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Welcome to Bahrain

A guide to middle east arab countries

Introduction

Bahrain is an archipelago of forty islands and has a total area of 711.9 km2 in the Arabian Gulf. Bahrain is known as “two seas” referring to the fresh water springs that can be found within the salty seawater surround it.

Bahrain has a rich history that was later found by archaeologists. Archaeological evidence dating back to the third millennium B.C.E. indicates that Sumerians probably settled the main island. Around 2000 B.C.E. it was known as Dilmun where it was described as legendry Aden gardens in epic of Gilgamesh. Dilmun served as a trading post on the route between Indus valley (now India) and Mesopotamia (now Iraq). In the fourth century, C.E. Bahrain was annexed in the Sasanian Empire.

In the seventh century, Muslims conquered the area and ruled until the sixteenth century.

In 1521, Portugal took control, using Bahrain as a pearling post and military garrison. This situation lasted until 1602, when the Persians wrested the country from the Portuguese.

The ruler Ahmed Bin Khalifa took control from the Persians in 1783; his descendants lead this country to this day.

Bahrain Modern Manama

Bahrain Modern Manama

Fast Facts

Official Name: Kingdom Of Bahrain

Capital: Manama

Population: 650.604 as per 2001 statistic

Language: Arabic is the official language. In addition, English is widely used especially in the Business world.

Religion: Islam is the official religion in Bahrain, which is the majority of people practices, beside other group of religions.

Location: Bahrain is In the Arabian Gulf near the Eastern Coast of Saudi Arabia.

Climate: hot dry summers(May - September), during the height of Summer (August) the Heat and high humidity becomes extreme and unpleasant. Average daily sunshine is 9 hours, average annual rainfall 2.75 inch (70mm), pleasant winters. (December - March) with occasional chilly and rainy days in January and February. Warm and balmy Spring (April) and Autumn (October and November)

Money & Currency: Bahraini Diners is the functional currency and consists of smaller units of 1000 Fils. Bahraini Diners are pegged to US Dollars that is equal to 378 Fils.

Bahrain Time Difference: GMT + 3 (Winter)/GMT + 2 (Summer)

Country dialing code: 973

Electricity: 220-240 Volt in all the areas, except in A'Ali "120 Volt

Working hours Public sector working hours: from 7. 30am to 14.15pm from Sunday to Thursday (Five days a week).Private sector: working hours differ, but most of the corporate start from 8.00am to 1.00pm and then from 3.00pm to 5.30pm five days a week. Shops and malls: from 8.30am to 12.30 pm, and then from 3.30pm to 5.30pm six days a week. Some of the shops work on Friday morning with different timing. Banks: from 7.30am to 12.00pm from Sunday to Thursday. Some of the branches open from 3.30pm to 5.30pm. During Ramadan, working hours differ from a corporate to another.

Weekends Fri day and Saturday are the public sector weekend, companies and banks weekends are Friday, Saturday with half day working hours on Thursday.

Tipping: is appropriate in restaurants and cafes, 10-15% depending on how well you've been served. There is also a "service charge" added to the bill, but that normally just gets gobbled up by the owners, so it's meaningless.

Clothing: It is advisable to wear long trousers, or shorts (clothes below the knee and covering shoulders), and women shouldn't wear a see-through dress. However, in beach clubs and hotels, swimsuits, bikinis and shorts are okay to wear.

Driving: The easiest way to get around Bahrain is by car, although taxis and chauffeured cars are also widely available. Traffic signs are in both Arabic and English. Motorways and major roads in the northern third of Bahrain are four to six lanes wide and well maintained.

Taxis: are also plentiful and can be picked up from the street as well as from the airport

Buses: Cars Transport Corporation (commonly known as Cars) offers around 40 air-conditioned buses that offer comfortable rides with services that run from 5 am to 12 midnight.

Shuttle Services: can cater to group transportation and travel. They are also available for group trips back and forth to Saudi Arabia.

Bahrain - Coloured dome

Bahrain - Coloured dome

Prayer hall, Bahrain

Prayer hall, Bahrain

Bahrain Causeway

Bahrain Causeway

Places to visit

Bahrain National Museum

Bahrain's National Museum which houses many of the ancient treasures dating back as far as the Dilmun Era – then spend a day visiting 4,000-year-old sights and immerse yourself in the authentic Arabian experience.

Bahrain Fort

Bahrain Fort, on the island’s North coast, was built in the 14th century but excavations have revealed it was built on the site of Dilmun settlements, dating back to 3,000 BC. Recently renovated, and with new lighting at night, the Fort is an outstanding example of Bahrain’s varied and ancient history. Bahrain Fort, known in Arabic as Qalat Al Bahrain, was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005.

