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014 Credits 016 Message from the Chief Executive, Tourism Marketing and Promotion Project 018 Message from the Managing Editor 022 Welcome to Bahrain


030 Fast Facts 034 Express Yourself

eSSENCe of bAHRAIn 038 Then and Now 046 Business Friendly Bahrain 052 Architecture 060 Arts and Culture


072 Fashion 082 Jewellery




088 Timepieces

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094 Events 096 Must Do’s 100 Sport and Outdoors 110 Shopping 114 Dining


122 After Dark 126 lUXURy hOTEl gUIDe





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Welcome to Bahrain 2008/2009


COVER PHOTOGRAPH Grand Mosque, Bahrain John Lawrence/Getty Images WELCOME TO BAHRAIN IS PUBLISHED BY Waiviata Pty Ltd ABN 89 005 577 873, a member of the Niche Group ABN 20 097 172 337

MANAGING DIRECTOR Paul Lidgerwood FINANCE DIRECTOR Sonia Jurista STUDIO DESIGN MANAGER Keely Atkins OTHER TITLES IN THE WELCOME TO‌ SERIES INCLUDE: Welcome to Abu Dhabi Welcome to Dubai Welcome to Australia Welcome to China Welcome to New Zealand Welcome to Victoria South Africa Guest Information For all advertising inquiries relating to the prestigious international Welcome to series, read by millions of affluent travellers each year, please contact the following: AUSTRALIA Head Office Niche Media 170 Dorcas Street South Melbourne VIC 3205 Australia Tel: +61 3 9948 4900 Fax: +61 3 9525 4933 Email:

BAHRAIN SJ Media Group P.O. Box 75040 Manama Kingdom of Bahrain Tel: +973 17297040 Fax: +973 17297020 Email: CHINA Hydrogen China 11A01 Jazz Plaza, NO.4018 JiaBin Road LuoHu District, Shenzhen Tel: +86 755 2513 8840 Fax: +86 755 2590 0903 Hydrogen Hong Kong Level 29, 78 Bonham Strand Sheung Wan, Hong Kong Tel: +852 2201 1800 Fax: +852 2815 3322 DUBAI/ABU DHABI InterCommunications Advertising PO Box 55894 Dubai UAE Tel: +971 4 2281 977 Fax: +971 4 2231 732 Email: NEW ZEALAND Flashlight Media 33 Whytehead Cresent Kohimarama, Auckland Tel: +64 9 528 0255 Mob: +64 21 298 1175 Email1: Email2:

SOUTH AFRICA Paul Levin and Associates PO Box 783708 Sandton 2146 South Africa Tel: +27 11 726 7877 Fax: +27 86 671 1717 Email: ALSO PUBLISHED BY NICHE MEDIA PTY LTD Marketing Desktop Macworld (inside) Australian Design Review AR (Architectural Review Australia) FM (Facility Management) Heli News MoneySaver Coupon Booklet The Welcome to publications are distributed annually to the guest rooms of prestigious international hotels in the aforementioned countries. Other destinations will follow. While every endeavour is made to avoid errors, some information contained within may be superseded during the term of publication. The publishers would appreciate advice of any changes which may occur after publication. This book is copyright 2008. No part may be reproduced by any process without the written permission of the publishers.



CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Shay Brown, Avi Desilva, Scott Drummond, Johanna Elgie, Adam Hosfal, Katie Maynard, Kellie McCutcheon, Cathy Moloney


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Message from the Managing Editor Karla Courtney It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to Bahrain and to the (aptly named) first edition of Welcome to Bahrain. The whole Welcome to team has worked very hard over the past year to bring together invaluable information on what this exciting destination has to offer. Much like the seven other titles in our series, this book has been written with the discerning traveller in mind, and since there are many topics to cover, we have made it as easy to navigate as possible. You can start by acquiring a bit of general knowledge from our opening Welcome to Bahrain section. Flip to the Essence of Bahrain section for more detailed features on some of the elements that make Bahrain tick: history, arts, culture, business, architecture, fashion and beautiful, beautiful jewellery. Want to get out on the town? Experience Bahrain includes listings of major sightseeing, dining and nightlife hotspots, as well as features on shopping and sport and an events calendar for 2008/2009. Whether it is your first time visiting or you have lived here all of your life, we truly hope that you will find something on these pages that serves an inspiration. As-salaamu Alaikum

Karla Courtney Managing Editor, Welcome to luxury travel series The definitive resource for discerning travellers



PS We would love to hear any comments or suggestions you have regarding this first edition of Welcome to Bahrain. You can contact our team by email at:

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BAHRAIN WELCOME TO 020 26627_020-021_SECT.indd 020

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Whether your visit is for work or pleasure, relaxation or exploration, Welcome to Bahrain. Here, as you will see, you are sure to find it all‌

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tHe pEARl of tHe gULf…



Words: Karla Courtney

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01. Image courtesy Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide Inc. 02. Image courtesy Atkins/ BWTC Bahrain.



uring an Asiatic conquest in the fourth century BCE, Greek writer Megasthenes produced what is believed to be the earliest European text on the Gulf. It was a detailed description of the abundant fishing and pearling of Bahrain. In 1508, Italian traveller Lodovico di Barthema wrote: “At three days’ journey from this island (Ormus) they fished the largest pearls which are found in the world; and whoever wishes to know about it, behold!” He was also speaking of Bahrain. For thousands of years, Bahrain truly has been the pearl of the Gulf. Millions of people lived off of this archipelago’s rich pearling industry: sailors, divers, ship captains and merchants from all over the globe. Fishermen would go out to sea for extremely long spells, usually between June and October when the water was warm enough. The workers would collect all of the shells they could and then open them the day afterwards. They would place the fine pearls between their toes for safekeeping until the captain collected them.

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In Bahraini markets, the pearls were proudly placed on rich red cloths to bring out their natural lustre. While the wealth of pearling has been long replaced by oil and trade, the mark of the nation’s long affair with this gem is deeply embedded in its culture and history. The Pearl Monument, for example, is one of the nation’s most recognised and photographed symbols. The Museum of Pearl Diving is of such significance that it is housed in one of the nation’s most important historic buildings – the first official centre for Bahrain Courts. And, it is no coincidence that the nation’s flag is a simple design of white and red… Bahrain is rich in history and culture, but has also put itself on the map for its more recent oil wealth (Bahrain was the first in the Gulf to strike back in 1932) and groundbreaking architectural feats. The Bahrain World Trade Centre (BWTC) located in Manama, for example, is renowned the world over for its three giant wind turbines that will provide an estimated1.3 MWh of power, or enough to light around 300 homes, per year. They were turned on for the first time on 8 April 2008.



03. & 04. Images courtesy Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide Inc.


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bahrain snapshot



♦ Population: 718,306 (July 2008) ♦ Nationality: Noun: Bahraini(s), adjective: Bahraini ♦ Languages: Arabic, English, Farsi, Urdu ♦ Chief of State: King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa (since 6 March 1999) ♦ Head of Government: Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa ♦ Capital: Manama ♦ Administrative divisions: Asamah, Janubiyah, Muharraq, Shamaliyah, and Wasat ♦ Total land area: 665 square kilometres ♦ Coastline: 161 kilometres

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BAHRAIN WELCOME TO 026 26627_022-029_WT.indd 026

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05. Image courtesy Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide Inc.



Bahrain is a very small nation – the largest island, where Manama is located, is only 48 kilometres long and 16 kilometres wide at its broadest point. The total area of all its islands is less than 700 square kilometres; roughly the size of Singapore. But, don’t be fooled by its size – as the cliché goes, ‘good things come in small packages’ and Bahrain certainly fills these shoes. The capital, Manama, is full of modern architecture, wide boulevards and the finest retail shops showcasing the world’s most sought after brands and styles, but much of its old-world charm still remains: decorative homes, rambling Arab souks, old mosques and the occasional date grove. Bahrain’s history can also be enjoyed at the city’s many museums, such as the National Museum, Heritage Centre and the Bait al Qur’an – a centre for the study of the Koran which is open to all. Lush palm groves, traditional craft workshops and exquisite antiques are just some of the many reasons tourists and locals alike enjoy Bahrain’s north coast. Here you will also find the famous Babar Temple, Qalaat al Bahrain (Bahrain Fort), the popular seaside village of Budaiya and the craft villages of Beni Jamra (weaving) and Karababad (basket-making). If you are lucky, you may also catch artisans building dhows on the on the western outskirts of Manama.


has been proposed as the Biblical site of the Garden Eden – a theory based on its location as well as its sweet water springs.

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From the west, visitors receive a royal welcome via the King Fahd Causeway; all 25 kilometres of it. This billion-dollar, five-bridge road took upwards of four years, 350,000 cubic metres of concrete and 147,000 tonnes of reinforced steel to build. If you dine on one of the small linking islands you will be privy to a fantastic view of both countries. Exploring the west coast you will find the historic Sar grave mounds, quaint costal villages such as Zallaq with its lush gardens, the modern town of Hamad, the Arabian Gulf University and the Al Areen Wildlife Park. The centre of the main island offers the best views from the 122-metre Jebel Dukhan peak. At the foot of the peak lies the Number One Oil Well, where the first oil flowed in 1932. The Oil Museum is nearby. Isa Town, A’ali and Rifaa are central towns worth visiting. The flat southern region of the main island is where the roads start to peter out… It is a quiet, restricted area where camels and gazelles roam free. Though Bahrain is an archipelago of 33 islands, most of these are uninhabited. Some are no more than sandbanks and rock shoals that come and go with the tides. Muhrraq, a small island off the north-east tip of Manama that is linked by a causeway, is the first


place most international visitors see, as it is home to the Bahrain International Airport. Sitra, another island also linked by a causeway, is a contrast of heavy industrial wares and pretty fishing villages and dhow harbours. The south side of Sitra offers up beautiful beaches and the Bahrain Yacht Club. Other main islands include the Dar twin islands tucked between Sitra and the main island; the Hawar islands to the south-east; and the Umm Nasan Islands, belonging to the Royal Family, to the west, One of Bahrain’s most intriguing landmarks is also one of the hardest to find. Alone in the barren crater south of Jebel Dukhan, the Tree of Life, an acacia, has grown for more than 400 years. Its source of water is equally as mysterious as its map coordinates – locals guides are always happy to give you useful information on both topics. Bahrain packs a great deal of history and culture into its very small size. And, despite its oil wealth, importance in international trade and commerce and almost intimidating amount of luxuriously dressed and accessorised local couturiers and fashionistas, it retains the intimacy and friendliness of a small nation – something that is evident no matter where you find yourself here. w




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is an Arabic word meaning ‘two seas’, which is a reference to the island’s two sources of water; its sweet water springs and salty ocean water.



06. Image courtesy Matt Kunz. 07. Image courtesy Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide Inc.

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01. & 03. Images courtesy Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide Inc. 02. Image courtesy Paul Cowan.


AIRLINES Bahrain Air +973 1746 3330 Gulf Air +973 1733 5777 Air Arabia +973 1750 5111 Air India + 973 1721 4898 British Airways+ 973 1758 7777 Cathay Pacific +973 1722 6226 Emirates +973 1758 8700 Etihad Airways +973 1751 9999 Jazeera Airways +973 1732 9301 KLM +973 1722 9747 Kuwait Airways +973 1721 2299 Lufthansa +973 1782 8762/3 Qatar Airways +973 1721 2202 Saudi Airlines +973 1721 1550 United Airlines +973 1721 4062

ALCOHOL Bahrain has a more cosmopolitan approach to alcohol consumption than other Muslim countries – there are many lively bars, pubs and nightclubs, most of which are located in the four- and five-star hotels. Please note, however, that public consumption, public displays of drunkenness and drink driving are highly frowned on and can result in fines and/or prosecution. BUSINESS HOURS Most businesses operate 5.5 days a week, Saturday through to Thursday. Opening hours are generally from 8am to 1pm, and 3pm to 6pm Saturday through to Wednesday, and 8am to 1pm Thursday. Government offices are closed Thursday and Friday. Shopping hours are usually from 8.30am to 12.30pm and 3.30pm to 7pm Saturday through to Thursday, and 8.30am to 12pm Friday.




EMERGENCY PHONE NUMBERS Fire 997 Ambulance 998 Police 999

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CLIMATE Bahrain has two distinct seasons, both of which are suitable for visitors. The winter season between December and March is cooler and pleasant, with temperatures ranging from 10°C to 20°C. The summer is hot and humid, especially from July through to September, with temperatures averaging 36°C.

