Impressions of Bahrain
More unpretending than the UAE and Qatar and less 'in' for foreign visitors than Oman, the island Kingdom of Bahrain is a bit of a blind spot on the map of the smaller Gulf States on the edges of Saudi Arabia. Bahrain is also economically not comparable to neighbouring Saudi Arabia, Qatar or the Emirates because it cannot rely on massive oil and gas deposits in its soil, and therefore has gone through a less rapid and bold change of society, still more solidly anchored in tradition and history. From many viewpoints Bahrain is therefore a quite interesting place to explore, with less flashy but good infrastructure, a couple of exquisite museums and several fascinating archaeological sites and castles which narrate the turbulent history of the island. A history in which the proximity of Persia, on the other shore of the Gulf, plays a key role. In various stages of its time line, Bahrain has indeed been occupied by different Persian empires, migration from Persia to Bahrain has been near to a constant given, and it is therefore hardly surprising that today a majority of native Bahraini citizens follow Shi'a rather than Sunni Islam, contrary to the other countries of the Arabian peninsula and although political power is steadily in Sunni hands, since 1783 with the Al-Khalifa dynasty. Politically this duality has at times led to sparks and trouble, but culturally and otherwise it has shaped Bahrain's rather unique identity, which we gradually discover as we travel through land and time.
Before visiting the place of your choice:
The word 'Bahrain' means 'the two seas', and that is exactly what this country is, an island wedged between two seas, or better: surrounded by sea. Bahrain is the only island State of the Arab world, apart from the main island also composed of the adjacent Awal archipelago of small natural and artificial islets.