Al Manamah UAE

Think dreamy Arabian landscapes juxtaposed with uber-modern buildings reaching up to the sky and you have probably pictured Al Manama. The capital of Bahrain, Al Manama, is as old as it is new – vestiges of the 16th-century trade route port remain, while the steel and glass skyscrapers line the streets of the busy financial district. The most notable of these is undoubtedly the 2008 World Trade Centre, a 240-metre, 50-floor twin tower complex housing a five-star hotel and a luxury shopping mall, amongst others. Al Manama was first mentioned in Islamic chronicles in 1345, so expect aeons of culture here. The city is still relatively unknown on the tourist trail, which is good news for us. Locals are warm and welcoming and above all, completely genuine. Expect invitations to taste homemade delicacies, bowls laden with Muslim hospitality and tradition. This is most apparent in the enormous Bab el-Bahrain Souq, which aside from restoration delivers everything from jewellery to carpets. Culture vultures will not be disappointed.

The famous Al Fateh Mosque gives weary travellers a welcome respite. Al Fateh is also known as the Great Mosque, due to its immense size, 6,500 m2 and able to accommodate 7,000 worshipers at a time. The Mosque itself is beautiful with marble floors and glass chandeliers, but visitors should note that it is a Muslim place of worship and traditions must be respected; shoes should be removed, and ladies must cover their heads at all times.

The Bahrain National Museum is just a stone’s throw from the Mosque and houses an impressive collection of culture, customs and history.

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