Art and Heritage
The Craft Centre in Manama, run entirely by Bahraini women, is a favourite with foreign visitors and it is easy to see why. It has some of the most exquisite creations you will find, ranging from jewellery, iron, wood and paper products to embroidered and crocheted goods as well as highly artistic Arabic calligraphy. Perfect place to pick up souvenirs
If you can, try and get yourself invited to a traditional Bahraini wedding. The receptions are lavish, the food out of this world and the ceremony probably unlike anything you might have imagined.
If you are in Bahrain at the time of the annual Heritage Festival, put it on your must-visit list.
The festival offers a chance to see some of Bahrains finest craftsmen at work. Basket-weaving, pottery, handicrafts... youll see it all here. You will also get to hear traditional Bahraini music.
Only a couple of minutes walk from Bab Al Bahrain, this circa 1937 building is now a museum offering a glimpse of traditional Bahraini life.
You will find exhibits relating to Bahrains tradition and culture, with items on pearl diving, falconry and aspects of domestic life including a fully-decorated wedding room.
There are also three rooms of archive photographs tracing Bahrains development which are simply essential viewing.
Pay a visit to the village of Bani Jamra, where weavers produce works of art on their manually operated looms. Italian fashion designer and Bahrain resident Roberta Redaelli tells of one weaver, Abdul Redha, who has been working the looms for more than 50 years. "It is worth the trip to Bani Jamra just to watch him in action," she says.
No visitor can fail to be fascinated watching artisans at work in Aali which is the centre of Bahrains pottery industry. The potters still fire their pieces using ancient kilns and traditional methods that have been handed down generation after generation. Many of the pieces resemble those found in ancient Dilmun digs.
Karbabad is famous for its basket-weavers who use split palm fronds to make some exquisite utility and decorative items.
You can pick up wall hangings, floor mats and a variety of baskets that will make great souvenirs or gifts for back home.
The Al Jasra Handicraft Centre houses a number of traditional crafts. Set up by the Tourism Directorate, each room at the centre puts different crafts on show, including palm weaving, pottery and woodwork. Items can be bought from a gift shop at the centre.
Leading artist Rashid Al Oraifi recently opened a museum devoted to art and artefacts of the Dilmun era. The museum boasts well over 100 works of art and sculptures from the period. One of the major attractions is Al Oraifis own paintings of the era, in which he uses a special technique to give them a period effect.
The Bahrain Arts Society in Budaiya boasts more than 100 members whose artistic styles are as exciting as they are varied. For anyone interested in contemporary Bahraini art, a visit to the societys annual exhibition is a must.
Some of the nicest souvenirs you can take home are paintings of the country. Many leading artists have their own galleries where you can buy original art or limited edition prints of their best work. There are too many good artists to list here, but among our favourites are Abdul Wahab Kooheji (one of whose paintings made it as our 1998 print edition cover), Abbas Al Mosawi and Abdulla Al Muharraqi.
With Bahrain gaining in popularity as a tourist destination, many tour operators have begun offering package deals with charter flights and hotel stay. Check with your travel agent, there are some real bargains to be had!