Bahrain, officially ‘The Kingdom of Bahrain’ is a small island country located on the western side of Persian Gulf. It lies to the east, south and southwest of Saudi Arabia, Iran and Qatar respectively. Manama is the capital of Bahrain.
Arabic is the official language of Bahrain though English is widely used.
Bahrain has a total area of 765 km2. The country’s natural resources include large quantities of oil and natural gas as well as fish in the offshore waters.
The state religion of Bahrain is Islam. There is a native Christian community in Bahrain. Bahrain also has a native Jewish community numbering thirty-seven Bahraini citizens.
As a tourist destination, Bahrain received over eight million visitors in 2008. The ancient Kingdom of Bahrain, the land of Dilmun, is one of the world’s oldest merchant trading nations. Even in the 21st century, the islanders, justifiably proud of their rich heritage and traditions, still regard themselves to be part of a trading society.
Bahrain is quite a cultural Kingdom and there are a few museums and many art galleries to explore. Bahrain is known as ‘The Land of Pearls’. Pearl Diving has contributed greatly to the economic foundation of the country. Bahrain pearls are the finest in the world.
With tiny towns and villages dotted around the island still securely preserved, vibrant Bahrain boasts several fascinating spots, each with its own distinctive community to explore. The manageable size of the island makes it easy to navigate.
Adventurous visitors may wish to hire a car and explore the island for themselves, as Bahrain’s highway system is straightforward and easily navigated. However, organized bus tours are available and offer the advantage of having a tour guide.
Bahrain is a great place to enjoy and explore!
Bahrain National Museum
Bahrain National Museum is the largest and oldest museum in Bahrain which opened in 1988. It’s located in Manama, the capital city of Bahrain. The museum preserves a rich collection of nation’s heritage and history. It has a collection of artifacts dating back to more than 4000 years.
Visitors are taken through five halls. Among these, three are of ancient civilization and archaeology while the other two depicts the pre-industrial past of Bahrain, i.e, the lifestyle and culture of people.
Among these, the Natural History Hall is known for its display of the flora and fauna specimens of Bahrain.
In Documents and Manuscripts Hall, notes on astronomy, old Quranic scrips and other documentaries and letters of historical importance are exhibited.
In the Hall of Graves, one could find an actual burial mound which is displayed after being reassembled in the exact same way as it was found in the desert.
The building contains laboratories, cafeteria, educational halls and also a gift shop where books, postcards, fabrics and handicrafts like baskets and pottery are available.
The museum is open daily and the visiting time is between 8am and 8pm.
Bab Al Bahrain, Manama
The name ‘Bab Al Bahrain’ means ‘’Gateway to Bahrain”. It is the country’s best known and most visited monument. Bab Al Bahrain marks the main entrance to Manama Souk. It is a huge arch above a road. It once overlooked the sea. Due to land reclamation, the sea is now located a few kilometers away.
The Government Avenue where the government offices and major business establishments are located is present in front of Bab Al Bahrain.
Bab Al Bahrain is a very lively spot mostly in the evening when people gather, have food in the restaurants there and have fun. The souk in Manama is a great way to people watch and mingle with all nationalities! There are many shops in the souk that sell traditional handicrafts, cloth, antiques, etc. The Gold City is a shopping complex within the Government Avenue.
The Gold City located on Government Avenue is a shopping complex for gold ornaments. There are a number of jewelry shops. In almost every shop, one could find Bahraini pearls which are very beautiful, natural and non-cultured. Its quality makes it very expensive.
Even people who are not very fond of jewelry will find this place exciting. It is interesting to walk through and see all the gold stores. In every shop there are friendly attendants. There is every kind of jewelry here with a wide variety of designs.
Arad Fort (Qal’at ‘Ara)
Arad Fort is a remaining representative of the Islamic forts of the 15th century. The fort is square and on every corner there is a cylindrical tower. It overlooks the sea and it is one of the defensive forts. It is very beautifully illuminated at night.
It is located at about 10Km away from Manama. Entrance fee is 200 fills.
A’ali Village,one of the biggest towns of Bahrain, is famous for its ancient burial mounds. Its is also known as Potter’s Village as it is famed for its pottery industry which began about five thousand years ago. The skills of pottery has been passed down from generation to generation and the people begin their training at a very young age.
Most people here are uneducated. They are very simple and friendly. They do pottery in many great designs and shapes with skilled coloring and engravings. Their works are masterpieces; they are greatly appreciated for its quality.
The most popular items which tourists buy are money boxes and flower vases. Some of the potters here even let the tourist try a hand pottery. Pottery is sold here at a very cheap rate.
Isa Town is a town located in the north central part of Bahrain. It is home to many educated middle class people. Isa Town houses most of Bahrain’s schools and also the University of Bahrain. The main landmark and tourist attraction of this town is the Bahrain National Stadium.
This place is famous for the traditional market place. Another shopping attraction here is the Isa Town Mall.
The village of Al Jasra is located near the west coast of Isa Town. The Potter’s Village and the ancient burial mounds are also in the west side of Isa Town. The ‘Heritage Museum’ is also located here.
Riffa was the capital of Bahrain till 1869. Riffa Fort was built in 1812 during the reign of Sheikh Salman bin Ahmed Al Khalifa. Riffa Fort is 20 Km away from Manama. The fort has a magnificent sand stone structure. Today it gives a glimpse on how the monarchy lived in those times. The whole of the Hunanaiya valley can be seen from here and the sight is beautiful to behold. It has three elaborate rectangular chambers and has an open courtyard with traditionally made benches.
