Bahrain is only a stone’s throw from Qatar. In days past, it was a twenty-five-minute flight away, but due to certain political shenanigans in 2017, it’s now a circuitous two-flight journey, which consumes a goodly part of the travel days to and from. So an initial flight from Doha to Dubai, and an onward flight to Manama, the capital city, was how MB ended up in Bahrain in mid-February.
Bahrain is politically interesting. It has a Shia Muslim majority population but a Sunni Muslim ruling family which leads to certain tensions on occasion. Bahrain is an island nation, linked to Saudia Arabi by a causeway/bridge, 25 km in length. Bahrain comprises 50 natural islands and thirty-three man-made ones.
Bahrain is often referred to as the ‘Bar’ of Saudi Arabia. It’s got hotels and bars with alcohol openly on sale, in contrast to Saudi, which does not allow the sale of alcohol, although MB believes that rule will soon be a relic of the past as Saudi modernises and will require international tourists to support the many mega projects that are currently under construction and those that will be built in the coming years. On weekends, Bahrain has thousands of visitors from Saudi, as Saudis and Saudi-based expats let their hair down in a less restrictive location. Incidentally, Qatar, where MB resides, is somewhat of a halfway house between both neighbours in terms of alcohol sales. Qatar has hotels that sell alcohol without restriction, but no independent bars. And many hotels are dry, except for water and fresh juice!
Some other differences between Qatar and Bahrain jumped out at MB on his visit.
One will find native Bahrainis driving taxis, and probably doing other manual/normal jobs, albeit MB didn’t have time on his short trip to dig deeper. In Qatar, driving taxis is the preserve of workers from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and certain other nations. One will never meet a Qatari native driving a taxi.
Thai Message Shops. There are tonnes of them in Bahrain to MB’s surprise. There are zero in Qatar. And certainly zero in Saudi. According to the taxi drivers MB spoke to, the Message Shops employ Thai and North African ladies, primarily from Morocco.
MB’s Bahrain trip resulted from a surprise gift from a friend. Some pics of the gift finish off the below photo series, which includes a few shots from the Manama Street Market (mostly Chinese products and a bit of a disappointment), the Bahrain Fort (interesting, with evidence of human habitation from 2,300 BC), the Bahrain National Museum (worth a visit) and the Al-Fateh Grand Mosque which is an impressive structure and is open to tourists daily from 9am to 4pm.
Cleaners clean the windows at Manama Airport (or was it Dubai?!):
Manama Street Market:
MB Did you post my piece about records? I haven’t yet seen a link….. Robbo
No. I’m going to post it on LinkedIn. In the coming week.