Bahrain Travel Guide

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A group of 33 islands in the Persian Gulf (or the 'Arabian Gulf', as the Arabs call it), Bahrain is the name of the largest island of the bunch, most of which are tiny and uninhabited, apart from migratory birds visiting twice a year. It is linked to neighboring Saudi Arabia by a causeway and separated by a small strait from Qatar. The population, as in neighbouring Iran, is in large majority Shi'a Muslim.

After World War II, Bahrain became the center for British administration of treaty obligations in the lower Persian Gulf. In 1968 when the British Government announced its decision (reaffirmed in March 1971) to end the treaty relationships with the Persian Gulf sheikdoms, Bahrain joined the other eight states (Qatar and the seven Trucial Sheikhdoms which are now called the United Arab Emirates) under British protection in an effort to form a union of Arab emirates. By mid-1971, however, the nine sheikhdoms still had not agreed on terms of union. Accordingly, Bahrain sought independence as a separate entity and became fully independent on August 15 1971 as the State of Bahrain.

The capital city and by far the most popular tourist destination is Manama. All other sights can be visited from there. With Manama being the largest city, most of the malls are there. These include Seef Mall, Dana Mall and the Bahrain Mall. North Manama is being transformed with the new Financial Harbor, Bahrain World Trade Centre and a few more skyscapers. The airport is in Al Muharraq. You will probably find that all the main roads leading to and in Muharraq are covered with beautiful trees, fountains and greenery.

Before the oil boom, Bahrain's pearls were king. But oil has undoubtedly transformed the landscape and trajectory of this tiny state. Now the traditional humble dwellings of Bahrainis mingle with the cosmopolitan skyscrapers of Manama. Bahrain is an interesting blend of Eastern and Western flavors. Arabic is the official language but English is very widely spoken. In Manama, Western clothing is as commonly seen as traditional Arab dress.

There are a wide variety of tourist attractions in Bahrain. History lovers should consider a visit to historic forts such as Bahrain Fort, Barbar Temple, Arad Fort and the Salman bin Ahmed Al Fateh Fort or the Al Khamis Mosque, dating as far back as 629 A.D. Qalat Al Bahrain is a magnificent castle recently designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

To gain a sense of pre-oil Bahrain, visit Siyadi House, built by a 19th century pearl merchant. The Museum of Pearl Diving offers a fascinating look back through local heritage and the Bahrain National Museum will give the visitor a comprehensive look back at Bahrain's rich history.

For lovers of sport, do not pass through Bahrain without experiencing local horse racing. Bahrain has a love of equestrianism and it shows. No betting is allowed but the experience is worth the trip to the racetrack. The par 72 Riffa Golf Club offers beautiful scenery of the surrounding wadi (dry river bed).

The best shopping in Bahrain is in the souks, where one can buy just about anything. Don't miss the cloth and gold souks in particular, where Bahraini handicraft is showcased.

Alcohol is permitted in Bahrain, bars and clubs can be found in Manama, particularly in large Western hotels - Crowne Plaza, Sheraton, Ramada, Intercontinental, to name a few.

Flights to Bahrain are frequent and regular  from most major cities in the Middle East, Europe and Asia.


March 23, 2007 change by christy hoover (4 points)

November 07, 2005 change by beth_joy

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