EMBASSIES Here is a list of some of the major embassies located in Manama. Note that many nations may operate a small mission out of Bahrain and have their main embassy in neighbouring Saudi Arabia. China +973 1772 3800 France +973 1729 1734 India +973 1771 2683 Indonesia +973 1756 4121 Jordan +973 1729 1980 Malaysia +973 1756 4551 Oman +973 1729 3663 Saudi Arabia +973 1753 7722 South Africa + 973 1778 6699 Thailand +973 1724 6242 UAE +973 1774 8333 UK +973 1757 4100 US +973 1724 2700


COMMUNICATIONS Internet Bahrain is well-connected; it is fairly easy to get online and you should not have problems getting access at any of the fouror five-star hotels. The Bahraini domain suffi x is .bh. Newspapers and magazines There are three major English-language newspapers: Gulf Daily News, Gulf Weekly and Bahrain Tribune. There is also a large selection of international publications available, such as: The Economist, Newsweek, Time and

many other British, French and German newspapers and magazines, which usually hit the stands a day or two after publication. Al-Ayam is a leading Arabic newspaper. Radio and television The major radio station with English broadcasts is Radio Bahrain on 96.5 FM. Free to air English TV programs can be viewed on Channel 55 (TV Bahrain) between 5pm or 6pm and 12am, after which time it broadcasts CNN until the resumption of transmission the following day. Telephone To dial internationally from Bahrain the access code is 00, followed by the country code, area code and then phone number. Public phones are ample – some will only take phone cards, which are widely available for purchase.



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FINANCES ATMs ATMs are plentiful around Manama and most are linked to international networks, which means they can accept international debit cards for a small fee. Credit cards and travellers’ cheques Credit cards and travellers’ cheques are widely accepted at hotels and the larger retail stores; however, carry dinars if you plan to frequent smaller shops and markets. Currency The local currency is the dinar (BHD), which is officially fi xed to the US dollar at a rate of US$1 = BHD0.376 or BHD1 = US$2.66.

04. & 06. Images courtesy Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide Inc. 05. Image courtesy Matt Kunz.


HEALTH Drinking water Water is deemed clean and safe, but most visitors prefer to drink bottled water, which is widely available. Hospitals Bahrain offers a universal healthcare system to its citizens and expatriates and there are many quality hospitals and medical clinics. A popular private hospital for visitors is the American Mission Hospital in Manama (www.amh. For further information on the health system visit the website for the Kingdom of Bahrain Ministry of Health: ELECTRICITY Electricity in Bahrain is 230 volts, alternating at 50 cycles. The outlets have two parallel flat pins with a ground pin – the same as British ones.

LANGUAGE Arabic is the official language, but English, Farsi and Urdu are widely spoken. English is often used in business and is compulsory as a study in schools. PUBLIC HOLIDAYS 2008/2009 Eid al-Fitr (End of Ramadan) – 2 October 2008 Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice) – 8 December 2008 National Day – 16 to 17 December 2008 Al-Hijrah (Islamic New Year) – 29 December 2008 New Year’s Day – 1 January 2009 Day of Ashura – 7 January 2009 Mawlid (Birth of the Prophet) – 9 March 2009 Note: Muslim festivals are timed according to local sightings of phases of the moon, so the dates given are only approximate.




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TIME Bahrain is three hours ahead of UCT (Universal Coordinated Time; formerly Greenwich Mean Time). Daylight savings time is not practised.

cannot be rented using a foreign driver’s licence (other GCC countries are an exception). According to Bahraini law, only International Driving Licences are acceptable and they must be obtained before entry into the kingdom. Taxis Taxis are probably the best way to get around Manama and Muharraq as they are readily available and reasonably priced. You should always negotiate fares before departing – if the taxi has a meter you can insist on using it. Note that official rates do increase between 12am and 5am. w


TIPPING Tipping is practised, but is not as prevalent (or generous) as in North America. Most restaurants and hotels add a service charge between 10 and 15 percent anyway, so leaving a small extra amount is not necessary and is up to the discretion of the patron. Taxi drivers and other service workers will expect small tips of around 10 percent.

TRANSPORTATION Airport Bahrain International Airport is a key hub airport in the region, providing a gateway to the Northern Gulf. The airport is the major hub for Gulf Air. For transfers to and from the airport it is best to take a taxi. Buses Bahrain offers a decent bus system that links most towns to Manama and Muharraq. The buses run from around 5.30am until 9.30pm. For further information consult the terminal operators in Manama or Muharraq. Driving Like much of Europe and all of North America, driving here is on the right side of the road. There are strict seatbelt, speeding and drink driving restrictions that are enforced; violators will be fined on the spot. Rental cars are readily available and fairly inexpensive, but note that they



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Thank you

Ashkurak (female – ashkurik)


Ahlan wa sahlan

How are you?

Kaif halak? (female – Kaif halik?)

Very well, thank you

Taib katheer, shokran

I am grateful

Ana muttashakkir

Thank you for your hospitality

Shokran ala hathihi-l-dhiafah

Good morning

Sabah al-khair

Good evening



Fi aman lllah

How much?


On the right

‘Ala yaminak

On the left

‘Ala shimalak

Straight ahead




I do not have…






I don’t speak Arabic

Ma ata – kallam Arabi

What time is it?

As-sa’a kam?

Call me a taxi

Areed taxi

I want to buy…

Areed ashtiri…

Do you sell…?


Where is the market?

Wain is-souq?














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Although English is widely spoken throughout Bahrain, the following words and phrases may be helpful:
















Yom al-ahad


Yom al-ithnain


Yom ath-thalatha


Yom al-arba’a


Yom al-khamees


Yom al-jum’a


Yom as-sabt 01. Image courtesy Quavondo Nguyen.




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Fabled site of the Garden of Eden? Architectural aficionado? Couture capital? Ancient pearling powerhouse? ‘Quintessentially Bahrain’ is indeed a multifaceted concept… Just take a look…

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HEN aNd nOw


Words: Sam Gopal


xquisitely crafted temples emerging from baking desert lands, ancient mounds steeped in history of civilisations past and a population drawn together by the daily call of prayer – all quintessential aspects of traditional Bahraini society. Yet, despite the decades that have rolled by, these are things that remain to charm visitors today. Considered to be one among the 15 Middle Eastern countries that cradled the beginnings of human civilisation, the Kingdom of Bahrain finds itself in the Persian Gulf sandwiched between Saudi Arabia to the west and Qatar to the south. Since the dawn of history, the archipelago’s strategic position along key trade routes linking Arabia with Asia helped to make Bahrain one of the great trading empires of the ancient world. Its location has made Bahrain a vital hub for many different cultural influences through the ages, visited and at times occupied by the Babylonians, Assyrians, Greeks, Romans, Persians, Portuguese and British.



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Bahrain’s small size and central location among Persian Gulf countries still serves it to this day, as it is required to play a delicate balancing act in foreign affairs among its larger neighbours and has become the focal point of business in the Gulf. The island is the financial hub of the Middle East and offers some of the most advanced business and tourist services in the region. It is thought that the main island of Bahrain was torn from the Arabian Peninsula around 6000 BCE. The nation’s cultural history goes back to the roots of human civilisation during the third millennium BCE when the island nation was home to Dilmun, an ancient civilisation founded during the Bronze Age and lasting in one form or another for more than 2000 years. Dilmun means ‘The Sacred Land’ or ‘The Land of Life’, a possible reference to the springs that made the main island an oasis – a contrast to the harsh, dry lands of the neighbouring Arabian mainland. It has even been suggested that the legendary verdant island may have been the inspiration for the Garden of Eden.

By 600 BCE, Bahrain was drawn into the expanding Babylonian empire and it wasn’t long before the Greeks began settling here. Tylos, as they called the island, was famous for its pearls and during the 600 years from around 300 BCE to 300 CE Bahrain experienced relatively prosperous times. During these years, Bahrain was strongly influenced and often directly ruled by various Persian civilisations. Tylos burial mounds can still be seen throughout the northern area of Bahrain. They are huge in size and consist of rectangular graves, constructed on the inside with plaster. Gifts of pottery, bronze weapons and ornaments were laid with the deceased and provide evidence of the old relationship Bahrain had with the Greek, Parthian, Roman and Arab cultures. The people of Bahrain are very proud of the fact that they were one of the first territories outside mainland Arabia to accept Islam, which occurred in the seventh century CE. Despite many inhabitants of the island adopting Christianity in earlier centuries, the arrival of Islam was a peaceful event and, even



01. 02. & 03. Images courtesy Klaas Lingbeek van Kranen. 04. Image courtesy Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide Inc.


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with a long history

today, Bahrain has a small community of indigenous Christians. During the 15th and 16th centuries, the Gulf began to open up to European traders. The Portuguese decided to take advantage of the quality and number of pearls in Bahrain and as a consequence ruled the country for a little over a century, being driven out eventually in 1622 by the Bahrainis themselves. After the Portuguese expulsion, the Bahrainis appealed to the Persians for protection and so once again came under their control. Bahrain changed hands often during the Middle Ages and was caught in various squabbles and disputes between petty Gulf sheikhs who seem to have been constantly fighting with one another. In 1487, the Omanis conquered Bahrain and built a fort the ruins of which can be seen today. The Al-Khalifa, the ruling family of Bahrain, arrived in the islands in the mid-18th century. They came from Kuwait where they had helped their relatives, the Al-Sabah, to establish power. At first, the Al-Khalifa had settled on the north-western coast of Qatar, but in the early 1780s, they drove the Persians out of Bahrain and occupied the principal islands. From then until now, the Al-Khalifa family has maintained its control of Bahrain. In 1783, local Arabs ended two centuries of Persian domination. Their descendants, the Al-Khalifa dynasty, remain in power today. In 1816, in order to secure their holding, Bahrain became a British Protected State with governmental authority shared by the ruling Sheikh and a British adviser. This made the island nominally independent, but with the British in charge of foreign and security policy. June 1932 represented a huge milestone for the little nation: oil was discovered in commercial quantities. It was important for two reasons: first, it was the initial discovery of oil on the Arab side of the Gulf and, second, it more or less coincided with the collapse of the world pearl market. (The Japanese had been instrumental in this with their manufacture of cultured pearls.) Because Bahrain was the first Gulf state to discover oil, it was also the first to enjoy the benefits that came with the revenues, specifically a marked improvement in the quality of education and healthcare. The oil reserves of Bahrain are quite minimal, however, and, by Gulf standards, it produces only a token quantity of oil – less than 50,000 barrels a day in



as an international trade centre, Bahrainis are no strangers to playing hosts to foreigners, and visitors today will experience a warm and friendly welcome and come to know their generous, open manner.

