Musings from Bahraini entrepreneur, design agency creative director and magazine editor, Wafa Alobaidat

I was sitting in Al Bareh cafe waiting for my meeting with Hayfa Al Jishi; she was late so that gave me time to sit down and have some lunch. I ordered the feta and date salad with extra dressing and noticed that the staffers on this side of the gallery were also the chefs and waiters. The same waitress who was telling me about the exhibit was also taking my order, making my salad, and shouting the password for the wireless Internet from the kitchen.

I was reminded of my visit to Al Muharaq with some of the Khaleejesque editorial team members a few weeks ago. Fouz, Fajer, and Suad graciously came to Bahrain for a day trip to interview me for their next issue. I gave them a tour of the office and we went into the lounge area to chat about life, work, and what makes us all tick.

Afterwards, we managed to cram a lunch at the Organic Food and Cafe, a visit to Naqsh, a calligraphy gallery, a short trip to Words, a new bookshop and cafe (their almond cupcake is divine), and then squeezed in a visit to Abbas Al Mosawi’s new gallery.

Since we had a few hours left, we decided to venture to Al Muharaq to visit what I like to call Shaikha Mai’s Seven Wonders: renovated houses in the alleyways of the area. Our first stop was the Al Shuwaiter coffee shop; we walked into the boutique qahwa, to find it open, yet deserted. We then ventured into the labyrinths of the town to find the welcome office closed.

We proceeded to Abdulla Bin Zayed’s house which was being renovated. Assuming it was closed, we moved on to the next space. Out of nowhere, an Indian man in a chef’s outfit came chasing after us to tell us the house was open. An hour later, this same man became our tour guide and security guard (he had all the keys). He opened all the lights for us, took photos of us, and guided us around the space in his broken English.

Our tour of the area very much depended on this man, who was multi-tasking away, smiling cheerfully every time we asked for more pictures with our phones.

It seems that, in general, we build our visions up, give them a foundation, create the physical space (sometimes) and then we forget to manage our spaces or concepts. The same applies for the one million and two start-up projects on Facebook, that eventually run dry; their owners getting bored and walking away to try out a new venture.

We have the concepts, we ride the thrill of the start-up, and then we forget to manage, maintain and adapt.

The question is, why?

Wafa Alobaidat writes a bi-monthly column for Khaleejesque and muses on fashion, art, culture and culture shock in the Middle East. Wafa is also the editor of Sketchbook magazine and runs design and PR agency Obai and Hill.

To get in touch with Wafa, email her at or follow her on Twitter @fashionambition

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