28 reasons to be very excited about Ramadan 2011 in Bahrain
Time Out Bahrain staff
Best for big groups The Ramadan tent over at the Elite Resort & Spa is calling itself the biggest in town – with room for 750 people. That means lots of space for you and your entourage (if you bring 750, we’ll be very impressed). Live cooking stations and Arabic music are among the attractions. Elite Resort & Spa (17 313 333). Iftar costs from BD12 per person.
Best for charity The Crowne Plaza Bahrain will donate 500 fils for each iftar bought to charity this year. The beneficiary will be the Children and Mother’s Welfare Society (www.globalhand.org), which was also the chosen charity last year, with BD1,200 raised. The charity sets up educational and charitable programmes for women and children throughout Bahrain. Crowne Plaza Bahrain (17 531 522). Iftar costs from BD9.95 per person.
Best for quality Head to L’Hotel, and your Ramadan experience will begin with a walk through the hotel’s very own souk, called L’Souq, where you can buy sweets, Arabic coffee and dried fruits. Both L’Avenue and L’Sultan restaurants will be hosting iftars too, complete with saj and shawarma stations, shisha, games and entertainment. L’Hotel (17 567 222). Iftar costs from BD14 per person.
Overall best setting It doesn’t get much better than iftar by the sea, which is what you will find at Coral Bay, with a Ramadan tent on the seaside terrace and traditional foods and entertainment. And if it gets a little too hot, head to the indoor version at Rayes instead. Coral Bay (17 312 700). Iftar costs from BD10 per person.
Most arabic setting The Arabian-themed Al Khayma tent at the Ritz-Carlton will definitely put you in a cultural mood. This is a big hit every year, with a range of Arabic dishes, décor and intimate pergolas. Bahraini singer Najma Abdulla will also be providing the entertainment with her legendary voice. Ritz-Cartlton Bahrain (17 580 000). Iftar costs from BD16 per person.
Best for variety Where else in Bahrain can you sample sushi and other Japanese delicacies along with more traditional Arabic fare? The only venue we know of is Bushido, which will be serving up all of the dishes it has become famous for, with rooms for hire for private events. Handy if this isn’t your first iftar of the month and you want something different. Bushido (17 583 555). Iftar costs from BD22 per person.
Cheapest! Not only does the iftar buffet at Lanterns restaurant on Budaiya Highway cost just BD5 per person, but you can sample a number of Indian dishes in addition to the traditional Arabic fare. Budaiya Highway (17 590 591). Iftar costs from BD5 per person.
The souks For an authentic Arabic shopping experience, head to Bab Al Bahrain (Gate of Bahrain) and wander around the narrow, older streets behind it. This is fairly typical of souks in the Middle East, and great for tacky souvenirs. For a less touristy option, try the souk in Muharraq. It’s a little tough to find, though.
Play snooker Everything from bowling alleys to waterparks are open much later during Ramadan, but we say find your inner Tom Cruise and head to the pool hall. Jimmy’s in Adliya (17 716 147) will be open until 2am, with tables available for BD2.5 per hour to members.
Head for shisha There are a number of places to try this Arabic tradition in Bahrain. For sumptuous surroundings, try Casa Blu (17 710 424) on Adliya high street, Veranda Gallery Café (17 715 868), also in Adliya, or Chez le Café (17 795 666) in Budaiya. Most are open late.
Get 15% off indian food Order yourself a takeaway from Spices at the Crowne Plaza and take advantage of the 15 per cent discount being offered throughout Ramadan. You have to collect it yourself, but that’s no hardship when there are big savings on Goa fish curry, poppadoms, pickles and lamb vindaloo to enjoy. Or eat in and try the iftar instead. Crowne Plaza Bahrain (17 531 122; www.cp-bahrain.com).
Gift shopping Tap into the Holy Month’s charitable side with a few well chosen ‘gifts that give’ for Ramadan – for example, buy from the Body Shop (Bahrain City Centre), which makes a stand against animal testing, or Shiffa, available at Sephora (Seef Mall), which aims to build relationships with local farmers. Malls are open late too.
Go-karting Break the fast with the smell of burning rubber. The new go-kart track at Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) will be sticking to its summer opening times throughout Ramadan, which means you can pop along seven days a week and race until midnight. It is open from 4pm on weekdays or from 10am from Fri-Sat. Bahrain International Circuit (17 450 000).
Adliya The restaurants and cafés that line Adliya are busy most evenings, but you can expect the traffic to increase over Ramadan, with people coming down to relax, chat, break the fast, and enjoy coffee and shisha. Sure to be a hive of activity. Maybe try one of the shisha cafés here, or stop for a late bite.
Cheap golf Head to Royal Golf Club’s Montgomerie Course after 7pm, and you can play nine holes for BD20. This includes a golf cart and access to the academy driving range before teeing off. Offer valid until the end of the month. Royal Golf Club (17 750 777; www.theroyalgolfclub.com). Wee monty family day Any pent-up energy your little ones seem to be displaying could be put to good use on the golf course, for the Wee Monty Family Day that takes place Saturdays from 10am-noon. Cost is just BD15 per adult, and kids play free, with the cost including the green fees and club hire. The par 3 Wee Monty course is perfect for beginners, or those looking to hone their skills. Royal Golf Club (17 750 777; www.theroyalgolfclub.com). Wee Monty family day held every Saturday.
