What comes to mind when you hear the words “Manama, Bahrain”? You think of a high-rise city, with government and business buildings, malls, some mosques, maybe a business district, a few restaurants, the odd museum or two. Well, given Bahrain’s tiny size, this archipelago of 33 islands packs in a lot of fun and different things to do.
The expat-friendly atmosphere is welcoming, but more so is the fact that the country imposes no taxes on your income. You can spend it all, and there are plenty of opportunities to do so. You can live in the latest in luxurious accommodation, stay fit by going to the gym or a sports club, indulge in some golf or horse-riding over the weekend, soak in some culture at the UNESCO World Heritage fort of Bahrain, have some family fun at the amusement parks or the cinema, or just blow it all on shopping. Read on to find out what’s on offer in Manama, Bahrain.
Three Fun Things to do in Manama
- Do you enjoy speed? Don’t miss the 2016 Formula One Gulf Air Grand Prix, to be held from the 1st to the 3rd of April. Did you know that Bahrain is the first Gulf nation to host the Formula One race? The Sakhir Track upholds its status as the only desert Formula One track amongst the 21 Formula One races across the world. You can also enjoy the colorful stage performances, carnival complete with children’s games, and other festivities that will accompany the Formula One race.
- Bahrain has water parks, amusement parks, and wildlife retreats galore. Take your family to the Lost Paradise of Dilmun Water Park or the Wahoo! Water Park to cool off in the heat. The Adhari Amusement Park will be fun for both you and your children, with the wide variety pf rides, ranging from gentle to scream-inducing. Observe nature at the Al Areen Wildlife Reservation. You can get up close and personal with the ‘ship of the desert’ at the Royal Camel Farm.
- You can soak in a lot of history at Manama, Bahrain. You must visit the Qalat al Bahrain, a 14th century fort and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Take in the beauty and atmosphere of the Al Fatih Mosque (Great Mosque). The Bahrain National Museum’s exhibits are a must-see for history enthusiasts.
Bahrain is an ideal destination for foreigners looking to invest, open new businesses, or find high-paying jobs with a high standard of living. Did you know that Bahrain is the first country in the Gulf region to start male and female education, the first to establish a Chamber of Commerce, the first to establish a banking sector? There are many more firsts. Bahrain has been the first Gulf nation to introduce democratic reforms and embark on a privatization program. The Bahrain Bourse is a dynamic institution that allows foreigners as well to buy and sell stocks, bonds and units of mutual funds.
Top 5 Reasons why Bahrain is the place to be
- Great for work or for business- The economy is diversified, with the country being the first among Gulf nations to develop other sectors in the economy. Literacy is 95%. The cost of doing business in Bahrain is about 40% lower than in Dubai and Qatar, according to the KPMG report The 2014 Cost of Doing Business in Bahrain in the Financial Services.
- Low costs and a high standard of living- According to a March 2014 Economic Intelligence Unit report, basic costs such as charges for utilities are the lowest in Bahrain as compared to other countries in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region. The government imposes no taxes whatsoever. Houses are luxurious, and house help is also more affordable in Bahrain than in other Gulf nations.
- Proximity to other Gulf nations and Europe- Saudi Arabia is just a 30 minute drive from Manama. The major European capitals are seven to eight hours away.
- Liberal atmosphere- Bahrain has one of the most liberal cultures among the Gulf nations. There are no restrictions on women, only that they be modestly dressed. Alcohol is freely available in the many restaurants and cafes. Crime is low. There are various different festivals throughout the year.
- Family friendly- Bahrain has an excellent health care system. There are many private and international schools for your children. There are also a plethora of family entertainment options, such as amusement parks, water parks, wildlife parks, beaches, restaurants and so on. Shopping options include the traditional souks, malls and boutiques.
With the Bahrain Bourse, many investment options, job opportunities, low costs of living, and a great lifestyle, Bahrain has much to offer.
