Al-Maarifi: “I personally will oppose this law because I pursue the interests of the citizen ahead of my own interests… we shouldn’t support a proposal which serves our own interests at the expense of citizens’ interests”
Deputy Chairman of the Accord Bloc
Deputy Chairman of the Permanent Committee for Services
Member of Parliamentary Human Rights Committee
Member of Government Action Plan Committee (Jan-Feb 2015)
Member of Mumtalakat Investigation Committee (April 2015)
Businessman Al-Maarifi won a confident elections campaign in 2014 and has continued to show himself to be an assertive parliamentary player. He voted in favour of the State Budget on 2 July 2015. Al-Maarifi was announced in October 2015 as being the Deputy Chairman of the new Accord Bloc, a grouping of five Sunni MPs.
During early 2015 Al-Maarifi spoke out repeatedly against Shura Council proposals for increasing retirement benefits for MPs, saying that such a move put the interests of deputies before their obligation to “serve the nation”. Along with a number of MPs, Al-Maarifi has been vocal in opposing the Health Ministry’s fees on foreign workers, which have usually ended up being paid by Bahraini businesses.
Al-Maarifi has been outspoken in criticizing reporting by foreign human rights organizations regarding the situation in Bahrain. During mid-2015 Al-Maarifi also became more visible speaking out about regional security issues, like Yemen, Syria, Iran and Palestine.
ACTIVITY DURING 2015-2016 PARLIAMENT SEASON
Housing, services & infrastructure
Traffic: Al-Maarifi on 28 Aug called for an investigation into the death of a child in a road accident involving a lorry.
Economy & employment
Business: Al-Maarifi on 13 July proposed the offering of certain areas of land to small businesses and investors for “token fees” in order to encourage emerging businesses struggling to cope in the current challenging economic climate.
Services: Al-Maarifi is supporting the proposal of a trading and services centre in the Sanad area. (28 Aug)
Good governance & public finance
Subsidies: Al-Maarifi on 10 Oct once again stressed that the smart card was the best option for subsidy reform and praised the Govt’s decision to set up a committee to review the proposal.
Policing & regional security
Terrorism: Al-Maarifi on 20 July said that the deviant terrorist groups had failed to have an impact on the social climate in Bahrain. Al-Maarifi on 28 July condemned the recent attack in Sitra which killed 2 policemen. He called for a sitting of the full National Assembly in order for action to be taken. Al-Maarifi on 16 Aug called for popular action to stand against the threat of terrorism.
Iran: Al-Maarifi on 16 July called for Iran to reassess its policies towards regional states and abide by the principle of good-neighbourliness. Al-Maarifi on 24 July condemned statements by the Iranian leadership concerning Bahrain. He praised the Interior Ministry’s comments regarding Iran’s interference in Bahrain’s internal affairs.
Unregistered workers: Al-Maarifi on 18 July called for greater coordination between Govt departments to address the issue of unregistered foreign workers, including deportation for those who were ineligible to remain.
Saudi Arabia: Al-Maarifi on 12 July conveyed his condolences on the passing of former Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal.
Singapore: Al-Maarifi on 2 Sep discussed with the Singapore ambassador the proposal for establishing a bilateral parliamentary friendship committee.
Palestine: Al-Maarifi on 14 Sep and again on 22 Sep condemned recent Israeli measures at Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Yemen: Al-Maarifi on 11 Sep hailed the importance of prayers to commemorate the five Bahraini soldiers killed in Yemen.
Syria: Al-Maarifi on 12 Sep emphasized the role GCC states had played in taking in Syrian refugees and providing humanitarian support.
Defence: On 5 Oct Al-Maarifi voiced support for the establishment of a unified GCC force to counter Iranian interference.
Rights & freedoms
Civil cases: Al-Maarifi on 16 July proposed a number of amendments concerning procedures for raising civil cases and trade disputes.
Media: Al-Maarifi on 26 July noted that the draft media law was one of the major areas of business for MPs at the beginning of the next parliamentary season. He said that the draft in front of MPs had been modified, due to dissatisfaction with the draft submitted by the Govt.
Youth, culture & sport
Mosques: During a parliamentary debate on 13 Oct in which the Housing Minister was present, Al-Maarifi demanded that the Govt undertake to renovate a mosque in Sanad.
Parliament role & constituent engagement
Engagement: The Parliament Bureau’s Social Engagement Committee attended Al-Maarifi’s 20 Aug majils in East Riffa and discussed the issue of subsidy reform.
Parliament: Al-Maarifi in a 10 July statement affirmed that there were many benefits for citizens in the new Budget, despite the current economic challenges. He stressed the achievements of the current Parliament, particularly in the light of constitutional amendments which gave MPs the power to approve the four-year Action Plans. In particular, he noted the importance of the directive for the building of 40,000 new housing units.
