Friday, December 30, 2005

Dilmun Resurrected

I was delighted today when, during a visit to the 2nd Bahrain International Sculpture Symposium exhibition at the Bahrain National Museum, I discovered a gem of a show on the side!

A special exhibit celebrating the Golden Jubilee of the discovery of the Dilmun Civilization and the first Danish excavation expedition is erected at the entrance hall of the museum.

I don’t know how many people out there know about it (I didn’t) but this is an event that everyone should attend. The exhibition is a marvel and I was surprisingly impressed with a) the exhibits, b) how they are displayed, and c) the information accompanying them. There were even multi-media sources with documentaries, television interviews and sound clips, complementing the various rare and fascinating items collected from the excavation team and the expedition.

We Bahrainis forget that our country has such rich and deep history. All we know about it is whatever little we are taught at school, and let’s face it, most of us never paid attention during history class did we?

I urge you all to go see it before it’s too late. I couldn’t find out how long it will be on for. But it’s a pleasant treat, no doubt about it. I also got plenty of good information which I could be using for one of my future projects.

I spent many adays under the scorching sun out in the desert as a reporter, covering the latest discoveries on the burial mounds of Hamad Town. I found the whole process intriguing. I remember my conversations with one Bahrain excavator called Khalil, who almost wet himself in excitement every time they found a new piece!

Khalil, if you’re still out there, keep it up. The Danes started the job, but we Bahrainis can carry on with it!

On the other hand, the contemporary wooden sculpture expo also provided some excellent art pieces from artists from around the world. This years event, being organized I was specifically impressed with the pieces from Georgia and Poland.

To learn more about the event, read this article.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Brilliant is Good is Quite Intriguing!

As you can see, there are slight changes on the sidebar.

I've finally submitted to featuring my own Word Meters for works currently in progress. This will give you some sort of idea on how far I am in which project, and hopefully will make me keep proper track of my progress rate.

The two on the table right now are Buried and Against, both novels. I've only started on the latter as recently as August/September. Taking in mind that QuixotiQ took me five years to complete, it's a whole lot of improvement. As for Buried, well, I think I've started on it almost two years ago already now. But hopefully, I'll manage to wrap it up soon.

The 'Moments' cover artwork mini-poll has been pulled down. Thanks to everybody that have taken part and voted. Your feedback is greatly valued and support much appreciated (and needed).

Here are the final results:

37% of you thought the cover was brilliant! Which is incredible. Cheers.
21% felt that it was quite intriguing.
32% reckoned it was just good.
5% thought it was mediocre.
And the rest 5% slammed it as rubbish!

So all in all, a positive reception.

Monday, December 26, 2005

The Year In Review: Music

Generally speaking, 2005 has been a good year for music. I’ve discovered plenty of new and upcoming artists who have made the past 12 months worthwhile. But notably, we’ve seen a sudden influx in singer/songwriter’s success.

From the more obscure but talented – such as Stephen Fretwell and David Ford, to the more commercial and mainstream, the likes of James Blunt (enough already!) and Daniel Powter, an element that has contributed in witnessing a surge in acoustic and piano driven hits. There were also a few pleasant surprises; KT Tunstall delivered perhaps one of the most accessible records of the year.

As for bands, well, I’ve been a little disappointed with some of the bands that the media has labeled at the next big thing (Maximo Park, Kaiser Chiefs). On the other hand, several of my all-time fave groups released new and brilliant records, as you would see in the list below, including THREE, yes, THREE, records from the one and only musical genius, Ryan Adams.

Here are my tops picks of the year.

Best Albums of 2005

1) Warnings/Promises – Idlewild
2) On The Outside – Starsailor
3) Cold Roses – Ryan Adams & The Cardinals
4) 29 – Ryan Adams
5) Jacksonville City Nights – Ryan Adams & The Cardinals
6) All Maps Welcome – Tom McRae
7) X&Y – Coldplay
8) Pushing The Senses – Feeder
9) Howl – Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
10) Magpie – Stephen Fretwell

**other noteworthy artists include Athlete, Elbow, My Morning Jacket and Thirteen Senses.

ps. Season's Greetings to all of you lot out there. Happy Holidays. (bit late, sorry!)

