|Bahrain's must-see attractions|
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Best of craft on show. If you are in Bahrain at the time of the annual Heritage Festival (usually in March or April), put the fete on your must-visit list. The event, of seven to ten days, offers the opportunity to see some of Bahrain’s finest crafts people at work: basket and textile weavers and potters among others. You’ll be able to hear traditional Bahraini music, see old-time children’s games and costumes of yesteryear. Call Bahrain National Museum (1729 8777) for festival dates.
Dhow building yards
Traditional methods still live on. Dhows are still built today in much the same manner as they used to be generations ago. It’s an education to watch the craftsmen in Muharraq curve the teakwood hulls and hammer the planks together into beautiful seacraft with nothing more than mental notes of plans handed down via word of mouth. Dhows are still very much used for fishing or to transport goods. These traditional boats are also popular as venues for parties held at sea.
Feats of clay. It is impossible not to be fascinated watching the artisans at work in A’ali which is the heart of Bahrain’s pottery industry. The potters still fire their pieces using ancient kilns and traditional methods handed down generation after generation. Many of the pieces resemble those found in ancient Dilmun digs.
Weaving magic. Pay a visit to the village of Bani Jamra (near Budaiya Avenue), where weavers produce works of art on their manually operated looms. The looms need excellent co-ordination with nearly 2,600 threads extended for about 30 metres.
Exquisite creations make great gifts. The village of Karbabad, located near Bahrain Fort, is famed for its basketweavers 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’ll make great souvenirs or gifts for back home.
The Craft Centre
Perfect place to purchase souvenirs. The Craft Centre in Manama, run entirely by Bahraini women, is a favourite with visitors, and it’s easy to see why. It has some of the most exquisite creations you’ll find, ranging from jewellery, iron, wood and paper products to embroidered and crocheted goods as well as highly artistic Arabic calligraphy and stained glass. You might be able to visit some of the workshops; a particularly good one is seeing how paper is produced from palm fronds. The centre (tel 1725 4688) is the perfect place for buying genuine souvenirs from Bahrain.
Al Jasra Handicraft Centre
One-stop crafts. Al Jasra Handicraft Centre (tel 1761 1900) houses a number of traditional crafts. Set up by the Tourism Directorate, each room at the centre puts different crafts in the spotlight including palm weaving, pottery and woodwork. Items can be purchased at the gift shop at the centre.