Bahrain’s Specialness – Free Hugs

Bahrain Free Hugs Arab artists peace

Many times people ask why we live in Bahrain, and by extension the Middle East.

In Bahrain we get Free Hugs.

All people from the Gulf countries are very warm and affectionate with their families and friends.  When Arabs greet each other, it is not a simple “HI”.  There is an entire ritual of multiple hugs and kisses while asking about the family’s well-being.  When I offer my hug and kiss to a friend, it looks anti-social compared to theirs.

But in Bahrain, that love extends beyond the family to the other people visiting and living on the island.

Ulafaa (meaning partners), an artist-led group, gave out Free Hugs during the Market 338 last month.  The Free Hugs campaign began in 2002 when Juan Mann started hugging strangers on Sydney’s street.  Helped by the Sick Puppies song and video, Free Hugs has gone global.

free hug Juan Mann Sydney

As I look through the Free Hug photos and videos from around the world, I think Bahrain was the first country in the Gulf, if not the Middle East where Free Hugs were given out.  A tiny drop of hope from Paradise that inshallah will radiate throughout the Middle East.

Good ideas do spread.  It is true that one person can be the creative force for positive change.

free hugs hug the world tshirt1

Jabbar Al Ghadban’s Studio

Jabbar Al Ghadban's The Studio

I had such a nice visit at Al Riwaq the other week.  In addition to Melissa’s party, I chatted with Aaron the Canadian chef, looked at the exhibit and bought some jewelry in the gift shop.  After months of staying away from Adliya I was surprised by the number of activities planned.

Currently Jabbar Al Ghadban’s The Studio is on exhibit.  Jabbar is the founder of Ishtar Graphics.  Born in Bahrain, Jabbar studied art in Syria.  In 1989 he opened his studio next to the Bahrain Arts Society and has participated in many exhibits throughout Europe, the Middle East and China.

Al Riwaq Gallery has brought his studio into the public realm this November.  The exhibit is ending in two days on November 30th so there is only a little time left.

The Studio Nov 1-30 2011 at Al Riwaq Gallery, Adliya

Al Riwaq is located in Adliya’s renamed 338 district.  The Bahrain Arts Society is located at the Burgerland Roundabout next to Lanterns Restaurant.

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