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

This 'n' That

A couple of readings are coming up early next week, which I might be involved with. The readings are part of the activities held during the Second Literary Meet for Arab Youths which started today.

The first one will be held at the Bahrain Writer’s Association on Saturday, Dec 24, from 7pm to 9pm and the second the following day at Al Riwaq Gallery in Adliya, at the same time.

I will most defiantly be there at the event, whether I will do a reading or if it’s going to be open for the public, is still not confirmed. I will keep you posted soon as I get word on that.

Efforts to create a proper .com are picking up again. I’m currently doing my research on domain/hosting websites and companies. So far, I’ve been most impressed with the hosting plans and packages offered through and

Plans are to launch with the start of the New Year. Fingers crossed.

Ps for those who’ve taken a ‘moment’ to vote in the mini-poll, thanks a lot. The poll is still on so if you’ve not voted yet, please do so. Your feedback is needed.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Contemporary Curves

Last night I finally visited the “Contemporary Curves” art exhibition held at Al Riwaq Art Gallery in Adliya. The exhibition is the third in a series of art exhibitions focusing on innovation and contemporary creation in art by a bunch of local artists.

The art pieces on display are nothing less than impressive. The artists have transformed the entire gallery into breathing, living artwork, with images, scriptures, video displays and sculptures. It also introduced four new faces to the local art scene, all university students.

I take my hat off to all of the participating artists and I must also praise the role of Bayan Kanoo, the owner of Al Riwaq Gallery, into bringing such a feat of innovation and creativity to life. It is rare to find a place where the number one priority is creativity

The open discussion that followed that evening was, personally, an eye-opener. I gathered that many of the challenges are problems facing artists are similar to those facing writers. One of these was the question of whether the creator is present a message or a statement through their work, an element linked directly to the value of the publics’ understanding of the piece in question.

I personally think that, for both artist and writers, the audiences’ comprehension of your work is not as significant when you are presenting a statement, than it is a message. And here lay the issue of the artist’s own ambition and objective. An art piece such as Anas Al Shaikh’s, one of Bahrain’s most reputable and talented young contemporary artist (who was with us at the discussion last night), which is introduced at Contemporary Curves, has raised many questions, some even expressed their disapproval of his piece which had a political and patriotic agenda, something that is very rarely touched upon by our local artists.

If you have a chance, I do urge you to go and see it. You can catch “Contemporary Curves” from 10am to 8pm everyday until Dec 22. I’m sure it will give your some food for thought.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

They Came In Two

RSP Publishing, a new Austuralian online publisher, has accepted two of my short stories for publication.

Newton's Hope, a sci-fi that I could only describe as "Cast Away" in space, and How The Ant Became Man (or the other way 'round, depending how you see it), were both lableled as "original" by RSP Publishing manager, Lutz Braz. He said: "The Newton story, I thought was a great philosophical-existential exposition. Almost like the Schrodigers' Cat Problem except inside out."

The stories are now available through the publisher's online bookstore (scroll down to find my stories) and you can purchase your copy electronically for a nominal fee. They are only $A2 (568 fils) a piece!

So what are you waiting for? Hurry on to the RSP website now!

Sunday, December 11, 2005


Last year, prior to publishing QuixotiQ, I conducted a poll for the blog visitors to sound their opinions of the cover artwork. So this might be becoming something of a tradition now.

Here, for the first time, is the (almost) final version of the cover artwork for my upcoming book, the collection of short stories, Moments. As it stands, I am most likely to go with Lulu this time ‘round. This gives me total control of the whole publishing process, from design, to layout, to content and even price and royalties. But that might change as no final plans have been, well, finalised!

What you see here is a cover design created entirely by myself. The photo I used, which I took quite some time ago, has a somewhat fascinating story behind it. But I won’t be sharing that with you just yet… hey, I gotta keep making you come back don’t I?

Copies of the manuscript have also gone out to people with expertise and background in the field for critique and feedback. This will all hopefully contirbute to producing a much more pure, flaw-free final book which in turn better your reading experince.