Affiliation: Al-Wasat newspaper on 4 Oct signaled that a new parliamentary bloc was likely to be established at the beginning of the new parliamentary term, consisting of MPs Al-Asoumi, Bu-Ali, Qaratah, Al-Bakri, Al-Maarifi, Al-Noaimi, Al-Hammadi, Bin-Huwail and Turki. Al-Watan had already reported this proposal on 23 Jul, citing several of the deputies pointing out the effectiveness of collective vis-à-vis individual action and noting the need for MPs to be a more effective lobbying force in response to ministers. Al-Maarifi said: “Parliamentary action is collective not individual. A bloc needs to be formed with strength, weight and resonance, which serves the public good.”
The Accord Bloc on 18 Oct held a press conference to officially announce its launch as a five-member alliance, headed by Isa Turki – also including, Mohammed al-Maarifi (deputy chairman), Muhsin al-Bakri, Osama al-Khajah and Dhiyab al-Noaimi. Al-Bakri stressed the blocs intention to “activate the available constitutional tools” for use by MPs. He strongly criticized the previous Parliament for restricting the usage of ministerial interrogation, saying that the Accord Bloc advocated the need for only one MP calling for an interrogation. Al-Maarifi acknowledged that he was seeking to chair the Human Rights Committee, stressing the importance of this Committee’s role. Turki said that the bloc had played a role in securing the election of Al-Madhi and Al-Atish for the Services and Legal Committees, while noting that two members – Al-Maarifi and Al-Bakri held deputy chairman positions.
Minister interrogation: MPs Al-Maarifi, Turki and Buhindi on 15 Oct called for the interrogation of the new Health Minister if she failed to seriously address the issue of consultants at Salmaniya Hospital. Buhindi called for an investigation committee to probe the issue. He said that the hospital was in need of reorganization. Turki said that if services weren’t improved and investigations conducted into the hospital’s failings then an interrogation of the Minister would be necessary.
ACTIVITY DURING 2014-2015 PARLIAMENT SEASON
Housing & services
Housing: Al-Maarifi on 7 June called for 25% of all reclaimed land to be used for housing projects in a private bill.
Standards of living, health & education
Health fees: Al-Maarifi on 21 January said that all “friendly methods” had been exhausted for holding the Minister of Health to account on the issue of increased fees for non-Bahraini workers. Al-Maarifi questioned which constitutional principles the minister had based his “unilateral” decision on.
On 9 March Al-Maarifi conducted an outspoken interview with Al-Watan newspaper, in which he strongly criticized the “disastrous” health fees, saying that they contributed to increasing unemployment and economic difficulties for small businesses. He said that MPs would not stop acting on this issue until they succeeded in cancelling the fees.
Café regulations: Al-Maarifi on 23 March proposed refusing licenses to cafeterias in housing areas “because they cause risks from emissions of toxic gasses, crowds and chaos… as well as negative customs and behaviours which harm citizens and affect younger generations”.
Services Committee: Al-Maarifi said that the Services Committee on 13 May met with representatives from a society for supporting the elderly to discuss a private bill for establishing a social centre for the elderly in Isa Town. The Committee also discussed amendments to social security regulations and proposals regarding retirement benefits for Govt employees.
Meat subsidies: Al-Maarifi on 21 May cited research by a number of experts into the meat subsidies issue, who he said rejected the Government’s current plan to halt subsidies and introduce a system of cash payments. Al-Maarifi said that in principle, he supported altering the structure of subsidies “within a well-studied system”. He criticized the low levels of payments which families are reportedly to receive. Al-Maarifi suggested that a smart card system may be better than cash payments.
During the 26 May parliamentary discussion, a majority of MPs spoke out against the Govt’s plan for halting meat subsidies. Al-Maarifi said: “The Government wants to withdraw this tiny amount from citizens and is silent about the other amounts spent on dancing. The problem is absence of fair planning”.
Good governance & public finance
Action Plan: Al-Maarifi requested to be added to the Government Action Plan Committee (19 January). His request was accepted. On 31 January, Al-Maarifi spoke positively of the results of the meetings between ministers and MPs concerning the Government Action Plan for addressing the aspirations of citizens.
Parliamentary benefits: On 25 January Al-Maarifi spoke out against the Shura Council proposal for increasing retirement privileges for MPs and Shura Councilors, saying such a proposal went against the constitutional principle of equality between citizens as well as being out of step with increasing constraints on the budget.
