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The Kingdom of Bahrain

Updated on July 20, 2015
CrisSp profile image

CrisSp is your Emergency Specialist at 37 thousand feet. A writer without a niche. Surely, wonderwoman consumed by wanderlust!

Bahrain
Bahrain | Source
Camel at Formula One Grand Prix
Camel at Formula One Grand Prix
Smoking Shisha inside a traditional Arabic tent
Smoking Shisha inside a traditional Arabic tent | Source

When we moved to Canada, people asked us were we came from. We tell them, we came from Bahrain. “Bahrain, where is Bahrain?” And then we tell them, “ it is somewhere in the Middle East at the border of Saudi Arabia and Qatar”.

Not too many have heard of this small island but mostly know about Saudi Arabia. “Ah, it’s in the desert. So, you guys lived a tent? Do you ride camels?” We laughed because truly, Bahrain is located in the flat and arid desert. There are camels in Bahrain and there are tents. But, we didn’t live in tents. Tents are for camping just like anywhere in the world and for housing festive celebrations like Ramadhan and Eid and camel rides are for fun not our means of daily transportation.

To further clarify, we are originally from Asia. We moved to Bahrain in the 90's in search of greener pasture. The economy back home was inflating and most businesses were on the down slope. We were lucky enough to have been given the opportunities to work in Bahrain and earn more than a decent living. Life indeed, was beautiful, abundant and full of great memories.

Good friends
Good friends | Source

The People of Bahrain

Before I go any further, let me tell you briefly about the people of Bahrain. They are called “Bahraini(s)”. The Bahrainis are generally friendly and I would say, the most civilized amongst other Gulf nationals (please take no offense, this is as per my personal experience). They are innately generous and very hospitable. We know each other well in our neighborhood. We can leave the main door of our house open and still feel safe. Bahrainis are generally respectable and very helpful people, full of passion and compassion. It's easy to get-along with them and develop a quick rapport. They are very family-oriented and the relationship we personally had with them is something that we cherish in our hearts and will treasure for a lifetime. Splendid!

Bahrain Geography

Bahrain Dhow yard
Bahrain Dhow yard
Bahrain's Al Fateh Mosque is one of the largest mosques in the world with the capacity to accommodate over 7,000 worshippers at a time.
Bahrain's Al Fateh Mosque is one of the largest mosques in the world with the capacity to accommodate over 7,000 worshippers at a time.
Sacred Heart Church-Manama, Bahrain
Sacred Heart Church-Manama, Bahrain
Bahrain Telecommunications Building (Batelco) - shows a magnificent reflection of the old mosque' minaret against its modern glass architecture
Bahrain Telecommunications Building (Batelco) - shows a magnificent reflection of the old mosque' minaret against its modern glass architecture | Source

The Kingdom of Bahrain

Bahrain, a polyglot kingdom is a land of culture, tradition and history. It is an archipelago of originally 33 islands. However, it now comprises an archipelago of 32 natural islands since the return of one of the islands called Jenan to Qatar on 2001. Bahrain is home to more than 1 million people. More than half of the populations are expats or non-Bahrainis. You will see Arabs from other Arab countries, Europeans, Americans and Asians-all living peacefully and harmoniously in this tiny island. It is located just between the border of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, near the western shores of the Persian Gulf. It was then an Emirate before becoming a Kingdom only in 2002.

Bahrain is a rich island known for its oil and prized pearls. It was the first Arabian country to discover petroleum in 1932. However, as its' oil reserve is fluctuating, Bahrain intelligently turned to petroleum processing and refining and now has transformed itself into a communication hub and an international banking center. It is home to huge building structures like the Bahrain World Trade Center and the Financial Harbor. Bahrain is the official venue for Formula One Grand Prix. The hospitals and other medical facilities both public and private are equipped with all the latest technology with sufficient doctors and passionate professional medical practitioners to look after you.

The government of Bahrain can boast about its‘ effective public educational system. Schooling and related costs are entirely paid for by the government. However, there are also private schools, Catholic, Christians and other International schools from pre-school to High school to Middle School. The University of Bahrain is an internationally recognized university and one that Bahrain can surely be proud of.

Economically, Bahrain has the freest economy in the Middle East and North African region and is ranked tenth overall in the world.

