Swine flu or H1N1 is still making headlines across the Arab world as new cases continue to be discovered by health authorities and announced in the Press on a daily basis.
In Bahrain, Silly Bahraini Girl (which is me) is back home and surprised at what she saw at her country's airport:
Reality of how mad this place has become smacks you in the face the second you land at the Bahrain
International Airport and see all the ground staff wearing surgical masks, from the ground handling staff to the immigration and customs officers. “What's wrong with you?” I ask them. “Is there a plague in Bahrain?” I continue questioning [...] the situation seemed tense and and the level of swine madness was certainly the highest I have come across everywhere I have travelled through since pig mania gripped Planet Earth. Why wasn't there a single person wearing a mask at the airports of San Francisco, Chicago, Toronto and Heathrow which I have travelled
through over the past few weeks?
Still in Bahrain, Sohail Al Gosaibi smells a conspiracy in the air, noting that exaggerating the effect of swine flu benefits the media, advertising and pharmaceutical industries. The Saudi blogger writes:
The media almost always exaggerate the situation, remember that fears sells. And newspapers and news channels have to sell advertising space and airtime to make money, and the more shocking and scary their stories, the more viewers and readers they have, which leads to more
advertisers, and more profits.
Al Gosaibi also quotes an article he has read and concludes:
According to the article, the US and UK governments have billions of dollars worth of Tamifluiflu stock that they must use within the next few months, or they’ll expire. Interesting, huh?
And speaking of theories, Jordan Reform Watch also has something up his sleeve and writes:
Ahhh..The swine-flu with all the accompanying conspiracy theories..A Jordanian “Scientist” specializing in diseases claims that Mecca And Medina are somehow isolated from disease, thus there is no need for the talk about the possible outbreaks that might result from the millions of pilgrims being in extreme proximity while performing Hajj..
Kill them Pigs..Go To hajj..You will be disease free..
Egyptian blogger Zeinobia, who blogs at Egyptian Chronicles, is also concerned about how the disease will spread during the Hajj [annual Muslim pilgrimage season to Mecca], where millions of pilgrims from around the world converge to Mecca to perform the ritual. She notes:
the discussion about the future of Pilgrimage “Hij” and Omra [smaller pilgrimage] this year is still debatable. The minister of health wants to cancel Omra where as the minister of tourism is against the cancellation , I do not need to speak about Pilgrimage.
Of course the debate is much hotter among the clerics themselves. Saudi Arabia understands the challenge it is facing already and decided to deal with the situation as much as it can in the Omra and pilgrimage , it recommends that pregenant women , elderly and kids to avoid pilgrimage this year , I really respect this move.
I also have a better suggestion. In such circumstances why not to limit Omra and pilgrimage for the first time pilgrims only from men and women
Our final stop is in Syria, where blogger Yaser Arwani [ar] links to a news story which says that Syria's first swine flu case was recently reported in a Syrian doctor, who works in Australia and was on a visit to her country. The female doctor travelled to Syria through Dubai International Airport and the disease was not detected until a few days after her arrival.