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There is a tower on the island midway across the King Fahd Causeway which connects Bahrain and Saudi Arabia; go to the top to get your bearings. After you’ve had a look at both countries and the sea below, put your feet on the ground and dive into the country’s history at the Bahrain National Museum. Its archeological pieces cover Bahrain’s nearly 5,000 year history from Babylonia to its main modern industry of pearl diving. The Al Fateh Islamic Center was built in the late 1980s and is the biggest mosque in the country; it is also home to Bahrain’s national library. Singular in its subject matter, almost exclusively focused on the Quran, Beit Al Quran is an Islamic arts complex whose entrance is wrapped in script and houses a vast collection of ancient manuscripts and some 50,000 books in several languages. The Bahrain National Theatre’s very architecture plays homage to arts and letters: it has a wonderfully telling 1,001 seats. It is one of the largest theaters in the Arab world and artists from around the globe come to perform here.
Travel from Riyadh to Manama
Bab Al Bahrain once housed the country’s government offices and now marks the entrance to Manama Souq (known for its pearls) and is also where you’ll find the tourism office if you’re in need a map or a few tips. Not far from the city center is Qalat al Bahrain, Ancient Harbor and Capital of Dilmun, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This fascinating tell (artificial mound created through years of human occupation) dates back more than two thousand years and was inhabited up until four hundred years ago. A Portuguese fort was built on top of the mound. Another in Riffa, south of Manama, Sheikh Salman Bin Ahmed Al Fateh Fort, has amazing views of the surrounding countryside which you can take in leisurely from the café built inside. A stroll through old Muharraq, directly across from Manama to the east, will dazzle visitors with traditional Bahraini houses, some of which have been converted to museums such as Shaikh Isa Bin Ali House.