10 fun things to do with kids in Manama
The Middle East Is Not Just Dubai. Discover These Ten Best Places To Visit With Kids In Manama, Bahrain. The title alludes to a particular tendency of Western tourists to visit only those places in the Middle East that gets loads of PR through tourism marketing.
The city of Dubai or more particularly the whole UAE is a tourism and business hub for most of the Westerners visiting the Middle East. And no wonder why it is so since it is the wealthiest state in the region from every possible economic index.
However, this leads to a judgmental blind spot for tourists visiting the Middle-East as they miss other better places of tourism. While Egypt is full of culture and heritage, it has received its fair share of tourist attention and investments.
Bahrain is the next emerging tourism center in the Middle East, or to be particular, in the Gulf Region. While the UAE and particularly Dubai shadows the rise of other regions in the country having a potential for tourism, such as Bahrain.
However, being a part of the Gulf family of states, if you can use that terminology, Bahrain too has bloomed in the recent decades and is catching with the rest of the Gulf.
If you are a frequent traveler to the Gulf, but haven’t been to Bahrain or even if you haven’t been anywhere in the Gulf before, you can start your new Middle-East trip with Bahrain as your first destination.
Here are the Top 10 fun things to do with kids in Manama, the capital of Bahrain.
Old Manama Town:
Before Bahrain became the sprawling uber-modern city due to all the petrodollar money, it was a fishing backwater town, just like Dubai.
While Dubai uprooted almost all of its old settlements and surged ahead to become the city of the future that it is today, Manama retained some of its old structures even to this day.
Today you can find old houses and shops in this part of the city that can give you a glimpse of life in old times when Manama used to be a small fishing village.
The Currency Museum Of Bahrain:
For those fond of collecting coins, this museum serves as a historic storehouse to offer you a guided tour of the Gulf’s monetary history. This museum exhibits hundreds of coins from Bahrainian history as well that of some neighboring nations.
The coins in this museum go all the way back to the days of antiquity when the Roman Empire had ended and scattered. You will also find early Islamic coins with embossing in early Arabic.
The museum also houses plenty of coins and currency notes from the early to mid-twentieth century periods. Those of you who are interested in numismatics, should not miss the place.
If you are spendthrift, you better not visit here. The Bahraini gold souk is one of the world’s richest and most busy places in the world. Unlike gold markets anywhere else in the Arab world, the Manama gold souk is still well and active and sells all sorts of gold goods right from gold jewelry to gold slabs and coins. Businessmen from other parts of the region can be found here buying and selling gold.
Unlike Western gold markets, the purity of gold sold here begins at eighteen carats and ends at twenty-four carats. Do not feel awkward if you do not intend to buy any gold ornament or piece from the market. There are plenty of tourists who visit here only to enjoy the sight of seeing real gold all over the market.
National Museum Of Bahrain:
Do not underestimate Bahrain because of its small size and emerging economy. During the ancient times and antiquity, it used to be a part of the most ancient civilization in the Middle East.
Since the Middle East is considered as the Cradle Of Human Civilization, most of the civilization that sprung up here have also been one of the earliest in the world. One such civilization was the Dilmun civilization.
European archaeologists have uncovered a lot of artifacts and relics from the Dilmun civilization that are housed here in the National Museum Of Bahrain.
Also, a stone tablet containing the Epic Of Gilgamesh was unearthed here in Bahrain which is also one of the major exhibits in the museum.
The Fabrics Bazaar:
If there is another commodity that the Middle East is famous for other than gold, it is none other than fabrics. Yes, of course, oil has its own weight in the larger scheme of things, but let’s leave that for some other day.
The fabrics bazaar in Manama is where you will find all sorts of fabrics right from the cheap low-cost fabrics to the expensive fabrics that are mostly afforded by the rich.
You can come to the Fabrics Bazaar for a casual stroll or just to experience the culture, but if you have the money, you can surely buy some regional wear for yourself or as gift items.
As we would suggest, you should ideally go for buying some Bahraini traditional dress or a Bahraini carpet. Worry not about the prices, since you can buy these even for cheap.
Rashid Al Oraifi Museum:
The Rashid Al Oraifi museum is dedicated to the artifacts found from the Dilmun era and houses over one hundred artifacts from the period. This includes a range of different types of artifacts such as stone tablets, vases, sculptures, and statues.
For those who are always interested to dig up the ancient history of any given place, the Rashid Al Oraifi museum has a treasure of these artifacts. Let’s pray to God that this museum does not fall prey to ISIS savages like the ones in Jordan and Syria did.
Those subhuman barbarians do not understand the value of their own culture and heritage and cannot be expected that they ever will.
The Heritage Center is not about the history, but more about the traditions and culture of the Bahrainis.
This includes the various performing arts and sports of the Bahrainis such as sports like falconry, archery, horse riding, camel riding and also exhibiting the different objections of daily use such as tents, vases, water jugs and carpets.
You can also get a glimpse of the old Bahraini lifestyle before Manama was turned from a fishing village into an international city. The Heritage Center lives up to its name and showcases us the traditional way of living of the native Bahraini people.
To know what Bahrain was like before turning into a cosmopolitan uber modern country in the 21st century, visit the Heritage Center.
A souk is not just a gold market, but any market in the Middle East. The Muharraq souk is where the city comes to life. This is where you will find people living their lives in a mundane way like any other busy city.
You will hear sounds of sellers yelling the lowest prices, shouting out discounts, you can smell various spices and coffee being brewed at coffee shops and people chatting up in the bazaar over a cup of tea prepared from camel’s milk.
For those who want to see the typical public life in a Bahraini city, the Muharraq Souk is a must.
Bahraini cuisine is one of the most mouthwatering and delicious cuisines in the Middle East. Thanks to its various spices that they add to their foods, Bahraini food is one of the most cherished in the region.
This is where we come to the Spice Souk. Just like the Bahrainis are fond of their gold and their fabrics, they are no less fond of their spices that they grow locally as well as an import in large numbers from places like India and South East Asia.
The Spice Souk of Manama is like a central junction of spices where you will find spices of all types such as cardamom, pepper, cloves and others used in Bahraini recipes, especially chicken and rice.
Qalat Al Bahrain:
Like rest of the countries in Asia, Bahrain too had its fair share of European influences. The Qalat Al Bahrain, which is a fort four kilometers outside the Manama city was originally built by the Portuguese as a defensive fortification. The fort is to this day maintained well because of its national and historic importance.
The name means’ Fort Of Bahrain.’ The fort was recently listed in the list of World Heritage Sites of UNESCO and is houses many early modern artifacts and ancient objects. Surprisingly, the fort is also a place where archaeologists dug up the ancient Dilmun civilization, which defines the current area encompassing the modern nation-state of Bahrain.
That was all about Bahrain that you should look forward to in your next Middle East trip. Touring the Middle East is expensive, however, if you are still picky about the costs, going to Bahrain seems like a pertinent option.