Celebrating Bahrain’s people and culture

January 30, 2013 § Leave a comment

Bahrain’s people and culture are two of its most precious assets, and it is important to support the continuous evolution of Bahrain’s cultural heritage through the creative expression of its residents.

The Culture and National Heritage sector of Bahrain’s Ministry of Culture (MOC) is responsible for developing and implementing plans and programs relating to culture, arts, and heritage in the Kingdom of Bahrain. It does so through the continuous development of programs and infrastructure in order to keep pace with local and global developments.

Via its museums and its cultural and heritage, the sector also seeks to open new dialogue with other cultures and create multicultural events that broaden the horizons of Bahrainis and visitors alike. Recently the National Theater featured the Russian Ballet, the Italian Opera, and the annual Fine Arts Exhibition.

In a fresh initiative to discover and showcase the creative exploration and innovation happening today in Bahrain, the MOC in association with Manama, Capital of Arab Tourism, 2013 has recently initiated an open call specifically to product, furniture and jewelry designers, bakers, artists, and virtually all creative types living and working in Bahrain. Until February 1, 2013, it will accept submissions which will be considered based on innovative use of material and/or production methods, relevance to contemporary design and emerging design in the Gulf region, and connection to local or domestic manufacturing capabilities.

The goal is to showcase the work of as many of these creative designers as possible in a future project planned for spring 2013. The ensuing events will also allow for collaboration and sharing to occur between the divergent cultural communities and the general public in Bahrain. The Bahraini government places great importance on the value of self expression, and such initiatives are imperative to encourage innovation and cooperation among Bahrain’s diverse and vibrant population.

 

Promoting reconciliation through dialogue

January 24, 2013 § Leave a comment

Earlier this week, His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa directed His Excellency the Minister of Justice, Shaikh Khalid bin Ali Al Khalifa, to convene the full range of Bahrain ‘s political societies with the aim of restarting a political dialogue to address ongoing unrest in Bahrain . Over the past two years, His Majesty and the entire Bahraini government have worked earnestly to pursue dialogue as the only way to resolve our political differences. The only path to resolution is a Bahrain-centric solution.
 
Although there has been a great deal of posturing over the past two years, I am greatly encouraged by the political opposition’s response to His Majesty’s call as well as its decision to sit for the first time in an inclusive dialogue. It is important that all societies approach any talks from the position of enacting what is best for Bahrain and the Bahraini people.
 
His Excellency the Minister of Justice has been an important voice in promoting reconciliation during and after the events of February and March 2011 and I have great confidence in his ability to work with Bahrainis across the political spectrum. The success of any dialogue is important for Bahrain ‘s future and I look forward to communicating the progress of this initiative with our American allies.

At the National Prayer Service This Morning

January 22, 2013 § Leave a comment

Earlier today, I attended the National Prayer Service at the Washington National Cathedral. The Service is a traditional occurrence during each presidential inauguration and features leading religious figures from all major religious faiths. I was proud to represent Bahrain at this year’s event.

The National Cathedral is a beautiful building and represents America’s tradition of religious freedom and religious pluralism. It is Washington’s fourth tallest building and certainly one of its most stunning pieces of architecture. Construction began on the Cathedral in 1907 and was completed during the term of President George H. W. Bush in 1990.

In August 2011, the Cathedral was seriously damaged by the 5.8 magnitude earthquake that hit Washington. It was a particular pleasure to see how far they have come in repairing the damage.

I took some photos while I was there. Check them out below:

photo4

photo1

photo2

photo3

Hosting Young Professionals at the Embassy

January 22, 2013 § Leave a comment

Last Thursday, I had the pleasure of hosting a young professionals get together at the Embassy. Attendees received a traditional Bahraini welcome with rosewater and traditional Bahraini coffee, and had the opportunity to look around the embassy and read about Bahrain ’s rich history that spans back thousands of years. Additionally, a henna artist was on hand to create designs for the guests. In Bahrain and other countries in the region, henna is used for happy occasions and gatherings.

After enjoying Bahraini food, the young professionals were treated to a performance from a traditional Oud player. The oud is a pear-shaped stringed instrument similar to a lute and is considered an ancestor of the guitar. Guests also heard from the embassy’s cultural counselor and Bahrain ’s trade representative. Next, they watched a short film showcasing the land and people of Bahrain .

Following the film, we had a brief question and answer session in which I was able to discuss topics as diverse as medical care and women’s rights.

