Bahrain gets its name from its relationship with water. ‘Two Seas’ in Arabic. The water surounding Bahrain’s coastline is so shallow that the inhabitants regularly ‘reclaim’ pieces of land, filling in the gaps between sand bars, as if winning back lost territory. The new Bahrain Financial Harbour of Manama is currently rising from such reclaimed land.
Of course nature has always something to add as well. The sweet-water springs that bubble off-shore helped bring about 4000 years of settlement, proof’s of which can be seen in rich archaeological sites around the island. The springs also are responsible for the most lustrous of pearls,from their trade Bahrain got it’s welth and helped build the island’s early fortunes.
Bahrain’s rough exterior takes time to appreciate but it’s worth the effort. From the excellent National Museum in Manama and the traditional houses of Muharraq to the extraordinary burial mounds at Sar, there are many fine sites to visit.
For more modern pearls, there’s the spectacular Bahrain World Trade Centre and King Fahd’s Causeway that connects the island with Saudi Arabia.
Bahrain is now an important offshore banking centre, a growing industrial and commercial hub and a major destination for international investment.
Although my time there was very limited -a few days on my way to Asia or Australia- I had the time to appreciate what modern engineering and the human mind are capable of doing. While I spent most of my time in Manama, I still had the chance to take a quick tour around the island. The best time to visit is November to March, avoiding Ramadan and Eid holidays, when Saudi tourists can make it hard to find a room.
Bahrain is a different experience for people that can handle the luxurious living in comparison with the Middle East stereotypes, a real challenge that Bahrain manages to keep and is worth exploring.
PS. Many thanks to my always reliable source of information, my Lonely Planet travel guide, as some of the information above comes from there as well as all the pictures that you see.