The Amiri Suite at the Ritz Carlton Bahrain Hotel And Spa map of the Kingdom of Bahrain

Bahrain Travel From People in the Know

This site is maintained by people who have been travelling to Bahrain for a period spanning two decades. We know the country, the people, where to go, what to do, and when to do it.

Bahrain is one of our favorite tourist destinations and our intention with this site is to provide you with the latest travel information, and tips to help you on your trip.

Why travel to Bahrain?

Bahrain is a popular tourist location for its reputation as an island of liberalism and western moderation is a region of the world sometimes painted generally as backward and conservative. It's heritage is richly displayed in its 'arabness' and yet it is not arcane in its laws or levels of tolerance.

Because of this it is a popular destination for many travellers within the region, especially for Saudis who come here for a little bit of 'naughty' indulgence that is not allowed in the neighbouring kindgom.

Best way of getting to Bahrain

The country can be accessed by sea, air or road. The most popular avenue of course is by plane. Bahrain International Airport is one of the busiest airport terminals in the Gulf. It is located on the island of Muharraqlt and hosts 38 carriers from Europe, the UK, Asia, Australasia, and of course the Gulf and Middle East, and includes British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Royal Brunei Airlines, and Gulf carriers Etihad Airways and Emirates. The national carrier, Gulf Air, has connections to many countries in Asia, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Gulf and UK, and has been a major springboard in developing Bahrain's burgeoning tourism industry.

Bahrain is visited by travellers from the Gulf, with many making their way across the King Fahd Causeway, which opened on November 25 1986. Visitors from Saudi Arabia spend weekends, mid-week, and short stays in Bahrain because the laws and freedoms are more liberal than in Saudi Arabia. For example drinking of alocohol, which is prohibited in Saudi Arabia, is allowed in major accommodation hotels in Bahrain. International visitors from other countries, particularly Europe, the UK, and Asia, and even from Australia, are increasing in numbers. Many have discovered Bahrain as a holiday destination, while others use the country as a stopover while en route to other destinations. A major boost to visitor numbers in recent years is the property boom which has brought developers, investors, financiers and realtors to the kingdom in droves. The surge in the economy, as a result of the boom, has also increased the number of corporate visitors.

Following is a list of airlines currently servicing Bahrain:

  AIRLINE NAME CODE WEEKLY
FREQUENCY
TYPE OF
OPERATION
1 AIR ARABIA
G9
14
Passengers
2 AIR FRANCE
AF
4
Cargo
3 AIR INDIA
AI
7
Passengers
4 AIR INDIA EXPRESS
IX
13
Passengers
5 BAHRAIN AIR
2B
54
Passengers
6 BRITISH AIRWAYS
BA
14
Passengers
7 BRITISH AIRWAYS
1
Cargo
8 CATHAY PACIFIC
CX
7
Passengers
9 CYPRUS AIRWAYS
CY
2
Passengers
10 DHL NTERNATIONAL
DHK
184
Cargo
11 EGYPT AIR
MS
3
Passengers
12 EMIRATES AIRLINES
EK
21
Passengers
13 EMIRATES SKY CARGO
1
Cargo
14 ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES
ET
7
Passengers
15 ETIHAD AIRWAYS
EY
26
Passengers
16 FALCON EXPRESS
FC
19
Cargo
17 GULF AIR
GF
452
Passengers
18 IRAN AIR
IR
4
Passengers
19 JAZEERA AIRWAYS
J9
29
Passengers
20 JET AIRWAYS
9W
14
Passengers
21 KALITTA AIR LLC
K4
3
Cargo
22 KLM ROYAL DUTCH AIRLINES
KL
7
Passengers
23 KUWAIT AIRWAYS
KU
7
Passengers
24 LUFTHANSA
LH
8
Passengers
25 LUFTHANSA
6
Cargo
26 MARTINAIR
MP
1
Cargo
27 MONARCH AIRLINES
ZB
4
Charter
28 OMAN AIR
WY
7
Passengers
29 PAKISTAN INTERNATIONAL AIRLINES
PK
2
Passengers
30 QATAR AIRWAYS
QR
42
Passengers
31 QATAR AIRWAYS
2
Cargo
32 ROYAL JORDANIAN AIRLINES
RJ
7
Passengers
33 SAUDI ARABIAN AIRLINES
SV
9
Passengers
34 SRILANKAN AIRLINES
UL
5
Passengers
35 SYRIAN ARAB AIRLINES
RB
2
Passengers
36 TUNISAIR
TU
3
Passengers
37 TURKISH AIRLINES
TK
7
Passengers
38 YEMEN AIRWAYS
IY
3
Passengers

Bahrain Hotels

There are hotels in all star ratings and price ranges in the country. Most are in the Diplomatic area near Manama, Manama itself, and a couple out near the airport.

