Bahrain

Bahrain

Etymology

In Arabic, Bahrayn is the dual form of bahr (“sea”), so al-Bahrayn means “the two seas”, although which two seas were originally intended remains in dispute. The term appears five times in the Quran, but does not refer to the modern island—originally known to the Arabs as Awal— but rather to all of Eastern Arabia (most notably al-Katif and al-Hasa). [wikipedia]

Places to Meet People

Places to Meet People

al-Khubar Coffee Talk Meetup – Nothing complicated, Whoever is free and wants to talk and meet new people can join me to go somewhere where we find coffee. [meetup]

Bahrain Book Club – This is a group for reading enthusiasts interested in meeting up socially to discuss selected books on a monthly basis. All members are encouraged to make suggestions on what to read, and we will meet up somewhere in Manama for tea and a light hearted discussion on the chosen book of the month. [meetup]

Bahrain-Minglers – An opportunity to meet other expats and locals who share the same interests, who want to socialise, make friends and explore the country. We will aim to get involved with anything that is happening around Bahrain and also organise our own events…so keep an eye out! 🙂 [meetup]

Bahrain Photowalkers – This group is for the people who are interested in PHOTOGRAPHY as a HOBBY and who are living in KINGDOM OF BAHRAIN. [meetup]

BoardGamersEP – This is a group for anyone interested in playing all kinds of board and card games with fellow gamers. Our intention is to spread the culture of playing boardgames in Saudi Arabia and to connect with all those interested in fun games. [meetup]

Chamber Music Meetup (With a Twist!) – If you play a string instrument and love playing chamber music, join this group!
If you are interested in composing for quartet music, join this group! If you play other instruments, join this group! [meetup]

Get Social for Friendly Women in Bahrain – Hello Ladies, want to meet up with other ladies in Bahrain for coffee, chat, exploring Bahrain, maybe a spa day, trying out a fancy restaurant or doing something a bit more adventurous ( but still gentle like SUP), with a nice friendly group of people? [meetup]

Organization Development Club – OD is like an ocean! We will have a monthly meeting, where we all suggest topics and  share knowledge about: Talent and Leadership Development, Succession Managment, Performance Management and so on. [meetup]

How to Find a Date

How to Find a Date

Expatica Bahrain – Are you an Expatriate Single in Bahrain looking for True Love? No matter what your background is, our Expatriate dating community will help you find your perfect lover. Hundreds of criteria will be automatically checked to ensure you find your Expatriate soulmate. After the quick and free registration process, you will have the opportunity to take a few tests to allow our high-tech system to find the Expatriate singles in your area who match your needs, among a million members database. [bahraindating.expatica]

Love Habibi- Bahrain Dating – The Web’s favorite place for Bahrain dating worldwide. Whether you’re new to this or finding out about LoveHabibi for the first time, signup free today and connect with other people in Bahrain looking for free online dating and find your very own LoveHabibi. [love habibi]

Walking Tours

Walking Tours

Guide Trip – Bahrain guided tours, activities, things to do in 60 countries via GuideTrip.com [guide trip]

Pure Travel – PureTravel was planned in 1999. It was launched in spring 2009. In the intervening 10 years the attitudes of the travelling public changed thanks to a combination of the growth of budget airlines and the explosion of the internet. [pure travel]

Free Things to Do

Free Things to Do

Become an old romantic at La Fontaine – Those who have never been to La Fontaine don’t really know Bahrain. This spa-cum-restaurant-cum-art gallery-cum-performance space is one of the culinary and cultural highlights of the country and is obligatory in trying to understand the former beauty of many of the more run-down regions of Manama. Located in rather grotty Hoora, La Fontaine (17 230 123) is an old mansion house that opens out into a spectacular quad, the focal point of which is a majestic fountain. [timeout bahrain]

Buy locally made crafts at Capital Mall and Al Jasra Handicraft Centre – Bahrain’s contemporary art scene is thriving, but if you need proof that the local artistic temperament is nothing new, then you’ll need to head to the Al Jasra Handicraft Centre (17 611 900), where local artisans making everything from baskets to traditional musical instruments in trades that have been practised in the country for thousands of years. [timeout bahrain]

Catch international performers at the Spring of Culture – Organised to coincide with the Bahrain Grand Prix (events in Bahrain are like busses), the Spring of Culture is the most vibrant cultural festival in the Gulf region, bringing together performers, artists, and writers from across the world for a month-long celebration of all things cultural. [timeout bahrain]

Eat in the Capital Club and marvel at the views – The Capital Club (17 100 100) has got quite a reputation for food, even more so for views. Problem is, unless you are willing to fork out a fortune to join (or have a friend who is), then this members-only affair located on the top two floors of the East Tower of Bahrain Financial Harbour is strictly off limits. [timeout bahrain]

