Religion and Culture
Set against the backdrop of palm trees and the sea, the Grand Mosque strikes a beautiful picture. With its exquisite Bahraini architecture, crowned by the worlds largest fibreglass dome and blessed with a tranquillity reserved for the holiest of holy places, the Grand Mosque truly lives up to its name.
Though non-Moslem visitors are welcome, it is important that you dress modestly, cover your head and take your shoes off before entering.
Beit Al Quran (House of the Quran) is a rather unique museum. It is dedicated solely to the Quran and to works of art inspired by the Moslem holy book. The museum has a distinctively Islamic architecture, with the walls inscribed with Arabic calligraphy. Many of the copies of the Quran you will see here are works of art in themselves ranging from an ornamented 12th century Persian masterpiece, to a gold-lettered, eight-sided 16th century edition.
If you happen to be visiting Bahrain during the Moslem holy month of Ramadan, make it a point to visit one of the Ramadan tents set up by hotels. During the Holy Month, devout Moslems do not eat during the day, breaking the fast only at sundown with a modest meal called iftar. The hotels Ramadan tents capture the spirit of the season, serving up Arabic refreshments, entertainment and games. Non-Moslems are welcome to the tents which are open until 2 or 3 in the morning.
This is one of the oldest mosques in the Arab world. Believed to be built in 692 AD, it was restored in the 11th century. The Kufic inscriptions on its walls and the ancient arches which frame its twin minarets make the Khamis Mosque popular with photographers, historians and religious alike. Restoration work has recently been completed at the monument, which ceased to be used as a mosque in the Sixties.
Though English-speaking visitors should have no problems making themselves understood in Bahrain, it is always nice to learn a few oft-spoken Arabic words and phrases. If nothing else, it will help you haggle for better deals at the souk! There are several English-Arabic dictionaries available in bookstores, or check the Helpline section of this guide for a list of commonly used words and phrases.
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!