The premier accommodation house is the Ritz-Carlton Bahrain Hotel and Spa. It has 242 rooms and like all the international hotels has a large number of restaurants and bars as well as an international class spa, and indoor and outdoor swimming pools. It is also located on the beach, and is just a short drive to the city. The beach is man-made and is more like a lagoon to be frank. There are no waves. It nonetheless is a particularly attractive setting for a very well laid-out five star hotel. We have stayed there a number of times and have always been impressed by the building, the decor, and the friendliness of the people that work in it. The spa is probably ten star, brilliant saunas, steam rooms, ancient baths, and so on. It also has an outstanding fitness centre which is also accessed by non-guests. Security is tight at the hotel, there was a very small bombing there by local activists in the late 1990s.

We have also stayed at the Sheraton, the InterContinental, The Radisson RAS Diplomat, and the Golden Tulip, which at one time until the early 2000s was the Bahrain Hilton. Each has their own individual character, and measure up as great places to stay. They would however be more in the four to four-and-a-half star category. There are also midrange and economical hotels in and around Manama. There are of course a number of new hotels now being constructed which will add substantially to the country's hotel room inventory.

The country, the economy, geography, and history

Bahrain is an archipelago of thirty-three islands, only 665 square kilometres in size, which is smaller than Saudi Arabia's King Fahd International Airport, which is 780 square kilometres in area.

Bahrain is a kingdom which is a recent evolution for a country that goes back thouands of years. It was of course a British colony for much of the 20th century, gaining its independence on December 16 1971. Oil was first discovered in 1932 which provided the backbone of the Bahrain economy, and of course intensified Britain's interest which in the following decades established many bases there.

By the 1960s Bahrain had grown to a stable and growing economy, albeit with a small population of around just 20,000. It was about this time the government decided to embark on a diversification program to reduce the dependence of the country on oil and its related industries. Bahrain has always been an important port and an administrative hub for the Gulf, however the country's Chamber of Commerce was formed, as were various government investment-creation bureaux, whose job it was to attract foreign investment to the country. Offshore companies were able to incorporate, and local companies with some degree of local sponsorship. Major banks were encouraged to establish a presence in Bahrain, and many set up their headquarters here.

The diplomatic area, adjoining the capital, Manama, houses even today embassies and consulates from many countries around the world. Many of the country's hotels are established in this area including the Sheraton, the Radisson SAS Diplomat, the Crowne Plaza and Golden Tulip. Many of the government offices, including the Chamber of Commerce is established here, as is the major post office.

Ancient History

Bahrain has a rich history that dates back several thousand years. International archaeologists have found that Bahrain has been inhabited for at least the last 70,000 years, and there is evidence of two distinct civilizations, Dilmun and Tylos, 2,000 years apart. Dilmun was a Bronze Age trading empire that lasted about 2,000 years. Its strategic position on the Mesopotamia/Indus Valley trade route meant that it became a watering place for ships carrying goods and it soon became a strategic trading post with well-developed social systems.

As a spring-watered garden land, Dilmun stood out in contrast to the deserts around. In Babylonian Epic of Filfamesh, Dilmun has been descrived as 'paradise', where there is a constant abundance of sweet water and the brave and the wise enjoy eternal life.

Some scholars have suggested that Bahrain may be the site of the biblical Garden of Eden. Dilmun was absorbed by the Assyrian and Babulonian empires, and in 323BC, the persian Empire's domination of the region was ended by the arrival of Alexander the Great. Although there is no direct evidence that the Greeks conquered Bahrain specifically, the islands were renamed Tylos, a Greek name, and there is evidence that Greek influence was strong. New trade routes opened and Tylos remained a prosperous trading port within the Greek Empire for the next 600 years.

In the seventh century, Bahrain received a personal invitation from the prophet Mohammed (PBUH) to convert to islam, and many of the island's inhabitants did so.

In the early 16th century, Bahrain was invaded by the Portuguese, who were attracted by its trade relations, pearl exports and boat building industry. In 1602, an uprising ousted the Portuguese and the islands became part of the Persian Empire. However, in 1783 the Persians were expelled upon the arrival of the Al Khalifa family, Bahrain's current ruling family. (History provided by Bahrainona.com).

General Climate The climate of Bahrain is an arid type; mean annual rainfall is small (70.8mm) and irregular. Broadly speaking, the year may be divided into two main climatic periods from June to September and from December to March, separated by two transitional periods April/May and October/November. The mean number of days per annum with measurable rain of 1mm or more are 9.9 with the highest being 2 days in the month of January. Thunderstorms occur on average on 7.8 days per annum with March having the highest mean average of 1.9 days. The average number of days per annum that visibility is reduced to 1000 metres or less by fog is 6.6 and by thick dust haze is 4.5. January averages 1.7 days of fog, and is the highest monthly frequency. July has the highest frequency of thick dust haze occurrence (1.1 days on average).

