The Gulf Coast Countries are a glamorous family. Dubai is the beautiful but narcissistic one, most likely to “accidentally” post inappropriate images of itself on social media. Abu Dhabi is the older brother who works at a hedge fund and never has time to drive his new Ferrari. Kuwait is the rich uncle who has been divorced 3 times but likes to lecture you on your moral character. Oman is the laid back cousin that spends the summers surfing, gets a job as a ski instructor every winter, and everyone in the family is either insanely jealous or judgmental of their choices. Saudi Arabia is the matriarch that rules the family from their 1970’s-era shag carpet living room. Yemen is that step child that ended up in rehab and no one ever mentions anymore. And then there’s Bahrain…
Bahrain is that awkward child that never gets into enough trouble to be noticed, but isn’t quite successful enough to be the hot topic at the family reunion. Let’s start with the skyline of Manama, the capital (and only city- its a small island):
Adequately attractive. Of course, we all know there’s no Burj Khalifa here; why can’t you be more like Dubai? You’ll never get married to a respectable trade organization with that look…
I mean their architecture is cool and all, but are Boat-Plane-Buildings still in fashion this year? Who wears that?
Being in the middle of the family has its advantages, though. A standing engagement with the US Navy’s Fifth fleet means there’s never a dull Friday night, even if you’d rather be invited to the parties that the Lebanese girls always talk about. There’s also a little crush on the neighbor boy Iran, which infuriates the parents, and results in Bahrain getting grounded occasionally.
Like most forgotten middle children, there’s more to Bahrain than not being the others. Spending enough time with the Navy will inevitably result in a tattoo and maybe even a story or two; just don’t tell mom and dad! You can even get a haircut at a place that is evidently endorsed by Justin Bieber!
Other bad habits that Bahrain brought home include a certain Tex-Mex chain:
…and an authentic Texas BBQ joint, complete with huge chunks of cow and a cover band that sings about momma, pickup trucks, trains, and going to jail.
There is a rebellious side to Bahrain, and you wonder when it’s going to quit its day job and join a Jihadi punk band. When the little old ladies sit around the quilting circle, do they ask each other “I don’t know Martha, which color should I use for the grenade? Should it match the armored personnel carrier?”
Stay tuned, I think the next few seasons of Keeping up with the Bahrainians could get interesting!