Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Kindom of Bahrain

For photo album go to:

From the US Department of State Website:

Cities: Capital--Manama, pop. (2002 est.) 148,000. Other cities--Al Muharraq.

Terrain: Low desert plain (highest elevation point--122 m).

Climate: Hot and humid from May-September, with average highs ranging from 30o-40o C (86o-104o F). Maximum temperatures average 20o-30o C (68o-86o F) the remainder of the year.

The Kingdom of Bahrain
 I had the opportunity to spend about a day and a half in the Kingdom of Bahrain. It’s a beautiful island in the Persian Gulf and its capital is Manama. Not only did I get to drive around and see the tree of life, I was able to appreciate all that our oil dollars have contributed to the Bahraini lifestyle. While not as developed as Dubai, Bahrain has many new buildings that share the stunning architecture of its UAE neighbor. One of the most impressive buildings is the World Trade Center. Two towers comprise this structure. The towers are mirror images of each other and are connected by three struts, each of which has a wind turbine. Here in the oil-rich Middle East, the Bahrainis are forward thinking enough that they see the merits of wind energy. These three huge turbines generate about 12-15 % of the energy requirements of the towers. At the base of the two towers is the Moda Mall, a very high-end retail center that is lit by fiber optic chandeliers. The mall seems recent ly opened and it was not crowded. Another popular mall in Manama is City Center that has about 350 stores. It is very busy with Bahrainis in western dress. In fact, few traditional abayas and disdashas are seen in Manama. The City Center has a large food court with an array of international eateries. I found that when driving in Bahrain the traffic is orderly and well controlled, unlike Kuwait where driving seems like a free-for-all. At rush hour, armed militia men with machine guns and guerilla paint on their faces patrol each major intersection. Who needs traffic tickets? Bahrain has the reputation of being the Las Vegas of the Middle-East. The country, however, it is neither as glitzy nor vulgar as Sin City; it does, however, permit the sale of alcohol in the major hotels so it has a fairly active night life.

There is much landscaping throughout Manama. There are green spaces and water features. All in all, I thought it quite attractive. If I had to choose a place to live in the desert, I might well select Bahrain.

For a description of my trip to the Tree of Life, see my earlier blog entry.

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