Get a curry in a hurry in Manama – This might be Arabia, but the national food of Bahrain is a toss-up between the shwarma and the Indian curry. Manama is home to some of the country’s best and cheapest Indian restaurants, with curry houses lining the souk, each specialising in a different segment of the subcontinent’s plethora of cuisine variations. [timeout bahrain]

Go camping in the desert – This Arabic tradition might seem like an exercise in enduring privation, but wait till you see the tents: plasma TVs, dune buggies and (most importantly) proper toilets. The camping season runs between October 15 and March 31 and is located in the Sakhir Desert. Bonfires and star gazing are mandatory. [timeout bahrain]

Go pearl diving – Bahrain might be a financial centre now, but just over a century ago much of the local economy was dependent upon pearl diving, a hugely challenging and dangerous operation that killed hundreds of people annually. Fortunately, the new millennium has bought new technology and you no longer have to hold your breath in order to collect a load of oysters from the seabed. [timeout bahrain]

Haggle for fruit at Jidhafs Market – Not much grows in Bahrain, but in terms of importing fresh fruit and vegetables, this place is unrivalled. Jidhafs Market on the outskirts of Manama is one of the country’s best wet markets and sells fresh produce from around the globe, with the stallholders some of the most friendly in the region. [timeout bahrain]

Have tea at the Saudi Causeway Restaurant Tower – Bahrain’s only land border is with the behemoth of Saudi Arabia across a series of connecting bridges that cost US$1 billion and span the 25km stretch of water. But, for many people, Saudi Arabia is not the attraction – it is the restaurant tower at the midpoint they go for, to take in the dramatic sea views. [timeout bahrain]

Hit a hole-in-one at the Royal Golf Club – This January sees Bahrain’s Royal Golf Club (17 750 777) joining the list of venues for the European Tour, giving you some idea of the international standing of this Colin Montgomery-designed course. Set in acres of lush fairways, the royal Golf Club is one of the premier sporting facilities in Bahrain, and is particularly stunning first thing in the morning. After playing, head to the 19th hole, their rather good restaurant, Links, which has great views over the course. [timeout bahrain]

Hit the Bahrain heritage trail – Garden of Eden or not, Bahrain has been a focal point of the Middle East for millennia and there is no point living in Bahrain if you are not going to, at least once, visit some of the kingdom’s cultural treasures. Start off at the fantastic Bahrain National Museum, which houses a reasonable collection of Dilmun-era artefacts collected from the numerous archaeological digs in the country. [timeout bahrain]

Make a splash at Wahooo! – It might seem strange to locate the country’s best water park on the top of its best shopping mall, but if the smell of chlorine was a pain for the shoppers in Bahrain City Centre, it certainly isn’t for those enjoying the flumes of Wahooo! (17 173 000) on the roof. When the weather gets hot (which, let’s face it, is 11 and a half months of the year) there are few better cooling off options. Especially great if you are under the age of 15. [timeout bahrain]

Open track day at the BIC – Most people come to Bahrain with the intention of living long and healthy lives, driving well under the speed limit and never undertaking on a motorway. By the time they leave, they are regularly hitting 200mph and spending most of their time beeping and flashing the moment they see a car ahead. [timeout bahrain]

Party the night away at Lunarfest on Al Dar Islands – Bahrain frequently tries to imitate the Mediterranean. Lunarfest, the full moon party on Al Dar Islands (17 704 600) is the only time that it comes close. Happening once every quarter, these wild beach parties in the middle of the Arabian Gulf have helped to establish Bahrain’s party scene as one of the best in the Middle East. [timeout bahrain]

Road trip to the south of the island – It’s amazing the number of people who knock around between Muharraq and Saar, stopping off in Seef, partying in Juffair, eating in Adliya and yet never heading south to see the other 80 per cent of the island. Sure, it isn’t much to look at, and the oil infrastructure has done its best to destroy what’s there, but only on a road trip to Durrat do you really get the sense that Bahrain is much bigger than you had imagined. [timeout bahrain]

Run the Bahrain Marathon – Running a marathon is likely to be one of the most gruelling experiences of anyone’s life (with the possible exception of having to wait six hours for a delayed flight in Bahrain Airport), but to anyone who has ever run one, is apparently also one of the most rewarding. And while anyone can run the London, Helsinki, Stockholm and Tokyo marathons, not that many people can claim to have sped 42.195km in possibly the hottest region on earth. [timeout bahrain]

