo that the best thing that can happen to you in to become bankrupt and the sooner in life that can happen to you, the better. It was here that Mr. Mehdi Tajjar taught us that we do not need academic education, we need value based education that teaches us responsibility, persistence, courage, compassion, honesty and wisdom.

Mr Ali Fakhro, who by the way names all of us brothers n sisters, often used to repeat that if you want to be successful then do things that failure do not like to do.

Mr Yousuf Almoayyed once joked that a smooth sea never made a good mariner. We need to have yearly sale and in each occasion Mr. Mulji used to say ‘put on sale or tael (oil), it makes no difference to me. Mr. Usman Baluch taught us that no matter how financially difficult the time is for you, always make yourself available and never avoid answering the phone. Jokingly he used to say that when you are in debt by a Rolls Royce and park it outside your door because then no one will ask you for the money. And if you are in more debt, buy 2 rolls Royce.

So you see Bab-Al-Bahrain was really our educational paradise where daily you heard words of wisdom that started the growth of Bahrain and which, I am sure, spread with its people to other gulf states.

In this wisdom and education is the foundation on which we can face the present and even more difficult challenges. The secret of success can be learnt from the life histories of successful people. These people have certain qualities which are common irrespective of what period of history they lived in, and by following their examples we too shall be successful.It is from these pioneers and philosophers that this futuristic Bahrain has developed.

If one had a magic wand and could change only one thing that gave one a better penetration in the market, then that can only be the changing of their peoples attitude.

Our biggest asset and the biggest liability is people.

What needs to be done is to pass this wisdom and knowledge to the people in slow, dilute doses. We have to start by teaching our people to say please and thank you and give smiles and handshakes. The problem is how long a person can smile if he does not have the desire to serve and may be, the most irritating attitude is a fake smile.

There is a quote from Blaise Pascal, the famous French philosopher whom someone asked “íf I had your brains, I would be a better person. Pascal replied ‘’be a better person and your will have many brains.

We need to break a foundation that is not carrying the burden of wages and working conditions but carry the weight of feelings, attitudes and relationships.

We have to have continuous dialogues with people who continuously say I cannot do it, as the timing is not right, the weather is hot, and several other reasons.

If the people say they cannot do it, they mean either they do not know how to do it- which is a technical training issue or they do not want to do it which is either an attitude issue ‘they don’t care’ or a value issue “they do not believe they should do it”.

Fortunately this problem can be solved at organizational level which should have the awareness of the attitude of the people. Sometimes we are so used to our negativity that any change is stressful, even when the change is for the better. It is like a bird in a cage. Even if you open the cage it will be reluctant to fly. That is where a little push is required.

All problems can be solved and all organization grows at a tremendous pace if you have people with a positive attitude.

There is gold in every person as said by Andrew Carnegic who grew from an odd job boy to the largest steel manufacturer in the world. He had over 40 millionaires working for him. Mr Carnegic was asked how he dealt with people, his answer was “dealing with people is a lot like digging for gold. When you go digging for gold you have to move tons of dirt. But when you go digging, you do not look for the dirt, you look for the gold. Believe me Bahrainis has a lot of gold in them and it is the job of our organization to dig for it.

In Bahrain we have faced economic crisis several times but this time around we have developed a few fault finders who go around telling everyone how bad things are and how the whole world has to be blamed. These people cause more tension due to themselves and those around them.

This reminds me the story of a king who asked his court to bring him something which makes him happy when he is sad and sad when he is happy. One of his wise men gave him a ring with words engraved on it “this too will pass”. We have a generation that can do wonders, as long as we look for the positive and stop moaning about small set backs.

I read somewhere about a hunter who bought an amazing hunting horse. This horse could fly. To show his horse the owner invited his close friend to go riding with him.

All day long the horse flew valleys and mountains and rivers but the owner got no compliments from his friend. On the way back home he asked his friend if he did not notice something unusual about the horse. The friend replied yes, by the way I was going to ask you, your horse doesn’t run.

Our leadership has created the most pleasant atmosphere for us to live and work. Our children who are more educated and brought up in a more positive attitude that us have to capitalize on this and not to be like the person who was uneducated but doing a tremendous business selling burgers. He kept growing his business until his recently graduated son joined the business. The son told his dad, who had no time for television or gossip, whether he was aware of the recession that was coming. The father asked his son to tell him more about this “recession”. The son said that the international situation was terrible. The domestic situation was even worse and we should prepare for bad times to come. The father thought that the son who is educated should not be taken lightly and immediately started cutting on his orders and expansion.

Soon the business started declining and fewer and fewer customers came to buy burgers and the sale started coming down rapidly. The father said “son, it is good that you warned me ahead of time that we are in a recession”.

We have, with the guidance of our leadership, created an exceptionally beautiful country for our children. As someone once said that god has blessed Bahrain with everything beautiful, you should be grateful for it. Yes we have a beautiful country with good laws, security, transportation, prestige, but you should have seen it when god had the whole thing for himself.

It is our leadership which were wise enough to give us this atmosphere of growth and prosperity.

What our children should understand is that all the success of the present has come with a story of failure of the past. They see the end result of a great deal of hard work, heart breaking efforts and a nostalgic dedication to the uplift of the family. They do not see the whole story and the bravery behind the story.