Manama, Bahrain’s capital, is one of the most sought after cities in the country. With a diverse population and expats from all over the world living here, this is definitely a great place for a holiday, especially for Italians. Apart from being the business hub of the country and the Gulf Region, the city is also a great tourist destination. It would be fair to say that it is one of the top tourist destinations, given that BQ Magazine pegs tourism as contributing at least 20% of the nation’s GDP. Manama, Bahrain, is the gateway for many Arabs and expats living in the Gulf region to enjoy and spend some quality time, while enjoying along Bahraini cuisine and drinks, which are otherwise banned in Arabian countries.
Best Places to Eat in Manama
When it comes to eating your heart out, Manama, Bahrain, leaves you spoilt for choice, with the entire range on offer, from pocket-friendly food joints to 5-star restaurants.
Here are some of the best restaurants in you should definitely try for good food in the city:
- Café Lilou’s – This restaurant is a must for those seeking good food with a beautiful ambience. French architecture and interiors with polished wood floors, and the delectable cuisine make this place quite popular with expats and locals alike. The café also has gorgeous outdoor seating, which makes it a great place to pop into with friends.
- Masso – this eatery belongs to none other than popular chef Susy Massetti. Known for its fresh ingredients and best in class food, the atmosphere here will make you feel that you are already in a familiar and comfortable place. You can choose from the best Mediterranean dishes here.
- Haji Gahwa – One of the best places if you want to try Bahraini or Middle Eastern cuisine, this place boasts biryanis that are simply lip smacking and usually served with chopped onions and a salad made from cucumber and tomatoes. The laneway tables enhance the experience, allowing you to enjoy your meal while enjoying a warm Gulf night.
- Bahay Kubo – This is traditional Filipino restaurant, and many consider it the best restaurant in Manama, Bahrain, because it offers the finest quality of food. The restaurant also has a private room, where you can enjoy social functions and small parties with your family and friends. It often gets busy during lunch and dinner time, so you might need to book your table in advance.
Did you know that if you are looking for 7 seater cars, you can choose a family car or an SUV? The Avanza and Previa are family cars or minivans, while the Land Cruiser, Sequoia and Fortuner are SUVs.
- Avanza: The Avanza has a 1.5 litre gasoline engine with four cylinders and 103 horsepower, with 4 speed automatic transmission and rear wheel drive. Safety means air bags in the front, anti-braking system (ABS), electronic brake force distribution (EBD) and an anti-theft system that can disable the engine. The interior is very luxurious with full audio capability with a radio, USB connection, CD drive and six speakers, plush seats and multi-zone climate control AC.
- Previa: The Previa has a 2.4 litre gasoline engine with four cylinders and 168 horsepower, with 4 speed automatic transmission and a choice of two or four wheel drive. This minivan has all the safety and comfort found in the Avanza, the difference being that this is one of the 7 seater cars with a much more powerful engine.
- Land Cruiser: The Land Cruiser is an iconic Toyota car, having been around for more than 60 years. There are many options to choose from in terms of engine size, cylinders, horsepower and speed of transmission, manual or automatic. The Land Cruiser is a four wheel drive. Safety, comfort and versatility define the Land Cruiser. The smart interior has all the audio gizmos, climate control AC, 9-inch screen, and even a prayer rug and sun roof in some models. Safety is fully ensured with air bags, ABS, an anti-theft device, and EBD.
- Sequoia: The Sequoia comes with a 5.7 litre gasoline/diesel engine with eight cylinders and 381 horsepower, and 6 speed automatic transmission with an option of manual control. You can opt for a two or four wheel drive. It has a vehicle control system (VCS) in addition to ABS, EBD, front and side air bags, and an anti-theft device. Comfortable interiors include a DVD player, all the audio gizmos, climate control AC, and even a prayer rug and sun roof in some models.
- Fortuner: The Fortuner has the GX1 and GX2 models with a 2.7 litre engine with four cylinders, and the VX1 and VX2 models with a 4 litre engine with six cylinders. You have the option of manual or automatic transmission, and two or four wheel drive. All the safety features of the Land Cruiser can be found in the Fortuner. The interior is also fully equipped, with WiFi as an additional feature.
