It all started just over a year ago when Bahraini lady Hessa Al Rumaihi helped launch a website called www.localppl.com. “It’s basically a platform for people to offer an experience in a local area,” she tells us. “For travellers and residents to have experiences that make you feel like a local.”
As more people signed up, offering activities such as walking tours around various parts of Bahrain and the region, she began to think about setting up her own local experience.
“Growing up I was always told girls aren’t supposed to bike or play sports,” Al Rumaihi explains. But then she watched the movie Wadjda by Haifaa Al Mansour, about a rebellious Saudi girl who enters a competition in order to raise funds for a new bike. “It was such a beautiful film and she was so brave, battling views.” And so, Global Wheels was born, an eco-friendly and educational biking tour around Jasra, a lesser known part of the island to both visitors and residents alike.
Despite her background in advertising and public relations, Al Rumaihi has always been passionate about the environment and animals, which is why the biking tour begins at the Royal Camel Farm, a popular tourist spot just off Janabiyah Highway.
“We have a walk around and see the camels, and there’s also a gudwara there, a Sikh temple that no one knows about, so we also go and meet all the people there,” Al Rumaihi explains.
The tour then follows a river that runs from the farm to a hidden beach in Jasra. “This is what Bahrain means – where the salt water meets sweet water – so it’s a great place to raise awareness of our environment.” This is also one beach Al Rumaihi, with a group of other like-minded people, head to clean up, alongside other shores, once every two weeks.
After the mystery beach, bikers then cycle across the King Fahd Causeway, which Al Rumaihi assures us is safe, to see the Jasra Handicrafts Centre, where traditional artisans demonstrate the importance of palm trees in Bahrain’s heritage. “Our ancestors used them for dates, date molasses, baskets, shade, fishing nets,” says Al Rumaihi. “This is, after all, the land of a million palm trees...”
As we’re talking, it becomes more and more clear how passionate Al Rumaihi is about her home country and preserving its rich culture and heritage, but also educating all of us who live here or visit on how to treat the environment.
So, the next stop on the tour is to an organic farm, started by a son looking to give his mother, who was newly diagnosed with cancer, a healthier, cleaner diet.
“It’s open to the public and everything is free,” Al Rumaihi tells us. “He just asks that when you take something, you leave a donation for the Bahrain Cancer Society.”
This love of empathy and conscientiousness has also led Al Rumaihi to join forces with another homegrown company, The Generous Light Co.
Started by American-Bahraini artist Karima Sharabi and Bahraini creative director Noora Al Zain, the idea of this over-arching brand, with its many collaborative off-shoots, is to, they explained to Time Out Bahrain in a previous interview, “create a platform for like-minded people to connect, share diverse beliefs and cultures, to impact and enhance the way people think, as well as change the international perception of the Middle East.”
Which, in many ways, is what Al Rumaihi is also doing with this biking tour.
“It’s lovely. People come to the tour and in the beginning they feel awkward, but by the time they leave they’re already great friends,” she says.
“I am uniting people.”
BD19 per person (includes bike, helmet, water, sandwiches, tea, Arabic coffee and snacks). Various days, 9.30am-1pm or 1.30pm-5pm. Visit www.localppl.com.
Three more to try
Food and culture walk
Hosted by Hessa Humood, an avid food blogger, this tour takes you through the Unesco designated Pearling Trail, allowing you to taste the island through traditional sweet and coffee shops.
BD10 (all tastings, water, map of Bahrain, halwa sweet). Two hours.
Self-taught Bahraini photographer Khalid Al Jabri takes you on a tour through the Manama Souq, through the mosques, Buddhist temples, traditional houses and old Bahraini cafés.
BD15 per person (a meal, dessert and beverages). Three hours.
Stroll through the village, visit farmland, see the beach, take a boat ride to an island and watch the sun set. This is with the Damistan Local Committee and Mawane, a non-profit operation, focusing on Bahrain’s coastline.
BD10 per person (meal and boat ride). Four hours.