Go on, vote and voice your opinion on what you make of the cover. Feel free to drop me any further comments if you so wish. (You will find the mini-poll on the sidebar to the right of the screen. Right there!)

Friday, December 09, 2005

What's Not to Like?

I haven’t been feeling well these past few days. It’s the flu you see. Human flu, not to confuse it with bird flu. I wouldn’t want to start a global panic about yet another outbreak!

In any case, I’m sitting on my desk in front of my laptop surrounded by bundles of snot-soaked tissues (you didn’t need to know that did you?) and trying to get some oomph to get some work done. I’ve very disappointed with myself. Not much achieved this past month.

Though, I did get turned down by a literary agent. We met in Cambridge during the seminar, and she seemed interested in my work. This agent is involved with one of the top agencies in the UK. Took a while for me to pluck up the courage to send her some of my stuff, which were a couple of, what I felt, my strongest short stories.

Her response was that there was “a lot to like” in them but that she didn’t feel “confident” enough to place them in journals and such. I was also referred to a couple of publications, including Banipal, which I’ve known about for a while now. I’ve even attempted contacting them (submitting a story) but yet to hear back.

Last night I watched a Korean film; Old Boy. It comes highly recommended. But it’s not for the weak hearted or those who might get offended. The film does deal with a very sensitive, and at times, sickening theme. Rest assured though, you are in for a shock and a treat. I found not one single flaw in it; it’s brilliantly shot, well structured and fabulously performed. You can always count on Asian cinema for originality.

Which brings us to a topic I’d very much like to tackle; the decline and imminent fall of Hollywood, the most un-original source of film in the world... Watch this space!

Sunday, December 04, 2005

The More The Merrier

Just over a year ago, no Bahraini has published any literature in English.

When I published my novel, QuioxtiQ, last summer, becoming the very first Bahraini to do so, it was, I had hoped, the beginning of something beautiful, the birth of a new cultural and literary movement here in Bahrain and around the Gulf.

Today, two other young and ambitious Bahraini authors have had their books published. Sarah Al Shafei, through Athena Press, published her novel, Yummah. And more recently, a friend and an ex-colleague of mine, Hisham Al Sakin (pictured), published his first book of poetry. All in English!

I've spoke of Hisham before, that's why the name perhaps rings a bell. I met him a couple of days ago over coffee and doughnuts and it was such a pleasure. This is a guy who is passionate and enthusiastic about his work and the whole literary movement, part of - what I call - the next generation of local literature.

(On a regional level, there was also Nimah Ismail Nawwab, of Saudi Arabia, whom I've also met several months ago, and whose book of poem, The Unfurling, has earned wide, international acclaim.)

Hisham's book of poetry, titled ECHOES: From the Dune of Bahrain, was published by a local publisher called Al Maseerah. Hisham told me of his plans and hopes for his book and I was just as excited. I was also given a signed copy from the author and I will post my comments as soon as I have finished reading it.

I truly believe that what all of us are doing is unique and important, coming from the background we come from. And I believe that I speak on behalf of the rest when I say that what we're doing is reaching out a hand to the world, to other cultures, and communicating with them through the language of life... Literature.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

What's On Your Head?!

Since my return, I've been mostly preoccupied with matters other than writing, which is rather disappointing, to me at least. Over the past 3 months or so, I've made significant progress on my newest novel, Against. But that came to a halt for a few weeks. Having said that, I did write a little over 400 words the other day. That means that I've hit the 29k mark, which is two thirds of the book.

Most of my attention was focused on trying to push quixotic a little more locally, putting together the collection, as well as work on sorting things out on a personal level. There are a couple of things on the stove as we speak, but these will take some time to cook! I will keep you updated.

Funniest thing though, is the fact that just about every single person I met since I got back, first and foremost, commented on my head! Or what's on it to be exact. It seems that my latest hair-do is becoming the stuff of legend here in Bahrain already. One person in particular looked at me as if I had just come out of a burning wreckage unscathed!!! Many others felt obliged to give unwarrnted complements...

Seriously, people, it's just hair!