If you’re looking for a culture and art fix, look no further than Bahrain.
1. Historical Sites
What: excavations, buildings, and forts
Where: all over Bahrain
Cool factor: some are UNESCO World Heritage sites, intertwined to the Kingdom’s rich pearling history
Bahrain is home to the ancient Kingdom of Dilmun, prized by the Mesopotamians for its pearls and rich trading opportunities. Many temples, forts, and towns in Bahrain date back to that era and depict a life that is based on the pearling industry. Bahrain’s National Museum boasts of excavated materials from the Dilmun era.
2. Bahraini Architecture
What: cutting-edge architecture
Where: everywhere, from homes to high-rises
Cool factor: Instagram and walkathon worthy
Architectural styles in Bahrain vary from traditional and classical, to modern and cutting-edge. Older buildings tend to have a wind tower, which generates natural ventilation in the house, with a pavilion and courtyard. Newer structures like the Bahrain World Trade Center tend to have a more pronounced flair with projects sometimes costing millions of dollars.
3. Hawar Islands
What: a desert island and bird sanctuary
Where: Hawar islands
Cool factor: home to unique species of birds and other wildlife
Hawar is now administered as part of the Southern Governorate of Bahrain, with the island being home to many bird species, notably Socotra cormorants. Many avid birth watchers and ornithologists often converge on this tiny island to make their studies. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its unique environment and habitat for endangered species.
4. Formula 1 Bahrain Grand Prix
What: a magical night race on Bahrain’s famous F1 track
Where: Bahrain International Circuit
Cool factor: home to many award-winners in the circuit trail
The Formula One Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix is the only desert Formula One track amongst the 21 races worldwide. Also famous for being a magical night race, the BIC held its first Grand Prix in 2004. It also contains five track lay-outs within one complex with BIC’s state of the art floodlighting illuminating all areas of the track for the main event.
5. Arabic literature
What: creation, translation, and preservation
Where: Bahrain National Museum and other cultural spots
Cool factor: poetry readings engage the young and bring them to contact with established artists
Bahrain is a cool place for literature with regular meetings held by the Bahrain Writer’s Circle, and many poets and writers in the Kingdom. Arabic literature takes center stage, with manuscripts from the olden times displayed in museums and other notable places. Bahrain (Dilmun) itself, is a land that is oft quoted in literature, being frequently mentioned in the Epic of Gilgamesh.
6. The Tree of Life
What: a 400 year old tree
Where: Jebel Ali
Cool Factor: It’s a miracle in the desert
This tree has become a sort of touristic pilgrimage area. People come to marvel at what they call “the miracle in the desert”, a tree flourishing in a place that would not support any other life. Since 2010, archaeologists have unearthed pottery and other artifacts around the vicinity of the tree, some of which, they say date back to Dilmun civilization.
7. Pearling tradition
What: a way of life
Where: the Pearling Path
Cool Factor: most of the sites are still intact today and you can still go and dive for pearls
A great part of Bahrain’s heritage is the pearl tradition as Bahrain has been famous for pearls since the oldest times, even being visited by the famous jeweler Jacques Cartier. The Great Age of Bahrain pearling was from the 1850’s to 1930’s, when pearls were more precious than diamonds. The pearling pathway, which includes oyster beds, a coastline, a fortress, and several buildings in Muharraq became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2012.
8. Al Areen Wildlife Park and Falcon Hospital
What: a wildlife preserve and falcon hospital
Cool Factor: many species of wildlife + a falcon hospital
If you’re into wildlife, you will love Al Areen. Acres and acres of wildlife habitat filled with endemic and foreign species all have their home here. In addition, a state of the art falcon hospital can treat (and give passports to) several species of falcons. Both are an interesting way to spend an afternoon.
9. Bahrain Science Center
What: a cool science museum
Where: Isa Town
Cool Factor: 36 animal skeletons!
The Bahrain Science Center is full of fascinating exhibits and experiences. You can test your skills in the interactive zone, discover all about the dynamic earth, and learn about human health. This isn’t only for kids, adults, as well as science teachers can learn a lot too. The Science Centre caters if you want a sciency party!
10. Epic of Gilgamesh
What: a literary allusion
Cool Factor: Dilmun was supposed to be the land of immortality
Bahrain even had a literary allusion in the Epic of Gilgamesh, the oldest epic in the world. In there, Bahrain was referred to as Dilmun, the land of eternity and immortality. Many scholars even claim that Bahrain is the land of “Eden” where Adam and Eve awoke to consciousness. Definitely, Bahrain has a lot to offer in terms of culture and tradition.
What are your favorite ways to enjoy Bahrain culture?