Bahrain goes to the polls this month. What would you do if you were in charge?
1 Beaches Without a doubt, the very first thing we will do once in power will be to create more and better beaches. I mean, this place is practically more coastline than not, so we propose opening a number of clean, free, public beaches, with immaculate facilities, all around the island, thus ending the monopoly that the hotels currently have on this pastime.
2 Going green Our second pledge is to make Bahrain green again. We promise to put the palm trees back, both in the new parks and gardens that we will create and lining all the roads, highways and streets. We will only plant flora that suits the climate: no imported delicate flowers that require hours of wasteful watering each day, we want desert flowers, shrubs, grasses and trees. Great for the people, even better for the country.
3 The Corniche Once we have completed our plan to build Bahrain better beaches, our attention will turn to the Corniche at Al Fateh, Juffair. We want to install a proper promenade, with trees, food outlets, rides and a play area for children, night-time entertainment, sheltered seating areas, a taxi rank and bus stops, and access to the beautiful, premier beach that will just have been built in the area.
4 Rail network High up on our manifesto is to speed up plans for a rail network both within the Kingdom and one that connects us to the rest of the region. We love the existing plans for light rail trains, monorails and trams – an affordable, safe, clean means of transport is long overdue, both to ease traffic on Bahrain’s heaving roads and to reduce the country’s woefully high CO2 emissions. And not having to fly to Qatar, Kuwait, UAE et al will be good for our wallets and the environment.
5 Music scene In line with the Works Ministry’s recent deal with Cypriot construction firm Cybrot to build a 1000-seat, 12000m2 state-of-the-art national amphitheatre, we will actively market Bahrain as the next must-go venue for the world’s biggest names in music. We will ensure that the infrastructure is in place in the proposed site, just north of the National Museum, to support the project and accommodate the tens of thousands of music fans what will flock there. Abu Dhabi hosting Rihanna, Aerosmith and Tom Jones? They’ll all be fighting to come here first!
6 Roads We will give a proper name to each and every road in Bahrain, no matter how small, and numerically order each building on each road, whether office, school, private residence or shop. It’s not rocket science! Prepare to welcome in an era of easily giving and following directions and having maps that work!
7 Farming To create jobs, stimulate the economy and reduce our environmental footprint, we will establish a comprehensive farming sector, whereby Bahrain grows its own food and raises its own animals. Not only will this signify economic and environmental progress, but it will also put an end to the practice of shipping live animals to the region in horrific conditions. Aren’t we good?
8 Buses Hot on the heels of our plans for a super railway will come a comprehensive bus route and fleet for Bahrain. The vehicles will be reliable, comfortable and spotless, they will run regularly, cover the entire island and be very cheap. Let’s get people out of their cars and onto our fabulous new public transport system!
9 Fast food to go We don’t think we’re going to be very popular for this next one, but our consciences won’t allow us to not bring it up: taxing fast food. We could say it was a revenue-generating initiative but secretly we’re more than a little concerned about the nation’s alarmingly increasing rates of obesity and diabetes. The controversial tax will be accompanied by a nationwide educational programme on nutrition and exercise and a drop in prices of organic and health foods. You’ll thank us one day. Maybe.
10 Food packaging Another immediate change we want to see in this country is less packaging on the foods we buy in supermarkets. Of course everyone needs to do their bit in the way of recycling, but why not target the source of the problem as well? Less plastic, wrapping, carrier bags – we will provide financial incentives for businesses and consumers to cut them down to the bare minimum.
11 Traffic violations Getting a little bit more severe now, we will raise the current piddling little fines for traffic violations like speeding, not wearing a seatbelt and using your mobile while driving, from BD5 or BD10 to amounts that will actually serve as a deterrent. We will also introduce a hefty penalty for tailgating! Be warned, reducing the number of accidents and fatalities on Bahrain’s roads is one of our priorities.
12 Down with rents! Somehow, rents in Bahrain don’t seem to reflect that the world has spent the last few years in the grip of a crippling economic depression, so we will immediately take steps to bring rents into line with people’s wages. For this, we expect an invitation to the house-warming party.
13 Stop land reclamation Instead of continuing with expensive and environmentally damaging land reclamation, we propose building on existing sites, using vacant buildings for new projects and, if necessary, knocking down untenable sites and building in their place.
14 Pedestrianise the souq We love the atmosphere and bargains to be had in Manama’s souq. We don’t love the congestion round there. To give you a far pleasanter shopping experience, we will completely pedestrianise the entire market area and build a large, free car park.
15 Proper car parks Talking of car parks, we will give you more of them. No more bundling scores of cars into unoccupied waste grounds, ruining of work shoes walking through the sand, and not being able to get your car out because several cunning people have blocked you in.
16 More post offices We think Bahrain is sorely in need of more post offices so we propose opening one in every mall and in each of the larger districts. The mall-based ones will all be able to deal with vehicle inspection and registration paperwork to stop everyone queuing for hours, and the village ones will all have adequate parking.
17 4 day working week! And, finally, we want to see less work and more play! No, seriously, studies have shown that a four-day working week can actually lead to increased job satisfaction and hence in worker productivity. When do we start?