Michael Jackson went into exile in Bahrain, it was “in the midst of the scandal of accusations of pederasty”, and the king’s son, Prince Abdallah ben Hamed ben Issa al-Khalifa, had offered him to come and settle in the archipelago and “paid 4.7 million pounds down payment for him to record two discs” with songs that the prince had written (so much to do!). Eleven months later, Michael Jackson left, and the prince sued the singer in a British court for breach of a musical contract. “A year later, Michael Jackson died. “Kim Kardashian, she, “visited Bahrain in 2012 to inaugurate the Millions of Milkshakes bar (…) She declared that Bahrain was the most beautiful country in the world and asked all Americans to come on vacation to such a wonderful place. She even posted photos on her Twitter account where she poses with camels in the desert. Meanwhile, the Norwegian human rights association HRFNA took advantage of the influenceuse’s arrival to scare away a Bahraini blogger, an activist, Ali Abdulemam, who had been hiding in the country since the Bahraini uprising in 2011.
In the middle of all this, there is a Spanish writer, Emilio Sanchez Mediavilla, who has joined his wife who has been offered a job. A dacha in the Gulf is the journalistic-intimate account of his years in Bahrain, this “archipelago of thirty-three islands, and this information is not even certain because between the time when I write these lines and the time when you will read it, new artificial islands will have arisen, built on land reclaimed from the sea”. A Muslim country with a Shia majority, Bahrain is governed by a Sunni monarchy in a society that combines “the most advanced religious tolerance in the Gulf with subterranean veins of Wahhabi rigor and Shia rigor”.
We follow Emilio Sánchez Mediavilla in his adventures, when he is looking for a house to rent or when he meets an Arab playboy prince, a secular Bahraini who admires Hezbollah or even a Lebanese who says: “I am a Christian, the Alcohol is as important to me as God. »
The writer recounts the uprising that took place in Pearl Square in 2011, where the monarchy (after firing live ammunition at the demonstrators) then had this unlikely idea of destroying the monument located in the center of the square to undermine the movement, a bit as if, in October 2019, Michel Aoun decided to destroy the statue of the Martyrs in downtown Beirut in the midst of a revolution.
Bahrain is also “the first country in the region where trade unions were founded”, but where the sponsorship system (kafala) is operating at full speed, and the first Muslim country to have decriminalized homosexuality. It is also the seat of the American Fifth Fleet and home to the largest cathedral in the Middle East, the Cathedral of Our Lady of Arabia.
“For Saudis, Bahrain is the closest freedom, a getaway you can drive to. For Emilio Sanchez Mediavilla, this is the subject of a book (an escape where you can only get by getting lost) which helps us find our way around this “most beautiful country in the world”. .
A dacha in the Gulf
Emilio Sanchez Mediavilla,
Writer, journalist, photographer and curator, Sabyl Ghoussoub is the author of two novels published by Antilope: “The Jewish nose” and “Beirut between parentheses”. His third novel, “Beirut-sur-Seine”, will be released by Stock editions on August 24, 2022.
Michael Jackson went into exile in Bahrain, it was “in the midst of the scandal of accusations of pederasty”, and the king’s son, Prince Abdallah ben Hamed ben Issa al-Khalifa, had offered him to come and settle in the archipelago and “paid 4.7 million pounds down payment for him to record two discs” with songs that the prince had written…