Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): 437 km is the distance between Bahrain and Qatar, but the difference between the two countries is widening year after year in light of the difference in ambition between the two ruling families. One family's vision is to develop its own personal revenues while the other aspires to diversify its country's resources.
The Al-Thani family invested in their country in order to diversify the sources of income and become a distinct modern country, while the Al Khalifa family invested in the national sources of revenue for the purpose of increasing its own wealth and improving its finances.
Hosting the World Cup was one of the factors that accelerated the implementation of Qatar's vision of promoting urban development that includes facilities, road plans, industrial and logistical spaces, as well as education and health care systems).
These goals were set by Qatar in its 2030 National Vision, launched in 2008, two years before it won the right to host the FIFA World Cup.
The 2030 vision, which Qatar succeeded in implementing, comprised all the infrastructure projects that everyone witnessed there, which included new roads, a metro, modern airport, tourism and industrial facilities, in addition to mega hotel projects.
In order to achieve its national aspirations, Qatar indeed built a completely new metro system worth $36 billion, in addition to a modern freight port at a cost of seven billion dollars, and an expansion of its main airport at a cost of more than $15 billion.
The spending also included about $45 billion put into a massive construction project in Lusail, north of the capital, Doha, including residential areas that can accommodate 200,000 people, in addition to commercial complexes, four artificial islands, entertainment centers and the largest stadium in the country that can host 80,000 spectators, where the World Cup final was held.
Qatar also spent $4.5 billion to develop the capital city center, and $3.2 billion to establish economic zones, all of which were projects assigned before the hosting of the tournament.
On the other hand, in October 2008 (during the same period when Qatar announced its strategic vision), the King of Bahrain ratified Bahrain's Economic Vision 2030 entitled, Transforming Bahrain's Economy from a Regional Pioneer to a Global Contender.
However, is Bahrain today even a regional pioneer for it to become a contender on the global level? Today, the king and his government can taste the bitterness of failure due to Bahrain's regional decline, as well as its absence globally, since there was no sincere desire for the country's advancement, but the family's ambition rather took precedence over national aspirations.
Unrealistic plans and rose-colored dreams can be written and distributed in luxurious booklets, but success requires a unifying national will, and giving priority to the higher interests of the country rather than the ruling family's interests.
Doha has spent around $300 billion (113 billion Bahraini dinars) to build a modern infrastructure that includes airports, ports, roads and express trains, while Al Khalifa has racked up billions in public debt to meet its personal family aspirations.
Those who say that Bahrain's financial resources do not allow for all this spending are lying, because the billions that the king inherited from his father and what Khalifa bin Salman, the late prime minister, left behind are enough to build even more than these strategic projects. The family; however, deems the state's resources its private property.
Bahrain has lost its financial and tourism status to neighboring Gulf capitals and cities because the wheel of development is not spinning in the country in a manner that would allow it to be a competitor regionally. What is, in fact, spinning is the wheel of theft of land properties and undersea plots, as well as taking over oil, gas and aluminum revenues. As long as the ruling family is clinging to its greed, Bahrain, the country and its citizens, will continue to pay a hefty price for the "holding family's" thievery.