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despite undergoing

an extensive transformation from its modest pearling beginnings, the island finds itself ever more exuberant and entices increasing numbers of visitors each year to take pleasure in all it has to offer...

comparison to two million barrels a day in the UAE. It does refine a large quantity of Saudi oil though, which arrives into the country via an undersea pipeline. Yet, this small production of oil has proved an advantage. Without the resources for a boom, Bahrain has moved more slowly and thoughtfully into the technological age and developed a more diversified economy than the other Gulf States, including an iron-ore processing facility, an ammonia-methanol plant and a petroleum processing and refining plant. The largest aluminium smelter in the Middle East is in Bahrain, as is a large shipbuilding and repair yard and one of the area’s busiest airports. When the Lebanese market collapsed in the late 1970s, Bahrain made conscious efforts to transform itself into an international banking centre, attracting the formerly Beirut-based banks and bankers to Manama. The efforts have paid off despite fierce competition from both Abu Dhabi and Cyprus. In the late 1980s, Bahrain’s financial services sector expanded into offshore banking and, during recent years, multinational firms trading in the region have set up their regional centres in Bahrain. As well as highly developed communication and transportation facilities, the comparatively relaxed environment in an otherwise tumultuous region is a huge pull for these companies. Bahrain remained a protectorate of Great Britain until 1968, when the agreement between the two countries was cancelled by mutual consent. In 1971, Bahrain achieved total independence under the rule of the late Sheikh Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa who

became both Amir (Prince) and Prime Minister of the then newly formed state. A new treaty of friendship was signed with the UK. With the Kingdom now under the rule of Sheikh Hamad, attempts have been made to open up the political system with a constitutional monarchy and elections. In 2002, women were allowed to stand as candidates, a symbolic turn of events that intimates a genuine progress in women’s rights in Bahrain. It did, however, provoke complaints from traditional Islamists, who themselves were allowed to stand for the first time. With a long history as an international trade centre, Bahrainis are no strangers to playing hosts to foreigners, and visitors today will experience a warm and friendly welcome and come to know their generous, open manner. The island offers a lifestyle that is cosmopolitan, safe, relaxed and unsurpassed in the Arabian Gulf and has become somewhat of the entertainment hub of the region. Western and Arab music acts, travelling ballet and opera tours and international plays and sporting events all take place here. The ancient Sumerians once described Bahrain as an island paradise to which the wise and brave were taken to savour eternal life. Despite undergoing an extensive transformation from its modest pearling beginnings, the island finds itself ever more exuberant and entices increasing numbers of visitors each year to take pleasure in all it has to offer – if only for a few days. From history and heritage to shopping and leisure, it is a destination for every kind of traveller. w



05. Image courtesy Tanya Clyde. 06. Image courtesy Frank van den Bergh. 07. Image courtesy Klaas Lingbeek van Kranen.

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Many factors combine to create a winning environment for businesses to thrive. Access to markets and corporate-friendly government economic policies are arguably two of the most important ones and Bahrain offers both excellent access to not only Middle Eastern markets, but some of the most pro-business economic policies. The Kingdom’s well-established legal system with extensive regulatory and intellectual property protections, low inflation and adherence to global best practice standards has proven a stable political and legal environment for business. Moreover, the country has one of the highest corporate credit ratings, with Standard & Poors A-Stable, Moody’s A3 and Fitch’s F1 ratings. Additionally, Bahrain is party to bilateral trade agreements with 43 countries including China, India, Singapore and the UK, as well as a free trade agreement with the US. All of this, in combination with

membership in the Arab Free Trade Zone, provides businesses with access to both international and regional markets. This access is not just the result of political and economic development and reform; Bahrain boasts some of region’s best infrastructure and is fast becoming a massive transportation hub. The brand new state-of-the-art Khalifa bin Salman Port, the largest seaport in the region, is transforming Bahrain into a major international transhipment base. The road link with Saudi Arabia, which is being expanded to include the Trans-Gulf Highway, connecting Bahrain with Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman, will result in unprecedented access to the entire Middle Eastern market on a heretofore unseen scale, drastically cutting transit time. Since 1950, Bahrain’s Gulf Air has been one of




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the bahraini dinar

is the second most valuable currency in the world. In practice, it is fixed to the US dollar at a rate of US$1 = BHD0.376. The highest valued currency in the world is the Kuwaiti dinar, which is pegged to a basket of different currencies. The current (2008) value is approximately US$1 = KWD0.265.

regional headquarters. DHL’s regional hub is located at Bahrain International Airport and has been active in Bahrain since 1976. Speciality car manufacturer RUF, famous for its tuned Porsches and its own super cars, opened a manufacturing facility at the Bahrain Formula 1 circuit. These internationally renowned firms have chosen Bahrain, not only for its businessfriendly policies and easy access to world markets, but also for the highly skilled work force and competitive costs of doing business. Part of the low competitive costs and incentives include: zero corporate, capital gains, income or value added taxes; labour costs and lease rates that are among the lowest in the region; a 6.9 percent rate of GDP growth; and low unemployment and inflation rates. In addition to all of these attractive factors, Bahrain is home to a number of renowned training


the region’s premier airlines, providing service to more destinations than any other Middle Eastern airline. In early 2008, the airline placed an order for 35 Airbus aircraft, effectively doubling its fleet in an effort to cement its position as a regional leader and expand its current network. By air, Bahrain is quite close to many major international financial and industrial centres. It is just four hours to Mumbai, nine to Shanghai and seven to London, making it within easy reach for the business traveller. Efficient, comprehensive and cost-effective transportation alternatives such as Gulf Air enable companies to send their products and personnel where they need to be and, most importantly, provide businesses with excellent connections to global markets. Other major transport companies, such as DHL, have chosen to call Bahrain home by making it their



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institutions specialising in a range of vocational training programs. They include the Bahrain Institute of Banking and Finance, Bahrain University, Gulf University, New York Institute of Technology, the University of Strathclyde and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. Accordingly, Bahrain offers potential employers a highly skilled workforce. A good business environment isn’t just about excellent economic potential or access to markets; the quality of life is also crucial. Bahrain offers a first-class living environment with a large variety of recreational activities, as well as an exciting expatriate lifestyle. Bahrain is widely considered to be the most liberal country in the Middle East; people from all corners of the world, of all faiths and from all walks life have integrated into its society. The capital of Manama offers a variety of cultural activities, and is known for its eclectic assortment of restaurants and cafés. Bahrain also hosts a number of international events, from exhibitions to the exciting Formula 1 Grand Prix every year.

Manama is also an excellent place for families. International schools catering to a number of language needs and modern healthcare facilities are widely available. Whether you are from Europe, North America or Asia there is school for your family. Some of the best include the British School of Bahrain, St Christopher’s School, Bahrain School, Ecole Française, New Indian School and Japanese School of Bahrain. Access to this lifestyle and the lower cost of living and accommodation have made Bahrain an attractive proposition for expatriates and encourages highly educated professional Bahrainis to stay. The result of all this development has been the evolution of Bahrain from an oil producing state to an extremely profitable place to do business and invest in a wide range of sectors. Through smart investment of its oil wealth, the creation of an excellent public infrastructure and an educated workforce, Bahrain is fast becoming one of the world’s major financial and business centres. For further information visit: w



01. 02. & 05. Images courtesy Klaas Lingbeek van Kranen. 03. Image courtesy Airbus. 04. Image courtesy Terry Healy.

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Umm Al Hassam Service Point Ground Floor, Noor Building 1485, Road 3941, Area 339, Umm Al Hassam Seef Service Point Ground Floor, Almoayyed Tower, Building 2504, Road 2832, Block 428, Seef, Manama Muharraq Service Point BIADCO Building, Air Cargo area, DHL Regional Distribution Centre Bahrain International Airport 27876_3

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Continuing its market-leading expertise in express and logistics, DHL has served the Middle East through its hub at Bahrain International Airport since the company’s inception in the region in 1976, and today has more than 750 employees based in Bahrain, servicing customers locally and regionally. DHL is committed to being responsive to customers’ needs, offering a range of Same Day, Time Definite and Day Definite services. DHL’s local operations are equipped with bestin-class technology and extensively trained staff, linking into DHL’s global network of 220 countries. DHL operates strategically located Service Points to enable later cut-off times for shipment pick-ups, earlier deliveries, more convenience and greater accessibility to serve customers whenever they need an air or road service. So whether you are sending personal items or business shipments,

you can relax knowing your shipment is in safe hands with DHL. Just visit or call +973 1733 9600 to book your shipment. Opening hours: Umm Al Hassam Service Point Saturday to Thursday 8am to 9pm Friday 9am to 6pm Seef Service Point Saturday to Thursday 8am to 9pm Closed Fridays and holidays Muharraq Service Point Saturday to Thursday 8am to 9pm Friday 9am to 6pm


Tel: +973 1733 9600 Fax: +973 1733 9205 Email: Web:



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RCHITECTURE Words: Sam Gopal


The older architectural wonders of Bahrain stand majestic in all their geometric glory. The symmetrical forms and contrast between light and shadows are achieved with the use of traditional coral blocks, limestone and palm trees. Magnificently crafted woodwork, sourcing inspiration from India, and gypsum plasterwork embellish the design of the buildings. Examples of ancient architecture are strewn throughout Bahrain and are epitomised in their most creative form in the hundreds of mosques that are adorned with Islamic motifs and reflect the spiritual ambience of this nation. Prominent among all the mosques is Al Khamis, which is believed to be one of



unrise. Orange and red hues adorn the morning sky. The hum of chanted prayers awakens the senses. A slight haze rests in the air. Golden domes and beautifully ornate minarets dominate the skyline. Bahrain boasts a rich cultural heritage, a strong character and a history dating back to what many believe to be the beginning of time – all of which can be observed through its exquisite architecture that marks this country as unique from many of its Gulf neighbours. With a melting pot of architectural design, ancient buildings influenced by long-standing Persian and Arabic connections sit alongside ultra-modern, slick and sustainable structures.


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the most ancient monuments of Islam in the vicinity, with its foundations laid as early as 692CE. Rebuilt twice in the 14th and 15th centuries when the striking twin minarets were constructed, the mosque has recently been partially restored with a newer flatroofed section supported on arches resting on stone piers. The Al Fateh Mosque, also known as The Grand Mosque, is located in Juffair and is crowned by a massive 54-tonne fibreglass dome that makes it cooler during the blistering summer heat. Impressively, it can hold up to 7000 worshippers. The structure, which now houses the National Library, becomes even more awe-inspiring under the floodlights of night. Also worth a visit, the Abu Zaidan Mosque, built in the 18th century CE, boasts a long transverse prayer hall with open sides and a triple-arched portico. Traditional Bahraini houses are also of architectural interest and are mainly located in the Muharraq area of Manama. In ancient times, a typical Arabic home was built with a need for privacy in mind and accordingly was constructed around a courtyard. Hot weather meant that much of the work had to be done outside and therefore led to the erection of thick, high walls surrounding the house, which were white to reflect the sunshine. With the sea always close by, it was only natural to use coral blocks set in gypsum mortar for the masonry. Palm trees provided the material for the beams and thatch roofs, which were flat so that during summer nights it was possible to go and sleep on the roof in the cool of the night air. Bait Al Jasrah (Al Jasrah House), the home where the late Sheikh Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa was born, is a fine example of the use of these traditional materials. Now restored as a national monument, it is a quintessential Bahraini house with rambling architecture, whitewashed walls and intricately carved doors. The house is built around four courtyards and there are gorgeous stucco panels in the spacious upper rooms. It was constructed to harness the natural wind patterns and channel them through the house, using L-shaped

cut-outs along the walls and an elegant badqeer (wind tower) – a structure rising several metres above the house. Designed with large openings on all four sides for channelling down cool breezes to the lower floors of the house, this circulatory system works as a kind of ‘natural air-conditioning’. The Bait Ahmed Siyadi, once home to a wealthy pearling family, is another archetypal home featuring all the traditional elements of Bahraini architecture, with beautifully carved balconies, delicate plaster window screens and stained glass fanlights. The Barbar Temple is a great Dilmun stone temple excavated in the 1950s by a Danish archaeological team. An important place of worship for several centuries, the site has enabled historians to establish the size and nature of civilisation here during the third and second millennia BCE. A sacrificial area with ashes of animals burnt was discovered, as well as a long staircase leading to a sacred well or spring. In order to guard the southern harbour of Muharraq Island from foreign forces, two forts, Abu Mahir and Arad, were built in the 16th century. The harbour has since disappeared during land reclamation and Abu Mahir is now joined to the coastline, but Arad has been fully restored and stands as a striking vision worth at least a few photos for the album.

01. Image courtesy Atkins/BWTC. 02. Image courtesy Tanya Clyde. 03. Image courtesy Rizami Annuar. 04. Image courtesy Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide Inc.



a visit to Bahrain will leave you in awe at its ancient marvels, you will be equally as impressed with its modern innovations.

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Located on the north coast, the imposing landmark of Qal’at al-Bahrain (Bahrain Fort), an artificial mound created by many successive layers of human occupation, was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005 as it is seen as a ‘meeting point of cultures’. It was built in the 14th century, but excavations in the area actually reveal it to be the site of settlements dating back to 2300 BCE, with cities built upon cities. The site was once the capital of the ancient Dilmun civilisation (one of the most important ancient civilisations of the region) and was an important trading port. More recently, it served as a Portuguese fort, located on top of the 12-metre mound with its amazingly well-preserved gun towers and barbican. The Portuguese saw Bahrain as a key point to protect their trade routes between India, Africa and Europe and remained here for just over a century. Their strong influence on Bahraini ancient architecture remains evident today. Although a visit to Bahrain will leave you in awe at its ancient marvels, you will be equally as impressed with its modern innovations. Far from wanting to be left behind by Saudi Arabia and Dubai, this remarkable country has been approving some interesting and eye-popping developments in the realm of green architecture.