Traditionally, Bahrain is an Islamic country. However, it has embraced diversity and is very cosmopolitan. People of all creeds are free to practice their religions. There are Christians and Catholic churches and other places for worship.

Bahrain was virtually a British protectorate until its independence in 1971. And, since independence, it has forged close links with the United States and is home to the US Navy's Fifth Fleet.

The king is the supreme authority, the monarch and the head of the State.

HRH King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa
HRH King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa | Source
Bahrain Financial Harbor
Bahrain Financial Harbor
Bahrain Fort
Bahrain Fort | Source
Bahrain-Saudi Causeway Bridge
Bahrain-Saudi Causeway Bridge | Source
Under the famous Mesquite tree - The Tree Of Life
Under the famous Mesquite tree - The Tree Of Life | Source
Zallaq Beach
Zallaq Beach | Source

Tourism

The Lonely Planet guide describes Bahrain as "an excellent introduction to the Gulf”. Every year, Bahrain welcomes millions of tourist from all around the world. As a sun worshipper, I love the weather of Bahrain and it’s unique ambiance and really very relaxed and friendly atmosphere makes it a choice for travelers around the globe. The malls are first class and huge. Shopping is phenomenal—no tax.

Yes, there is no income tax system in Bahrain due to its' established large gas and oil industries plus its' relatively small size. There is no equivalent of Value Added Tax in Bahrain.

There are attractions and activities of all sorts from diving and water sports. Bahrain is home to many castles including Bahrain Fort, also known as Portuguese Fort, which has been listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

In 2010, I went back to visit my beloved Bahrain after having been away for many many years. At 13 thousand feet from the aircraft, I once again had a glimpse of the beautiful, well-lit King Fahad Causeway that links Bahrain to Saudi Arabia and the refreshing scenery of the marina. I was amazed by how greatly it has expanded and developed in terms of attractions and sky rocketing unique buildings and spectacular architectures. The diversity of hotels and restaurants is enormous too as influenced by the mixed-culture. Posh coffee shops are everywhere but nothing compares to the beauty of the traditional coffee shop, hub to the old folks passing time, exchanging talk, spreading wisdoms.

I almost didn’t recognize it but how can I forget the lingering scent of Bukhoor (Arabic fragrant bricks or wood chips). The lovely smile of the people and the warmth acceptance of familiar faces as I landed at the airport that even though I’ve been away for many many years, my Bahraini friends have greeted me with such royalty, big hug and the traditional Bahraini kisses. They took me back in time and once again allowed me to experience the sweet-water springs that bubble offshore. Ahh, nostalgia!

A must see attraction is the Tree of Life. Although now damaged by graffiti carvings, in which I am guilty of, it is a place for people to contemplate on God’s many wonderful creations that despite its extremely dry terrain (water source of the tree is not known until now) the tree stands on top of a 25-foot or 7.6-meter high sandy hill and is now approximately over 400 years old.

Although, it is believed to be the site for cults practicing ancient rites, some thought that it is the site of the Garden of Eden.

The way to the Garden of Eden where the Tree of Life is standing alone
The way to the Garden of Eden where the Tree of Life is standing alone
Bahrain Gold Souk (market)
Bahrain Gold Souk (market) | Source

One of my favorite places in Bahrain is the back-street gold souk (market) in Manama. Gold is inexpensive in Bahrain and jewelry is an ordinary thing to give as birthday gift or for other occasions or even there's no special occasion, given simply just a token of appreciation. And, although Bahrain has now become very modern, it is still filled with history and old places to visit like the historical museums, dhow building yards, wild life and water parks (old and new).

The city of Manama is the heart of Bahrain. It is the capital and the largest city of Bahrain. It was recently designated as the capital of Arab culture by the Arab League and is the focal point of their economy.

Inside the Gold Souk
Inside the Gold Souk
His Royal Highness Shaikh Isa bin Salman al-Khalifa - Amir of the State of Bahrain (June 3, 1933 – March 6, 1999)
His Royal Highness Shaikh Isa bin Salman al-Khalifa - Amir of the State of Bahrain (June 3, 1933 – March 6, 1999) | Source

Another favorite place was “The Sheik Beach”, - an exclusive resort where the late Amir, a man of noble rank loved to walk around the block without any escorts. We had the privilege to visit this beach on few occasions and I personally met and had the honor of shaking the hand of the late Amir, Sheikh Isa Bin Salman Alkhalifa (pictured here). He was a very fine gentleman, very charming and in fact, very casual during our short exchanged of pleasantries. Although no photos were allowed at that time (unfortunately), the experience of meeting and speaking face to face with the dignified Amir cannot be bought and that’s an experience of a lifetime. Priceless!