Entrance to the fort is free.
Tree of Life
The Tree of Life or Shajarat-al-Hayat is a Prosopis cineraria tree which is approximately 400 years old. The tree is located 2 Km away from Jebel Dukhan (The Mountain of Smoke), a hill located in Southern Governorate of Bahrain.
It is a lonely tree that stands in the middle of a desert and it’s seen as a natural wonder as it grew in such extreme conditions. It has a height of 32 ft with its branches spread out in all directions. Its survival adaptation is so well that this tree has one of the deepest known root systems.
The area surrounding the tree is believed to be the site of ancient rituals. About 50,000 tourists visit the tree every year.
Al Zallaq Beach
Al Zallaq Beach which is also known as Al Jazaer Beach is a public beach located in Al Zallaq, a place which was home to many ancient tribes in Bahrain. The occupation of the people here is fishing. It’s a great place to spend time with family. The water is very shallow that people could enjoy walking a long distance into the sea! The sunsets here in the evening are amazing to watch.
Oil Museum and First Oil Well
The First Oil Well located near Jebel Dukhan is the first oil production well in the Arabian Gulf. Oil first spurted from this well in 1931. It was operated by the Bahrain Petroleum Company (BAPCO).
The museum showcases the history of the oil industry in Bahrain for over a century. The Oil Museum houses some fascinating exhibits, including drilling equipment, documents, old photographs and a working model of an oil rig.
The oil well and museum will takes about half an hour to see. The museum remains closed in July and August. The museum will be open every Friday and Saturday from 10am to 5pm. Entry is free.
Al Areen Wildlife Park, Sakhir
Al Areen Wildlife Park is a natural reserve and zoo where all plant and animal species have been protected and taken care of for over 30 years. The park features 82 species of birds, more than 45 species of animals, 25 species of flora and 100,000 flora and trees. It requires a 40 minute drive from Manama to get there. Access to the park’s animals is provided by tour-buses from the main entrance.
Access to the reserve is restricted, except for specialists, researchers, veterinarians and the animals’ keepers. Entrance to the reserve area of the park is prohibited unless prior permission is obtained.
The park is open from 8am-4pm. Admission for child below 3 years old is free. This park is a perfect for an animal lover who wishes for an opportunity to see the animals in the wild.
King Fahd Causeway
King Fahad Causeway is a 25 km long causeway that connects Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. The causeway is among the most visited place in both the Bahrain and Saudi. The number of vehicles using the causeway daily is about 25,104.
Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir
The Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) is a venue for motorsport which held the first Formula One Grand Prix in the whole of Middle East. It hosts the FIA Formula One World Championship, Chevrolet Lumina Series, Australian V8 Supercar Championship Series, etc.
BIC has a seating capacity of 45,000 with about 10,500 in it for spectators in the main grandstand. It has VIP suites, restaurant, hospitality suites and a car parking having space for 13,000 cars.
Parks in Bahrain
The parks in Bahrain are a great place not only for kids but also for grownups. Some of the best parks in Bahrain are The Lost Paradise of Dilmun Water Park, Adhari, Wahooo! Waterpark and Kid’s Kingdom. These parks provide great rides and a place for people of all age groups.
Wahoo! Waterpark is a climate-controlled indoor/outdoor water park inside the Bahrain City Centre.
Adhari Park organizes camps for kids. Life guards are everywhere and ready to assist.
Parks provide food courts and entry fee to the parks are reasonably priced. There are amazing water sports facilities. Most of the parks have preheated water which makes it exciting to visit in winter too. The parks in Bahrain could give a fabulous experience for visitors to the country!
Bahrain is now a centre for shopping and fine living. Many international travelers find shopping in Manama to be simply amazing!
In Manama, the Seef district contains Seef Mall, A’ali Mall, Bahrain Mall, Dana Mall and the latest, the Bahrain City Centre mall.
The Bahrain City Centre mall is the largest mall in Bahrain. This mall houses 20 Screen Cinema, Wahoo! Waterpark, Magic Planet, a family entertainment centre, exclusive stores of world famous brands, 2, 3, 4 & 5 Star Hotels, restaurants, food courts and 5500 free indoor car parks.
Seef Mall is the second largest and the most popular mall in Bahrain. Magic Island, the largest indoor amusement park in the Middle East is located in it.
The Bahrain Mall attracts about 480,000 visitors per month. Bahrain Mall is a perfect place for families to shop. Mall features 1,600 parking spaces.
Al A’ali Shopping Complex is another big shopping mall covering a space of 52,000 square meters. The complex has a unique architectural design.
Dana Mall is one of the first established malls in Bahrain. The mall houses Lulu Hypermarket, Dana Cinema(a theatre with 12 screens and stadium seating) and many other international branded shops.
Al Enma Mall and Sitra Mall are two other malls located in East Riffa and Sitra respectively. Sitra Mall is the first and only mall in Bahrain that has a waterfront view. The mall contains many fashion stores and houses the first and only branch of Le Marche, the hypermarket, in Bahrain.
Moda Mall is a mall located in Bahrain World Trade Centre. It gives a shopping and dining experience like no other in the Kingdom. The Jewellery Court in this mall has the best collection of jewellery which leaves the visitors and customers stunned.