is Majesty King Hamad’s Representative for Charity Work and Youth Affairs Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa attended the special ghabga organised by the Bahrain Federation of Expatriate Associations (BFEA) on July 8, 2014. The event was celebrated at Sacred Heart Church in Manama, under BFEA’s banner “This is Bahrain”, which was launched during an event in London in May to showcase Bahrain’s tolerance of all nationalities, cultures and religions. The event was attended by government ministers, ambassadors, community leaders and representatives of different religious organisations. Organisers described it as the first of its kind, with one of Islam’s most important religious occasions being celebrated at a Christian venue by people of all faiths.
There was a different vibe around Bahrain, a thrill of eager anticipation the minute the word got out that the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Bahrain would be the venue for the “This is Bahrain” ghabga during the Holy Month of Ramadan. It was a great honour and privilege to even be considered as a host and the acceptance of H. H. Shaikh Nasser Bin Hamad Al Khalifa to grace this auspicious occasion further enhanced the benevolence and goodwill of the Royal Family as well as the mutual respect and love shared between the people of the Kingdom of Bahrain and all expatriates who have called this beautiful island a home.
Hordes of people started assembling in the church compound two hours before the scheduled time with the result that the appointed marshalls had a difficult time holding them back when His Highness made an appearance. His poise and gentle smile is loved by all and is indicative of the nature of all the members of the Royal Family. His long awaited arrival roused the crowd to a frenzy as all chanted in one accord : Long Live King Hamad! Several “I Love You’s” were also heard from the youth who are inspired by his involvement and active participation in several sports as well as his works of charity under the Royal Charity Organization. Despite the crowds surging forward, each one desperate to capture the moment for posterity, even faced with flashing cameras His Highness Shaikh Nasser took it all in his stride and beamed with apparent joy at the turnout.
His Lordship Bishop Camillo Ballin, Apostolic Vicar of Northern Arabia cut an impressive figure as he stood a head taller than most of the people in the Auditorium as he made his way up the stage to address the audience. Jaws dropped as those who were not familiar with his proficiency in Arabic were subject to a poignant and grateful tribute to the Royal Family and the people of the Kingdom of Bahrain. He elaborated on the benevolence of the Royal Family and unity of brotherhood binding people together, irrespective of nationality. He extolled Bahrain’s constant efforts to boost religious tolerance and co-existence. During his discourse, he spoke with deep conviction and projected such sincerity that all were moved.
An unexpected moment occurred when His Highness Shaikh Nasser volunteered to address the crowd. The lithe manner in which he stepped up on the dais signified his agility, a trait many of us envy as our idea of exercise is a yawn. His words came straight from the heart as he looked around the Auditorium and all were moved especially as he concluded saying that in Bahrain, we were the luckiest people in the world because of a noble leader such as King Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa and because we live in the best country in the world. The thunderous standing ovation he received symbolized the outpouring of love from all those who were fortunate enough to hear his address.
It was indeed a memorable evening as it underlines the mutual friendly relations shared between the Kingdom of Bahrain and all of us expatriates. Each of us hail from different countries with different religious and cultural backgrounds. However, one thing we all share is love. Love for Bahrain and all things Bahraini. There are people who have been born here, those who have spent decades in Bahrain, embracing its heritage. Only with mutual understanding and cooperation can we hope to build a better future.
The success of this event would not have been possible without the detailed planning by the members of the Bahrain Federation of Expatriate Associations. Grateful thanks and appreciation go out to all the members of the Royal Family and the people of Bahrain for sharing their special Holy Month of Ramadan with us. Long live Bahrain!
— Chris Noronha (Bahrain)
PHOTOS OF THE EVENT
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