Before flying down to the city of Vijayawada, in Andhra Pradesh, (where I am staying for the whole of May), I was in Bahrain in the last week of April. Acquaintance with a new country meant a bagful of stories. You must have noticed my experiences on social media, now it is time to start a Bahrain series on my blog. Do read to know about the fascinating Dilmun history, age-old Qal’at Bahrain, metropolitan flair of Manama, beautiful beaches, traditional food, state-of-the-art Bahrain International Circuit, lovely Amwaj Islands, popular Tree of Life, refreshing King Fahd Causeway and more.
Bahrain’s tourism tagline
To begin with, I really loved the tourism tagline – Bahrain – Ours and Yours. I found it very simple, genuine and felt an instant connection with it. Well, each one of us may have different interpretations of it, I felt as if the country wants to say that Kingdom belongs to you as much to its people and you are most welcome to come and explore it as a traveler or make it your own as an expat. I also liked it how ‘yours’ added a personal touch and hospitable gesture to the whole caption. And as the words convey, the locals do show it in their mannerisms too. The administration and Kingdom is liberal with having a temple, church and synagogue in an Islamic country and it has no restrictions of anything as such. Overall, its a nice place for a traveler who is looking for more real, traditional and less glamorous, in the Arabic world.
What does Bahrain mean?
The locals will love to tell you, why is it called Bahrain? They might even ask you to confirm if you know it right. My local guide, Zara had explained about it on the very first meeting. While ‘Bahr’ is an Arabic word and it means sea, ‘thnain’ is another word that conveys two. So Bahrain is about two seas. And if you thought its like meeting of two seas of something, here is the twist. The emphasis is on the freshwater springs beneath the saltwater oceans. Freshwater means fertile land. And yes, there are signs of flora on this desert, despite the salty water around. Also, Bahrain is the most latest name. In the past, the island has been called as Dilmun, Tylos and Awal.
I had heard about Bahrain in Riyadh
When I returned from Bahrain, the first and five most popular questions that came my way were, “Where is Bahrain?”, “How big is it?”, “Is it like Dubai?”, “What is the most special thing about it?” and “Why should we visit?”. The curiosity was obvious and I could relate to these questions because before traveling there, even I had these thoughts running in my mind. My first virtual acquaintance with Bahrain happened during my stay in Riyadh in Saudi Arabia. Most of the locals would often talk about their weekend trips to Manama or other islands and I would wonder whats the fascination about this country. When I looked around, I learned that the two kingdoms are almost like close cousins. They are very supportive and loving neighbors. Since it has abundant entertainment options, five star luxuries, holiday vibes and island getaways, it attracts a huge weekend crowd from Saudi Arabia. Thankfully, Riyadh has a theater now, else when I was there, it dint have any.
Let Me Answer Your Queries!
So coming back to the questions, let me answer them one by one. Bahrain is a tiny country, holding a strategic space in the Arabian Gulf and enjoying its proximity with Saudi Arabia and Qatar. It is an archipelago of islands and Manama is the capital as well as the largest island of the emirate of Bahrain.
When it comes to Middle East, the comparison with Dubai is unavoidable but after having seen Oman, Saudi, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and now Bahrain, I would say every place has its own character. Each one is making its own identity so we shouldn’t be comparing. The historical lows and highs have been different, the aspirations of the people who are running the government are varied and thus the experiences are ought to be different. If you are still keen to pit it against Dubai, I would say Bahrain isn’t in the race to build architectural delights. It is happy with its beaches, desert, history and traditions. There is state-of-the-art infrastructure but that the growing modernization is not for attraction tourists. It is only about adding convenience. One thing that really stood out for me were the pre-historic burial mounds covering various areas of Bahrain hinting at their unique history and the dedication with which the locals celebrate their food, visit local cafes and run traditional outlets. The local breakfast spread out is really amazing.
Why Bahrain can be your next holiday destination?
Well this question really needs an elaborate answer. It may seem like a small island but it does offer loads to do and explore. I tried counting the attractions on my fingers and I really dint know where to stop. There is Bab Al Bahrain, Manama Suq, Bahrain Fort, The National Museum, National Theatre, Al Fateh Grand Mosque, Block 338, Al Dar Islands, Bahrain International Circuit , Oil Museum, Arad Fort, the pearling town of Muharraq, the pottery workshops in A’ali village, Marasi beach, Amwaj Islands, Tree of life, Lost Paradise of Dilmun, Gravity for Indoor flying, Gold city, Sheikh Isa’s house, Shopping malls and a whole lot of desert experience. Bahrain is actually among some of the few places where you can go pearl diving and the only place where you can keep the pearl if you find one yourself.
Some Interesting Facts!
Bahrain’s history goes a long way. The epic of Gilgamesh gives the first mention of Bahrain.
There is also a trading mention between Mesopotamia and Indus Valley trade route.
The burial mounds were very interesting. A detailed knowledge can be acquired about them at the museum.
The seals found in Bahrain were unlike similar types from Mesopotamia or India.
The findings suggest that the Saar and Manama city was inhabited between 2100-1800 BC.
Hope this post has made you curious around Bahrain. Keep a tab on the following posts where I will talk about my itinerary and some more interesting facts. And if you have any queries, do drop your comments.