Strength of Belief

Strength of Belief

It didn’t take long for Nina to spit it out. Her report’s second paragraph starts with it. She can hide it as a quotation, but it remains, to our mind at least, an important fact we witnessed that night: “Women run this country”.

On Monday night, the Capital Club was hosting the 2nd Annual Leading Women in Business Forum. In a crowded room high above Manama’s streetlights, five women were explaining their personal experiences that led them to become successful entrepreneurs in Bahrain. They very much reflected the intently focused audience, made up of young women and even teenagers, ’Abaya’-clad or otherwise. If the male gender wasn’t represented on stage, he was definitely part of the debate.

Even if these women expressed different journeys, often filled with difficulties but sometimes smoothly paved, they all shared one key belief: being a woman entrepreneur in Bahrain is possible!

Implement this tiny yet simple notion and it will grow in minds. Nourishing itself with passions and beliefs. This was the forum’s aim. To provide a positive and revelatory platform that would openly speak to women about how these kinds of adventures don’t just happen to others. And it worked brilliantly, as the crowd reacted intensely. Here a man trying to push the boundaries, there a young woman starving for guidance. The night was a success.

Inspiration didn’t only come from the stage, it was all around. We, for example, were on duty that night, tasked with covering the event live on camera. An easy task on paper, slightly trickier in reality. Nina had flown in from Dubai especially for the event and was en route to Beirut where she is Editor-in-chief of Lebanon-based Wamda, a portal which defines itself as “a platform designed to empower entrepreneurs in the MENA region”.

We had to assist her in filming and sort of documenting the night. She conducted interviews with each and every one of the speakers.

Nina, why do you inform them in advance about the interview questions? I’m not here to trick them; I want them to think about the answers before. These are short interviews.

Indeed, less than 10 minutes. Only problem: we didn’t know how to frame correctly. In the end, we hoped that she could at least retrieve some usable content. As she flew back home with the cassettes, she was also carrying our embarrassment…  As for us, apart from the earrings setting, we drove back home carrying all the precious advice she had imparted.

That night we met that special kind of woman. You know; the iron fist in a velvet glove’s one.

It was finally time to use all those tips. HuviL didn’t know it, but he was about to become our first victim. We decided to meet at a fast-food parking area. He was late, just enough time to allow us to have a take away (my first one ever by the way!).

The red car furiously screeched to a halt by our feet, the window lowered. Sorry guys, I’m late. What about you follow me?!

Direction: the British Council. An absolute first for both of us! Never stepped into one before. Well, we are Frogs after all, we just don’t go to the roast beefs’… Hard to admit, but the welcome was benevolent. And let us be clear: it was HuviL who asked permission for us to shoot there! We are not savages… (To whom it’s addressed).

HuviL has a project here. A frieze commissioned by the British Council. He’d already graffed a woman’s face, he was finishing a woman’s hand beautified with henna. The velvet glove?

20 minutes interview. Why? First, because we follow advice, And second, because Melchior was stamping his feet. You see, he hasn’t used his Large Format camera for more than a month now. Oh, that I can understand. Take away my keyboard and I’ll shoot you, and not with a camera this time!

It was time for Melchior to break free and finally perform his photography. Again, HuviL was to become our victim. And the guy was patient. He accepted to play by the rules, which are: forget the Large Format, forget it and forget it. Not an easy task, as the camera is strange. It seems to emerge right out of the ashes of History. What kind of freak would still use it in the digital era?

Mask on, spray out and HuviL was off. In a church-like kind of silence, HuviL was graffing and Melchior shooting.

Randomly walking, I ran into some of Alan’s pieces. Ah, Brits…

With a dullard smile hooked to his lips, Melchior began packing away all his equipment. He had the photograph. He was relieved.

If I’ve been inspired by some I could have expected, like HuviL or the women back that night, others like Nina and Melchior himself, unexpectedly “floored” me. All replete by strength, moving, thanks to their passions.

Time for us to leave. On the way back, all the kids were staring at HuviL.

We were out on the British Council’s parking lot, shaking hands and sharing greetings.

About to enter the car. ..

Hey guys! You asked me last time if I’ve ever drawn my wife…

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