Bahrain Fort Museum - opened in February 2008

The first building comprises an exhibition hall and a child learning and training room whereas the second is made up of a conference hall, a cafe overlooking the sea, offices, a technicians suite and a dormitory for archeologists.

Al Fatih Mosque

The Al Fatih Mosque is Bahrain’s largest mosque. The huge domed building houses the National Library, which opened in 2006. The mosque itself was built by that late Sheikh Isa Bin Salman Al Khalifa during the 1990’s.

The Khamis Mosque

The Khamis Mosque is believed to be the first mosque built in Bahrain. It is considered to be one of the oldest relics of Islam in the region, and the foundation of the mosque is believed to have been laid as early as 692 AD.

Arab Fort

The Arab Fort is a 15th century fort in Arad. It is built in traditional Arab style. It is situated very close to the Bahrain International Airport, and having been extensively renovated, it is an impressive sight at night. It is believed that the Omani’s used the fort briefly during the occupation of Bahrain during the 1800’s.

Manama Souq

Manama Suoq is a bustling marketplace full of traditional as well as modern shops. It is located in the centre of the city, near Bab Al Bahrain. The market is a perfect place to buy traditional products, with everything from spices, fabrics, kaftans to dried fruit and nuts. The Gold Souq is also worth a visit, with all the gold hallmarked and pure.

Qal’at Al – Bahrain

This is an archaeological site composed of an artificial mound created by human inhabitants from 2300BC up until the 1700’s. It once served as the capital of the Dilmun civilization and more recently as a Portuguese fort. On top of the 12m high mound, there is an impressive Qal’at Al – Burtughal, which is the Portuguese fort.

Sheikh Ebrahim Centre for Culture and Research

Sheikh Ebrahim bin Mohammed Al Khalifa, a well-known intellectual in the early part of the 20th century. The centre, which is home to research centre, a library and a lecture hall opened in 2002. This building today hosts a series of rotating lectures, exhibitions and recitals by prominent writers, philosophers and artists from all over the world.

Bin Matar House

The Bin Matar House is the latest in a series of projects by the Shaikh Ebrahim Center focusing on the restoration of traditional Bahraini houses associated with historic Bahraini families and leading cultural personalitiesThe house was designed by the well-known Bahraini architect Mussa Bin Hamad and built in 1905.Until recently, the building lay empty, ready to be demolished to make way for a new construction.Today, the ceilings of the house are made of a combination of palm leaf and wood beam and the walls and floors have been authentically retouched.

Barbar Temple

This is an archaeological site located in the village of Barbar. Three temples have been discovered there, the oldest dating back to 3000BC. The temples were thought to have been constructed to worship gods, as it contains two altars and a natural water spring. During its excavation tools, weapons, pottery, and many small pieces of gold were discovered.

Dilmun Burial Mounds

When a Danish group excavated the city, they found articles dating back to around 4100 / 3700 BP. Each hamber usually contained 1 burial, but some housed many and some contained none. Inside the chambers many different articles were uncovered including pottery, ivory and copper weapons.

Riffa Fort

Built in 1812, it offers splendid views across the Hunanaiya valley. Riffa was the home of the Government in 1869, and so was very strategically placed. It is one of the few places in Bahrain where you can really experience the effects of the wind tower.

Iqra House

Iqra ("read" in Arabic) House is a small children’s library. The space is a renovated traditional Bahraini house that still maintains its original architecture but has been renovated with a modern twist. The library has several reading rooms and a computer lab. Schools and families with children can make great use of the place by bringing in their students to read there constantly.

The Kurar House

The Kurar House used to be a handicraft center for local crafts by women. It is now a renovated house for reproducing the unique local embroidery, and is open for the public to see women creating their unique embroidery on clothes and selling them on site

Beit Ebrahim Al Arrayed

The house of the Bahraini poet and intellectual Ebrahim Al Arrayed who lived there for 30 years was restored as a cultural centre with exhibition rooms, a library and spaces for lectures and public events. The house as it stands right now mantains its original facade and some rooms have been restored but remain faithful to their original form. The rest of the house, including the extension at the back, was rebuilt using contemporary materials but overlaid with traditional finishes.

The Coffee House

Due to open on April 2nd, this café within the context of a traditional Bahraini home is as much about showcasing the tradition of Arabic coffee, as it is a place to relax and lounge after a day of sightseeing in the neighborhood, which has become a centre of restored classical and traditional Bahraini homes.