Albeit an archipelago, Bahrain doesn’t really have a beach culture. However, there are private resorts, like a man made Laguna with a beautiful sandy beach at the Ritz Carlton Hotel formerly the Le Royal Meridien hotel, where I partied for the last time before finally migrating to Canada and went to have an exquisite well-served lunch one more time during my last visit. There is also the Al Bander Resort, which offers accommodation in chalets and cabanas, Al Dar Island, Hawar Island Resort, Hamala Beach Resort and Novotel Al Dana Resort just to name a few.

Novotel Al Dana Resort, Bahrain
Novotel Al Dana Resort, Bahrain
Off to have lunch at the Ritz Carlton Hotel (rear view) - 2010
Off to have lunch at the Ritz Carlton Hotel (rear view) - 2010 | Source

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Climate

Bahrain has only two seasons: a pleasant mild winter from November to March and extremely hot summer for the rest of the months. Generally, the weather can be described as arid, very hot and humid. It is known for its scorching summer where temperature can go as high up to 45 degree Celsius and the seemingly temperature along with humidity can be as high as 50 degree Celsius. However, it could be mild and pleasant during the short winter time, in which temperature can be as pleasant as 10 degrees Celsius.

Now, don't go too graphics here but when we take a shower or a bath during the summer time, we have to literally cool off the water by throwing a bucket of ice cubes in the pail or in the tub. The water straight from the faucet is boiling hot and that's no kidding.

Bab-Al-Bahrain (Gateway of Bahrain) - this is the main entrance to Manama Souk (market)
Bab-Al-Bahrain (Gateway of Bahrain) - this is the main entrance to Manama Souk (market) | Source

Bahrain-the experience of a lifetime!

We could only recall truly great memories through all those years of living in Bahrain. We have lived in a clean city of Manama. Bahrain in general has a low crime rate. We felt safe then. There is a good quality of education, advance health care, ample job opportunities, friendly and helpful people. As expats we have the freedom to move, do and express our opinions as the locals, which we have immensely enjoyed. These are just few of the many good things we had in Bahrain.

Included in our perks as expats was our travel allowance every year. So, we get paid a month's equivalent of our salary plus fare back home or equivalent cash. And so, with the option of getting our fare in cash, we either go back home for a vacation or travel elsewhere. We are very grateful for this benefit and we did travel half the world-the whole family.

This island treated us with pretty much excessive indulgence, in fact: nice decent accommodation, handsome car(s), a nanny and time-there's always time to spend with family and friends. People work smartly in Bahrain and lifestyle is usually relax compared to other countries in the world. We don't sweat the small stuff in Bahrain. Period.

Bahrain was a breathing place for the late King of Pop "Michael Jackson" ~

The King of Pop in a meeting with the King of Bahrain~
The King of Pop in a meeting with the King of Bahrain~

Ma'asalam (goodbye) Bahrain!

And as the old cliche', all good things must come to an end. We cannot be forever expats. The family is growing and needing more stability. We need to secure the future of the family and so, we begun to look for a long term goal. Bahrain does not offer citizenship and so at the end of the day, we all have to go back to where we originated or seek immigration somewhere else. In our case, our primary goal was to be able to provide our children with a quality yet affordable higher education. Since the economy back home remained bleak, Canada seemed the best option. And then, it was sadly goodbye for our dear Bahrain.

It's been a decade now since we left Bahrain. Now, missing the quiet life we once had. We call it "simple living feeling rich". Rich with time, with family and friends. I am personally missing hanging out with good friends, hotel hopping and shopping, the long holidays like the National Day celebration on December 16, the weekend get-together with family and friends just because, the food, other festivities like the celebration of the Holy Month of Ramadhan and Eid, most of all the early morning sound of Adhan - calling for prayer.

Long Live Bahrain! Until we meet again.

