Bahrain

Overview

Located in one of the world’s chief oil-producing regions, Bahrain itself has only small stores of petroleum. Instead, its economy has long relied on processing crude oil from neighbouring countries, and more recently the financial, commercial services, and communications sectors have grown markedly, as has tourism. The country’s chief city, port, and capital, Manama (Al-Manāmah), is located on the northeastern tip of Bahrain Island. A strikingly modern city, Manama is relaxed and cosmopolitan and is a favourite destination for visitors from neighbouring Saudi Arabia; on weekends, crowds of Saudis converge on the city to enjoy its restaurants and bars. Yet the people of Bahrain remain conservative in their lifeways. This sentiment is enshrined in the country’s constitution, which affirms that “the family is the cornerstone of society, the strength of which lies in religion, ethics, and patriotism.”

Top Attractions

  • Explore the historic heart of Manama, the capital city of Bahrain, with its bustling souks, ancient forts, and cultural landmarks like the Bahrain National Museum, Al Fateh Grand Mosque, and Bab Al Bahrain.
  • Discover the ancient Dilmun civilization at the Bahrain Fort (Qal’at al-Bahrain), a UNESCO World Heritage site dating back over 4,000 years, with its impressive archaeological ruins, museum exhibits, and panoramic views of the surrounding area.
  • Visit the tranquil oasis of Al Areen Wildlife Park, where you can see indigenous Arabian wildlife like Arabian oryx, gazelles, and flamingos, as well as endangered species like the Arabian leopard and the sand cat.
  • Explore the traditional villages of Bahrain, such as Muharraq, with its historic houses, narrow alleyways, and vibrant arts scene, and Riffa, known for its royal palaces, mosques, and traditional souks.
  • Relax and unwind on the pristine beaches of Bahrain, with their soft golden sands, clear turquoise waters, and opportunities for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports like snorkeling, diving, and jet skiing.

Local Cuisine

  • Indulge in the flavors of Bahraini cuisine, known for its rich and aromatic dishes influenced by Arabian, Persian, and Indian culinary traditions.
  • Sample iconic dishes like machboos (spiced rice with meat or fish), muhammar (sweetened rice with dates), and gahwa (traditional Arabic coffee), served with dates and sweet treats.
  • Try Bahraini specialties like fish machboos (spiced rice with fish), chicken kebab, and samboosa (savory pastries filled with meat, vegetables, or cheese), as well as traditional side dishes like hummus, tabbouleh, and fattoush salad.
  • Savor refreshing beverages like mint lemonade, saffron tea, and tamarind juice, as well as traditional desserts like halwa (a sweet confection made with rosewater, saffron, and nuts) and baklava (layers of filo pastry filled with nuts and honey).
  • Don’t forget to try Bahraini dates, which are considered some of the finest in the world, with varieties like Khalas, Khunaizi, and Barhi available fresh or dried, perfect for snacking or gifting.

Outdoor Activities

  • Take a desert safari tour to the Bahrain Desert, where you can ride camels, go dune bashing, and watch the sunset over the sand dunes, with opportunities for traditional Arabian dinners and cultural performances.
  • Go birdwatching at the Hawar Islands, a group of uninhabited islands located off the coast of Bahrain, with opportunities to see migratory birds like flamingos, herons, and pelicans in their natural habitat.
  • Explore the underwater world of Bahrain with snorkeling and scuba diving excursions to sites like the Bu Maher Shipwreck, the Bahrain Artificial Reef, and the Hawar Islands Marine Protected Area, home to diverse marine life like coral reefs, sea turtles, and colorful fish.
  • Go sailing or kayaking in the crystal-clear waters of Bahrain, with opportunities for guided tours, sunset cruises, and island hopping adventures to nearby destinations like Jarada Island, Hawar Island, and the Amwaj Islands.
  • Take a walk or bike ride along the scenic Corniche, a waterfront promenade in Manama, with views of the city skyline, the Bahrain World Trade Center, and landmarks like the Bahrain Financial Harbour and the Bahrain National Theatre.

Cultural Experiences

  • Immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage of Bahrain with visits to museums, galleries, and cultural institutions like the Bahrain National Museum, the Beit Al Quran Museum, and the Al Jasra Handicrafts Centre.
  • Explore the vibrant arts and crafts scene of Bahrain, with opportunities to shop for locally made souvenirs, pottery, textiles, and jewelry at markets like the Bab Al Bahrain Souk, the Manama Souq, and the Isa Cultural Centre.
  • Experience traditional Bahraini music and dance performances, such as pearl diving songs, sea shanties, and folk dances like the Ardha (a traditional sword dance), which reflect the island’s maritime heritage and Bedouin roots.
  • Discover the history and legacy of Bahrain’s pearl diving industry with visits to historic sites like the Bahrain Pearling Trail, the Al Khamis Mosque, and the Bahrain International Circuit, home to the annual Bahrain Grand Prix.
  • Participate in local festivals and celebrations, such as the Bahrain National Day, the Spring of Culture Festival, and the Bahrain Food Festival, to experience the vibrant culture and spirit of Bahrain firsthand.

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