Arabic in culture, liberal in attitude
Bahrain means ‘two seas’ and the kingdom is very much centred around its waters. Before the discovery of oil catapulted the archipelago high up the world’s rich list, pearls were the main industry. Springs play an important role in Bahrain’s geography, rising in the sea and irrigating the arable land to the north and south of the kingdom. There are 40 islands in the archipelago, which sits 25km across a causeway from Saudi Arabia. Compared to its neighbours - Saudi Arabia and Qatar - Bahrain is extremely liberal and this is a draw for many westerners who visit. Although a Muslim country, the application of Islamic law is less strict than other countries in the Middle East. Alcohol is legal and while it maintains its Arab culture, the atmosphere is relaxed and convivial. Bahrain’s capital, Manama, is wonderfully cosmopolitan and fabulous for shopping. Outside of the city, excellent water-sports, glorious beaches and classy hotels keep visitors happy.
Go to see an authentic Arab kingdom with a liberal, relaxed atmosphere. Enjoy the stylish hotels, the great beaches and the sunny climate. Bahrain is a rich country and the shopping, the facilities and the hotels are excellent, as is the sailing and scuba diving.
When to Go?
Bahrain has extremely hot summers and mild winters. The best time to visit is from November through March with average temperatures between 15°C and 24°C. April and October are also reasonably pleasant although temperatures have started to rise by then. Between July and September temperatures are in the stifling mid 30s and during this time the dry summer winds can also bring sandstorms.
How to get there?
Bahrain International Airport (BAH) just east of the capital, Manama, serves the entire kingdom. It has good connections to London and throughout the region, and is the base for Gulf Air. Getting around Bahrain is by taxi or by public bus. There are fixed rates per kilometre by taxi, though in practice meters are often missing or ‘broken’. Check the fare before you set off. Bus fares are cheap but understanding the system takes patience.
Bahrain’s glitziest event is the Grand Prix Formula One race. You’ll need to book well in advance, but if you can, it’s a fabulous experience. Spend time in the capital, Manama. Visit the National Museum and see exhibits on the Dilmun civilization, Bahrain’s burial mounds and tableau scenes. All are clearly labeled in English and Arabic. Bahrain Fort is also a must-see. Explore the ruins of the Dilmun temple and burial mounds at Saar in the northwest of the kingdom - they are fascinating. See the King Fahd Causeway that leads across to Saudi Arabia - it’s a feat of engineering and a thing of beauty.