The 2015 edition of Arab Aviation and Media Summit was held in the capital city of Bahrain and was attended by 200 industry leaders in the region, reported the Arab News on December 8, 2015. It was held in partnership with Bahrain’s Ministry of Transportation & Telecommunications and Bahrain Airport Company and one of the key areas of discussion was the importance of inviting foreign investment to the sector. This is especially relevant in light of the previous year’s declaration of a five year upgrade project of the Bahrain airport which was estimated to be worth 2 billion USD and would boost passenger capacity to 13.5 million per year. As a result the number of airlines flying from the airport are also expected to increase in the near future, but for the time being it remains the hub for Gulf Air, its flagship airline, which flies to over 43 destinations across the world.
Gulf Air: The Far Reaching Falcon
What started out in the 1940s as Gulf Aviation – a taxi service to Doha and Dhahran from Bahrain, came to be owned by the governments of then Emirates of Bahrain, the State of Qatar, the Emirates of Abu Dhabi and the Sultanate of Oman in 1973, after they took over the company that had holding in the aviation. It was then that it came to be renamed Gulf Air. In 1981 it became an IATA member and became the first international airline to land at Riyadh airport. Up until 2005, the airline’s hub used to be Abu Dhabi until it withdrew in September 2005 to start its own airline – Eitihad airways. At this point, the airline had dual hubs at both Bahrain and Muscat. On May 6, 2007 Bahrain became the sole owner of the airline as the joint-owner Oman withdrew from the consortium. Since then, Gulf Air has its hub at the Bahrain Airport located near Muhrraq, 7kms from the capital city, Manama.
There are several codeshare agreements that the airline has with reputed international airlines which allows it to extend its reaches. One of these is with American Airlines which codeshares on Gulf Air from London, Paris, Frankfurt to Bahrain and vice-versa, as well as to Kuwait and Doha via Bahrain and vice-versa. Gulf Air codeshares on American Airlines from London Heathrow, Paris and Frankfurt to US points: New York, Boston, Miami, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Raleigh-Durham and vice-versa.
The CEO of Bahrain Airport Company (BAC), the managing body of Bahrain International Airport, was named ‘Airport Personality of the Year’ at the Emerging Markets Airports Awards presented in Kuwait in 2015. This award was in recognition of the efforts made to make Bahrain Airport (BA) the preferred access point into the Gulf region as well as making the nation a popular tourist and aviation hub in the Middle East, as reported by the BAC website.
BA connects to more than 45 destinations all over the world, serviced by over 40 airlines and running more than 250 flights a week. Gulf Air, the national carrier, operates short flights to Riyadh, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Muscat, Doha and Kuwait City. Four flights run on the Riyadh route daily.
Bahrain Airport is now a Transit Hub to the Gulf Countries
Passengers can virtually spend their life within the premises, with amenities such as food and beverages, duty free outlets, and facilities for relaxation, work or recreation.
Here are 3 things you can look forward to when you’re next at the Bahrain Airport.
- Lounges: BA currently has three lounges for passengers flying Premium class. Its traditions of hospitality and personalized service reflect the typical Bahraini etiquette. Gulf Air offers some services specifically suited to First and Business class travelers. These include separate sections for privacy and relaxation, shower rooms, a family section complete with toys and video games, all facilities required by businessmen entering the nation and a prayer room for the devout.
The next time you’re waiting for a flight at Bahrain Airport, check out the Dining Room, meant for Falcon Gold passengers. Often, Gulf Air’s Sky Chefs are at hand to cook a personal menu of the choicest Middle Eastern and European dishes.
- Duty Free Shopping: The shopping zone has been in operation since 1990, and offers in-flight services on Bahraini airlines too. You can shop for, jewelry, accessories, liquor and tobacco, as well as confectionery. It is open 24 hours a day.
- Meet and Assist Services: BA offers ‘marhaba’ or welcome services to help you meet and assist your relatives to help them arrive in a safe and comfortable manner in the spirit of traditional Arabic hospitality.
You may also want to learn more about life in Bahrain and tourist destinations for the future. The nation is the next popular emerging market for business and investment, and looks forward to many more GCC citizens taking part in its economy in the near future.