An archipelago of 33 islands in the Persian Gulf, just off the coast of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the Kingdom of Bahrain is a uniquely forward-thinking country, and has a population consisting of a vibrant mix of Arab, Asian and Western residents. Although it used to have a thriving pearl industry, this all changed in 1932, when Bahrain became the location at which the Arab world first struck oil, and ever since then, the oil industry has contributed significantly to the growth and development of the country.
Bahrain is rich with history and culture, and the Al-Fatih Mosque in Manama, otherwise known as the Grand Mosque, is usually at the top of every visitor’s must-see list. It is the largest building in Bahrain, and boasts some incredible examples of Bahraini architecture and interior design. Bahrain’s history is also well worth learning more about, and the Bahrain National Museum, with its countless forts, archeological sites, ancient carvings and more, is the best place to begin doing so. The Bahrain Fort is another popular attraction, and earned itself a place on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list in 2005.
Bahrain made international headlines in 2004 for being the first Middle Eastern country to host the Formula One Grand Prix, which took place at the Bahrain International Circuit. Although this is still used for the race once a year, the track is open to the public for the remainder of the year, and visitors can take a lap of the track for a small fee.
Just like other Middle Eastern countries, Bahrain has its fair share of local souks, and these are always a joy to browse through, haggling with the vendors to bag yourselves some great bargains. The Bab Al Bahrain souk is one of the biggest, and most popular, in the country, and just nearby is the Gold Souk, as well as Gold City, featuring a sparkling array of jewelry stores. Whilst in Manama, a visit to the bohemian neighborhood of Adliya is also a must, as this is packed with chic cafés, bars, clubs and galleries, and is known to be the best spot in Bahrain for a night out on the town.
Whilst the majority of Bahrain’s 33 islands may consist of nothing but desert, there are a few that are definitely worth visiting, and, since the islands are connected to the mainland via a modern causeway, it is extremely easy to do so. The Hawar Islands are fantastic for spotting some native wildlife, while Jarada Island boasts golden sands and calm blue waters, making it one of the best islands for swimming. Generally, the waters around Bahrain are quite shallow, making them ideal for a variety of activities, from fishing to diving to windsurfing to sailing. With so many different types of activities available, it is no surprise that Bahrain attracts a wide variety of travelers, from those wanting a cultural getaway to those who are after a week of shopping and sightseeing, and the country always manages to provide an unforgettable vacation to those who visit.
Building 2758, Road 4650, Block 346
Sh. Khalifa Highway, Manama