Description of Bahrain
Bahrain, which is officially called the Kingdom of Bahrain, is a tiny island country located close to the western shore of the Persian Gulf. The biggest land mass is Bahrain Island, and it is part of an archipelago. Saudi Arabia is to the west, and it is linked to Bahrain, and Iran is a little over 100 miles to the north over the Persian Gulf. Qatar is also close to Bahrain. The population is roughly 1.2 million, and nearly 700,000 of those people are non-nationals.
Bahrain is thought to be where the ancient Dilmun civilization thrived, and it then fell under the control of successive Persian empires. It was one of the first places to convert to Islam around 630 AD. After a span of Arab rule, the Portuguese occupied it until 1521. Shah Abbas I made the Portuguese leave in 1602. In 1783, the Bani Utbah tribe took Bahrain from the Qajars and the royal family has ruled it ever since then. Bahrain entered into several treaties with Great Britain in the late 19th century, and it eventually turned into a protectorate of the UK. After the British left the area in the late ‘60s, Bahrain officially declared its independence in 1971. It was once a state, but it was called a “Kingdom” after the millennium. Bahrain has been the site of a lot of unrest and protests partly influenced by the Arab Spring in 2011. The Shia population has been especially rebellious. Oil was first discovered in the country 1932, and it was the first find of its kind on the Arabian side of the Persian Gulf.
The Bahraini economy does not rely solely on oil so it is technically the first “post-oil” economy in the Persian Gulf. Since the late 1900s, Bahrain has relied a lot in the tourism and banking industries. Manama is the country’s capital, and it’s the site of several serious financial institutions. Bahrain has a good Human Development Index, and the World Bank recognizes it as a high-income economy.
Bahrain Is Not A Religiously Oppressive Country
Bahrain is indeed a Muslim state, but it is not nearly as religiously oppressive as some of the other countries in the region, which makes it particularly attractive to foreign tourists. Each state in the Middle East varies in how they follow religious law, and Bahrain is one of the most lenient states in the region. One can find pork products and alcohol in any area, and you’re even allowed to drink wine and beer outside. Think about that. Can you drink wine and beer outside in America? The Adliya district is particularly fun for tourists, with its galleries and restaurants, and there are lots of eateries and outdoor cafes where you can sip on a glass of wine while you watch the people stroll by. There is certainly a European feel to the country, whereas neighboring countries are extremely strict in how they observe Islamic law.
Ever Wanted To Eat A Camel Burger?
If you visit the Harvester Pub at the Crowne Plaza Bahrain hotel, you will have a chance to order a camel burger, and it will be served up just like any other burger – with a side of fries and a drink. Some diners find the meat to be a little dry. There are several places in Bahrain where you can get a camel burger. If you order the meal at the Crowne Plaza, it comes with a free t-shirt that tells people what you ate.
Michael Jackson Once Took Up Residence There
After Michael Jackson’s big case, he decided to head over to Bahrain to get away from the headlines. He was spotted several times, and ultimately his relationship with the royal family went bad. However, Michael Jackson choosing the spot to lay low says a lot about Bahrain’s social climate and its appeal to elite tourists.
You’ll Have Plenty Of Good Chances To Meet Locals
Unlike neighboring countries, such as Qatar and Dubai, more than half of the population of Bahrain is Bahraini. That means you’re likely to actually meet a Bahraini – at a bar, in a hotel, as a taxi driver, etc. You will have an opportunity to meet somebody in national dress and strike up a conversation about what life is like in the country. This phenomenon is not seen in other Gulf states.
Bahrain Almost Qualified For The Last Two World Cups
Bahrain is one of the tiniest Gulf nations, but it nearly qualified for the last two World Cups. Bahrain is a very successful country when it comes to its soccer team. With all the recent fanfare surrounding the World Cup, soccer is proving itself to be a more interesting sport in the United States. If you’re a soccer fan, try to purchase some local memorabilia.
Bahrain Has A World-Renowned Arts Scene
Even though Bahrain is a small country, it has a large number of artists, museums, and art galleries. Some observers have complained about a relative lack of culture in the Gulf states, and Bahrain can come as a big surprise to visitors who think that.
Bahrain Is Like Las Vegas Compared To Saudi Arabia
Even though Bahrain is so close to Saudi Arabia – linked by the King Fahd Causeway – the two countries are totally different. Just 15 miles separate the two countries - over the King Fahd Causeway - and Saudi Arabian citizens have learned to take advantage of that. In a country where religious oppression determines social behavior, visiting Bahrain is a nice reprieve for the citizens of Saudi Arabia. One of the biggest draws of Bahrain is the alcohol, and Saudi Arabians will cross over the causeway to spend an entire weekend in Bahrain’s famous clubs and bars.