The event was a great opportunity to interact with young professionals from around Washington . Throughout my time here, I have seen first hand how instrumental young professionals are to policymaking in Washington and it was a pleasure to host them at the embassy.

Check out some photos from the event on the Embassy’s Facebook Page.

Today at the Presidential Inauguration

January 22, 2013 § Leave a comment

Today, I had the great pleasure to represent His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, the government and the people of the Kingdom of Bahrain at the second inauguration of President Barack Obama, America’s 44th president. Ambassadors of foreign countries sit together in the bleachers just behind where members of Congress, the cabinet, and the Supreme Court sit. Needless to say, I had a great view!

This was my second time on the mall for a presidential inauguration and I was still amazed by the way Americans come together (regardless of how cold it is) every four years to celebrate their democratic process. Check out a few photos I took below:

photo1

photo3

photo4

photo5

photo6

photo7

Hosting THIS for Diplomats

January 18, 2013 § Leave a comment

THISphotoThis week, we hosted THIS for Diplomats at a dinner reception at the Embassy of the Kingdom of Bahrain. Guests enjoyed a beautiful spread of Bahraini and Middle Eastern specialty appetizers, dishes, and sweets, as they socialized. Following my address, attendees were treated to a colorful brief on Bahraini culture and history from our Embassy’s Cultural Counselor, Aysha Murad.

THIS, formerly The Hospitality and Information Service, is a non-profit organization with a mission to promote international understanding and friendship through educational, informational and cultural exchanges with members of the diplomatic community in Washington, DC. In service of its mission, THIS was particularly welcoming to me when I arrived in the United States. The organization’s positive engagement springs from a core belief in the power of Citizen Diplomacy, the building of understanding and personal relationships between ordinary individuals from different countries.

As an open and welcoming country with a substantial expatriate community and vibrant tourism sector, Bahrainis agree that these warm exchanges between individuals can grow into positive relationships between countries. My story – that of a Jewish woman who rose on her merits to the top of Bahrain’s civil society to become its Ambassador to the United States – is possible because of Bahrain’s unique history as a meeting place for trade between empires and its exposure to a wide variety of cultures, thus breeding an atmosphere of tolerance and respect for minorities that is uncommon in that region of the world.

 

Bahrain has a history of being a progressive country, and sets a strong example for the region in respect to women’s rights, and political and social reform initiatives. My own experience is a microcosm of Bahrain’s broader story, and as Ambassador, I am committed to working with friends and allies to advancing this positive, forward-looking vision for a progressive and inclusive Bahrain.

ProPublica and “Informed Comment” are Uninformed on Bahrain

January 17, 2013 § Leave a comment

ProPublica, the highly respected independent investigative journalism organization, has stumbled badly in its recent reporting on U.S. military sales to Bahrain .

An article written by Justin Elliot and posted Tuesday January 15th on their website misleads its readers by omitting easily available facts that would have disproved the pre-conceived thesis of his piece. The article was re-posted by The Guardian and on a blog entitled “Informed Comment.”

This article was anything but well informed of the facts.

Most seriously, the article wrongly states that helicopter gunships—sold to Bahrain by the U.S. — had been used to attack peaceful protesters during the events of February and March 2011.

The Bahraini Embassy in Washington issued a statement to the author refuting the premise of his article. However, Mr. Elliott chose not to include the full statement in his report.

The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry Report –universally accepted as highly credible—was harshly critical of the government on many issues. However, the report explicitly found that the BDF did not use excessive force against protesters. Continued assertions to the contrary are untrue. The author ignored this fact as well.

The truth is that helicopters Bahrain purchased from the U.S. were used during the unrest for surveillance only. Certainly, any allegation that helicopters were used to attack our own people is factually inaccurate.

The article also cites an unverified and unattributed Time Magazine report published in 2011 as his proof. This report has been repeatedly proven to be false. And seeing as though the author has not offered any additional reporting to back up his allegations, they must be discounted.

ProPublica’s article falsely describes the events in Bahrain as a “bloody crackdown”—suggesting the military is shooting Bahraini protesters with live ammunition because of their political views. Mr. Elliott cites no information to support this wrong and vicious description. This image is categorically untrue, and puts the events taking place in Bahrain in a false context. These inaccuracies should be corrected.

Where Am I?

You are currently viewing the archives for January, 2013 at Ambassador Houda Nonoo.