The Bahrain World Trade Centre is the Kingdom’s first truly intelligent building and features an array of sophisticated sustainability features in its design. Prestigiously located on the main King Faisal Highway in Manama and reaching over 240 metres high, its two iconic 50-storey towers offer spectacular views of the Arabian Gulf and Manama’s cityscape. The sailshaped buildings offer a visually striking silhouette, appropriately referencing the maritime environment of this small Middle Eastern island, and boast one very unique feature – three giant wind turbines tying the two sails together, each supported by a 30-metre bridge spanning between the two towers. Through its positioning and the unique aerodynamic design of the towers, the prevailing onshore Gulf breeze is funnelled into the path of the turbines, helping to create power generation to serve the energy needs of the building. It really is a modern innovation that sets the precedent for other countries to follow. Designed by German architect Hermann Tilke, the Bahrain International Circuit cost US$150 million to build and is the venue for the Bahrain Formula 1 Grand Prix. The circuit is unique as it is positioned in the middle of a desert and there were worries that sand would blow onto the circuit and disrupt the race.



05. Image courtesy Klaas Lingbeek van Kranen.

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06. Image courtesy Kelly Cartwright. 07. Image courtesy Donall O Cleirigh.


Organisers were able to prevent this, however, by spraying an adhesive on the sand around the track. In 2007, the circuit became the first Grand Prix circuit to be awarded the distinguished FIA Institute Centre of Excellence award, given for excellent safety, race marshal and medical facilities, and for the high standards of technology required to maintain these. The Durrat Al Bahrain Resort development is a striking 20-square-kilometre world-class residential, leisure and tourist destination spread across a stretch of reclaimed desert and sea near the southern tip of the island. An aerial view shows a crescent island facing away from the mainland and towards a central hotel. Linked to this crescent is an arc of five petal islands, each with its own water frontage and private beach for women. An arc of six atolls forms an outer fringe, each atoll comprising 172 villas and beach facilities. An 18-hole golf course and a five-star hotel have been built on the mainland and a 400-boat marina puts the finishing touches to the development. The moon-shaped Bahrain Bay island development is another innovative residential/commercial space that is turning the heads of investors and admirers alike. Bahrain will continue to astound its Gulf counterparts when it comes to its architectural designs, while managing to maintain the magnificence of its ancient wonders. Whether for its traditional edifices or innovative structures, you will no doubt be awe-inspired by what this country has to offer. w




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THE LOCATION Situated in the heart of vibrant Manama city, only five minutes away from the airport and diplomatic area. RESTAURANTS Zytoun: Mediterranean restaurant serving breakfast, lunch, dinner and family brunches. La Perle Restaurant: Fine dining specialising in seafood, on the beach setting.


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La Bellevue Lounge Bar: Cozy dining lounge, offering cocktails, snacks, wines, Cuban cigars, live music and panoramic beach views. Al Yacout Restaurant: Moroccan themed restaurant. Live entertainment includes Arabic singers, Moroccan band, Gnawa musicians and Belly dancers. Pool and Cabana Beach Bar: Splendid spots for relaxation and recreation. MEETINGS AND CONFERENCES Small to mid size meetings, latest technology, personalised setups. SPORT AND LEISURE CENTRE Sport and leisure, featuring gymnasiums, sauna, jacuzzi, steam room, massage, watersports, and playground.


“Designed for Natural Living� P.O Box 11073, Manama. Kingdom of Bahrain Tel: +973 1729 8008 Fax: +973 1729 8338 Email: Web:

THE RESORT 174 WiFi-ed rooms and suites, private beach, watersports, swimming pool, fitness centre, restaurants, bars, conference rooms, 24-hour room service.



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70 percent of the population is Arab, most of which is made-up of native-born Bahranis. More than 80 percent of the population is Muslim, but many other religions are both tolerated and practised.

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01. Image courtesy Steven Allan.






ARAB CULTURE Words: Katie Maynard From souks to corporate boardrooms, business starts with a tiny cup of cardamom-flavoured coffee poured from the traditional metal pot or dallah. To stem the flow, guests must wiggle the cup from side to side, which indicates they have had enough. Coffee is just one part of the traditional expression of Arabic hospitality in which food, coffee, perfumes and incense are offered in a specific order – a ritual that is still practised when local Arabs entertain guests in Bahrain. Even though Bahrain is often cited as one of the Gulf ’s most modern and cosmopolitan countries, the ‘new-world’ charm is not at the expense of religious commitment. More than 80 percent of the population practises Islam, and values such as community and familial solidarity are extremely important.


he Gulf is a region full of history and tradition that has been passed on through generations. While the Bahraini population is generally very cosmopolitan, a little local knowledge always goes a long way. Over the next few pages you can learn a bit about Arab cultural practices and find some useful information on the handicrafts that are unique to Bahrain.

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bedouin coffee recipe

Mix 500 grams of nonflavoured coffee and four to five tablespoons of ground cardamom well by shaking them together in a sealed plastic container. Keeping in mind a ratio of one tablespoon coffee blend to 90 millilitres water per serving, combine the desired amount of water and coffee in a traditional ibrik or any saucepan. Add sugar, cinnamon and/or saffron to taste. Do not stir. Bring all of these ingredients to a boil. Remove from heat for three to four minutes and then simmer for 10 minutes. Bring to boil once again just before serving. Enjoy! You simply cannot visit Bahrain without sampling the Arabian coffee. Once you have had enough caffeine, be sure to shake your cup to signal that you are finished‌ Otherwise you will be drinking a lot more coffee than you bargained for.



02. Image courtesy Philippa Banks. 03. Image courtesy Robert Bremec.

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the headdress

is a patterned cloth that is tied together with a twisted black cord. These cloths, with their distinct checked patterns, have notably been adopted as fashionable scarves by Western cultures.


Mosques and prayer houses are the centre of Muslim life, and they come in many shapes and sizes. Muslims have a duty to pray five times a day, and while the prescribed prayers can be recited anywhere that faces Mecca, the mosques are always busy. You will see many locals in t-shirts and jeans, but the majority still choose to wear traditional dress. Men will be in long cotton robes; white in summer and black in winter. The headdress is a patterned cloth that is tied together with a twisted black cord. These cloths, with their distinct checked patterns, have notably been adopted as fashionable scarves by Western cultures. Women most often wear long, black cotton robes that cover everything from head-to-toe, but most often the clothing they wear underneath is very modern and fashionable. Some women will wear a veil but very few adopt the canvas mask called a burqa, which leaves only the eyes uncovered. Another part of traditional dress is henna. While this natural dye is commonly used by other cultures as a hair colouring agent, it has a much wider application in Arab culture where it is used to decorate women’s hands and feet for certain rituals and events. The henna night, for example, is a pre-wedding ceremony where the bride’s parents invite a designer to paint the bride’s hands and feet with intricate patters while guests are entertained with music and blessings are read from the Koran.



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major museums

The henna powder comes from leaves of a henna plant and is mixed with lemon juice and oil into a paste that is applied a bit like icing on a cake. When the paste dries, the excess is removed and the stain usually stays for several days. Music also plays an important role in Arab culture and life in Bahrain. Back when most people were employed in manual labour such as fishing, farming or pearl diving, songs were developed to sustain a rhythm in their work. These, along with wedding, festival and even playground songs, form the basis of a rich folk music culture which is preserved today through recordings, concerts and even clubs. Many children learn to play traditional stringedinstruments such as the ud, which is believed to have originated in Mesopotamian times, around 2000 BCE. During the Middle Ages, the ud was popular in Western Europe, where it was known as the lute. The 84-stringed qanun or psaltery is also still taught and played but its difficulty makes it much less common. You can learn about Bahraini culture and tradition at one of the nation’s many museums or even read up before you come, however, the best way to truly understand it all is to get out and experience it for yourself.



♦Bait al Qur’an (House of the Koran) ♦Currency Museum ♦Museum of Pearl Diving ♦National Museum of Bahrain ♦Oil Museum

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04 04. Image courtesy Jean-Yves Foy. 05. Image courtesy Klaas Lingbeek van Kranen. 06. Image courtesy Serdar Yagci. 05




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ARTS AND CRAFTS Words: Sam Gopal Bahrain has always had a rich tradition of artwork and handicrafts, with a thriving and diverse crafts scene dating back to the Dilmun era. A blend of the traditional and the modern, and a fusion of influences from near and far have served to enrich the local culture and art. From the creel baskets that are still used by the island’s fishermen to the intricate circular reed mats used for date harvesting and drying, Bahrain’s art products are as useful as they are decorative. Back in the day, as the number of craftsmen rose, souks (markets) emerged taking the name of the different crafts or industries, including blacksmith souks, goldsmith and silversmith souks, lime souks, pearls souks and tinsmith souks. Villages also became associated with certain crafts, such as weaving in Bani


Jamra, basket making in Karbabad, pottery in A’Ali and dhow (boat) building in Manama and Muharraq. Today, village craftsmen still display their skills in weaving, embroidery and dhow making at the annual Heritage Festival held every spring. Despite the modernisation of Bahrain, the community has taken the utmost care to preserve the island’s tradition of craft making. The last vestiges of a once thriving craft and respected industry can still be found today in Muharraq, where dhows (traditional wooden sail boats) are still built and widely used. In its heyday, the dhow building industry had more than 30 active yards, which built vessels to support the pearling and fishing industries, once mainstays of the economy. Teak imported from India and Nepal is used for its strength, resistance to moisture and hardwearing quality. Dhows made of this wood a hundred years




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ago are still seaworthy today. Other materials used include cotton fabrics, nails and dolphin oil, which is a heavy waterproofing lubricant placed into gaps, cavities and joints. Special paints and oil are used to paint the exterior body and act as insulation while also protecting the dhow from corrosion and damage. Today, commissions for dhows are mostly received from a few private individuals and local museums. As dhow building has declined, there has been a boom in the building of model dhows, which are also made with a great deal of care and attention to detail and look just like real pearling, fishing or cargo dhows. Chief among the traditional crafts of Bahrain is pottery making, a craft that Bahraini potters believe to have originated in this country. Whether this is the case or not, pieces of pottery dating back to around 2000 BCE and perhaps earlier have been found at various archaeological sites here. Pottery making is still being practised today, with little or no resort to modern devices, using skills and methods that have been passed down through many generations. The local pottery industry is concentrated

at A’Ali, in the midst of the island’s oldest and largest burial mounds, and is always a favourite destination for visitors, locals and schoolchildren who love to see the making of pots on foot-operated wheels. The potters work in a way that belies the skill, steady hand and patience that are required. Once the clay has been fashioned into shape, it is laid out to dry in the sun before being fired in a traditional kiln, many of which are built into the ancient burial mounds. A variety of decorative items, including garden and plant pots, vases, candlesticks, light fittings, money boxes, incense burners and hubble-bubble pipes are available to buy. A generation ago there were many basket weavers in the villages of Karbabad, Jasra, Budaiya and Riffa. Today individuals and families in Karbabad village still practise this long established craft at home, which uses the palm fronds of the date palm. Dyes are sometimes used to create colourful patterns in the baskets, trays and fans woven in all shapes and sizes. There is a small workshop in the village where the crafts are for sale.



07. Image courtesy Tanya Clyde. 08. & 09. Images courtesy Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide Inc. 10. Image courtesy P Monkay.

