Exploring some of Manama’s highlights

It’s cliche, but a first visit to a new country in the Middle East doesn’t really feel complete if we don’t visit a mosque and a souk. So, with our first day on our own in Bahrain we decided to check off those boxes.

Our first stop was the Al Fateh Grand Mosque. Opened in the mid-1980’s it’s a replica of the mosque in Alexandria, Egypt. We didn’t make it to Alexandria when we visited Egypt so I can’t speak to the accuracy of the copy, but I can say that this one is beautiful.

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In it’s description of the mosque, the Lonely Planet mentions that they are very welcoming of visitors and have taken it upon themselves to be ambassadors of the Islamic faith for the westerners who visit. This was definitely the case for us. They were incredibly welcoming and we were happy to take them up on a tour. Continue reading “Exploring some of Manama’s highlights”

12 hours, hundreds of camels, and one tiny ice cream truck

Arriving in Bahrain, we probably had even less of an idea what to expect than we did arriving in Qatar earlier this week. I’m pretty sure the first time I even became aware of the existence of Bahrain was when they, like Qatar, started bringing elite Africans in to run for them. Not exactly a nuanced understanding of their national psyche.

What I’ve learned in 12 hours

The recent history in Bahrain is somewhat similar to the other Gulf countries; trouble after the collapse of the pearling industry followed by sudden wealth and shiny towers in the desert.

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The most interesting thing about the World Trade Centre above is the the three large wind turbines suspended between the buildings as an alternative power source.

In these components Bahrain seems similar but just a little earlier in the curve, i.e. first to discover oil, first to really face the prospect of running out. However, Bahrain seems to have a more interesting earlier history too, as seen in some 18,000 burial mounds that can be found around the country dating back to 3,000 BC.

To get a better sense in our limited time, we hooked up with BGIS, a tour company, to get a guided look around. Continue reading “12 hours, hundreds of camels, and one tiny ice cream truck”

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