_________________________________________________________________

Fast Facts About Bahrain

· Capital: Manama

· Official Language: Arabic but English is widely spoken

· Demonym: Bahraini

· Religion: Islam

· Legislature: Constitutional Hereditary Monarchy

· Independence: 15 August 1971 (from the United Kingdom)

· Area: 750 sq. km

· Population: 1,234,596 (2010 estimates)

· Currency: Bahraini Dinar (BHD) - 1 BHD is equal to US $ 2.65 (approx)

· National Animal: Arabian Oryx

Copyright@CrisSp-TM/06/22/12. Fearless but not Heartless!

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Lifehacks | Source

© 2012 CrisSp

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    • CrisSp profile image
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      CrisSp 4 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      Thanks Ron. I'm glad you can somehow relate to this article and that you've enjoyed reading it. I know, it's a pity that the US has to sell its own oil to where it's pumped out--your own backyard. And you're damn straight right, the media can either make it look good or bad more so on bad because that's their selling point. :)

      Again, thanks for the comments. I actually enjoyed reading it.

      Cheers!

    • RonHawk profile image

      Ron Hawkins 4 years ago from California, United States

      Dear CrisSp: What an excellent article. Loved all the details. My job has taken me to a couple of the countries of Persian Gulf (not to Bahrain though). I was surprised by how fantastically modern they were. The city designs are far beyond anything you see in the West. Architects have gone absolutely crazy and come up with ultra modern buildings (and based on your description, Bahrain is no different). But my biggest surprise was how wrong the impressions that our media has created for us were. What a shame that our media has portray so many places in the world as savages and inferior.

      I think their clean and modern cities are the result oil being nationalized in of those countries. They have taken the oil money and invested it in modern cities, national healthcare, infrastructure and education, unlike in the U.S., where all the oil money ends up in the pockets of multi-national oil corporations even though it is our oil they're pumping (and sell it back to us at the highest prices they can fetch). Go figure. And gas is much cheaper over there than it is here. So, whenever I hear someone defend the oil companies and the price gouging of gas on the grounds that "oil is an international commodity" I just laugh. Because, if that is the case, then why is it that they can offer their gas for so much less in those places despite the international market prices? Anyway, I enjoyed reading this gem of an article.

    • CrisSp profile image
      Author

      CrisSp 4 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      Thanks Vellur! Glad you enjoyed it.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 4 years ago from Dubai

      A great place with friendly people. Enjoyed reading all about Bahrain, a great write. Voted up.

    • CrisSp profile image
      Author

      CrisSp 4 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      Oh how nice that you've been in Bahrain. You're right, Bahrain is pretty much in a current political turmoil but trust me what you see in the news is definitely not what is exactly happening out there. You know, the media tend to exaggerate stuff. I know so....I still have contacts with my dear friends out there and they're fine. Thanks for your feedback. Appreciate it.

    • divacratus profile image

      Kalpana Iyer 4 years ago from India

      I have been to Bahrain once! Like you said, the people are really nice and the place was very peaceful (back then). I guess the place is going through some tough times now? Hope they get resolved fast.

    • CrisSp profile image
      Author

      CrisSp 4 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      P.S. @ ThoughtSandwiches, I just noticed you shared my hub. Thank you so much. It means a lot to me Thomas. (:

    • CrisSp profile image
      Author

      CrisSp 4 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      Hello ThoughtSandwiches, I was just thinking of you, no not really, I mean of a good sandwich after seeing the Quiznos special lobster sandwich commercial on TV. (: Man, they look so delish!

      Bahrain, indeed is a beautiful place--I couldn't complain and I'm sure you'll have a great time there wherever you wanna stay even in the middle of the desert as long as you have your air conditioned tent and gallons of water.

      Kidding aside, nice to see you here. I really appreciate your time and effort in reading and leaving such good comments. Cheers!

    • CrisSp profile image
      Author

      CrisSp 4 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      Ignugent17, thank you for dropping by. I'm glad you find it useful. Appreciate your comments and vote. I'll see you around HP. (:

    • profile image

      ignugent17 4 years ago

      Very beautiful and it is very useful especially to those who wants to visit Bahrain.

      Voted up and more.

    • ThoughtSandwiches profile image

      ThoughtSandwiches 4 years ago from Reno, Nevada

      CrisSp...

      Bahrain is absolutely beautiful and the way you have put this article together makes it even more so! I was aware of its existence and placement but not any of the charms that you have highlighted here!

