|Sports enthusiasts spoilt for choice|
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It goes without saying that ice-skating was one of those sports we thought we’d have to forgo in Bahrain, and I am happy to report that we were wrong! You can even take lessons from a former Scottish Figure Skating Champion at Bahrain’s recently upgraded ice rink in the Funland Centre, on the Al Fateh Corniche. I think one of my enduring memories of life in Bahrain will be the incongruous sight of Arab men gliding gracefully around the rink clad in traditional national dress of the long white thobe and ghutra headdress, designed to keep the wearer cool under a blistering desert sun! Ice Hockey is also played at the rink – call 17292313 for timings.
Running is a pastime enjoyed by many, and if competitive running is in your blood, you might want to get in touch with the Bahrain Cross Country and Road Runners (CCRR) Club. The club organises races, varying in distance from 3km to a full marathon, every weekend and visitors are welcome to enter for the nominal sum of 500 fils (call Adnan Al-Qassab on 17689320 or check out www.bahrain-ccrr.org).
Hash House Harriers, the international social runners’ organisation, has a chapter in Bahrain comprising around 100 members. The Hash meets on Mondays at 5pm and runs are followed by a barbecue. All comers are welcome so if you’re here on a business trip and want to keep in shape, why not join them? You can obtain recorded directions to meets by calling 17862620.
Arabia is home to some of the world’s finest horses and the tradition of horsemanship goes back thousands of years in the Middle East, where it is a deeply-rooted passion. Today, show jumping, flat racing and endurance riding combine to form a horse scene that keeps riders busy throughout the year. Casual riders are welcomed at most stables. Try the Dilmun Club (17690926) in Saar; Twin Palms (17591668) at Shakhoora or the Country Club (17593593) in Janussan, all of which offer riding lessons and hacking for riders of all ages and abilities.
If equine speed is your thing, you can enjoy a day at Bahrain’s national racecourse at Sakhir. Organised by the Equestrian and Horse Racing Club, race meetings are held on Fridays from October to May and feature some of the Gulf’s finest horses from Bahrain’s Amiri Court stables. Bahrain’s ruling Al Khalifa family has a deep love of horses and racing and keenly monitors the breeding programmes of both traditional Arab horses as well as thoroughbreds. The country has four official stud farms, breeding around 1,500 registered thoroughbred foals annually.
Land speed of a different type can be enjoyed at the ‘arrive and drive’ Seef Karting Track where you can test your skill on a variety of Rotax and Prokarts karts of varying engine sizes. At the time of writing, this is the only go-karting circuit in the Kingdom, but there are understood to be plans afoot to open a privately funded track on land adjacent to the Bahrain International Circuit (F1).