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Exploring Bahrain: The Land of Two Seas

25th November 2019 // By Briony Richter

Our luxury guide to Bahrain explores its mixture of ancient artifacts and ultra-modern architecture

With a name like the land of two seas, the Kingdom of Bahrain is hard to resist. Located in the Arabian Gulf, the only island nation of the Middle East, it is bursting with a remarkable number of freshwater springs underneath the saltwater ocean and an abundance of beautiful scenery.

It may be small, but the Kingdom punches well above its weight when it comes to history. Home to three UNESCO World Heritage sites, Bahrain seamlessly marries the old and new.

One of the most thriving food and culture scenes in the Middle East, it is perfect for a relaxing stay and ample cultural indulgences.

Getting there

The Bahrain-based airline, Gulf Air provides a welcoming and exceptional experience from boarding to landing. Opening its business class, Falcon Gold in April 2018 the lounge is a perfect place to relax after security with an array of food to choose from.

Immediately greeted by cabin crew on board, the business class prioritizes comfort and privacy.

In between each pair of seats a middle divider can be raised by either passenger. Seat controls are located on the outside armest with plenty of options including a massage function.

With its in-flight entertainment screens measuring an impressive 21.5 inches and an additional handheld screen for easy browsing, there is little left to desire.

The food doesn’t disappoint either. A sizable menu includes dishes such as seafood saffron risotto, a quiche with gorgonzola and caramelized onions and roast beef with sweet potato mash. For dessert, the crew presents a trolley offering cheese, fruits, nuts and a selection of chocolate treats which compliments a glass of champagne to cleanse the palate.

However, what sets it apart is the hospitality of the crew. Always on hand to ensure needs were met with additional care taken to provide a luxury experience. Minor touches such as hot hand towels, serving traditional tea and drinks show the service-orientated focus of Gulf Air.

Just over a 20-minute drive from the airport is The Ritz Carlton, Bahrain; the perfect launchpad to explore from.

Dine

The capital city Manama is both cosmopolitan and relaxed. The strikingly modern city boasts a wide range of restaurants and bars that offer local and high-end international dining experiences.

Constantly evolving, the food scene takes elements from global cuisines but stays true to traditional recipes that have been passed down through generations. Keeping it local as you like, some of the best delicacies can be found at the Manama Souq, a cove of hidden treasures.

Middle Eastern cuisine

A taste of authentic local cuisine at Haji’s Cafe nestled in the souq is the ideal place for breakfast. Opening from 5am to feed the local workers, the street-side cafe offers down-to-earth Bahraini meals served with traditional coffee and tea.

For the more high-end dining scene in Bahrain head to Block 338 in the heart of Adliya. This small quarter is packed full of international restaurants and small boutiques that celebrate both Bahraini and global cuisines.

Meat Co, an elite brand of steakhouses comes highly recommended. Located across 5 countries, the restaurant draws from its African heritage with signature steak dishes taking center stage.

While staying at The Ritz-Carlton, Bahrain guests have 12 restaurants and lounges to choose from. However, the hotel also offers unique cooking experiences with their very own top chefs. Bring out your inner chef and learn how to make some of Bahrain’s traditional dishes using fresh local ingredients and spices.

Since, most of Bahrain feeds on fish, one of the local favorites is Hammour fish which is sourced locally. Arabic Chef de Cuisine, Abbas Jaffar will put you through your paces to learn the skillful techniques and fine balance of spicing for the Hammour dish.

For dessert, learn how to create Bahraini Halwa, one of the most traditional and aromatic treats that ooze with rose water and saffron.

Explore

The Kingdom has a rich heritage and culture that is shown through its World Heritage sites, museums, untouched islands and the annual Formula 1 Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit. The hotel is at the ready to organize tours to any of the top tourist attractions across the country.

Follow in the footsteps of the famed pearl divers by walking the UNESCO Bahrain Pearling Trail, stopping off at some of the merchants’ houses that each highlight traditional Arabic architecture. To experience the life of the divers, there are pearl-diving tours where experts help visitors find their own pearls on the seabed.

History would suggest that diving was probably born in and around the emerald waters of Bahrain. Recorded as far back as 5000 years ago, pearl diving has been Bahrain’s heritage for millennia.

Bahrain Fort

Bahrain Fort sits on a mound overlooking the Gulf

Once the capital of the ancient Dilmun civilization, the Qal’at al-Bahrain (also known as the Bahrain Fort) sits on a mound overlooking the Gulf.

One of the country’s UNESCO World Heritage sites, the fort was built by the Portuguese in the 16th century, becoming a crucial trade route for its treasured pearls and dates. Wandering the atmospheric excavations and the fort, the stories of three civilizations come to life.

Dilmun, Tylos and Islamic civilizations all made a unique impact on the nation we see today that welcomes diversity and innovation.

For an unforgettable experience, ride by horseback up to the fort to catch the sunrise.

Manama Souq

Manama Souq is a completely unique shopping experience

A walk around Manama Souq is a completely unique shopping experience. From the artistically displayed colorful spices to endless winding paths filled with trinkets and jewels, the souq offers something different at each turn.

Stepping into the maze of streets is like stepping into another world that still evokes the atmosphere of an ancient souq. The souq is not only a treasure trove for shoppers but packed full of history. From Bahrain’s “Little India” to the colorful Shri Krishna Temple, a few hours exploring here is the best way to discover the people at the heart of this vibrant kingdom.

However, the art and culture doesn’t end there. Bahrain is home to a booming international art scene that combines contemporary and traditional artists from around the world. Bahrain’s ‘Spring of Culture’ celebrates all of the arts and delivers live performances, film screenings and exhibitions.

Al Fateh Mosque

The Al Fateh Mosque is the biggest mosque in Bahrain

Faith is an important part of life in Bahrain. The five white triangles in the flag symbolize the five pillars of Islam.

The Al Fateh Mosque is the biggest mosque in Bahrain with space for up to 7,000 worshippers. Named after the founder of modern Bahrain, Sheikh Ahmed Bin Muhammad Bin Khalifa, the mosque was built with striking aesthetic designs that bring to life Islamic patterns.

The mosque was built using marble from Italy, wood from India, and glass from Austria. An enormous chandelier hangs from its expansive fiberglass ceiling.

A warm atmosphere, visitors from all over the world are welcomed and encouraged to dress in traditional robes for guided tours of the prayer halls.

Bahrain International Circuit

The Bahrain International Circuit is a world-leading motorsport venue

Thrill-seekers won’t have to go far to get their adrenaline rush in Bahrain. Enjoy the thrill of racing around the track that is home to the Bahrain Grand Prix.

The Bahrain International Circuit is a world-leading motorsport venue that opened in 2004. In 2006 it held the first Grand Prix in the Middle East.

Take on the exact same corners, twists and turns that champion Formula 1 racer, Lewis Hamilton drove to win the Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix in March 2019.

Afterward, escape the heat with a cool drink at the nearby Royal Golf Club. The 18-hole, par 72 championship golf course was designed by international golfing legend, Colin Montgomerie.

Saudi Arabia’s more liberal neighbor, the Kingdom of Bahrain exhibits a diversity that gives it a charm found nowhere else in the Arabian Gulf.

Its year-round sunshine and a rich culture make it a real jewel of Arabia.

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