Bahrainis accept F1 decision, but bitterness prevails

June 11, 2011

For Maha Al Dossari, the decision by the world racing federation not to hold a Formula One (F1) race in Bahrain this year is the result of a cascade of mis-appreciations, misjudegements and misunderstandings that will not last.

“We have been campaigning online for holding the race in Bahrain,” said the IT expert. “It is a sports and cultural right that has nothing to do with politics. Unfortunately, we have been deprived of our human right in the name of human rights. But, we will work hard to prove that Bahrain richly deserves to host the race.

“Hours after we were shocked into an eerie silence, fatalism gradually settled in and we are confident that things will be better,” said Maha who launched a Facebook campaign that drew more than 1,700 followers.

Bahrain was initially scheduled to hold the racing season opener in March, but the race was called off amid political unrest. Last week, it was rescheduled for October 30, but the decision was immediately criticised on the grounds that Bahrain cannot have the race.

For the F1 teams, it was a technical decision based on logistics and earlier plans to be in India during the race in the last weekend of October.

However, for rights activists, it was a decision that was taken under their pressure.

“Regardless of the reason for pulling out the race, it was a debacle that should not have taken place,” said Saud Al Ansari, an F1 fan from Muharraq who had used his BlackBerry to promote the race.

“The federation did send someone here to assess the situation and they had all the assurances from the local authorities. They should have consulted more extensively before making a decision, then deciding against it. We love the purity of the race and we do look forward to it remaining an integral part of it,” he said.


Several political societies had welcomed the announcement in early June that the race would be reinstated for October. Members from Al Wefaq, the main opposition society, said that it supported Bahrain hosting the event.

“It will force all the stakeholders to come together to find solutions ahead of the event,” Jassim Husain, the lead business analyst for the society, said.

However, Anwar Abdul Rahman, the editor in chief of Akhbar Al Khaleej, the oldest daily in circulation, claimed that personal motives and a desire for revenge, mainly by former motor racing chief Max Mosley, were also part of the decision to cancel the race.

“Top of the list of Bahrain’s accusers is former motor racing chief Max Mosley, who claims that the staging of the race in Bahrain would mean that F1 ‘becomes one of the Bahrain government’s instruments of oppression’,” Anwar wrote on Friday.

According to the veteran editor, Carlos Garcia, FIA vice-president, spent 36 hours in Bahrain and declared it a safe destination for motor racing.

“For members of the F1 fraternity, to single out Bahrain over questions of human rights issues is unacceptable victimisation. A number of other countries which host F1 are considered to be far more repressive. The same stance should apply to Bahrain as to these other nations.”

However, Anwar also blamed Bahrain for “innocently” allowing foreign public relations companies to “milk the country’s financial resources for a long time, yet failing to deliver any positive result”.

“From now on we hope such tasks will be undertaken by organisations with true local links, knowledge and understanding, as well as a genuine love for Bahrain… There are many highly capable, mature, experienced Bahrainis and expatriates who have been in this field all of their professional working lives.”



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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