The Winter Period The winter period is the season of changeable weather when low pressure disturbances with their associated fronts transit the mid Gulf. Surface winds alternate mainly between south east ahead of these features and north west behind. The passage of the front and troughs may be accompanied by thunderstorms and squalls. Isolated severe storms can occur. Between these periods of “weather” a high pressure ridge over and good visibility.

The Summer Period The summer period is one of mainly cloudless skies and persistently high temperatures. A shallow dome of relatively cool moist air over the Gulf is overlaid by hot dry air causing a marked temperature inversion in the first 1000 to 1500 feet of the order of 5 to 10 Degrees Centigrade. The seasonal rise in temperature peaks in August with a mean daily maximum of 38.0 Degrees Centigrade. The extreme maximum temperatures are observed however in May (46.7 C). During June and July a period of persistently strong north westerly winds known locally as the “summer shamal” occurs and arrests temporarily the seasonal rise in temperature. This shamal which is part of the Indian monsoon circulation is related directly to a low level jet stream concentrated near 1000 feet. This causes marked wind shears at times in the boundary layer of the order of 5-8 knots per 100 feet. The shamal transports dust from Iraq and visibility at Bahrain on occasions is reduced to less than 1500 metres over this period mainly between 2000Z to 0600Z.

The Transition Period The transition periods are important in two respects, the first is the abruptness of the change during October/November when first incursions of cool air from the north west occur and replace the quiet conditions of late summer. The second, and more importantly, is the spring transition. This period is known as the sarrayat. Sudden changes in wind can occur, caused by relatively weak instability features, and low level wind shear has been observed with these sudden changes. (Climate information provided by the Bahrain Meteorological Service).

About Bahrain International Airport

Bahrain International Airport is a key hub airport in the region, providing a gateway to the Northern Gulf. Airport is the major hub for Gulf Air which provides 52% of overall movements and operates 377 weekly international services. 35 other international airlines including British Airways, Cathay Pacific, KLM and Lufthansa operate a total of 349 services per week to a total of 52 destinations.

In 2006, The Airport witnessed a tremendous growth of 20% accounting for 6.7 million passengers while aircraft movement also increased by 11% to 81,789. Cargo tonnage has also dramatically increased with a growth of 7% reaching 358, 670 tonnes.

In addition to being the fastest growing cargo hub in the region with a number of international carriers such as Britsh Airway Cargo, Air France Cargo and Lufthansa Cargo together with established operators such as MartinAir, the airport is both the Middle East Regional Distribution Centre and a designated “super-hub” for DHL’s worldwide network whose services not only include significant operations to support the reconstruction of Afghanistan and Iraq but also a major regional hub for distribution by air and surface including transcauseway trucking services to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. Over 3 million tonnes of cargo crosses the causeway annually.

Terminal facilities are under constant review and improvement. Recent developments include a unique separate First and Business Class Check-In Lounge providing specialized services for premium passengers with discrete check-in and immigration facilities and direct access to the Departures Lounge. A new award winning 1,000 m² First and Business Class Lounge was also opened for Gulf Air. Located on an upper level overlooking the main apron , the lounge offers an exclusive concept of waiter service ,a separate family room and electronic video games room for children. A further two new high tech airline lounges 200 m² and 700 m² in size respectively(double the size of existing lounges) were opened in 2005. The first for Cathay Pacific and a new Dilmun Lounge( for other airlines handled by Bahrain Airport Services) which include the latest wi-fi technology permitting free internet access. Our new Arrivals Immigration facilities and streamlined processing now enables large numbers of visitors ( either individually or in groups) to be handled without delay or congestion as has been successfully demonstrated for the annual Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix event.Top quality duty free shopping is available both on arrival in an expanded shop complementing the award winning unique shopping mall in the Departures Lounge. New car parks have been recently constructed to cater specifically for the needs of our long term “frequent flyer” passengers and we are looking to provide further improved services for them including shaded parking and valet services.

Future plans include a major US$ 350m expansion of the terminal building to the east to provide 8 additional air bridges and additional aircraft parking stands raising the airport capacity initially to 15m per annum by 2015 with provision for a second phase expansion increasing capacity to 22m by 2020. New check-in desks (doubling the current number), additional shopping facilities as well as an increased baggage make-up area (double the size of the existing area) and separate baggage reclaim area together with a distinctive new façade are all included in the initial design.

Plans for a new US $ 70m multi-storey car park project that would not only provide additional parking but also provide offices and retail areas linked to the main terminal building are also being finalised.

An airport is a dynamic environment and our objective is to continue to provide both our passengers and our partner airlines with the very latest up-to-date facilities and above all a warm and friendly and professional service by our Bahraini staff, something which we are justifiably proud of. Our airport is both a shop & window to the world and the first and last impression a visitor has to our country. We believe therefore that the provision of these high quality facilities coupled with high standards of service and competitive pricing make our airport both an attractive hub and gateway. This has been recognised by major carriers such as British Airways and Cathay Pacific in awarding us “best airport” honours on their respective networks.

For more information visit the official airport Web site.   

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