Tree of Life

Out in the middle of the desert about 2 km from Jebel Dukhan. - with no visible source of water to sustain it - stands the Tree of Life. This mesquite tree has been growing for more than 400 years, and is one of Bahrain’s most recognised national symbols. The Kingdom is also famous for its date palms, which are visible all over the island

Bahrain National Museum

Bahrain National Museum

Bahrain Fort

Bahrain Fort

Qal'at Al – Bahrain

Qal'at Al – Bahrain

Bahrain Manama Souq

Bahrain Manama Souq

Bahrain Tree of Life

Bahrain Tree of Life

Things to do

Dolphin Watching

Take a boat trip and you can watch the dolphins and manatees playing in the warm Gulf waters, and see local fisherman head out in traditional wooden dhows to catch the prized local hammour - a type of grouper.

Pearl Diving

Bahrain is also famous for its pearls – and you can try your hand at pearl diving and maybe take home one of these natural gems of the sea.

Bird Watching

The Kingdom and the Hawar Islands in particular, are a haven for native and migratory birds including flamingos, bulbuls, ospreys and sooty falcons. Any twitchers are strongly advised to take the 20km boat trip to the Islands.

Al Areen Wildlife Park

This is a conservation project for Arabian indigenous species including the oryx. It is a sanctuary for more than 500 species of animals and birds, and since opening has attracted migratory species of birds in ever greater numbers. Close to the Bahrain International Circuit and the newly opened Banyan Tree hotel, it’s well worth a visit for budding naturalists of all ages.

Horse racing

Arabia is of course famous for its horses. The national racecourse at Al Sakhir hosts races every Friday from October to March

Al Areen Wildlife Park & Reserve - flamingos

Al Areen Wildlife Park & Reserve - flamingos

Visa Requirements

Bahrain requires a valid passport for at least six months from date of departure required by all except the following: (a) nationals of Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates holding a valid national ID card.

Visiting and Tourist Visas

Procedures for getting a visa to enter the Kingdom of Bahrain are relatively simple and hassle-free and if all documents are in order, then the visa is issued within 72 hours. In urgent cases, visas are also issued within a day. The General Directorate of Nationality, Passports & Residence is the sole administrative authority responsible for issuing visas to foreigners who wish to visit the country.

GCC National and Visa on Arrival Visa requirements for entering Bahrain vary greatly between different nationalities and it is always advised to check regulations before traveling. Currently, every nationality entering the Bahrain needs a visa except citizens of GCC countries (Gulf Cooperation Council: Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, UAE and Saudi Arabia) and visitors who have been resident in the GCC for a minimum of six months, and who possess a return visa for the country of GCC residency. Citizens of the European Community, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan or Hong Kong, Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea can receive visas on arrival. All visas require you to pay a fee for the initial grant, and then for subsequent extensions (if any extension is permitted).

Other Nationalities

For all other nationalities, a visa must be applied for before the visitor enters the country either through their respective embassy, a local Bahraini sponsor or a local hotel or a travel agent. For tourists, there are broadly two types of Visas - Visit Visas and Transit Visas - and they are issued depending on the duration of stay requested. Visit visa is issued for people who are sponsored by a company operating in Bahrain. It is valid for two months from the date of arrival, with the option of being renewed for one more month.

A Transit Visa is issued to individuals at the request of any licensed company such as hotels or trading companies who hold an authorization for applying for this visa. It is valid for 14 days and its renewal varies according to each individual case. You can more about your eligibility for a visa by applying for an eVisa (www.evisa.gov.bh), and provide your nationality, purpose for visit, and current place of residence. transit passengers continuing their journey by the first connecting flight, providing and holding confirmed tickets and appropriate travel documents can stay within the transit area.You can also apply a visa online at http://www.evisa.gov.bh/index.html

Two Weeks Tourist Visas

Tourist visas are issued for stays of two weeks to citizens of the European Union (EU), Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand and the USA. Applicants must possess valid, up-to-date passports and a return or onward ticket. A visa fee of BD5 ($12) is applied and can be obtained at entry at the Bahrain International Airport. Tourist visas don’t allow visitors to engage in any employment. 72 hour/7 day Visas obtained on arrival at the Bahrain International Airport or at the King Fahad Causeway. In addition to a passport, the passenger must have a confirmed return/onward journey ticket for the visa application to be processed.

Bahrain Batelco Building

Bahrain Batelco Building

Bahrain Financial Harbour

Bahrain Financial Harbour

Where to Stay

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Events

This page is under construction.

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