Last week I visited my GMU colleague Omar al-Ubaydli. Omar now lives and works in Bahrain, a quick drive over the King Fahd Causeway from Saudi Arabia.
A few of Omar’s other friends from around the world joined in the visit so with scale effects working in our favor he kindly arranged two days of adventures for all of us. The much-appreciated tour (including a desert camp
) was put together by IT blogger Saud Albuainain
with help from some of his friends at YPS, an NGO
he co-founded. Having a programmer, an MD, and other professionals as tour guides was something I could get used to.
My friend Matt Devries came along and later wrote this on Facebook, reprinted with permission:
Thank you to Omar, our host, and to the people of Bahrain for the amazing warmth and hospitality…Garett and I drove from one end of Bahrain’s islands to the other. We visited small towns and large. We went to grocery stores, malls, souks, neighborhoods, mosques, beaches, desert sites, and a tree
. Everywhere we went we were meant with kindness and openness.
I completely agree. Before the tours with Saud, Devries and I rented a car, drove everywhere, and experienced many kindnesses plus excellent food from small shops offering Pakistani, Bangladeshi, and many other cuisines plus fresh bread beyond imagining.
I haven’t visited enough countries to rule on the matter but of the roughly two dozen countries I’ve visited, countries with a variety of productivity levels, it’s easily the friendliest (to tourists) in my sample.
From this tourist’s point of view: no shakedowns, no trickery, the ripoff culture is quite absent.
Cavalier explanation, a version of which is commonly embraced by Bahrainis: It’s been a nation of expatriates for centuries, people moving in and out, sometimes conquering sometimes trading, so getting along with people a little different from yourself is a skill that pays off.
Adam Smith’s pin factory–where the workers engage in diverse tasks–works better if people get along.