Bahrain has a wealth of good shops, you just need to know where to find them. Time Out uncovers the best
Time Out Bahrain Staff
Arts & Crafts
Arts Corner: Ubiquitous in the modern Arabic souq (shops like these can be found anywhere from Marrakech to Esfahan), Arts Corner is nevertheless something of a rarity in Bahrain. Selling everything from cheap local souvenirs to generic Islamic gifts as well as a selection of foreign fashion bags, the shop lights up the otherwise rather drab Al Osra Supermaket shopping centre in Budaiya. Budaiya Highway 17 795 828.
Café Ceramique: A relatively unique concept, this one (well, similar, in fact, to Studio Ceramics): go for a coffee and come home with a piece of personalised pottery. They supply everything the budding artist needs, including the ceramics on which to paint. And when you’ve finished painting, have a snack at the stylish coffee shop. Seef 17 583 500.
Celebrations: Next to A Piece of Cake on the Budaiya Highway, and not very well signposted at all, this is the place to go for glue and glitter, stickers and sparkly bits. Budaiya Highway, 17 595 791.
Talent: This has all the card, paints, pens, brushes etc that the budding artist in you could possibly need. Budaiya Highway 17 594 050.
Barnes Noble: Tucked away at the end of a nondescript row of shops along the Budaiya Highway, this little gem oozes indie bookshop charm. Downstairs you’ve got all the usual suspects, fiction, cookery, health, computing and business, but head up the creaking staircase and you find yourself in a veritable grotto for kids, games, cuddly toys, puzzles as well as an entire floor of books, recreational and educational, in their honour. The staff are ultra friendly and helpful. Not to be missed. Saar, Budaiya Highway 17 592 193.
The Bookcase: Another one on the Budaiya Highway, this has a huge selection in every category and also has its first floor dedicated to children’s books. It also stocks a wide variety of mineral and crystal figurines and ornaments, as well as your usual gift shop-style paraphernalia. Saar, Budaiya Highway 17 690 566.
Jashanmal: With branches in both City Centre and Seef malls, these provide a welcome retreat for stressed-out shoppers. Great on location though perhaps slightly lacking in atmosphere, this local chain is the Kingdom’s biggest bookseller. Seef Mall 17 581 111, Bahrain City Centre 17 177 771.
Hazel: This is a very cute little place on the ground floor of the Phoenicia Centre, opposite the Ferrari Centre on Adliya High Street. The walls are lined with second hand books, while the floor space is covered with ethnic knick knacks, decorations and furniture. Prepare to spend a good few hours lost in here. Adliya 17 717 145.
Virgin: Forget the CDs and larger-than-life models of the Hulk and The Joker, Virgin actually stocks a surprisingly broad range of books. Just don’t expect the staff to be able to answer any of your literary queries. Bahrain City Centre 17 177 771.
Al Sa’fa: The chain of fashion stores owned and run by the renowned Bahraini fashion designer Kubra Al Qaseer, this is the place to pick up authentic Gulf designs that range from traditional Arabic dress to conservative Western wear. Riffa 17 583 007.
Khaleda Rajab Couture: One of the brightest sparks in the couture world of the Arabian Gulf, Khaleda marries contemporary slants to classic themes, and is starting to make waves both nationally and internationally. Her store can be located in Falcon Tower in the Diplomatic Area. Diplomatic Area 17 275 527.
Saks Fifth Avenue: OK, sure, this is not exactly a local store stocking a range of regional treats. But when it comes to high fashion in Bahrain, Saks is hard to beat. Bahrain City Centre 17 172 000.
Villa Moda: One of Moda Malls iconic outlets this Kuwaiti department store stocks some of the biggest names in international fashion, and is housed in a shop that could easily win the prize of ‘Bahrain’s best designed store’. Moda Mall 17 530 330.
Central Market & Fish Market: If you don’t mind getting up at the crack of dawn, you can’t do much better than a visit to one of these, near the Pearl Roundabout. Bear in mind, though, they aren’t air-conditioned and that if you wait till the afternoon to pay a visit you’ll likely have missed the best deals in fresh fish, fruit, veg and meat. Manama 17 331 638. Oriental Supermarket: Get your Japanese ingredients here. Located next to the Central Market, between Lulu Centre and Marina Mall, they also stock a fair range of Indonesian food stuffs. Manama 17 243 182.