Bowling at funland It’s good news for bowling fanatics, as the 18 lanes at Funland Centre can be yours until 2am (and possibly even 3am – it was yet to be confirmed at time of press), thanks to extended Ramadan opening times. With prices at only BD2 per game too, including shoe hire, you may want to make the most of those extra hours. If you did play every night until 3am, just think how good you will be by the time Ramadan is over. Near the Marina Club (17 292 313).
Bahrain city centre Help your kids understand the charitable side to Ramadan. Bahrain City Centre is asking people to donate items (like old toys and clothes) for its ‘Make a Difference’ campaign, in conjunction with Awali Gift Shop, to help people in need throughout Bahrain. A collection box will be situated on the ground floor by the customer service desk throughout the month. Henna artists, free dates from 9pm-11pm, and the opportunity to have your photo take with a falcon can also be found in the mall this month. Bahrain City Centre (17 177 771).
Lost Paradise of Dilmun The Lost Paradise remains open during Ramadan, so you can still get your fix of lazy rivers, spa pools and slides. It’s also the best way to cool down in the seering summer heat. The opening times have been adjusted for the Holy Month, and of special interest will be the iftar buffet at weekends, and the beach football tournament every Saturday. There is also an outdoor café and shisha area. Al Areen (17 845 100; www.lpodwaterpark.com). Entry BD12, includes iftar. Open Sun-Mon 8pm-2am, closed Tue, Wed-Thu 8pm-2am, Fri-Sat 4pm-2am.
Summer camps School’s out, but that doesn’t mean the kids have to stop learning. There are a number of places in Bahrain providing summer camps to keep tots entertained over the holidays, and these will still be available during Ramadan. The camp at Little Gems in Budaiya, for example, runs until August 25, with soft play, a bouncy castle, cooking, paper mache, arts and crafs and indoor play. Suitable for kids up to six. Little Gems (17 694 356).
La Mosaique This venue will have an iftar buffet in the evenings, but will also remain open during the day for non-fasting guests. It was unsure at time of press whether this would be a la carte only or with an international buffet as well. Crowne Plaza Bahrain (17 531 122). Open daily 6am-11am, noon-4pm, 7pm-11pm.
Kontiki The stylish Kontiki restaurant at the Diplomat Radisson will be open during the day in Ramadan, serving a buffet breakfast, and with its pan-Asian offerings from Japanese to Vietnamese available as an a la carte option the rest of the day. Diplomat Radisson Blu (17 531 666). Open daily 6am-11.30pm.
Al Wasmeyah The Golden Tulip’s open-all-day lobby café will remain so during Ramadan, with a buffet breakfast, a la carte lunch and buffet dinner. Located near Bahrain City Centre, this covers all the basics well, from salads to sandwiches. Golden Tulip Bahrain (17 535 000). Open daily 24 hours.
Klouds The K Hotel’s international all-day dining venue is open each day of Ramadan serving an a la carte breakfast and lunch. We visited recently, as we had heard the steak served here was quite impressive, available in 225g or 400g portion sizes of your desired cut. Then you choose one of the sauces and a couple of sides, including some very good ratatouille and cauliflower gratin. Service was also swift and not too intrusive. In the evenings, though, the steaks and European fare will be cleared away to make room for the iftar and Arabic cuisine instead. K Hotel (17 360 000). Open daily 24 hours.
Skyw@lk café We’ve become big fans of Skyw@lk for various reasons, and during Ramadan it will still be possible to drop in here for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Mediterranean-style salads and sandwiches are a hit, as is the free Wi-Fi, making it easy to while away an afternoon here with your laptop. If you do fancy iftar, dishes will be served a la carte in the evenings. Marriott Executive Apartments (17 363 999). Open daily 6.30am-11.30pm.
Al Safir Head to the Sheraton over Ramadan and you’ll see that Al Safir is still operating its buffet and a la carte menu during daylight hours for non-Muslims. This has always been a handy business lunch spot for the Diplomatic Area’s office crowd, and that looks set to continue thanks to a pleasing mix of salads, mezze, meat and pasta dishes. After 5.30pm, the buffet is swapped for the iftar version instead, as those fasting head here to sample the wide selection of Arabic dishes on offer. Sheraton Hotel (17 533 533). Open daily 6.30am-11pm.
SATO If you’re in need of a sushi fix during Ramadan and don’t know where to head, you may be pleased to find that Sato at the Gulf Hotel Bahrain will remain open throughout. The salted grilled squid here makes a fine choice of starter, and the bumper selection of mixed tempura features a high number of giant prawns for dunking in the sweet dipping sauce. The wide selection of sushi and sashimi and the udon and tempura broth are some of the other highlights. Gulf Hotel Bahrain (17 746 429). Open daily noon-3pm, 7pm-11pm.
Saraya The all-day dining restaurant at the new Sofitel overlooks the swimming pool and the sea, with breakfast, lunch and dinner served up from the international buffet with its live cooking stations or a la carte. Iftar and sohoor will be served towards the evening time. Worth the trip for a look round the kingdom’s newest hotel. Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea & Spa (17 636 363). Open daily 6.30am-11pm.