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as highly artistic Arabic calligraphy. This is an ideal place to find that special gift or piece for the home, as well as to observe the many projects including stained glass work, gypsum work, pictures made from petals, leaves and shells, handmade dolls in traditional costumes and hand painted pottery. The abundant palm trees of Bahrain provide the raw material needed for making palm leaf paper at the centre. The acid-free paper produced is used to make greeting and business cards, folkloric prints and bookmarks. Wool products, though not traditional to Bahrain, incorporate hand-weaving skills and make use of wool that used to be thrown away here. The wool is washed and hand-spun in the village of Diraz and woven into top quality products such as mats, cushions, rugs and carpets, which are sold through the centre. The Al Naqda embroidery project employs a number of young women who recreate the traditional gold and silver thread embroidery on women’s gowns, shawls, cushion covers, place mats and other items. They are keeping alive this traditional skill, but in a manner that now meets modern tastes. w


Traditional cloth weaving can still be found today in the north-west village of Bani Jamra, which once boasted a thousand weavers producing cloth for traditional robes such as the long abbaya worn by the Bahraini women. Despite the decline in demand for hand-woven cloth, brightly coloured cotton cloth is still woven today for clothing and home furnishings. In the picturesque village of Jasra, the Al Jasra Handicrafts Centre was established in 1990 to support local craftsmen and women and to promote and market their products. As such, the centre is helping to preserve Bahrain’s heritage and crafts, and it is here that you can see the practice of local crafts with workshops for basket, mat and cloth weavers to name a few. A group of women from Jasra come daily to weave the colourful dining mats and welcome you to sit and watch them as they deftly weave the mats from plain and brightly coloured dampened palm frond leaves. The Craft Centre Gallery in Manama, entirely managed by Bahraini women, has exquisite creations ranging from jewellery, wrought iron, wood and paper products to embroidered and crocheted goods, as well



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men alike are looking for quality garments that adhere to traditional customs, yet are stylish and chic… Luckily, much of this is available in their own backyard… To the uninitiated, Arab fashion probably does not inspire images of ultra tall and lithe women floating down catwalks on impossibly high heels and in couture frocks, or barely there ready-to-wear collections that change as quickly as we can say “designer Mary Janes.” To the fashion forward and those in-the-know, however, what fashion in the region does inspire is much more: an untapped use


ashion and style forums are commonplace among the fashion lovers of the globe; the newest styles and collections are closely scrutinised in magazines, on catwalks and now even online. Once the discerning buyer has decided on their look for the season, the hunt begins. “Who is the designer?” “Where can I get it?” “Will I look the same as everyone else?” “Can I afford it?” Or... “do I really care?” This is a dilemma that knows no borders or nationality, and increasingly fashion and style forums are being used by the fashion savvy and lovers of couture in the Gulf region. And why not? Women and


Words: Cathy Moloney

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of design and colour that some western designers can only aspire to. Arabian fashion, dictated in part by tradition and culture, sees women draped in flowing abayas that ensure the silhouette remains as far from the female form as possible, yet underneath can be the source of the most sought after designer garments from Milan, Paris and New York. The Bahraini men are similarly fashioned in traditional thoabs, which are long and white from the neck to the ground, adorned with a head scarf that is either chequered or plain and tied with black cord. Like most Islamic countries traditional fashion and clothes are de rigueur, yet Bahrain is not as conservative as its counterparts, and its history, influenced by a melting pot of cultures from India to Persia and Britain to the Orient, has inspired and shaped the fashion culture in the Kingdom. Inspired by its arid climate, desert flora and vibrant wildlife, colour is one of the most striking aspects of Bahraini fashion. As if drawn from the desert and history itself, deep red and ochre hues highlighted with gold and silver, sky blues to ocean aquas trimmed with shining copper and bronze are all incorporated into handcrafted kaftans, flowing dresses, scarves and accessories. In line with the traditional silhouette, yet with a modern twist, Grecian style dresses in reds, greens and yellow adorn the young and upwardly mobile fashion-savvy set, and are as acceptable here in the village or souk as they are in a five-star restaurant. The entire Gulf region is becoming the fashion capital of the world for many of the jet-set fashion lovers. It incorporates multi-label fashion boutiques where traditional dress is harmoniously displayed with the modern, and fashion and beauty shows that rival those in Paris and Milan. The aspiration of Bahrain for growth and recognition is becoming a reality in the fashion world. Indeed, with its many shows, events and high-end shopping centres, the region is letting the rest of the world into a fashion secret that has been part of the daily lives of its fashion conscious for years. Bahrain is beginning to rival the fashion hot spots of the region, so much so that, in 2007, Bahrain Couture was developed to promote and cultivate local fashion designers in the region. Bahrain Couture prides itself on being the “official voice of the designer fashion industry” in the region. One designer who encapsulates Arabian fashion is design house Amina Al Jassim Haute Couture from Saudi Arabia. The tag line ‘drown in colour’ is exactly what is delivered. In fact, Amina’s designs



is beginning to rival the fashion hot spots of the region, so much so that, in 2007, Bahrain Couture was developed to promote and cultivate local fashion designers in the region.

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01. 03. & 06. Images courtesy Bahrain Couture/SJ Media. 02. 05. & 08. Images courtesy Fendi. 04. & 07. Images courtesy A’ Ali Mall/Coach.


are the quintessence of the region’s fashion: they feature colour, luxurious fabric, quality gemstones for embellishment, and gold and silver threads for opulence rarely seen in western fashions. Her designs seamlessly cross over from traditional to trendy, with each piece inviting the fashion lover on a journey of colour and imagination. Attention to Bahraini fashion, and the area’s desire to set itself apart as a fashion forward capital in the region has led to an international collaboration between young and talented fashion designers from Bahrain and the UK. In a recent initiative to bring young designers from both countries together, this new wave of couturiers created the ‘Bahr-it-look’. This is evidence of Bahrain’s wish to be a truly global fashion centre, yet also to raise a cross cultural awareness through a transnational medium such as design and fashion. Celebrating fashion in Bahrain is not just limited to luxury garments. Beauty and spa treatments are as much a part of the Bahraini fashion lover’s life as a pair of designer heels and oversized sunglasses. So, since 2006, Bahrain has held the Beauty Arabia tradeshow, and in 2009 the Kingdom will present its inaugural Wedding Arabia exhibition. Held annually, Beauty Arabia showcases the biggest and fastest growing market of beauty and spa therapies, driven by the increasing young population with disposable incomes. The show features more than 90 companies from 14 countries including Clarins, Chanel, Lancome and Max Factor, just to name a few. Visitors to the show can expect to be pampered and amazed by the fabulous fashion shows and high-end demonstrations of the newest trends

in make-up and hair styling... not to mention the luxurious product launches. Although not on the major catwalk calendar, Bahrain has been privileged to be the site of an international headline-making fashion show – The Walk of Fame – organised by Dubai-based fashion group Al Fayer, and highlighting some of the exciting new fashion houses from around the world that are represented in the Kingdom. Emilio Pucci, Alberta Ferretti and Coach were just a few labels that presented their collections alongside some prized outfits from Ounass, a Gulf region boutique that houses some 60 of the top fashion labels in the world.



new standards and trends in fashion and style in Bahrain and the Gulf region, there does not seem to be an end in sight for the growth of the industry.

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Meaning ‘people’ in Arabic, Ounass strives to bring ]cross-cultural trendy brands such as Elie Tahari, Catherine Malandrino, Juicy Couture and Rock & Republic to the fashion lovers in the Gulf region. Further highlighting the fashion-forward reputation of the Kingdom, the Kuwait-based luxury fashion retailer, Villa Moda, has brought its unique fashion experience to the blossoming fashion market of Bahrain. Situated in the ultra high-end shopping epicentre of the Bahrain World Trade Centre, Villa Moda, already established in Kuwait, Dubai, Qatar and Syria, is the flagship tenant of Moda Mall. In the one luxury mega boutique shoppers can purchase the latest from the likes of Dolce & Gabbana, Fendi, Gucci and Hermès. What sets this type of boutique apart is the combination of the ‘best of the west’ in luxury retailing and experience, with a ‘Gulf twist’, in that it is designed around traditional arabesque souks and bazaars. The result is that not only does the region cater for the fashion forward and the wealthy Gulf citizens, but it also caters for the growing number of expats who are living and working in the region. With new standards and trends in fashion and style in Bahrain and the Gulf region, there does not seem to be an end in sight for the growth of the industry. For local and international designers alike, the culture, history and climate of the region provides the perfect muse and backdrop for inspirational design, and the escalation of trade and fashion shows offers fabulous and chic showcasing opportunities for the fashion lovers and designers in the region. w




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What can you say about a company that in the short span of five years has grown to be one of the leading names in the real estate sector in the Kingdom of Bahrain? Diverse? Future-driven? Progressive? Innovative? You could call it all that and more... Or you could simply say TATWEER! TATWEER means development in Arabic and, as its name suggests, TATWEER’s guiding philosophy is development in any form with one objective in mind: making our development parallel with the people’s requirements and understanding the culture to enable us to deliver unique products in the MENA region.


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With great potential and a great value of assets under management in the real estate and finance sectors and with a high degree of dedication, motivation and expertise the company has a great team that works in harmony. TATWEER is now poised to mark its distinctive presence with exciting iconic leisure, hospitality and retail property developments that will change the way we look at modern living concepts and the face of Bahrain!


PO Box 11593 Tel: +973 17 223 222 Fax: +973 17 228 229 Email: Web:



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Moda Mall Sheraton Complex Bahrain Tel: +973 1332 0505

Since 1925, Fendi has been synonymous with style and quality. Today, the legend lives on with fabulous lines of products for modern women of taste. The very well-known Italian brand credits its success to three main factors: creativity, technology and craftsmanship. Well-known for its long lasting collaboration with designer Karl Lagerfeld, Fendi keeps on creating and reinventing fashion and accessory trends. Famous for the renovation of treated fur pieces; its ready-to-wear collections; and the must-have ‘Baguette bag’, ‘Spy Bag’ and ‘B Bag’; the Roman brand knows how to define luxury.

The Fendi Boutique in Bahrain is located in the Moda Mall Sheraton Complex – the Bahrain’s World Trade Center’s (BWTC) ultra high-end shopping complex – which is on the ground floor of the 50-storey landmark twin towers and is set to house the Kingdom’s largest and most exciting array of top luxury retailers.


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Opening hours: Daily 10.00am - 10.00pm


Known for their craftsmanship and brash innovation, Fendi’s limited-edition bags and featherweight furs are now all available in the Fendi Bahrain boutique along with all the latest creations and ultimate trends of the fashion house. The 200-square-metre boutique carries the full range and latest collections from handbags, limited editions items, ready-to-wear, small leather goods, furs, shoes, travel line along with a wide range of accessories and gifts (custom jewelry, scarves, belts…).


The atmosphere of the boutique is a mirror of Fendi’s and Rome’s past and present. The world-wide famous and acclaimed Peter Marino – the architectural designer of the Fendi boutiques concept – adopted a mix of typical Roman ancient and traditional materials reworked into contemporary designs. The imposing and spectacular curvy traditional travertine stone wave installed in the boutique is reminiscent of the atmospheres of Roman squares and buildings.

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DIAMONDS Rare, dazzling, iridescent and desirable, the diamond occupies a unique cultural position, whether twinkling on the finger as an engagement ring or twinkling in the sky courtesy of nursery rhymes and The Beatles. And confirming what John, Paul, George and Ringo have always known, 2004 saw the discovery of the largest diamond on record – the 3000-kilometrewide core of a white dwarf some 50 light years away. There are, of course, many earthly diamonds to behold, the largest of which remains to be the Cullinan, found in South Africa in 1905. Uncut, it weighed 3,106.75 carats. The highly skilled cutting produced the Star of Africa, the Lesser Star of Africa and 104 other diamonds, which now form part of the British crown jewels. When choosing a diamond, there are four main pieces of information that will determine its cost: the cut, clarity, colour and carat, or ‘the four C’s’. The carat of a diamond is its weight and typically the larger the carat the larger the price tag! The colour of the diamond is rated on a scale from D, which is colourless, to Z, which is a light yellow. While transparent diamonds are still most common, coloured diamonds are becoming increasingly popular as we have seen in the pages of our favourite celebrity magazines – the trend catapulted when Jennifer Lopez received a Harry Winston pink diamond engagement ring from Ben Affleck. Some of the most famous coloured diamonds are the blue Hope diamond from India (now in the Smithsonian) and the canaryyellow Tiffany diamond from South Africa, which is currently on display in the famous jeweller’s flagship store on Fifth Avenue in New York.



01. Image courtesy De Beers. 02. Image courtesy Bvlgari. 03. Image courtesy Neil Lane at Azal.



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rich and rare

Pearls naturally occur in about one of every 10,000 oysters.


04. Image courtesy Ekaterina Solovieva. 05. Image courtesy Maria Abrantes. 06. Image courtesy Momoko Takeda.

PEARLS Nowadays, we all know which gem is known as a ‘girl’s best friend’, but during the Roman Empire, pearls were the favourite pick of the wealthy. In fact, before jewellers were able to cut gems, pearls were much more valuable than diamonds. For hundreds of years, naturally occurring pearl oysters in the shallow banks of the Gulf ’s coast provided a source of wealth to Bahrain’s residents. During pearls’ height of popularity and value, Bahrain was the world’s main trading centre and its pearls were renowned for their unique lustre and shine. Pearls are formed in many different shapes and colours. Natural pearls are formed without any human intervention and are very rare. The majority of pearls on the market today are cultured on a pearl farm. Culturing was introduced in Japan in 1930, which caused a massive crash of the world pearl market. Bahrain, however, was lucky enough to have discovered oil around that same time. While pearls are no longer the backbone of the Bahraini economy, cultured pearls are still banned in Bahrain. The legacy of the natural pearl still lives on – apart from the many beautiful pieces you can buy, the Pearl Monument and Museum of Pearl Diving are two of the nation’s most prised landmarks. In contemporary culture, pearls are seen as unique, delicate and admirable pieces of jewellery to wear, and speak to a classic sense of style. A story of their intrinsic value involves a man by the name of Pierre Cartier, who, in 1917, bought prime real estate in Manhattan for US$100 cash and a double strand of matched natural pearls – such a rare find that it was seen as fair compensation. Pearls have been a musthave accessory in Hollywood since the likes of Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn and, particularly, Jacqueline Kennedy who made famous the triple stranded necklace. Angelina Jolie proved their timeless nature when she wore the same necklace to 2007’s Venice Film Festival.