Abbas al-Madhi’s Services Committee on 11 May recommended the approval of increases in retirement benefits for MPs. However, Al-Madhi’s deputy, Mohammed al-Maarifi registered his opposition. Al-Maarifi told the media that he would “I personally will oppose this law because I pursue the interests of the citizen ahead of my own interests… we shouldn’t support a proposal which serves our own interests at the expense of citizens’ interests”. Al-Maarifi noted that there was a group of MPs determined to vote against these measures, describing them as those who “possess a sense of national obligation”
Audit report: After the 31 March parliamentary debate in which it was decided to delay further discussion on the Financial Audit Bureau report because key ministers had failed to attend; Al-Maarifi warned that the audit report would not be passed by Parliament without ministers attending to respond to questions.
Minister interrogation: During the 5 May parliamentary session an insufficient number of MPs voted in support of interrogating the Health Minister over issues raised in the Audit report (23 supported, below the 2/3 quota of 27 MPs). Al-Maarifi voted in favour of the interrogation.
Budget: On 14 May Al-Maarifi stressed the importance of the Budget responding to the aspirations of citizens. He said that he personally would reject the Budget is these conditions weren’t met. He said that steps must be taken to avoid future delays in submitting the Budget to Parliament.
Debt ceiling: According to Al-Watan on 14 May Al-Maarifi was one of the 9 MPs who said that they would reject increasing the debt ceiling to 7bn BD.
Policing & regional security
Yemen: On 27 March Al-Maarifi praised the Bahraini Foreign Ministry for its “rapid response” to the issue of Bahrainis caught up in the escalating Yemen crisis.
Al-Maarifi on 1 April told the Daily Tribune that the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen had been “inevitable”. He noted the need for ground operations to support the air strikes.
Arab summit: Al-Maarifi on 30 March said that the Summit in Cairo prepared for a “new phase of joint Arab action”, in the context of the project for a joint Arab military force and the Yemen intervention.
Crisis planning: Al-Maarifi on 5 April called for a comprehensive strategy for dealing with air traffic crises – citing the recent dust storm as an example.
Terrorism: In a 8 June statement responding to the arrests of the Iran-sponsored Al-Ashtar Brigades, Al-Maarifi praised the efforts of security personnel and called for greater support for the security forces in breaking up “sleeper cells”.
Rights & freedoms
Traffic: Al-Maarifi on 4 April proposed criminalizing the act of taking photos of car accidents and distributing these in the social media (not including the media).
Palestine: Al-Maarifi on 1 April attended the Palestinian Embassy’s ceremony marking Earth Day.
Disabled: On 7 April, Al-Maarifi said that the Services Committee about proposals for support for disabled people and easing their integration in society.
Human rights: Al-Maarifi on 20 April said that Amnesty International’s latest report ignored Bahrain’s human rights achievements. Al-Maarifi said that he had recently met the Interior Minister who briefed him extensively on prison conditions to ensure the meeting of international human rights standards.
Al-Maarifi said on 3 May that the recent US report on religious freedoms risked “inflaming sectarian tensions because it ignored the reasons for arrests and citizenship withdrawal”.
Rape: Al-Maarifi on 6 May proposed a draft bill regarding punishment for rape. His proposal observed that the rapist had previously been able to escape punishment by marrying his victim. Al-Maarifi proposed abolishing this law in order to protect the victim and ensure stricter punishment which could not be evaded.
Media: On Bahraini media day, Al-Maarifi praised the importance of the media’s role. He stressed the importance of the Parliament’s solidarity with the media in encouraging “national identity, ethical sensitivity and professionalism”. (12 May)
Zakat tax: On 25 May Al-Maarifi proposed a bill obliging all companies to pay 2.5% of profits as Islamic Zakat tax to a designated fund.
Parliament role & constituent engagement
Parliament leadership: Al-Maarifi on 23 May submitted a proposal that the First and Second Deputy Chairman positions in Parliament would be open to a vote every year (rather than just at the beginning of each Parliament term).
Public engagement: Mohammed al-Maarifi and Khalifa al-Ghanim on 2 June jointly spoke about parliamentary efforts for improving the performance of the Education Ministry, ensuring the prioritization of citizens’ aspirations for citizens, and improving benefits for pensioners. Their comments came during a parliamentary public event.
