Bahrain is one of the few places in the world that has struck a cultural balance in mind-boggling ways. The skies are jutted and interspersed by the tips of both urban skyscrapers as well as forts and UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Because of the duality of its growth and progress, in complete sync with one another, Bahrain has our eyes glued to it. So, if you do happen to be a cultural enthusiast and are headed to the UAE for your next trip, we recommend giving this Middle-Eastern island a shot! By Shubhanjana Das
Made of 33 natural and as many as 50 artificial islands, Bahrain is called the “Pearl of the Gulf” for a reason, and no, it isn’t because of pearl trade. There is a very interesting story that has become a Dilmun legend; it goes like this: King Gilgamesh of Uruk came to Bahrain seeking the secret to eternal life from Ziusudra, the immortal. But, when King Gilgamesh plunged to the seabed to pluck the flower of eternal life, believed to be a pearl, a snake claimed it to itself. This legend is the reason why people of the Dilmun civilisation still bury their dead alongside a snake. Whenever the snake shed its skin, it is believed that the dead gets reincarnated.
In fact, pearl diving used to be the primary source of income for the Bahraini people till the 1930s, bringing riches to the country. Even until five years ago the seabed was bared open even to the tourists to try their luck at finding their own pearls. But, as could be expected, the over-exploitation of this practice led to adverse impacts on the pearl population, leading to it getting banned for tourists and licensed for the local divers as well. The pearl industry shifted gears and the discovery of oil set things in motion for Bahrain’s economy.
As far as the sights of Bahrain are concerned, a Bu Maher Fort against the coastline, located south of Muharraq, coexists in harmony with Bahrain National Theatre and the aridity of the Sakhir Desert is juxtaposed with the abundance of the Bahrain International Circuit.
Don’t forget to make your way to the Barbar Temples in the village of Barbar, one of the most significant tourist spots in Bahrain, owing to its historical and cultural significance, especially forth Dilmun civilisation. One of the defining spotlights of your Bahraini adventure will, however, be the Bahrain Fort, or the Qaal’at Al Bahrain, which is a Portuguese structure surrounded by the Dilmun excavations. Visit the Ahmed Al Fateh Grand Mosque to amuse yourself at the Italian marble floors, Irish carpets, Iranian-stained glass windows with ‘Allah’ inscribed on them in Arabic, the Austrian chandeliers, and the French handblown glass lamps. A guided tour will be the best option to explore. Walk the streets of the capital city of Manama, visit the Bahrain National Museum, and embrace the place as it is, for there is nothing you would want to change about its idiosyncrasies.