Summer in Bahrain
Ice skating, water parks, road trips and more summer survival tips Discuss this article
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Pick up a book
Visit Bahrain National Library at the Isa Cultural Centre next the Grand Mosque, the building that looks a bit like the front of the Sydney Opera House (well, it does to us).
Opened in December 2008, the national library houses almost 75,000 books over four halls – general, reference and periodicals, national publications and special collections and foreign books.
There’s a special section donated by the US Embassy and collections and sections donated by other individuals and embassies as well as the libarary of HE Sheikh Abdullah bin Khalid Al Khilifa which includes many valuable Arabic and Foreign language publications.
With a comprehensive kids’ library and multi-media facilities, it makes for an interesting few hours’ browsing.
Opening times Sun-Thu 7am-2pm.
Call (17 366 666)
Step back in time
Take a look at Bahrain National Museum just off the King Faisal Highway along from Fun Land. It’s a big complex with a great collection of ancient archaeological artifacts covering around 6,000 years of Bahrain’s history. There are three halls devoted to archaeology and the ancient Dilmun civilisation, of which Bahrain is thought to have been the capital, including an actual burial mound.
Two halls are devoted to the culture and lifestyle of the island’s recent pre-industrial past. A natural history hall focuses on the natural environment and the documents and manuscripts hall houses old Quranic manuscripts, notes on astronomy and historical documents and letters.
There are also frequent art exhibitions and the grounds house a sculpture garden.
Opening hours 8am-8pm daily.
Call (17 298 714)
Or take a trip out into the desert to learn about the history of the island’s ‘black gold’. Built in 1992 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the discovery of oil in the Gulf, the Oil Museum, a bit like the tree of life, is not the easiest place to find. But if you head out towards Bahrain International Circuit and follow the signs for the 1st Oil Well, you’ll find it nearby at Sakhir.
Exhibiting old photographs, drilling equipment and a working model of an oil rig, it tells a fascinating story of a bygone era and makes for an interesting couple of hours browsing.
For timings (17 753 882/17 753 257)
If Bahrain’s pearling past is more your thing, Memory of the place – Bin Matar House is a restoration project undertaken by the Shaikh Ebrahim bin Mohammed Al Khalifa Center for Culture and Research as part of its ongoing efforts to protect Bahrain’s traditional architectural heritage.
The name reflects the dual function of this traditional building in presenting the identity of a people. Firstly, there is the definite cultural identity through the specific architecture and design elements and, at the same time, it’s also a repository of memories, through the individuals that lived in the building and the events that took place there.
The house was built in 1905 by the Bin Matar family, a well-known pearling dynasty, and it nestles close to the Pearl Trail in Muharraq. As well as showcasing the architecture of the time is also houses a small collection of contemporary Bahraini art and features an ongoing programme of temporary art exhibitions in its dedicated exhibition space.And when you’ve done with culture there’s a rather fab coffee shop too.
Opening hours Sat-Thu 8am-1pm and 4pm-7pm.
Call (17 322 549)
Take to the lanes for a spot of bowling and channel your inner American teenager. There’s a world-class 12-lane 10-pin bowling alley, Bowling @ Magic Planet, at Bahrain City Centre, with pool tables, billiards and the latest video-game machines to keep you out of mischief between turns.
Opening hours Sat-Wed 10am-10pm (last entry 9pm) and Thu-Fri 10am-11pm (last entry 10pm). BD2 per person.
Call (17 173 117)
Fun Land Centre on the Corniche has an 18-lane facility and, as well as individual bowling, organises all kinds of competitions including local, international and even friendly or family games.
Opening hours 9am-midnight daily. BD2 per person.
Call (17 292 313)
Support some ancient crafts
If you fancy a taste of the old Bahrain head along to Jasra Handicrafts Centre at Jasra village, towards the King Fahad Causeway, where you can find weavers, potters and all manner of craftspeople keeping the ancient traditions alive.
There are artisan workshops including mat weaving, basket making, pottery and boat building. The enthusiastic staff and craftspeople encourage visitors to take a close look at how items are made and offer a full explanation of the technical processes involved and one highlight is watching the friendly women who come down to the centre daily to weave mats from plain and brightly-coloured dampened palm fronds. The centre also houses a number of musical instrument amkers tanners and silk weavers.
Opening hours Sat 9am-4pm, Sun-Thu 7am-2pm.
Call (17 611 900)
Take a road trip
Yes the King Fahad Causeway may seem a bit of an odd one to include with indoor stuff but hey, air-conditioned car to air-conditioned restaurant, we figure it qualifies and no, you don’t need a visa to go to the middle. Opened in 1986, the 25-km causeway is the longest in the Middle East and the border between Bahrain and Saudi Arabia is on two islands at the centre.
Drive out in the late afternoon, the sunset across the water is really quite stunning and a trip up the 65-m high observation tower in the middle leads to an equally impressive view. There’s a restaurant in the tower and various fast food eateries at ground level but don’t bank on these being open, make sure to take drinks with you.
The toll from the Bahrain side costs BD2 and don’t worry, you won’t find yourself crossing the border by mistake.
Enjoy folks and keep cool.By Time Out Bahrain staff
Time Out Bahrain,
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