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Watching the Wildfire

Watching the wildfire of  popular protest running through the Middle-east and in particular Bahrain today, I worry about the friends I have living there, as I've visited the country on a number of different occasions for conferences over the last ten years or so.

It's particularly ironic, because several times I've given presentations on transactional government and the information society in the Arab world and the events of the last few weeks appear to be following my path, I've been in Tunisia and Egypt too. Of course, Saudi Arabia was one of my more frequent stops, just across the causeway from Manama in Bahrain and I can imagine the Saudis will be watching their small island neighbour with deep concern.

I did write a seventy page report on the 'Magic'  Kingdom's progress in the age of the internet for HM Government back in 2002 and I'm sure it's still kicking around on the web somewhere.

What is for certain is that history shows, only too clearly, that once one builds a small fire in the smouldering Arab imagination, it can burn fiercely  uncontrolled for a very long time. A fact that TE Lawrence knew only too well:

"...I drew these tides of men into my hands and wrote my will across the sky in stars..."

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A temple carved from the rock from Petra's sister city.

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Below, you can see one of the fortified train stations that Lawrence attacked along the Hejaz railway between Damascus and Medina.



More photos Medain Saleh can be found on THIS Site - Apparently you can catch a tourist bus these days, rather different from risking life and limb to cross an unfriendly Saudi Arabia twenty years ago!