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IMEPIECES But while a big swinging weight is fine for something sitting in a hallway, it is certainly not suitable for a pocket or a wrist, and so the main problem with developing a clock small and convenient enough to carry on a person was the power. The earliest mechanical watches were powered by springs, which made timekeeping portable, but terribly inaccurate. The introduction of jewel bearings – tiny stones that have no need for lubrication – allowed for more precise and high-quality personal timepieces. Even today, both mechanical and quartz (battery) powered watches are often measured by their amount of internal jewels. While the Federation of the Swiss


hen it comes to horology, time began in China with a big bang. During the first century CE, the famous Chinese scientist, scholar and inventor Zhang Heng developed the first seismometer in response to increasing tremors. The device was based on a pendulum, whose perpetual motion was set off by the earth’s activity. Zhang’s pendulum marked the birth of that iconic ‘tick tock’ sound, but it wasn’t until the 17th century that Galileo Galilei began to explore other practical applications of pendula and Holland’s Christiaan Huygens put forth a patent for a mechanical clock that was regulated by a pendulum’s swinging force.

Words: Karla Courtney



it aLl bEGAn wITh a bANg…

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01. Image courtesy Tag Heuer. 02. Image courtesy Breitling. 03. Image courtesy Jaeger le Coultre. 04. Image courtesy Cartier.


Watch Industry states that any quality mechanical watch must have a minimum amount of 15 jewels, the Swiss company ETA has developed one three-dial chronograph that contains 53! Precious stones, however, aren’t just on the inside of watches. Since the 17th century, watches have also been treated as a form of jewellery. Early watches were cased in precious metals, engraved, jewelled and enamelled for show. Today, watches can be as extravagant and costly as anything you could place on your neck, ears or fingers. The Chopard ‘Super Ice Cube’ features 66.16 carats of sparkling diamonds, and will put you back US$1,130,620. And there are many other extravagant timepieces that hover around the six- to seven-figure marks. But when you are shopping for a fine watch, the price tag doesn’t just reflect the jewels on the outside or inside; watchmaking is a fine art that requires precision and loads and loads of patience. Swiss master watchmaker Philippe Dufour spent more than 2000 hours between 1982 and 1983 putting together one single piece. Timepieces are part of the corporate uniform, they are works of art, fashion statements, perfect gifts for others and perfect treats for ourselves. And while the fine movements that power them came in with a bang, they most certainly will not go out with one. w



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Where to go, what to do? In a country with so much to offer these questions can be tough for even the most knowledgeable locals to answer. Here are a few features to get everyone in the know‌

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BAHRAIN INTERNATIONAL MOTOR SHOW 2008 4 to 7 October 2008 Motoring fans and enthusiasts can get their fill of excitement and keep up with new launches, developments, gadgets, gizmos and accessories. Location: Bahrain International Exhibition Centre Tel: +973 1755 8816

BAHRAIN INTERNATIONAL PROPERTY EXHIBITION (BIPEX) 2008 23 to 25 October 2008 A platform for developers, builders, consultants and other key members of the real estate industry to present their products and services to prospective buyers. Location: Hall 2, Bahrain International Exhibition Centre Tel: +973 1772 7100 PROPERTY ARABIA AND WORLDWIDE PROPERTY SHOW 29 October to 11 November 2008 An international property and investment exhibition. Location: Hall 1, Bahrain International Exhibition Centre Tel: +973 1755 0033

V8 SUPERCARS DESERT 400 (01) 6 to 8 November 2008 A high-speed race series featuring some of the world’s most powerful – and largest – cars. Tel: +973 1745 0000 GULF VIP: EXECUTIVE JET, LUXURY YACHT AND ELITE CAR INTERIORS 11 to 13 November 2008 Check out the world’s latest designs for private and corporate aircraft, yachts and automobiles. Location: Hall 2, Bahrain International Exhibition Centre Tel: +973 1755 8893



BAHRAIN EQUESTRIAN AND ENDURANCE October 2008 to April 2009 Horse sports, racing, show jumping and long distance endurance riding are extremely popular in Bahrain. Be sure to get in on the action at Sakhir’s large grandstand. Location: Sakhir Tel: +973 1744 0330

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The amount of exciting festivals and events in Bahrain could never be listed on a few pages. Here are just some of the major events you can look forward to in the coming year:


AUTUMN FAIR 21 to 29 November 2008 This annual shopping extravaganza presents a great opportunity to find quality consumer goods at low prices. On offer are items such as beauty products, cameras, arts and crafts and much more. Location: Bahrain International Exhibition Centre

BEAUTY ARABIA 25 to 28 February 2009 Demonstrations, shows and new product launches are a main part of this impressive event. Location: Bahrain International Exhibition Centre SPRING OF CULTURE March to April 2009 TBC Celebrating the very best of all aspects of art and performance, the Spring of Culture festival brings in the best local, regional and international performers across music, dance, visual art, poetry, philosophy and more. The event takes place every March right up until the F1 weekend in April. Location: Various

BAHRAIN GRAND PRIX (02) April 2009 TBC Experience the thrill of this exciting Formula 1 event. Location: Bahrain International Circuit Tel: +973 1745 1649 THE 4TH GULF JAZZ FESTIVAL IN KUWAIT AND BAHRAIN (ASSOCIATED WITH GULF JAZZ NIGHTS IN DUBAI) April 2009 TBC Bringing hot international jazz acts to the Gulf region. Bookings recommended. Location: La Fontaine Centre (TBC) w


01. & 02. Images courtesy Bahrain International Circuit.


JEWELLERY ARABIA 25 to 29 November 2008 One of the largest and most prestigious jewellery exhibitions in the Middle East. Location: Halls 1 and 2, Bahrain International Exhibition Centre Tel: +973 1755 0033

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A’ALI POTTERY WORKSHOP Witness the fascinating processes of traditional potters at work and pick up a lovely and truly Bahraini memento of your trip. Location: Al A’ali AIN UMM AL SEJOOR A natural water spring that is part of a Dilmunage temple. It is considered to be sacred because two sculpted lambs were found near it. Location: Budaiya Road, Duraz AL FATEH MOSQUE (01) The spectacular Grande Mosque of Bahrain, crowned by the world’s largest fibreglass dome. It is also one of the largest buildings in the country, with the capacity to hold 7000 people. This is a rare opportunity for non-Muslims to enter a mosque, but all visitors must dress appropriately. Location: Marina Cornish, Manama Tel: +973 1772 7773


AL KHAMIS MOSQUE One of the Gulf region’s oldest relics; research indicates the foundation may have been laid as early as the late seventh century. Location: Al Khamis



ANCIENT ROYAL TOMBS A cluster of historically significant mound graves that are believed to be Dilmunite Royal Tombs (third millennium BCE). There are many burial mounds in Bahrain, but this is definitely the most impressive site. It can be found near the Hamed Town roundabout. Location: Shaikh Khalifa Highway

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Bahrain offers many historically significant sites, modern structures, beautiful scenic spots and a number of other activities for the whole family. Here are a few Welcome to suggestions:

ARAD FORT (02) Built in the 17th century, Arad Fort has been extensively restored and is a magnificent sight – especially when illuminated at night. Location: Muharraq


BAB AL BAHRAIN (03) Meaning ‘the doorway to Bahrain’, Bab Al Bahrain, is a beautiful white building. It houses the tourist information office, which is located on the ground floor along with a handicrafts shop. Bab Al Bahrain is also the entrance to the Souk (market). Location: Manama BAHRAIN PORTUGUESE FORT (04) Yes, there are a lot of forts, but this one is special. For starters, it was built by the Portuguese (1522) and excavations here have yielded fantastic artefacts such as soldiers’ barracks and horse stables. Location: Karbabad


CURRENCY MUSEUM For those of us who like money (and we are sure there are many) this museum is an absolute must. Here you can view ancient Arab, Islamic and Byzantine coins minted of gold and silver, as well as one of the nine rarest Islamic currency coins in the world. Location: Manama



BAHRAIN WORLD TRADE CENTRE Must be seen to be believed – its massive wind generators make it a true architectural phenomenon. The 250-metre-high twin towers also incorporate a massive shopping complex and many fine restaurants. Location: Manama

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GOLF (05) Greens in the desert? Here are a couple of places to tee off: • Awali Golf Club Location: Awali Tel: +973 1775 6770 • Riffa Golf Club Location: Riffa Tel: +973 1775 0777 HERITAGE FESTIVAL VILLAGE Located next to the National Museum in Manama, the Heritage Festival Village offers the chance to view some of Bahrain’s most talented craftsmen at work. JANABIYA CAMEL FARM (06) Get up close and personal with these desert icons. Take a photo or a ride, or just watch as they race for their evening feed. Location: Janabiya


KING FAHAD CAUSEWAY This is the 25-kilometre bridge that connects Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. Take a photo or a drive, or dine in one of the restaurants designed so you can enjoy a beautiful view of the two countries. Tel: +973 1731 1885



MUSEUM OF PEARL DIVING This historic building is a source of pride for Bahrain as it represents the nation’s story, its governors and its people. An enlightening cultural experience. Location: Manama

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NATIONAL MUSEUM A body that is committed to collecting, preserving, studying and interpreting Bahrain’s rich natural and cultural history. Location: Manama


OIL MUSEUM Being the first country in the Arabian Gulf region to have discovered oil (in 1932), Bahrain’s experiences provide an interesting insight into how ‘black gold’ has transformed the area. Learn all about it in this wellpresented museum. Next door, you can also pay a visit to the first oil well, ‘Oil Well Number 1’. Location: Jebel Dukhan PEARL MONUMENT One of Bahrain’s most recognisable symbols. There is not much to do other than look at it, but it is good for a photo op! Location: Manama SOUKS (07) You cannot leave Bahrain without a little bargaining. The Manama Souk (near Bab al Bahrain), containing the Gold and Spice Souks, is a must-see.



01. 02. 03. 07. & 08. Images courtesy Klaas Lingbeek van Kranen. 04. Image courtesy Osama Alfaraj. 05. Image courtesy Mike Clarke. 06. Image courtesy Ben Mcleish.


THE TREE OF LIFE (08) A 400-year-old mesquite tree in the middle of the desert whose source of water is a mystery… Location: Jebel Dukhan w

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s a spectator or participant, in Bahrain, the wide selection of sporting activities and facilities is probably quite different to many preconceived ideas one may have about this very small island in the Gulf. Due to its year-long warm temperatures, residents are known to be very passionate about sports such as football, basketball and golf. Visitors, on the other hand, have been known to dabble in more extreme sports like dune bashing and parasailing. Bahrainis’ fascination with motor sports and the creation of the world class Bahrain International Circuit have spawned a range of exciting experiences

tourists can enjoy at high speed. Water sports are an obvious forefront that can be appreciated in crystal-clear, warm blue waters, and horse racing, something that is a huge part of Bahrain’s rich history and culture, can be enjoyed on land. While you’re perhaps thinking the only place to ski in Bahrain is on the water, Bahrain’s Iceberg Tower is set to accommodate skiing, snowboarding, ski-jumping, ice climbing and sledging for winter sport enthusiasts. If it’s a fast paced, adrenalin amplifying thrill you’re seeking or a more relaxed and leisurely one, Bahrain is sure to offer something for any active visitor.



Words: Adam Hosfal

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01. Image courtesy Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide Inc.