Scour the Isa Town flea market for bargains – Vintage shopping has yet to really catch on in Bahrain, but there is one place that is a veritable treasure trove of odds and ends that anyone deficient in car boot sales will revel in: Souk Almaqasees or Isa Town Flea Market. Operating every morning on the weekend, this is the place to find that old recording and out of print paperback that you have been looking for all these years. [timeout bahrain]

Scour the souk for spices – Arabian souks form a network of social and cultural hubs that span the Arab world, and while Bahrain’s can’t compete with the likes of Damascus or Marrakech, the souk still forms the historic soul of Manama. While a walk through the souk is de rigueur for visitors, if you live here then it is obligatory to actually buy something. [timeout bahrain]

See Bahrain from the sea – Bahrain is not the most photogenic of places, until, that is, you get out on the water. From the sea the towers of the financial harbour, the blocks of Juffair and even the industrial plants south of Hidd take on a surprising grandeur. And after you have admired the skyline, head further out to some of the outlying islands to find your own patch of private beach. [timeout bahrain]

See Bahrain on horseback – Although the vast majority of residents in Bahrain never set foot outside their office, apartment and car, one of the best ways to see the country is to amble around it on horseback. Little known bridal paths and secret patches of greenery reveal a country far more diverse than that seen from the road. Shakoora Riding Centre (17 591 103) offers riding lessons, as well as guided tours on horseback. [timeout bahrain]

See the Tree of Life – In many quarters of Bahrain, the Tree of Life has become something of a joke, a scrubby bush in the middle of the desert, surrounded by litter and with some joker drag racing in the distance. But for all that, we rather like it. Taken as an allegory for the survival of one of the world’s smallest states against the land hungry neighbours of Saudi and Iran, the Tree of Life is a symbol of Bahrain’s resilience and longevity. [timeout bahrain]

Take a look at the local art scene – On the surface, Bahrain doesn’t appear to be a country with a great love of art (take a look at the architecture here for a start!). Scratch beneath, and you’ll soon find local art pouring out of numerous small galleries, corporate spaces and government institutions, with several local artists making waves in the international art scene. [timeout bahrain]

Unwind at the beach – Easy to say, but where? Bahrain’s risible lack of beaches doesn’t make life easy for tanning enthusiasts, but where there’s a will, there’s a way. If you don’t want to pay, then Al Jessayah is the best option. Located on the west coast of the country, this Soviet-inspired stretch of sand isn’t bad so long as you have a good book. Failing that, Coral Beach Club (17 312 700), the Marina Club (17 291 527) and the Novotel Al Dana (17 298 008) all have great beaches that are relatively accessible. [timeout bahrain]

Visit a local coffee shop for caffeine and shisha – Sure, smoking shisha is not the healthiest way to enjoy Bahrain, but if you are looking to meet the locals then there is no better way. One of our favourites is Laialy Zaman (17 293 097), which is located on the water on the Al Fateh Corniche and is one of the most relaxing spots in the country. [timeout bahrain]

Visit Al Fateh Grand Mosque – Whether you are a Muslim or not, Al Fateh Grand Mosque (17 727 773) is much more than a place of worship – it is the spiritual heart of the country. One of the biggest mosques in the region, and one of the most impressive, the best time to visit is during an Open Day when one of the guides can guide you through the building and the religion. [timeout bahrain]

Visit Hawar Island – Thrust up against the coastline of Qatar (who claim also claim sovereignty over the islands) Hawar Islands are a protected wildlife reserve and home to numerous species of birds. With just one hotel (Tulip Inn Hawar Islands – 17 849 111) with a handful of restaurants, play your cards right and you can have the entire island to yourself. The place to really get away from it all. [timeout bahrain]

Watch a Bollywood film at Awal cinema  OK, so Bollywood is not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Bahrain, but it should be. Bahrain shows more Indian movies per population that practically anywhere outside of India, and if you are not well versed in the tribulations and heartache of the genre’s stock characters by the time you pop your clogs, then you haven’t lived. [timeout bahrain]

Watch an endurance race – Arabian horses have long been admired as being one of the most beautiful and capable breeds on earth, and you chance to see them tested are at the endurance races, which tend to be scheduled between November and April. For more formal races, head to the Sakhir Racetrack (17 440 330) in the south of the island, which holds regular race meets throughout the winter. [timeout bahrain]

Watch the Bahrain Grand Prix – We don’t like to state the obvious, but we’ve met an alarming number of people who have lived in Bahrain for decades and yet who refuse to attend the Bahrain Grand Prix (17 540 000). Even if you don’t like cars, don’t like crowds, don’t like noise, and don’t like the fact that neither of the British drivers came out on top last year (neither do we), if you live in Bahrain and haven’t been to the Grand Prix then you haven’t really lived here. [timeout bahrain]