Rachanee: For Thai and Indonesian food stuffs, try this Asian supermarket in Adliya, near the Al Jazeera supermarket. They do tofu, tempe, bakso, kecap manis, mie sedap and onde cake. If you know (or want to know) what any of that is, then this is the place for you. Adliya 17 745 113.
Shtoura Supermarket: Highly recommended by the expat Lebanese community, this supermarket in Gudaibiya sells all kinds of ingredients fresh from Lebanon, including fruits and vegetables. Gudaibiya 17 788 121.
Tea Club: Those unable to make a decision look away now. In spite of the predominance of coffee throughout the Gulf, Tea Club has one of the best selections found anywhere in the region. From a BD5 pack of English Breakfast to a BD200-per-kilo stash of treasured Chinese silver needles, there are innumerable tea varieties to choose from at this brand new Amwaj Islands institution. Located in the heart of The Lagoon, Tea Club also boasts one of the most stunning cafes in Bahrain, and is one the waterfront, to boot! The Lagoon, Amwaj Islands 38 887 107.
Health and Nutrition
Bio Natural Nutrition and Live Well Foods: Bahrain Mall might be full to the brim with fast food restaurants, but Bio Natural Nutrition, the retailer of herbal teas, tonics and snack, is a beacon of nutrition in this popular mall. Tucked away facing Geant. If you are looking for an even better stocked version of this store, check out Live Well in Al Jazeera Supermarket in Zinj. With a massive range of health supplements, herbal tinctures and wonder treatments, shopping here should be compulsory. Bio-Natural Nutrition, Bahrain Mall 17 553 151; Live Well, Al Jazeera Supermarket 17 720 288.
Health House: Part holistic healing centre, part organic snack shop and supplement centre, Health House is fast gaining ground as one of the most interesting and progressive food retailers in the kingdom. The founder Dr Jamilla Al Qasseer hopes to introduce much-needed fresh organic fruit and vegetables into the Bahrain market before long. Hamad Town 17 410 055.
Kottakkal Ayurvedic Centre: More of a clinic than a shop, this Juffair affair is well known amongst the Indian community in the kingdom and treats a whole range of nationalities. Along with offering oil massages and appointments with qualified Ayurvedic doctors, there is also a store selling the latest Ayurvedic tinctures and potions – usually no prescription is required. Juffair 17 813 150.
Nature Valley: Primarily a place to pick up your supplements, Nature Valley has a whole variety of health pick-me-ups, most of which are in pill form. There are also a great range of products for those with specific dietry requirements, such as gluten-free, diabetic etc. Juffair 17 825 554.
House and Home
The Home Store: Two floors of reasonably-priced furniture, furnishings, kitchenware, decorations and garden ware. Keep an eye out for their regular sales, which often offer up to 50 per cent discounts, but make sure to get in there quickly as the bargains are soon snapped up. Bahrain Mall 17 550 383.
THE One: Marketing itself as a ‘home fashion’ brand, this chain is a favourite in the region and can be found in Al A’ali Shopping Complex. As well as furnishings and accessories, it is also home to a stylish café popular with the lunchtime lady crowd, not least because of its rather cool kids’ menu. Al Aali Shopping Complex 17 587 178.
Jassim Trading and Agriculture: This company has a branch in Mahooz, opposite Al Jazeera supermarket, and another along the Budaiya Highway, and has everything the household gardener could want – plant pots, trays, seeds, compost, as well as a variety of plants. Jannusan, Budaiya Highway 17 599 000.
Pets Shop: A warehouse style affair just along from Dana Mall, this is every pet lover’s dream. This place has got it all – food, toys, cages, pet carriers, shampoos, treats, and all at very, very good prices. You’ll never buy your cat food from a supermarket again. Budaiya Highway (the Seef end) 17 550 564.