WATER SPORTS It is easy to see why this spectacular area has been christened ‘Pearl of the Gulf ’; besides the fact you can actually scuba dive for pearls, Bahrain boasts a natural beauty that is well-known throughout the region. The temperature is right, the water is that dreamy, turquoise-blue colour, and the sun pretty much shines all year ‘round – Bahrain is ideal for a plethora of water sports which can be enjoyed in these luscious surroundings. As a destination that is synonymous with luxury and extravagance, in Bahrain, sailing and yachting is a popular activity engaged in by locals and a great deal of expats. Playing host to regattas and competitions, the Bahrain Yacht Club and Zallaq Sailing Club organise boat trips that go out to see the dolphins and offer a tranquil day by the ocean. Those seeking a more traditional aquatic experience can hop aboard one of the many private dhows where you can be steered from island to island (fasths); just don’t forget your sunscreen. Another gorgeous jewel that can be visited by boat is the famous Hawar Island. It is here where visitors can enjoy jets skis, paddle boats and kayaks. The swimming pool and beach is also exceptional for just lazing about and working on your tan. Back on the main island, guests can further indulge in paragliding, water-skiing, windsurfing and the aforementioned activities with gear available from a range of resorts. Those who prefer a slower pace can visit one of the many fishing spots – a great way to meet the locals and perhaps learn some new tricks, While hamour (a local grouper) variety is the most popular catch, barracuda, tuna and sea bream are said to frequent the area. The best way, however, to get acquainted with these creatures of the deep blue is to swim among them… The surrounding waters of Bahrain offer some unreal diving sites that even contain some wrecks. As an area historically renowned for pearl merchants, divers are allowed to keep any treasure they may happen to recover while down below. If you’re not so lucky, there are still more than 200 species of marine life and 30 types of coral to keep you amused. Stingrays, sea turtles and dolphins are among some of the popular sea life. Stringrays especially are known to be found sun baking around some of the shallower waters around summer so watch where you step. Ironically, swimming in the ocean is one of the less popular activities in Bahrain as the water does not get deep enough for up to half a kilometre out to sea at times. Having an abundance of superb swimming pools around the island should compensate for this however.



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02. 04. & 05. Images courtesy Bahrain International Circuit. 03. Image courtesy Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide Inc.

MOTOR SPORTS After bidding against strong competition from its neighbours, Bahrain became the first Gulf country to host a Formula 1 event on the Grand Prix calendar. The Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) has been a lucrative component in attracting other international events, awards and hoards of tourists. Once a year, all the big names in Formula 1 undergo excruciating temperatures on this world-class circuit to battle out the points, while punters can enjoy the more restful features of the circuit, like the eight storey VIP tower with a roof top terrace, countless luxurious suites and fantastic restaurants to view the race from. The screeching and thundering doesn’t stop here though... The ingeniously designed circuit includes six separate track layouts, a testing oval and a drag circuit, paving the way for other varieties of motors sports to use the circuit all year round. Drag racing has earned a strong following in the country too and the Bahrain Drag Racing Championships lure large crowds and media attention to the country.


Organisers of the Australian V8 Supercar series understood the potential of the BIC and awarded their bid to host the first ever Northern Hemisphere leg of the 13-round Supercar calendar. Since the inaugural 2006 Supercar Bahrain Desert 400, the BIC has implemented its own Lumina CSV Championship Middle East series that travels around the Gulf in similar cars to the V8s known as 380hp Chevrolet Lumina SS V8s. There is an integral component of the Bahraini circuit, however, that sets it apart from other places in the world: you don’t need the skills of Michael Schumacher, who happens to hold the BIC lap record, to experience it for yourself. The BIC’s selection of competing vehicles also includes go-karts, caterhams, quads and Hummers. The later two are driven on the course’s off-road circuit where Adventure Drive Arabia allows visitors take to the dunes with experienced drivers to blast around the desert. Gift packs can be purchased from the BIC that incorporate all activities and you can even take your own car on the track to really stretch its legs. Bookings are, of course, essential.




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06. Image courtesy Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide Inc. 07. Image courtesy Mahmud Abdulla and Ahmed Ramadan. 08. Image courtesy A.Ali Kurban.

1981 when the Amir opened the illustrious racecourse in Sakhir that boasts two grass tracks and a seating capacity of 15,000. While betting is not endorsed under Islamic law, the enjoyment is focused squarely on the animal’s esteemed and valued qualities. The popularity of equestrian, show jumping and endurance racing is testament to the admiration the Arabic people have toward horses. The open desert terrain is well suited to the endurance racing and it is not uncommon for Bahraini men to try their hand at all disciplines. If getting on one of these amazing beasts yourself is not the idea of fun, there is a guaranteed broad range of events devoted to these marvels of the Gulf that is sure to entertain. But for those who do fancy a gallop, there are stables where tourists can take guided tours on horse back from at Sakir.


HORSE RACING It is said that in the Arabian Gulf there is a unique relationship between man, the desert and horses. Mentioned throughout the Koran, these graceful animals embody power and prestige and are renowned for their loyalty and respect. Arabian horses especially have come from premium bloodlines; the breeding process is taken very seriously and invested in quite heavily. Bahrain’s ruling Al Khalifa family play a central role in supervising the breeding process for both traditional Arabian horses and thoroughbreds. The months from October to April are dedicated to the ‘sport of kings’ and Bahrain is privileged enough to have to one of the best racecourses in the Middle East. Though introduced by Sheikh Hamad during the 1940s, racing thoroughbreds truly established itself in



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GOLF Golfing in Bahrain can be enjoyed in different capacities as the country is home to both the oldest course in the Gulf and perhaps one of the most innovative. Brought to Bahrain in the early 1930s by oilfield workers was a three-hole course that was built right next to the first oil well in Jebel Al Dukan. Golf has since been a popular pastime for locals and tourists in Bahrain. Whether it’s a casual swing you’re after or a more intensive experience at the Riffa Views Golf Academy, it is worth visiting a few courses to experience what golf in the Gulf is all about. Hosting major events like the Seniors Tours championship, Riffa Views Golf Club, formally known as Riffa Golf Club, is a PGA, 18-hole, par 72 course that features five lakes and more than 70 bunkers. Well-known for its floodlit night golf, it provided the solution to Bahrain’s short duration of daylight through

winter. Golfers can now start a game in the late hours of the afternoon and play through to midnight with the last nine holes being lit up with floodlights. As a successful strategy, the course keeps growing and improving its facilities with a hi-tech, video swing analysis studio and Bahrain’s only Golf Academy staffed by three full-time PGA professionals. With comfortable playing conditions and first-rate coaching you would have no excuse for playing a lousy round. The course is also renowned for its tree life with more than 500 date palms and 400 specimen trees. About 15 minutes from Manama, at the Awali golf club you can play golf how it was traditionally played in the desert – on sand. Where greens are browns and bunkers are probably not the worst thing your game can encounter, it is astounding just how similar to conventional golf the experience is. Established in 1938 the par 70 course is the oldest in the Gulf and offers a unique and pleasurable playing experience.



09. Image courtesy William Casey. 10. Image courtesy Andrew Penner.

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sand golf etiquette


♦ Only wear soft-soled shoes – no spikes ♦ You can play on an artificial grass mat which you must carry around with you, but only if you are on the fairways marked by pickets ♦ Always brush the browns with provided brooms after putting ♦ Wear sunscreen



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of bahrain’s



665 square kilometres of land, 2.82 percent is arable, 5.6 percent is used up for permanent crops and 91.55 percent is desert.

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11. Image courtesy Tanya Clyde. 12. Image courtesy Richard J Gerstner.


DESERT SPORTS The desert is an astounding territory; it can be brutal yet beautiful and delivers many other extremes that are rarely experienced in other climates. When visiting Bahrain, one can appreciate the open space on a greater level as there is more to do than just riding camels (though this is also a recommended activity). Adventure Drive Arabia offers a fantastic experience that will have you tearing through the dunes while taking in some beautiful scenery. The tracks are wellplanned and the drivers really know how to make use of them. Riding quad bikes through the area is also great fun. More traditional activities, such as staying in a desert camp, offer a great insight into Arabic culture. Falconry is another uniquely ‘Gulf sport’; this Bedouin pastime is usually difficult for visitors to participate in as it requires extreme understanding of the animal and the desert, but it sure is interesting to see the birds and their trainers in action. Used originally to hunt animals for food, this historical survival strategy has seen falconry turn into a sport. When not out hunting, these amazing birds usually wear coloured leather – so if you see dressed up birds flying around be aware as they are probably hunting for prey. Herds of camels can often be seen around the desert. In the general vicinity of the Tree of Life especially, tourists can usually ask one of the herdsmen for a ride and they will gladly lend you one of their camels. Not only is it a good opportunity for a photo but a great way to meet the locals, who would most likely welcome a few dollars for their service. w



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HOPPING a wHOLe nEw wORLd… Words: Johanna Elgie




hink shopping in Bahrain is something like the opening scene of Disney’s Aladdin? Think again. While there are many bustling markets with traditional Arabian wares, there are many many more large, and even luxurious, shopping centres that really raise the bar in terms of retail experiences. Start with the Moda Sheraton Complex at Bahrain’s World Trade Centre, where you will find a parade of some of the world’s top luxury brands such as Fendi, Armani, Gucci, Hermès, D&G, Ermenegildo Zenga, Kenzo, Versace, Chanel or Tiffany or Co. Even just setting foot in this mall is uplifting – the sun will shine down on you through its massive glass-domed entrance and your shoes will softly clink on its fine marble floors. Hungry? There are also many great restaurants and cafés where you can rest your feet, put down your bags and reflect on your fine purchases. Another popular high-end retail destination is the A’Ali (or Al Ali) mall in the Seef district, where sought-after handbags from popular labels like Coach are the main attraction. While you are here, its neighbour, the Seef Mall, is also definitely worth a browse. It is currently the country’s biggest and arguably the most well-known shopping centre and has great non-shopping related options for those who wish to give their credit cards a break. The 16-screen cinema, for example, is a perfect distraction.

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souk out



Big and small, there are many souks, or markets, all over Bahrain. Here are a few to get you started: ♦ Isa Town Souk ♦ Manama Souk (Gold Souk, Spice Souk, Cloth Souk) ♦ Souk al Haraj

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Other malls to put on your shopping list include: The Bahrain Mall, Marina Mall and the Dana Mall. New to the Bahraini shopping scene is the City Centre Mall, which, at the time of print, was scheduled to open in 2008. This monster mall will house more than 350 stores, a 5000-square-metre family entertainment centre, a 20-screen cinema, the Middle East’s largest indoor water park (12,500 square metres), 30 restaurants and a 16,000-square-metre Carrefour market. If you still have the tune of ‘A Whole New World’ humming in your head and you just can’t leave Bahrain without some gold jewellery or traditional crafts, then it is time to hit the souks.

Right by the Bab al Bahrain (gateway to Bahrain) is the massive Manama Souk, where the list of things you can’t find is a very short one indeed. Here, colour, noise scents and flavours invigorate the senses as you browse each inviting shop. One of the busiest areas is the Spice Souk, which is an intriguing source of exotic smells and hues. Tucked away among the market vendors are the occasional bakeries with fresh coffee, pastries and breads. In this area you will also find the Gold Souk, the relatively new Gold City and the Cloth Souk – shopping destinations whose names are pretty self-explanatory. What should be noted is that the quality of the gold is tops (almost everything is either 21,22 or 24-carat) and the prices





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are very reasonable. At the Cloth Souk, the materials come from all over the world and include the finest pure silks right down to the least expensive cottons – in all of the colours, patterns, styles and textures that you could ever imagine. Among the many other souks around the country, be sure to visit the Isa Town Souk for antiques and the Souk al Haraj (Flea Market) for a bit of everything. Another great option is to visit various towns and have a look at the smaller local souks and shops with some unique souvenirs on offer. And, of course, on your way in or out, it would be a tragedy not to take advantage of the duty free offerings. Bahrain Duty Free has a good offering of products and ways to make your experience easier and more fun with

its online ‘Buy before you Fly’ program and its regular luxury car raffles (anyone for a Porsche?). But now is not the time to start thinking about arrivals or departures – get your walking shoes on, grab your wallet and a large bag, and prepare yourself for the truly exciting and eclectic world of shopping that awaits you… w 01. Image courtesy Bahrain Mall. 02. Image courtesy Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide Inc. 03. Image courtesy Dana Mall. 04. Image courtesy A’Ali Mall/Coach.

majestic malls



Shopping anyone? Bahrain boasts a long list of world-class shopping centres, including these major ones: ♦A’Ali Mall ♦Bahrain Mall ♦Dana Mall ♦Marina Mall ♦Moda Sheraton Complex (Bahrain World Trade Centre) ♦Seef Mall

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Words: Karla Courtney

ahrain’s appeal to the senses doesn’t stop at the sight of amazing architectural feats, the sound of the ocean lapping, the smell of market-fresh spices or the touch of fine fabrics… Yes, there is also some simply amazing food. Bahrain manages to pack an almost astounding amount of gastronomic diversity in its very small area, with cuisines from all over the world featuring on its many menus. Most restaurants use only the best locally and internationally sourced ingredients and offer many (if not all) of the above mentioned details that make Gulf countries like Bahrain so special. Here are a few notable spots:

AL FANAR The Diplomat Radisson SAS Hotel Residence and Spa, Manama Tel: +973 1753 1666 Al Fanar’s popularity can be largely attributed to its delicious traditional Arabic cuisine that is complemented by live performances of traditional Arabic music and dance. Fridays are a high point of the week for Al Fanar fans – the Jazz brunch from 12 to 3pm is simply divine. Reservations recommended (for both brunch and dinner). AL RAOUCHE (01) Sheraton Bahrain Hotel, 6 Palace Avenue, Manama Tel: +973 1753 3533 Dine on Lebanese cuisine in a beautifully decorated atmosphere. A safe bet for a nice, relaxing dinner. AL SAWANI Near the Marina Club, Manama Tel: +973 1729 7333 The ocean, traditional architecture and swaying palms create an old-world ambience that make Al Sawani’s tables unique and highly sought after. This is a spot where you can sample local cuisine at its finest.





