Bahrain, the land of pearl diving, one of the ancient countries in the history of civilisation and currently a commercial and tourism hub, holds plenty for all kinds of travellers. For the history buff, for the culture aficionado, for the shopaholic or the one who needs a thrill, there’s something for everyone in Bahrain.
For history buffs
In early 1980s, a Bahraini-Jordanian team made a huge discovery with the Saar archaeological site. The site is a must-visit for the history, archaeology and architecture buffs. The village lies across an area of 22,500 sq m. It has been excavated and unearthed to present an accurate picture of Dilmun of that time. Most of the finds from the site are currently on display at the Bahrain National Museum. There are few forts too that are worth visiting like the Arad Fort and Riffa Fort. While the former is a typical example of Omani military architecture, the latter gives a sneak peek into how the ruling family lived in Bahrain.
In 2012, Bahrain got its second UNESCO World Heritage Site with ‘Pearling, Testimony of an Island’s Economy’. The site consists of 17 buildings in Muharraq City, three offshore oyster beds, part of the seashore and the Bu Maher Fort. Several historic buildings are dotted along what is popularly called the Pearling Path. If you love the underwater world, Al Dar Island is a place you must visit. One of the most popular sites for water sports in Bahrain, scuba diving in this region is an experience of a lifetime. From Al Dar island, take a dolphin spotting tour to watch them perform acrobatics and play in the water. Host to the Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix, the Bahrain International Circuit is another venue that deserves a visit. It also hosts a lot of other activities like open track events, circuit tours, drag and drift nights and Auto X, throughout the year. For the adventurists, there is nothing like experiencing a track that is versatile enough for Formula 1 racing, a frequent spectacle here.
For culture enthusiasts
Based in Jasra Village, the Al Jasra Handicrafts Centre was established by the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism. It houses a number of traditional craft workshops, where one can watch artisans create masterpieces using traditional methods and tools. The centre has separate rooms for different crafts like pottery, woodwork, weaving, etc.
Tucked away in Manama Souq, the spice market entices people with wonderful aromas wafting down its streets. There are mounds of colourful spices adorning stalls which make for the perfect addition to every cuisine, especially Bahraini dishes. Closeby is the neighbourhood called Block 338 of Adliya in Manama. A pedestrianised quarter, the area is filled with restaurants, art galleries and boutiques and is the perfect place for you to splurge on your holiday. Walk around the neighbourhood and you can find just about any cuisine and restaurant that offer affordable meals or fine dining options.
For the shopaholics
Formerly the home of the offices of the Government of Bahrain, Bab Al-Bahrain, quite literally, means the ‘Gateway to Bahrain’. Bab Al-Bahrain is the entrance to the Manama Souq – the place to go for the most traditional shopping experience. You can lay your hands on electronic goods, bargain T-shirts, nuts, spices and a plethora of perfumes. If you are looking for both custom-made and ready-to-buy gold jewellery, the Gold Souq is the place to be. It is also the best place to find Bahraini pearls.
Words: Maryam Al Dabbagh