In every story I see a Thomas Edison who in 1914 lost his factory due to a fire. At am old age Thomas Edison watched his life time efforts go up the smoke. While he was watching the drama he said that there was a great value in disaster. All our mistakes are burnt up and we can start afresh. Soon after this disaster he invented the photograph and he was back in business.

Mirza Ghalib, the famous Indian poet when told, in hard times, about the burning of his poetry books said “All the mistakes of my past are burnt, now I will correct them.

What we face today is a small stumbling flock. Our children should convert that block into a strong foundation for the future.

Thomas Edison failed 10,000 times while inventing the light bulb. Henry Ford was broke at 40 years of age. Henry 11 fired Lee Lacocca when he was 54 years old. Beethoven was told that he has no ear for music when he was young.

The only problem I see with the younger generation is that they look for instant gratification. I call them the pill generation. There is a pill for headache, a pill to relax, a pill to slim, as pill to solve problems, a pill to take in the morning for a successful day and a pill to take at night to put one to sleep when it was not a successful day. They plan from day to day. They have to plan for a hundred years and that is when they can create a graph with enough time to gauge their success and failure and to learn from their experience and eventually learn to be proud of their achievements.

A father and son team were building the foundation of a great monument. The son used a bad brick amongst the thousands of bricks in the foundation. When the father stopped the son he said “father who will know in a thousand years, about this one brick. The father looked at him with sad eyes and said “son, you and I will know”.
In this one sentence the father taught the son the value of hard work, honesty, trustworthiness, integrity and sincerity.

The other important lesson in life is to have a goal and never to lose sight, with all ups and downs, of the goal. This is the only thing which gives a sense of direction. When you don’t know your goal you do not know where you are going and when you do not know where your are going as the Cheshire cat told Alice in Alice in wonderland “äny road will get you there”. This struggle to achieve the goal and the progressive realization of a worthy goal is success, and that is how we should evaluate our worthiness and that is when we shall be satisfied and rich. There may be disappointment, failures and success and a lot of risk taking, but we shall surely achieve the goals.

A man who owned a large rice field was asked why he did not plant rice. The farmer said he was afraid it will not rain. “Why”, the man asked. “You do not use the land to rear farm animals”. The farmer replied there are a lot of wild animals in the area and they might kill them. Then what the asked did you do? The farmer replied “I played it safe”.

It is the pursuit of this goal and not how much money you make on the way that will bring us happiness and satisfaction. There are many of the wealthiest people who over a period of time led themselves to disaster.

  • The greatest investor in wall street, Jessie Liverymou committed suicide.
  • Leon Fraser, president of the bank of international settlement, committed suicide
  • Charles Schab, president of the largest steel company in debt until he died.
  • Howard Hubson, President of the largest gas company went insane.
  • Arthur Cutton, the richest commodity trader, died bankrupt.
  • President of the New York stock exchange, none other that Richard Whitney was sent to jail.
  • Albert Fall, a member of the president’s cabinet was allowed to go back home and die in peace- alone.

Money can buy amusement but not happiness

  • A bed but not sleep
  • Food but not appetite
  • A house but not a home
  • Medicine but not health
  • Companions but not friends and family
  • Work but not loyalties

What we need to have in our homes and in our country is commitment to values and loyalty to values where every individual gives and sacrifices his utmost to hold this value because he believes in it. When these values are held with high esteem then no one can bring the house or the country apart.

We should have the vision to cultivate flowers but then the vision is short lived. We should have the vision to cultivate trees, but then the vision is for a few years. We should have the vision to cultivate people, and then the vision shall be forever.

We have to shed our reputation of a nation of great talkers and debaters and change it to honest truthful doers. “The truth is generally seen rarely heard and eventually always believed”. Sir Christopher Wren was one of the most celebrated architects of renaissance and most of the time criticized as impractical in his design. Never once did he get offended or argued.

In 1688, he was employed to design a magnificent town hall for the city of West Minster. The mayor was not satisfied with his structure of the second floor and demanded that Wren add two extra columns for support. Wren knew that these two columns would serve no purpose and neither the argument with the Mayor would serve any purpose. He added the two columns and the mayor was exalted. Years later when workmen erected a high scaffold to carry out some repairs; they saw that the columns stopped just short of the ceiling. The columns were dummies but due to the wisdom of one, both men got what they wanted. Wren knew that by this problem solving way he satisfies the need of the present and posterity will understand that what was done was correct and for posterity.
When aiming for power, the aim to demonstrate your idea is that your opponents do not get defensive and are hence more open to persuasion.

My most memorable project has been to establish Bahrain as a cricketing nation and it has taken us over 25 years to register the Bahrain Cricket Association. Now that this has eventually – officially – happened, we want to join everyone to create a cricketing show, with a lot of blessings from the ruling family, government, people equal to the Formula One event because only cricket with the amount of money involved in it can match the thrill of Formula One.

What we need now is to increase the popularity of cricket in schools and to build three grass grounds. A small set up and one grass ground shall make Bahrain liable to receive US$1 million from the international cricket council.

An international tournament which is now not very far away can really boost our tournament and bring substantial indirect revenues.

In our family, we have two hobbies, one is our work which deals with creativity that is Architecture, and the other is to set up Bahrain as a cricketing Nation.

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