- Standards of living, health & education – 4
- Housing & services – 3
- Policing & regional security – 5
- Good governance & public finance – 5
- Economy & employment – 4
- Supporting constituents & youth – 4
- Rights & freedoms – 5
- Constructive Parliament role – 4
- Public visibility – 4
- Progressive/reformist credentials – 4
Results of 2014 elections – 4th Southern
Areas covered: Nuwaidrat, Sanad, Hajiat
Housing blocks: 643, 645, 646, 929, 931, 939
Registered voters: 8,589; Percentage 1st round voter turnout: 79.3%
First round vote:
Mohammed al-Maarifi – 2656 (41.0%); Abdulhamid al-Shaikh – 1824 (28.2); Ibrahim al-Mannai – 772 (11.9%); Nabil al-Musaifar – 515 (8.0%); Abdulrahman Abdulkarim – 385; Ashraf al-Assar – 216; Faisal al-Bufalah – 110
Second round vote:
Mohammed al-Maarifi – 2938 (50.8%)
Abdulhamid al-Shaikh – 2847 (49.2%)
Profile of election campaign: Mohammed Yousif Mohammed al-Maarifi
Businessman Mohammed al-Maarifi has been one of the more visible figures since early on in the contest and few will be surprised by his win in both rounds. However, after coming way ahead of his opponents in the first round; in the run-off rival candidate Abdulhamid al-Shaikh came in less than 100 votes behind Al-Maarifi, in one of the closer second round results.
During the contest Al-Maarifi stressed the importance of economic experts in the coming Parliament in order to promote economic growth and address the challenges the country faces. Al-Marifi came third in the 2010 elections with 610 votes.
Al-Maarifi had been tipped to be representing the National Unity Gathering. However, he eventually ran as an independent. Al-Maarifi told Al-Watan newspaper that he was working with a “team of experts and specialists to prepare a time-based plan to solve the housing crisis” in his constituency.
This is a mixed – opposition/loyalist Sunni/Shia – constituency and a product of boundary changes and the abolition of the Central Governorate.
Nuwaidrat and Sanad are traditionally Shia, but many of the other areas are Sunni or mixed. Given these factors, a turnout of 80% is very impressive.
Know your deputy: Profiles of other Bahrain MPs
Adel al-Asoumi – 1st Capital
Ahmed Qaratah – 2nd Capital
Adel Bin-Hamid Abdulhussain – 3rd Capital
Deputy-Head of Parliamentary Human Rights Committee
Abdulrahman Bumjaid – 4th Capital
Nasser al-Qaseer – 5th Capital
Deputy Head of the Permanent Committee for Financial and Economic Matters
Ali al-Atish – 6th Capital
Osamah al-Khajah – 7th Capital
Shaikh Majid al-Asfour – 8th Capital
Mohammed Jaffar Milad – 9th Capital
Nabil al-Balooshi – 10th Capital
Ali Bufarsan – 1st Muharraq
Head of Committee for Youth and Sports
Ibrahim al-Hammadi – 2nd Muharraq
Jamal Buhassan – 3rd Muharraq
Isa al-Kooheji – 4th Muharraq
Head of the Permanent Committee for Financial and Economic Matters
Mohammed al-Jowder – 5th Muharraq
Abbas al-Madhi – 6th Muharraq
Ali al-Muqla – 7th Muharraq
Abdulrahman Bu-Ali – 8th Muharraq
Fatimah al-Asfour – 1st Northern
Deputy Head of the Committee for Women and Children
Jalal Kadhim al-Mahfoudh – 2nd Northern
Deputy Head of Committee for Youth and Sports
Hamad al-Dossary – 3rd Northern
Ghazi Al Rahmah – 4th Northern
Deputy Head of Permanent Committee for Public Utilities and Environment
Ali al-Aradi – 5th Northern
Deputy Head of Parliament
Rua al-Haiki – 6th Northern
Shaikh Majid al-Majid – 7th Northern
Head of the Permanent Committee for Shari’ah and Legal Matters
Dr. Isa Turki – 8th Northern
Abdulhamid Abdulhussain al-Najjar – 9th Northern
Deputy Head of Committee for Supporting the Palestinian People
Mohammed al-Ammadi – 10th Northern
Head of Committee for Supporting the Palestinian People
Jamal Dawoud – 11th Northern
Head of Permanent Committee for Public Utilities and Environment
Jamila al-Sammak – 12th Northern
Head of the Committee for Women and Children
Khalid al-Shaer – 1st Southern
Head of Parliamentary Human Rights Committee
Mohammed al-Ahmed – 2nd Southern
Abdulhalim Murad – 3rd Southern
Second Deputy Head of Parliament
Mohammed al-Maarifi – 4th Southern
Deputy Head of the Permanent Committee for Services
Khalifa al-Ghanim – 5th Southern
Anas Buhindi – 6th Southern
Deputy Head of the Permanent Committee for Shari’ah and Legal Matters
Abdullah Bin-Huwail – 7th Southern
Head of the Permanent Committee for Foreign, Defence and National Security Affairs
Dhiyab al-Noaimi – 8th Southern
Mohsin al-Bakri – 9th Southern
Ahmed al-Mulla – 10th Southern
Head of Parliament