Watch the sun set over Bahrain Fort – Bahrain’s sole UNESCO World Heritage Site is pretty spectacular during the day, but it is at night, when the sun is setting and the ruins are floodlit, that you really get a feel for the enormity of the place. Sunset is also one of the best times to capture the colours of the building on camera. [timeout bahrain]

Festivals

Festivals

Ashura – Known as the Shiite day of mourning, Shi’a Muslims participate in the day of mourning in commemoration of the martyrdom of Husayn ibn Ali on Ashura. It is widely thought to be the day when Noah’s Ark came to a standstill and to correspond to the date the Ka’ba was built in Mecca and the prophet Abraham was born. [best-country]

Eid al-Watani – 16th December is the Bahrain’s National Day. The celebrations include parades and processions. [best-country]

Eid ul Adha – Known as the Festival of Sacrifice, Eid ul Adha marks the time of year when Muslims make the pilgrimage to Mecca. The festival is celebrated to remember the sacrifice of Abraham to his son, Ishmael, for God. On this day, Muslims across Bahrain sacrifice sheep, camels and cows on this day in a symbolic gesture. [best-country]

Eid ul Fitr – Eid ul Fitr falls at the end of the month of Ramadan. It is a three-day festival during which Muslims enjoy good food with their families and friends. [best-country]

Islamic New Year – Known as Muharram, the New Year is celebrated with enthusiasm in Bahrain. A ban on alcohol is observed at many venues on this day. [best-country]

Milad al-Nabi – Milad al-Nabi is celebrated on the birthday of Muhammad. The Sunni and Shi’a Muslims celebrate the festival on different days, which is normally a few days apart. The festivities on this day include processions, feasts, decorations and storytelling. [best-country]

Ramadan – Ramadan is the most important and holy month in the Islamic calendar. This is the period of fasting for the Muslims. The daytime activities generally come to a halt during this period as Muslims fast from dawn to dusk. [best-country]

Public Transit

Public Transit

Bus – Bahrain has a public bus system linking most of the major towns and residential areas, but it’s designed primarily for the expatriate workforce and is of limited use to tourists. [lonely planet]

Car and motorcycle – Driving around Bahrain is straightforward and roads are well signposted with regard to the main sites of tourist interest. Speed limits, the wearing of seat belts and drink-driving laws are rigorously enforced. Speed limits are 60km/h in towns, 80km/h in the outer limits of suburbs and 100km/h on highways. Petrol stations are well signposted, especially along highways. [lonely planet]

Professional Groups & Events

Professional Groups & Events

Bahrain User Experience (UX) and Usability Meetup – Bahrain User Experience (UX) and Usability Meetup Group Welcome UX Champions! Yes, you are the super hero in the room when you do the critical and most valuable job in your business. You are up to the mission for leading your business to success and be distinctive among others. [meetup]

BHwebtech – If you are interested in all things web related, whether you are a webpreneur, a designer, a developer, a blogger, an entrepreneur let’s meet up! Here we can discuss our web endeavours, the latest tech and much much more! [meetup]

Dhahran, Saudi User Experience (UX) Meetup – Calling out all UXers nearby to meetup and networking. let’s get together and share ideas and know each others. This is the first events in Eastern, Saudi Arabia and more is coming. UX is very important and critical in each product, and there is lack of knowledge of this concepts in local region. we need to inspire and motivate the local market to start thinking about UX and include this in their products and websites. [meetup]

Human Resources Management and Development Meetup – This is a group for anyone interested in human resources management and development. All skills levels are welcome, preferably people with managerial positions. I started this group because of the lack of venues discussing the problems associated with HRM and HRD. Looking forward to exploring the outdoors with everybody. [meetup]

Lean & Agile Bahrain – This is a group for anyone interested in exploring agile mindset, values, principles and practices to start, enhance and share his agile transformation journey targeting collaborative and value driven working environment. [meetup]

Language Exchange

Language Exchange

al-Manamah Expat Entrepreneurs Meetup – Anyone who is in business or looking for ideas to start a business of any size, shape or kind can join us. [meetup]

Bahrain Expat Ladies Social Meetup – A meetup group to enable fun, fabulous female expats who are in need of a wider social circle on the Island to hangout and make new friends. Events will include ladies night drinks, breakfast hangouts, and weekend brunches to start.. open to other suggestions….the more the merrier. [meetup]

The Expats Club – Bahrain – I organise 7 groups in Dubai, 2 in Abu Dhabi and 5 in London. I find that there are a large number of people especially in the GCC outside of Dubai who find themselves bored, lonely and at a loose end on weekends and during the holiday season. (We have a number of members in Dubai and Abu Dhabi from other GCC countries). [meetup]

LGBT Groups

LGBT Groups

Resources

Resources

Places in Bahrain

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