21 Hours in Bahrain
I ncluding the inexplicable wait I had being processed in the immigration area of the airport when I first arrived; staying overnight at a Sheraton hotel property; and awaiting my flight to Cairo, I only had approximately 21 hours in Bahrain to spend — so I did some cursory research to find out exactly what there is to do in this country defined as a kingdom.
I quickly learned that Bahrain advertises itself more as a business destination and not necessarily as a leisure destination; but my experience suggests to me that using Bahrain as a free stopover on my way from Abu Dhabi to Cairo as a passenger of Gulf Air was indeed the right decision.
Nevertheless, I strived to find something to do while in Bahrain which I found interesting; but I did not succeed. What I did find interesting is the architecture of the buildings in Manama, which is the capital city of Bahrain; so I will continue the text of this article interspersed with photographs of the architecture I spotted.
If you watched the safety video of Gulf Air which I posted in this article, you will recognize the twin towers of the Bahrain World Trade Center shown in the photograph above; as well as some of the buildings shown in other photographs in this article.
While inside of the Moda Mall, I thought the design of the ceiling was cool — as well as the air conditioning — so I took a picture of it, as shown in the above photograph. The the twin towers of the Bahrain World Trade Center can be seen through the windows in the roof.
Moda Mall is a luxury facility where the latest in fashion and items for the opulent lifestyle are available for purchase. In other words, it was completely useless to me. Thankfully, it is adjacent to the Sheraton Bahrain hotel property and connected with an entrance so that one would not have to leave the frosty air conditioning to battle the stagnant hot and humid air which awaited outside under the sweltering Bahrain sun.
The Bahrain World Trade Center is the first skyscraper in the world with integrated wind turbines — which is definitely an ingenious idea for incorporating function into the aesthetics of architectural design while potentially saving energy and money, in my opinion.
However — according to this article from the Technische Universiteit Eindhoven in the Netherlands — “…the designers of the 240‑meter-high Bahrain World Trade Center didn’t think carefully enough about the building’s ‘innovative’ design, says prof.dr.ir. Bert Blocken in the first MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) given by Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e). If the towers had been built exactly the other way round, it would have resulted in almost 15 percent more energy per year…”
What a shame.
The twin towers of the Bahrain Financial Harbour do not face each other — but they appear to face each ether when viewed from one different angle; or appear to be angry and face away from each other when viewed from yet another angle.
I did not get either angle of the twin towers of the Bahrain Financial Harbour in the above photograph. Regardless — at 53 stories tall each — the East Tower and West Tower are the tallest buildings in Bahrain.
Resembling a drill bit 50 stories tall is the United Tower by Bahrain Bay, due to be completed this year.
The Al Zamil Tower was built in 2005 and is 21 stories tall.
The photograph below shows a view of the Al Zamil Tower from the window of my room at the Sheraton Bahrain.
With regard to attractions and sites in Bahrain, I really was not interested in any of them. The Tree of Life is a mystery because its source for water is unknown; but I have seen more than one tree in Egypt which was in the middle of the rugged desert landscape with no water source nearby. Even though I rented a car and Bahrain is a very small country, the Tree of Life is not convenient to Manama at 28 kilometers away — and just to see a tree.
I intend to write a short article in the near future pertaining to my experience of renting a car in Bahrain.
There are plenty of attractions in the form of forts, mosques, burial mounds and museums to visit; but I have already visited forts such as Nizwa Fort in Oman; passage tombs and mounds such as Knowth and Newgrange in Ireland; museums in numerous countries; and mosques such as this one in Oman.
In fact, there are burial mounds, water parks and museums near where I am based in addition to ones which I have visited all over the world. Bahrain has beaches and theaters as well; but nothing which appealed to me. In Egypt alone, I experienced overload with all of the historic sites and items I saw and experienced there. There are only so many forts, museums, burial mounds, theaters, beaches and water parks to which I can go before I tire of them; but unless there was something remarkably special about the attractions in Bahrain, I really had no interest to visit them. Was I missing out on anything? Not to my knowledge.
You can even go scuba diving in Bahrain. I have gone scuba diving in such places around the world as the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Cairns in Australia, Cancun and West Palm Beach in Florida. I have not heard anyone brag about the diving in Bahrain; but of course, I could be wrong. Then again, I really did not have enough time to do that activity anyway with such a short amount of time between flights.
Anyway, back to the photographs…
Looking east along Government Avenue, the traffic is moderately heavy but flowing.
I do like traffic signs. I assume that this one translates into traffic signal ahead in English.
Here are some more buildings with interesting architecture…
…including the bizarre top of The Domain Bahrain Hotel and Spa, Manama.
The Ras Rumman Mosque is named for the location of the neighborhood of Manama in which it is located. At one time, Ras Rumman was a separate independent village before it became incorporated into the city of Manama.
I walked several blocks away to Manama Souq in the hopes of being able to purchase a small souvenir made in Bahrain to bring back home with me. If you prefer a less expensive shopping experience, consider visiting Manama Souq — but do not expect to find items made in Bahrain.
As I reported in this article pertaining to seven tips on purchasing souvenirs, honesty can be practiced by a merchant who only stands to benefit from lying. When I was at Manama Souq, one proprietor — who had many nice items in his store for sale — was honest when he was asked if any of the items were indeed manufactured in Bahrain. “No — most of them were made in India”, he replied.
The people of Bahrain were nice enough to me; but I would not go so far as to call them warm, friendly and welcoming. Bahrain may be a great place to conduct business; but for a leisure destination, I would recommend staying overnight just to say that you have been there — especially if it costs no extra in airfare to do so as a stopover, as was the case with me — and maybe a day at the most if there is anything there in which you are interested in visiting.
All photographs ©2015 by Brian Cohen.