I’m in Bahrain. The flight was exceptionally short from Qatar. The time I spend on the runway was more than the time spent in the air. As far as I could tell, there are no ferries which run from Doha to Bahrain, and unless you are a GCC resident, you can’t take a bus without applying for a Saudi visa. They are working on a bridge between the two countries, but it will not be open for several years.
Bahrain is small. It is one of those countries that is so small, the airport runway shows up on the map. Because of its size and lack of oil, Bahrain has been the traditional finance capital of the Persian Gulf. While there is some construction going on and some new buildings, most of the development here seems to have taken place in the 1970′s and 80s, during the last big oil boom.
The area where I’m staying is in the heart of the city. There are tons of small alleys side streets filled with shops. It almost feels like a movie set. As with the other countries I’ve been to in the Gulf, there are a lot of South Asians (Indian, Pakistanis, Sri Lankans, and Bangladeshis) and Filipinos. More Arabs here seem to be shopkeepers and do manual labor here than in Dubai, Oman or Qatar, but it is still mostly foreign workers.
You can easily tell how big and important the South Asian population here is by turning on the TV. There must have been four or five channels showing cricket matches or talking about cricket.
Yesterday was my first full day in Bahrain and I didn’t do anything. It was Friday, which means that most everything was closed during the day (Friday being the Muslim equivalent of Sunday for Christians). I went to a building that had a bunch of nightclubs and had a beer with a bunch of Filipinos watching a Filipino band. I also stuck my head in the door of a place with an all Arab clientele. It appeared to be a belly dancing bar or something. It wasn’t a strip club or anything, just girls dancing and men drinking alcohol. It was very odd.
On a site news note, you may have noticed that my 53 day daily photo marathon of World Heritage sites has ended. Back to normal photos. I’ll be adding more of the World Heritage sites as I pass through them. I have two more lined up already, and I’ll be hitting the World Heritage jackpot as I get to Egypt, Jordan and Israel.