Bahrain Is The Middle East’s Secret Pleasure Island And Here’s Why
You're in for a surprise...
The Kingdom of Bahrain is notorious to Arabian natives as the secret entertainment capital within the Middle East.
This understated island in the Arabian Gulf sea packs a big punch attracting local Arabians across the 25km-long King Fahd Causeway, to enjoy Bahrainis’ easy-going attitude and sophisticated love of leisure.
With direct Gulf Air flights running from London Heathrow. The country combines unique Bahraini heritage with the latest in modern luxury and entertainment, it is why Bahrain stands out from its Middle Eastern neighbours.
WHAT TO DO
Bahrain F1 Grand Prix
Bahrain’s flagship event of the year also makes it the best time to visit.
The Bahrain Grand Prix has been a fixture on the Formula 1 circuit for 15 years, with superstar racing drivers such as Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo arriving at the Bahrain International Circuit, it's the hottest tickets in town and makes for one epic weekend.
Add to the mix, globally renowned dance DJ’s Martin Garrix & Kygo performing on Friday and Saturday night to 10,000 screaming fist-pumping fans. It put a big exclamation mark on the weekends’ entertainment!
Test Your Go-Karting Speed
Right next to the Bahrain International Circuit, is the Bahrain International Karting Circuit and if you are daring enough, take to the track yourself on this 1.4km long, 14-corner world-class facility.
It’s also the first karting track in the world to host a championship level event at night but you don’t have to be a die-hard racer to enjoy the venue. With championships, mini grand-prix to track session and driver training, there’s something for every level.
If you're still in the need for speed, experience the sensation of flying in one of the world’s tallest indoor wind tunnels at Gravity Skydiving.
With wind speeds reaching up to 250 kmph up the 12 metre high tunnel, instructors are on hand to make your flying technique perfect, and may even take you for an adrenaline-fuelled spin if you get to grips with it quickly.
Best of all the experience of for anyone age four and over, so there are no excuses not to try.
Party At Block 338
Located in the heart of the capital of Manama, Block 338 is Bahrain’s premium nightlife district and is crammed with international restaurants, art galleries and boutique shops.
If you fancy some traditional Bahrain food or a soothing drink head over to the Block when the sun sets. The area really comes alive, with the youth of Bahrain socialising in the carefree atmosphere.
The Old Houses Of Muharraq
Step back in Bahrain time by taking the UNESCO World Heritage pearling pathway through the old houses of Muharraq. The former capital of Bahrain was once the epicentre of fishing for Bahraini pearls, that are still some of the best in the world.
Wonder down its narrow lanes, and stop by the former king’s 150-year-old residence. Sheikh Isa Bin Ali Al Khalifa’s house offers a fascinating glimpse into pre-oil life in Bahrain featuring beautifully carved wooden doors and perforated gypsum panels.
Tour the Bahrain Fort
Another one of the Gulf’s rare UNESCO World Heritage sites, the Qal'at Al-Bahrain (Bahrain Fort) displays the fascinating occupational history of this island nation dating back to 2300BC, that’s over 4000 years!
And for the more adventurous of you, try Horseback riding at sunset around the fort parameter and along the coast on a pureblood Arabian horse.
This ancient activity will really channel your age-old inner desert warrior as the sun dips over the stunning skyline of the castle walls.
WHERE TO STAY
The premium beach resort of The Ritz-Carlton includes a private white sand beach along the Arabian Gulf sea, 11 dining options and 5-star spa facilities placing this hotel a cut above the rest.
Only a short drive from the International Circuit is the Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea & Spa beachside resort, meaning it is very popular with the Formula One teams during race weekend. You may even find yourself next to Sebastian Vettel as they host their infamous Friday brunch, which is claimed to be the best in Bahrain. Impressive!
Swiss-Belhotel Seef Bahrain has recently been awarded the “Best four-star hotel” title at the Bahrain 2018 Foot & Travel Awards. It provides top quality facilities and is located in Bahrain’s commercial district and only 20 minutes drive from the International Airport.
Quarters Youth Hostel
If you’re looking for a more affordable and sociable stay in Bahrain, check out Quarters Youth Hostel, conveniently placed next to the nightlife of Block 338. Offering modest prices for quality accommodation in the centre of Manama it makes the capital accessible by foot for those not looking to break the bank.
FOOD AND DRINK
Haji Cafe - *HIGHLY RECOMMENDED*
Traditional breakfasts don’t come any more authentic than at Haji’s Cafe who have been open for more than 50 years in an alleyway of the Manama Souq Market. Serving variations of meat, beans, eggs, rice and bread straight from the oven the vibe is relaxed, unassuming and the prices are extremely cheap. This is genuine Bahraini culture rather than a typical tourist trap and comes highly recommended from MTV!
Hazel Rooftop Lounge
Hazel Rooftop Lounge not only serves up a mouthwatering menu in the heart of Block 338, but also promotes the local Bahraini musical scene featuring live musicians several times a week from DJ’s to full 5-6 piece blues, indie and alternative bands.
Try Bahraini Cuisine
One of Bahrain’s most famous dish is called Machboos, which is made up of spiced Meat or Fish served with rice and is very similar to the Indian classic Biriyani.
Or go for something a little more daring with Muhammar, a sweet rice dish made with date molasses usually served with fresh fish straight from the Arabian Gulf.
Coffee is known locally as Gahwa and is part of the welcome tradition usually poured into a dalla (coffee-pot) and served into a finjan, a small cup specifically for coffee.
By James Fenn
MTV Travelled With… Bahrain Tourism & Exhibitions Authority. For more information on the Kingdom of Bahrain, events, and attractions please visit www.btea.bh. Fly direct to Bahrain with Gulf Air from London Heathrow Airport. Gulf Air’s Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner offers 26 Falcon Gold Class seats and 256 Economy Class seats with greater pitch, larger IFE screens, enhanced on-board comforts and greater entertainment choices. For further information, fares and reservations contact: (+973) 17373737 or visit: www.gulfair.com. Swiss-Belhotel Seef Bahrain. The Swiss-Belhotel is a 4-star international hotel, recently awarded the “Best four-star hotel” and “Hotel of the year” titles at the prestigious Bahrain 2018 Food & Travel Awards. Room rates start from £110 per night. Visit: https://www.swiss-belhotel.com/en-gb/Bahrain for more information.