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COCO Adliya Tel: +973 1771 6512 Cosy, quaint, classic – just some of the words that appear very frequently in reviews of Coco. For a coffee or a generously portioned lunch, there aren’t many better places to sit in the daytime sun than in Coco’s large garden.

LE BISTRO (03) InterContinental Regency, Manama Tel: +973 1722 7777 Yes, there are lattés and pastries, but there is much, much more to this large and elaborate brasserie. The breakfast buffet is a mix of European, American and Asian favourites; the lunch a home-made medley of Arabic and Asian dishes; and the dinner, well, being faced with a choice of specialities from all over the world, you will probably be full for a week. If you are up for an exquisite all-you-can-eat experience then look no further than here. 01. Image courtesy Al Raouché (Starwood). 02. Image courtesy Golestan Iranian Restaurant (Starwood). 03. Image courtesy Le Bistro, InterContinental Regency.


GOLESTAN IRANIAN (02) Sheraton Bahrain Hotel, Manama Tel: +973 1753 3533 The oven-baked breads (always fresh) are reason enough to visit this popular eatery that is also known for its relaxed atmosphere and flavourful Iranian dishes.

LA PERLE SEAFOOD RESTAURANT Hotel Novotel Al Dana Resort, Manama Tel: +973 1729 8008 The wine list, fresh seafood and oceanfront views make this a bit of a dining hotspot.


CICO’S Behind the police station, Adliya Tel: +973 1771 3710 An amazing Italian restaurant that has been duly recognised with many international and local accolades, including Best Restaurant 2005 at the 30th International Awards for the Tourist, Hotel and Catering Industry.

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THE MEAT CO (04) Building 190, Road 3805 Block 338, Manama Tel: +973 1774 2080 Meat lovers, prepare for your paradise – the Meat Co’s tender steaks have made it one of the most popular restaurant chains in the Gulf region. For the herbivores in your group, feasting on the fine interior – laid out over three floors with lovely decorative touches – and the vegetarian options will most definitely suffice. The extensive wine list is great for everyone.

MEZZALUNA Adliya Tel: +973 1774 2999 Being in the courtyard of an old house already gives it a certain rustic appeal, but the glass-domed ceiling that provides observatory-style views of the night sky makes it simply stunning. And the food… Can you say eggplant caviar millefeuille or chocolate croquette? Mmm… NIRVANA (05) Ritz-Carlton Bahrain Hotel and Spa, Manama Tel: +973 1758 0000 A lavish tribute to the private dining rooms of an Indian maharajah’s palace. The northern Indianinspired cuisine certainly goes down well in this fine atmosphere. PLUMS (06) Ritz-Carlton Bahrain Hotel and Spa, Manama Tel: +973 1758 0000 Its philosophy is simple: “Classic food, well-delivered in a stylish environment is a recipe for success.” Many do indeed agree that its clean art deco interior and premium meats and seafood are fulfilling this vision.



LE VERSAILLES InterContinental Regency Bahrain Tel: +973 1722 7777 Harbour views, fine contemporary and classic French cuisine and soft live music… A stunning restaurant that is a destination in its own right.

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♦ Falafel – fried chickpea balls with garlic and herbs ♦ Gahwa – coffee, poured from a dalla (coffee pot) into a finjan (small coffee mug) ♦ Halwa Bahraini – a jelly flavoured with saffron and nuts ♦ Khubz – flatbread ♦ Machboos – a dish of meat or fish served with rice ♦ Muhammar – sweet rice served with dates ♦ Qoozi – grilled lamb stuffed with rice, boiled eggs and spices ♦ Samboosa – a small, often moon-shaped pastry filled with chickpeas, minced meat or cheese ♦ Shawarma – lamb or chicken carved from a rotating spit and served in a pita wrap


04. Image courtesy The Meat Co. 05. Image courtesy Nirvana, Ritz-Carlton. 06. Image courtesy Plums, Ritz-Carlton.


local flavours

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SILKS RESTAURANT (07) Moevenpick, Muharraq Tel: +973 1746 0000 Even if you aren’t a Silk Road historian, you are sure to be inspired by Silks’ menu and décor, which was inspired by countries along this ancient route. And, unlike the many secrets archaeologists believe the route still harbours, its fabulous show cooking feature leaves little to the imagination. UPSTAIRS DOWNSTAIRS (08) Adliya Tel: +973 1771 3093 A great spot to sample some local cuisine – the machboos is said to be divine. With the live jazz music, lounge music and international guest stars making regular appearances you may find yourself here for more than just a meal. WAVES SEAFOOD RESTAURANT (09) Crowne Plaza Hotel, Manama Tel: +973 1753 1122 Bahrain has great fresh seafood and Waves is another quality restaurant that helps prove this. You can even choose your own catch from its fish market section. w

of the sea…


07. Image courtesy Silk’s Restaurant, Moevenpick. 08. Image courtesy Waves Seafood Restaurant, Crowne Plaza. 09. Image courtesy Upstairs Downstairs Restaurant.


Living on an island, Bahrainis are privy to a wide selection of fresh fish, which are, accordingly, a popular staple food. Local varieties include: ♦ Hamour – a type of grouper ♦ Safi – rabbit fish ♦ Chanad – mackerel The years of British rule have also made fish and chips a very popular dish here. More than 300 species of fish have been identified around Bahrain.

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dARk Words: Shay Brown


ight-life’ probably isn’t the first term that springs to mind when thinking of Bahrain, however, if you spend a few days here this thinking will certainly change. There is a truly impressive selection of bars, pubs and clubs on such a small island. Here are a few to get you started:

AN NADA COCKTAIL LOUNGE (01) Sheraton Bahrain Hotel Tel: +973 1753 3533 A relaxing venue with comfy seats and live music.

BURLINGTON CLUB The Ritz-Carlton, Manama Tel: +973 1758 0000 An elegant club with a very gentlemanly feel, though women are most certainly welcome. Soft leather sofas, premium cigars and malts and excellent service.



CAMELOT JIM’S CASTLE (02) Adliya Tel: +973 1771 7745 A medieval-themed restaurant/bar that is true to its form in almost every way – rustic stone walls, stained glass cathedral-style windows and a full knight in armour to boot. It is a nice place to sit over a glass of wine, but if you are in the mood for something more there are regular events and theme nights.

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01. Image courtesy An Nada Cocktail Lounge. 02. Image courtesy Camelot. 03. Image courtesy Club 7.

CLUB 7 (03) Mishal Hotel, Manama Tel: +973 1731 1188 If you crave flashing lights and disco beats then this glitzy and glamorous night-time hotspot is the place to be.

COCOON LOUNGE Best Western Juffair Tel: +973 3650 0114 Soft acid jazz beats, sushi, a fantastic cocktail and wine list, extremely stylish interior and even more stylish people, regular events… Are you on your way yet?


IT’S TRENDY Ramee International Hotel, Juffair Tel: +973 1772 7230 A very contemporary and stylish lounge that boasts a great balance between music levels and conversation. The cocktails are great, as are the bar staff who will happily provide you with a computer for online access so you can work and play at the same time.




HARVESTER’S PUB AND TERRACE Crowne Plaza, Manama Tel: +973 1753 1122 A nice place to chat with friends over a drink and some chips – either inside or on the lovely terrace.

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ROCK BOTTOM CAFÉ Ramee International Hotel, Juffair Tel: +973 1772 7230 Don’t be put off by the name – it is far from the bottom of the list of Bahrain’s nightlife hotspots. Live music, pool and snooker tables and an upbeat pubmeets-club atmosphere are what keep its fans coming.


LE BELLEVUE (05) Novotel Al Dana Resort, Manama Tel: +973 1729 8008 For city and ocean views, not many places top Le Bellevue (which is actually French for ‘the beautiful view’).

PALACE LOUNGE The Gulf Hotel, Manama Tel: +973 1774 6434 A very upscale, almost regal, lounge that is the kind of place where you sit quietly and sip on fine liquors while listening to live classical and jazz. There is also a dedicated ice cream menu – anyone for baked Alaska or a banana split?



JJ’S IRISH RESTAURANT AND PUB (04) Al Bustan Hotel, Adliya Tel: +973 1774 2323 Fancy a fine pour of Guinness or some fabulous pub fare? Join the many locals who swear that JJ’s is the best place to go. For a late-night party scene, adjoining Barnaby Joe’s (BJ’s) is a fun and lively club.

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SHERLOCK HOLMES The Gulf Hotel, Manama Tel: +973 1771 3000 ext 2450 Live entertainment, a games room, classically British décor and friendly staff – it is no mystery why Sherlock Holmes is rated a solid pub.

SKYLIGHT BAR AND LOUNGE The Diplomat Radisson SAS Hotel and Spa, Manama Tel: +973 1753 1666 Located on the hotel’s top floor, here you will be able to enjoy views along with your drinks and food. A relaxing bar where you can have a conversation.

TRACK SPORTS BAR Crowne Plaza, Manama Tel: +973 1753 1122 Large TV screens allow patrons to view sporting events from around the world. For the less fervent fans, the uninterrupted views of the ocean and Muharraq should do the trick.

TRADER VIC’S The Ritz-Carlton, Manama Tel: +973 1758 6555 A lush and tropical atmosphere where you can enjoy fine seafood dishes for dinner and then move on to fruity cocktails and dancing for dessert.

WRANGLER Best Western Juffair Tel: +973 1729 0600 ext 111 A wild-west saloon serving up texmex cuisine and, after 10pm, beats from some of Bahrain’s best Djs. w


04. Image courtesy JJ’s. 05. Image courtesy La Bellevue Lounge Bar.


THE WARBLER Best Western Baisan, Manama Tel: +973 1729 0600 ext 111 There are very few articles on Bahraini nightlife that do not feature the Warbler. It is one of the oldest and one of the liveliest pubs on the island.

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LUXURY HOTEL GUIDE Welcome to Bahrain is featured in the following luxury hotels:



Tel: +973 1770 1201 Fax: +973 1770 1491

Tel: +973 1736 3999 Fax: +973 1736 3888



Tel: +973 1782 7999 Fax: +973 1782 7888

Tel: +973 1758 4400 Fax: +973 1758 4401



Tel: +973 1782 7600 Fax: + 973 1782 7666

Tel: +973 1746 0000 Fax: +973 1746 0001



Tel: +973 1753 1666

Tel: +973 1729 8008 Fax: +973 1729 8338




Tel: +973 1753 1122 Fax: +973 1753 0154


GOLDEN TULIP BAHRAIN HOTEL Tel: +973 1753 5000 Fax: +973 1753 3020

GULF HOTEL AND GULF CONVENTION CENTRE Tel: + 973 1774 6282 Fax: + 973 1771 5373

RAMEE INTERNATIONAL Tel: +973 1772 7230 Fax: +973 1772 7231

THE RITZ-CARLTON, BAHRAIN HOTEL AND SPA Tel: +973 1758 0000 Fax: +973 1758 0333

SHERATON BAHRAIN HOTEL Tel: +973 1753 3533 Fax: +973 1753 4069



Tel: +973 1753 1666 Fax: +973 1753 0843

Tel: +973 1774 2000 Fax: +973 1774 2809

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Welcome To: Bahrain 2008/09  
Welcome To: Bahrain 2008/09