Bahrain Is A Democratic Place
Bahrain is one of the only countries in the Middle East to hold free and fair elections. It is the only country in the whole Middle East with an elected parliament, which sets it apart from the other dictatorships in the region. Still, some residents are unhappy because of perceived corruption with the transparency and clarity of the elections.
Things To See In Bahrain
Bahrain City Center
The Bahrain City Center is in the center of the capital, Manama. It is a huge combination entertainment district and shopping hub. There are several hundred shops with famous brands, dozens of restaurants and cafes, and a place called Water Park. Water Park has pools, slides, and activities for the whole family. There is a huge arcade there too.
Al Areen Wildlife Park & Reserve
The Al Areen Wildlife Park & Reserve has more than 500 animal species and more than 100,000 plant species. For those that criticize the Gulf states for being nothing but a whole bunch of desert, this nature reserve really proves them wrong!
Bahrain National Museum
The Bahrain National Museum was founded in 1988, and it is a major waterfront site on the outside of the capital city, Manama. A lot of its exhibits come from the Dilmun civilization. The first floor has a historic market. There are rotating sculpture and art displays, and there is even a wildlife hall. Don’t forget to purchase some locally crafted gifts or take a break at the coffeehouse at the museum.
Qal’at Al Bahrain
Qal’at Al Bahrain is a historic archaeological site that is located about four miles outside of Manama. People first arrived at what is currently well known as Qalat Al Bahrain around 2,300 BC. Archaeologists have unearthed proof of civilization dating from that time. They have discovered a non-natural mound of nearly 30 acres, and they’ve discovered proof of religious sites, homes, and military encampments. At the top of the mound, you’ll see a fort that was built in the Middle Ages.
Tourism In Bahrain
Bahrain gets more than two million tourists each year, but it gets over eight million visitors. Most of the visitors are from the Arab States of the Persian Gulf.
Bahrain serves as a great introduction to the rest of the Persian Gulf, because of its reputation as being contemporary, safe, and modern, and because of its Arab heritage. It is the site of the ancient Dilmun civilization, which was in control of trade between the Indus Valley Civilization and Mesopotamia. It was all centered in Bahrain. The inhabitants of that civilization left behind temples and settlements and thousands of burial mounds all across the landscape.
Tourists love Bahrain for its weather, great ambience (which is wholly different from the European experience), water sports and diving, friendly people and great culture. Bahrain has a liberal social climate, great shopping and few travel restrictions.
Bahrain has a number of famous forts, islands, malls, museums, and tourist developments that make the country an attractive place to visit in the Persian Gulf region. If you want to explore this region, Bahrain is the best place to go.
Bahrain had more than eight million visitors in 2008, and it’s a major tourist destination in the region. Most of the visitors are from the nearby Arab states, however. There are more and more visitors from outside the area because of a new awareness of the heritage of the Kingdom.
The Kingdom merges a rich archaeological legacy spanning more than 5,000 years of civilization with a contemporary Arab culture, and it’s a very attractive draw for lots of tourists each year. The island is the site of a number of forts, like Qalat Al Bahrain, and it has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you’re in the country, one sight you can’t miss is the Bahrain National Museum. It contains artifacts from the whole history of the country, dating all the way back to the first inhabitants of the land more than 9,000 years ago. The Beit Al Quran is a museum that houses Islamic artifacts of the Qu’ran. Some of the most popular tourist draws are the temples and mosques from centuries past. Arab visitors from neighboring countries find these mosques and temples especially interesting – because they are historical markers of the progression of Islam in the first country to adopt Islam as the official state religion. For that reason, there is a lot of religious tourism. Some of the most popular religious sites include the Al Khamis Mosque, which is one of the most ancient mosques in the country, the Arad fort, Barbar temple, and the A’ali Burial Mounds and the Saar temple. If you are a student of Islamic architecture or religious history, this is a great country for those things.
Other less religious-oriented tourist activities include scuba diving, horse riding, and bird watching. Most bird watching is done in the Hawar Islands. A lot of tourists from closeby Saudi Arabi and all over the region go to Manama mostly for the shopping in the capital city, like the Seef Mall and the Bahrain City Centre. Remember, Bahrain has a high Human Development Index, and it is a high-income country. The shopping is top-notch in the country.
The Best Country In The Middle East To Visit
Bahrain has a thriving arts scene, fun water sports, and lots of friendly locals. If you want to visit a socially liberal Persian Gulf state, then this is your best bet. It’s bee called the Las Vegas of Saudi Arabia, and you will have no shortage of fun things to do. The tourist attractions are great for daytime fun, and the nightlife is awesome too. This country is not as strict or religiously oppressive as other Middle Eastern states. You can feel more comfortable visiting here than some of the neighboring countries, and that’s why observers and critics have called it a great introduction to the Middle East, and to the Gulf States. So, what are you waiting for? Don’t you want to see at least one country in the Middle East in your lifetime? If you ever get the urge to travel to that region, then this is the country to see first – and maybe only.
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