8 Mansions: The only place to go to get your feng shui fixed. Upstairs in Country Mall, this little haven offers a complete consultation service and carries a wide range of feng shui decorations, both for the home and the body. You can also attend workshops, and buy Chinese-looking furniture and crystal and bead items. Country Mall, Budaiya 17 594 575.
Cardamom: Stocking clothes for children of both sexes up to the age of ten, this is a hub of pre-teen shopping. Hamala 17 611 485.
House of Uniforms: The one stop shop for school uniforms in Bahrain, this is where every child is dragged to get them kitted out for school. Hoora (17 532 148).
Mamas and Papas: One of Bahrain’s most popular kid’s stores, this place sells everything from children’s clothes and maternity wear to baby equipment. The staff are particularly welcoming Seef Mall 17 581 877.
Pumpkin Patch: Cutesy clothes for tots with a couple of branches and seriously friendly staff. Bahrain City Centre 17 179 621.
Tiny Tots Nursery Rental: A great selection of baby equipment that is available for rent – great if you don’t plan to put down roots in Bahrain. Saar 39 979 209.
Room 2 Rock: If you can find it, this is rocker heaven, stocking a wide range of musical instruments and offering lessons in guitar, drums and keyboards. There are also practice rooms and a recording studio onsite, and they will even repair your instrument or sound system. The complete rockin’ package, no less. Al Dhila Compound, Wali Alahd Highway, Hamala 17 611 785.
Sharaf DG: Not a bad little instrument section here, you can also get your music and keyboard stands. Bahrain City Centre 17 172 666.
Virgin: A small range of musical instruments (keyboards, guitars and drums) on sale as well as your usual CDs and box-sets. Bahrain City Centre 17 172 666.
Skate Shack: A well-equipped extreme sports store staffed by authentic surfer ‘dudes’ might be the last thing you’d expect to find in Bahrain, but here it is. As well as your clothing, you’ve got your kayaks, wake/knee/paddle-boards, stunt kites, snowboards, skis, skateboards, hockey sticks, loads of bikes, and there’s even a little workshop in there where you can get your bike repaired. Fab. Saar, Budaiya Highway 17 697 176.
Sun and Sand Sports: For the more regular athletes among us, this is the place to go to stock up on your trainers and tracksuits. It also sells weight and gym machines and a whole host of sporting equipment. They are also one of the few places in Bahrain you can get yourself kitted out with camping equipment. Bahrain City Centre 17 172 666. Horse Pride Equestrian Equipment: Everything for your equine, here on the Budaiya Highway you can get everything bar the horse itself. Saar, Budaiya Highway 36 333 309
Royal Golf Club:For golf clothing, clubs, grips and bags, you really can’t do better than head to the Royal Golf Club’s own shop down in Riffa Views. Make use of their expert staff on hand to advise you of the best products and deals. Riffa 17 750 777.
Home Electronics: Billed as the kingdom’s largest electronics hypermarket, this really has got everything to satisfy all your household needs: home theatre systems, phones, white goods, home appliances, IT stuff, all at highly competitive prices. Opposite the Lebanon Trade Centre in Isa Town, it’s a pain to get to, though, and parking can be quite hairy. Isa Town 17 878888.
i-Machines: The country’s best seller of everything Apple related, this store is a haven for people wanting to add to their collection of iMacs, iBooks, iPods and their accessories. Off Exhibition Road, opposite the Ministry of Works 17 574 334.
Sharaf DG: Allegedly a ‘whole new concept in electronics retailing’ it just looks like a regular electronics store to us. That said, it’s got pretty much everything you could ask for and the location, the top floor of City Centre mall, makes it the ideal place to get your consumer/telecoms/home electronics. Bahrain City Centre 17 172 666.
There is also a Sharaf DG located in the ENMA MALL in Riffa.
Jacky Dec 26, 2012 08:30 am
Talent on Budaiya Highway is the best shop for Art Materials for the quality goods.
Graziella Stocco Feb 03, 2012 02:53 pm
Talent is an excellent art shop as far as we know.
I would suggest them to get in their beautiful shop the best quality easels as CAPPELLETTO brand.
CAPPELLETTO EASELS are well known and used in Europe and all over the world but it's diffucult to find the product in all the area of Middle Est.