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When I was around 12, my family was invited to visit the home of a date farmer and it was one of the most fascinating days I can remember. After sitting with the farmer's family having cold drinks, we were taken out to the garden where we watched the farmer climb a very tall palm tree. He placed a leather harness around his back then attached it to a leather strap which went around the trunk of the tree. He balanced a basket between himself and the tree. Shinning up the tree barefoot, he cut down a huge bunch of dates which he placed in the basket before shinning down the tree again. He did that several more times and never seemed to tire. I have never since tasted dates quite as sweet as the dates I tasted on that day.

In the Fifties, some Bahraini people still lived in Barasti villages where houses were made from date palms. Although date palm trees were fairly substantial, occasionally when a kerosene lamp fell or was blown over, it meant the whole village was burnt down. Since the oil boom, it has been many years since the people of Bahrain have had to live in such fear.

Thanks to the revenue from the oil and the subsequent development programmes launched by the government, Bahrain has changed dramatically to the modern, vibrant country it is today. The greatest pleasure for me, though, is that for all the changes that have taken place, Bahrain retains the old-world charm that I will always remember it for.