      I would like to go and stay there until such time as I'm tossed from the country to go find that next shangri-la!

      Thanks,

      Thomas

    • CrisSp profile image
      Author

      CrisSp 5 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      Thank you TimeTraveller2 for your readership and all. I'm glad you enjoyed this hub. See you around HP.

    • TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

      TIMETRAVELER2 5 years ago

      This was quite a hub! I very much enjoyed the information as well as the fine writing. Voted up, interesting and awesome.

    • CrisSp profile image
      Author

      CrisSp 5 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      dwachira: Thanks for your readership, for voting up and for sharing. Yes, there is no income tax and note the value of their money (BD1=US$ 2.65) at the time of my writing. So, you're richer than you think if you happen to be living in Bahrain. (: Why do you think our British friends are flocking in there? *wink* And by the way, they sell booze in the Kingdom and that's no tax as well. Cheers!

    • CrisSp profile image
      Author

      CrisSp 5 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      WD Curry: Exactly and despite the current turmoil in Bahrain, which is as always being exaggerated by the media, it is still comparably a well behaved country. You'll never know unless you actually live in there and experience it. Thanks for your feedback.

    • dwachira profile image

      [ Danson Wachira ] 5 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      This is a special place...NO income tax system in Bahrain? Are we in the same world really? I would like to visit this place, looks nice. Voted up and shared too, thanks.

    • WD Curry 111 profile image

      WD Curry 111 5 years ago from Space Coast

      This reinforces my theory. Any government will work if the leaders are competent and benevolent . . . the people are well behaved and responsible . . . there is plenty of money.

      I really enjoyed the tour, and your engaging style.

    • CrisSp profile image
      Author

      CrisSp 5 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      @Noel: It is indeed, small but lovely. You'll be surprised on what this tiny island can offer when you visit. Thanks for dropping by.

    • profile image

      noel autor 5 years ago

      A beautiful country. It is a great destination for tourists.

    • CrisSp profile image
      Author

      CrisSp 5 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      My pleasure Wally. Thanks for dropping by my hub.

    • CrisSp profile image
      Author

      CrisSp 5 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      Thank you IDH! What a lovely comment! See you around.

    • profile image

      wally ampil 5 years ago

      Cris, thank you for sharing this.

    • Ian Dabasori Hetr profile image

      Ian D Hetri 5 years ago from Papua New Guinea

      Bahrain is definitely a place for me to visit. Not just because of this beuty and riches of the palce but to see the place that bring into this world a hub author I greatly admire.

      Love the layout of the pictures and vivid descriptions.

      It's a brilliant hub...Vote up and sharing.

    • CrisSp profile image
      Author

      CrisSp 5 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      Hello there BeyondMax! Thank you for your visit and for your comments. It is indeed, an awesome place. I hope someday, it is not only here in HubPages that you'd come for a visit but in that small lovely island of Bahrain.

    • BeyondMax profile image

      BeyondMax 5 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Oh, how beautiful! The pictures are amazing, breathtaking experience! I've never been to Bahrain, sounds like an awesome place to visit! =)

    • CrisSp profile image
      Author

      CrisSp 5 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      Thank you for dropping by and leaving a comment Shawarma. I miss you too...I mean the actual Shawarma with spicy sauce. (:

    • CrisSp profile image
      Author

      CrisSp 5 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      Thank you for dropping by and leaving a comment Shawarma. I miss you too...I mean the actual Shawarma with spicy sauce. (:

    • profile image

      Shawarma 5 years ago

      I miss Bahrain, i miss the people, i miss the food and i miss how i lived there...nothing compared....long lived Bahrain!!!!! i hope and pray for peace because in my heart you're still my second HOME!

    • CrisSp profile image
      Author

      CrisSp 5 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      Thank you coffeegginmyrice! I miss Bahrain so much and its' golden sun. You'll never know how it is exactly unless you actually experience it. Just like in a song, "feel the heat pushing you to decide, some like it hot"...I do! Happy to see you here. (:-

    • coffeegginmyrice profile image

      Marites Mabugat-Simbajon 5 years ago from Toronto, Ontario

      This is an excellent article of Bahrain! Your descriptions make me picture the place right in front of me. I got many old friends from high school and fellow childhood neighbours who are now in Bahrain; some had spread out in Dubai and Kuwait.

      Thanks for the virtual experience, Cris!