Called as the Pearl of the Arabian Gulf, the Kingdom of Bahrain has a rich history that dates back to 5000 years. According to some researchers the land of Dilmun in Bahrain is the original Garden of Eden.
Despite the speed of its development, Bahrain retains much of its historic character, as the site of one of the oldest civilisations in the world and has many fascinating sites of historic and cultural interest like the Qalat al Bahrain site and museum. Known as Dilmun in ancient times, Bahrain’s rich trading history is reflected in numerous archaeological sites, the most fascinating of which is the Bahrain Fort site that is registered as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The fort is located atop a 17.5 hectare artificial hill that has been built over more than 4000 years of continuous occupation.
One of the first museums in the Gulf, the Bahrain National Museum opened in 1988. It is located in a beautiful site on the edge of the sea. The exhibition halls showcase artefacts unearthed in the numerous archaeological sites in Bahrain and are testimonies of its ancient culture. The rich collection covers 6000 years of Bahrain’s history. Housed in a Arabic script engraved building, Bait al Quran museum showcases an important collection of Quranic manuscripts and scriptures dating back to the seventh century.
Among Bahrain’s most mysterious ancient remains are the A’ali burial mounds that dominate the landscape in the north. It is known to be the world’s largest cemetery. In contrast, the beach resort of Al Dar Island is a popular haunt for pearl dives and cruises to Jarada Island which is perfect for sunbathing and swimming. It is home to 30 types of coral and more than 200 species of fish. Dolphin watching is a popular pastime.
For traditional shopping experience visitors can head to Bab al Bahrain, a gateway to the Manama Suq. The exotic items range from natural-oil perfumes and incense, rich fabrics and handicrafts, abayas and jalabiyas to other bric-a-bracs. Falconry, pearl diving, horse and camel riding, off road driving, Formula BMW racing experience and golf are some of the interesting activities for tourists.
Growth in tourism
Earlier this year, in recognisance of the growth in tourism in the Kingdom of Bahrain, the Arab Tourism Organisation of the Arab League conferred on Shaikha Mai Bint Mohammad Al Khalifa, culture minister, Bahrain the International Tourism Award in Leadership and Innovation. The prize was presented by Dr Bandar bin Fahd al Fahaid, chairman of the Arab Tourism Organisation. Dr Fahaid said that the award comes in recognition of her efforts to promote Arab tourism work in general and the tourism sector in the Kingdom of Bahrain in particular. He also referred to Bahrain’s promising future in tourism, which is considered as one of the major economic contributors, especially for job creation.
In Bahrain the ministry of culture had in January this year inaugurated its first tourism project at Riffa Fort. The ministry had also organised its first theme season, ‘Cultural Tourism’ at Shaikh Salman Bin Ahmed Al Fateh Fort in Riffa area. Cultural tourism included museum exhibitions related to the history of the royal family. The project embodies one of the tourist infrastructure projects representing a revival of Riffa Fort area, which enriches its historical location through museum and documentary exhibitions, as well as rehabilitating the place and reviving it through recalling its glorious history and embodying the reflection of the history of the place. Marking the occasion Al Khalifa stated, “Historical buildings cannot be erased from our memory, for they are recalled and revisited again through distinctive culture based on vision and touch to provide a pioneer instinct, revive the production of civilisations to reinforce the stories and events, and show its documentary and historical role to the world.”