Musings from Bahraini entrepreneur, design agency creative director and magazine editor, Wafa Alobaidat
Copenhagen was more captivating than I had anticipated. While it was much darker and dirtier than I expected, it had this unique type of purpose.
You'll immediately start to realize simply by a mere walk around the city square, that Copenhagen is the capital city of bike riding. There is more respect to the biker than there is for a person driving a car, or even a person walking on the pavement.
The city revolves and is designed around the bike rider. Why? Because the bike rider aides the city’s purpose, which for a large city like Copenhagen means getting the carbon dioxide level to a bare minimum.
Everyday 55% of all cyclers bike at least 2 km a day and there are more bikeway paths in the city of Copenhagen and more than 340 km of bike lane on the majority of roads. Every destination in the city of Denmark has a rack of bikes parked out front in near order. There isn’t a juice bar, vegan cafe, or bakery without more than 50+ bikes out front.
The city’s mission is clear; we are all in it together, an unspoken vow to the well being of the city. It is a stunning site seeing a proud woman at the age of your grandmother or an entire family biking side by side or waiting patiently for the red light to turn green.
Biking comes as second nature to all the locals and after a few days it felt primitive for me to navigate the city by foot. After day 3, I rented myself a bike and started a cultural trek, mapping out cafes for brunch, boutique museums, and vintage amusement parks on my phone. I won’t lie, after the first day my legs were numb and my back end sore. I was exhausted and skipped dinner for bed at a sad 7 pm. I was starting to wonder if I would need a vacation from my vacation.
By the fourth day I was getting used to the cycle pace at rush hour, breathing better, and waking up in the morning feeling much lighter. I had bundles of energy throughout the day and it filtered through my system so extensively, I still felt energetic and worked up when I came back to the island.
The next day I found myself shopping for a bike, and as I coughed up the money for it at the register, I began to question my own city's purpose. We all have our own personal goals and ambitions and we're distracted with our daily juggle of family, friends, work and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, which brings me to this question "What is our city's goal or motto?"
Where do we stand as Bahrainis and what are we trying to achieve as a whole? It would be wise to devise a campaign conceived to support a country's cause. We as people have generous amounts of energy and chatter, why not direct this towards a common positive purpose that can give back to the city. It doesn’t have to be shallow, it can be a sophisticated informed decision where we decide what long term goal we would like to stand for.
It would be a miracle if we Arab know-it-alls agreed on one thing. To agree on supporting one's city, well, that would be an achievement worthy of sore legs and a numb back end.
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.