Feb. 14, 2013 | Al-Monitor
MANAMA - In the countless huge malls in the Bahraini capital of Manama, families drink Starbucks coffee and peruse Western designer brands. At outdoor cafes and parks, women — some in long black abayas others in jeans and T-shirts — enjoy the early spring weather while chatting and watching their kids play.
On the surface there seems to be little concern over the ongoing uprising which erupted almost two years ago. But as people return home in big shining convertibles and SUVs on one of Manama’s main highways, burning tires disrupt the rush-hour traffic and show that below the shiny surface, political tensions and ongoing unrest still simmer in the small kingdom.
As the situation seemed stagnant, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa called for dialogue meetings, which were launched Sunday, Feb. 10, and continued Wednesday. Representatives from opposition groups, pro-government parties and the national assembly attended these meetings, the first in 18 months.