Yesterday I took the kids to several tourist attractions in Bahrain. I had all of the kids because Nadia and Ale were judging an art competition at a local school and Diego had some correspondence to complete. I loaded up the car with all four kids, took out the map, packed drinks and snacks, and set out to explore the island.
We first went to the Bahrain Fort. The fort rests on top of a “tell” which is an archeological term meaning an area that has been built up to a mound because of through the centuries it has been occupied. The tell around the fort is only partially excavated and it would be a good project to excavate and document the entire site. Bahrain was a trading post since antiquity, first being occupied by the Dilmuns. The Persians (Iranians) controlled the islands for a long time, probably longer than the Arabs, hence the name, the Persian Gulf. A fortress was built on the site by the Portuguese. Bahrain has long been known as a site for the processing of pearls. The site is located near to the water which makes sense. The kids loved playing hide and seek and running through the arches, steps, and corridors of the fort. We spent a couple hours exploring every nook and cranny of the place.
We then drove down to the nearby beach and collected shells. I’ll do a blog post on the items we found later, which I’ll need help deciphering several messages we found from any Arabic readers out there. We ended our morning excursion with a tour of the Al Fateh Mosque.
The mosque was very impressive. It is huge and magnificent! The place can fit 7,000 worshippers and the amount of money that went into the mosque, from meters and meters of Italian marble in the courtyard, to the main chandelier of the great dome in the hall – the government must have spent millions of dollars. I think it is really nice that it is open to the “infidels” and they have it set up to teach foreigners about Islam. The woman at the desk was quite helpful and gave us complimentary books about Islam for children and in Spanish for Popa. They had signs explaining how to pray and do ablutions (ritual washing before prayer). I taught the kids about Mecca, Allah, etc. We also heard the call to prayer from the two huge towers outside the mosque. I hope to upload it to my flickr account, but am struggling with the internet speed here.
We then met up with the rest of the family for a late lunch in “American Alley.” This is a street just outside the US Naval base downtown that features dozens of US and international fast food chain restaurants. We ate Mediterranean Grill, a restaurant similar to TGIF or Applebees. We stopped in the harbor and took photos of the sunset of the Manama skyline. There are many beautiful skyscrapers on reclaimed land near the harbor. Below on the left of the photo is the Bahrain Financial Harbor building designed to reflect the colors of the sunset.