By Sharifa Al Badi
If it is the “Pearl of the Gulf”, then it is bound to have hidden pearls you may not have heard of. The Kingdom of Bahrain is a small island situated off the eastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula. It was historically known for its importance as a popular trading city. Today, the country boasts one of the region’s most vibrant financial districts, unique eateries and concept stores and a buzzing art scene. Here are our top picks of where to go, what to buy, where to eat and what to see in the Kingdom:
1. Fes518 Studio
Escape the city life and take a stroll in Morocco within Bahrain. This beautiful space, also known as the “Moroccan Gallery”, with its intricate details, took 10 years to build by Moroccan artisans. So you can just imagine the grandeur of the interior and exterior. The space, located in the Jawad Dome, Barbar, is suitable for hosting unforgettable weddings and events. It is also an art space and a yoga studio. So you can unwind and stretch in one of the most beautiful architectural spaces in Bahrain. Talk about an exotic escape right here in the heart of the region!
2. The Pearling Path
Located on the island of Muharraq, Bahrain’s former capital city, the 3.5 kilometer Pearling Path is your opportunity to walk down the same route of our ancestors, whilst taking in the culture and history of the country. Considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the historic tour will take you to 17 historic buildings, three offshore oyster beds, and a seashore site in the southern part of the city, all which were once associated with the country’s pearling industry. To find out more about the path, click here .
3. Lumee Street Café
You know what they say, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. But in our part of the world we say when life gives you lemons make lumee yabis—aka dried, preserved lemons— to add a kick to your food. That’s why Lumee Street Cafe is on our list; for taking Middle Eastern food and giving it a zesty twist. The café’s menu is made up of Khaleeji dishes, plus other Middle Eastern delicacies like quinoa kubbe, spicy matai salad and the classic hummus. You can find branches of the café in Al Aali Complex, Saar Mall and The Avenues.
4. Bin Matar House
This historic landmark is quite the vision of the past. Built in 1905, the home of Salman bin Hussain bin Salman bin Matar is one of Bahrain’s most prized pearls. Bin Matar was one of the most prominent pearl merchants in the Gulf region, and many foreigners relied on his expertise and advice when it came to pearl trading. The grand house was built in the traditional manner using palm tree trunks, gypsum and sea stone. It’s definitely something to check out next time you’re in the historic quarter of the city.
5. Ei8hty 20
Life becomes more colourful when you are able to express yourself through fashion. That’s why this concept store is on our list. It stocks handpicked items from around the world. And we’re not talking about your average, basic stuff, but some cool, edgy and eclectic selections from global and regional brands and artists. Ei8hty 20 is located at The Courtyard in Manama, and there is something there for every woman.
6. Higher Grounds Café
You are not Khaleeji if you haven’t been to a specialty coffee place yet. So, it is only natural that we include one on the list. Higher Grounds Café in Tubli is all about well-crafted coffee, food and decor. Not only do they serve pastries and light bites but main dishes too, like their signature beet burger with potato wedges or the mustard lentil sandwich with veggie chips on the side, plus lots of salad options and obviously, bourgeoisie coffee!
7. House of Ghazi Al Gosaibi
There is something so mesmerizing about poets. The way they speak, write and see the world is an alluring marvel that reminds us of our soft and vulnerable human characteristics. That is why the Manama home of the late poet, author, minister and diplomat, Ghazi Al Gosaibi is on our list. It’s a preserved architectural masterpiece which visitors can enter and stand in the same space that the Saudi created some of his great works. Inside, people can read his writings and learn more about his life whilst pondering about the mysteries of the past.
8. Neo Books and Coffee
Coffee and books? Yes, please! Neo Books and Coffee is every reader’s dream. The independent bookshop, located in Riffa Palms, sells both English and Arabic books, gifts and stationary. It also has a coffee bar that serves grade A teas and coffee, plus salads, sandwiches, vegan options and sweet things for the sweet tooth! The bookshop also host events like kids’ story time and workshops on creative journaling, which you can check out the next dates for on their website calendar. If there is something any writer loves it’s good books, good coffee and a big imagination!
Sharifa Al Badi is a published writer and author from the magical lands of Oman. She has written for Esquire ME, Khaleejesque and The Culture Trip. She is also the author of “Themis Aella & The Magical Forest” and “50 Things To Know As An Adult.”