Manama is the capital and largest city of Bahrain, with an approximate population of 157,000 people.
Long an important trading center in the Persian Gulf, Manama is home to a very diverse population. After periods of Portuguese and Persian control and invasions from the ruling dynasties of Saudi Arabia and Oman, Bahrain established itself as an independent nation during the 19th century period of British hegemony.
Although the current twin cities of Manama and Muharraq appear to have been founded simultaneously in the 1800s, Muharraq took prominence due to its defensive location and was thus the capital of Bahrain until 1921. Manama became the mercantile capital, and was the gateway to the main Bahrain Island. In the 20th century, Bahrain's oil wealth helped spur fast growth and in the 1990s a concerted diversification effort led to expansion in other industries and helped transform Manama into an important financial hub in the Middle East.
Manama was designated as the capital of Arab culture for the year 2012 by the Arab League.
|POPULATION :||City: 157,474 / Metro: 329,510|
|TIME ZONE :||GMT+3|
|LANGUAGE :||Arabic, English, Farsi, Urdu|
|RELIGION :||Muslim (Shia and Sunni) 81.2%, Christian 9%, other 9.8%|
|AREA :||30 km2 (10 sq mi)|
|COORDINATES :||26°13′N 50°35′E|
|SEX RATIO :||• Male: 62.18% |
• Female: 37.82%
|ETHNIC :||Bahraini 46%, non-Bahraini 54%|
|AREA CODE :|
|POSTAL CODE :|
|DIALING CODE :||+973|
Manama is a getaway for Arabs and expats residing in the 'alcohol banned' Arab countries. Tourists, particularly Saudis and residents of Saudi Arabia, come to Bahrain mainly for the nightlife.
THINGS TO SEE
Bab Al Bahrain. The Gateway of Bahrain, located in the Customs Square in Central Manama. The ground floor houses the Tourist information office and a handicraft shop.
Manama Souq (Behind Bab Al Bahrain building). The souq is network of small lanes that houses small stores selling everything from souvenirs and gifts to electronic products. The souq is also home to many gold and jewelry shops and tailors.
Al-Fateh Mosque. One of the largest mosques in the world, capable of accommodating over 7,000 worshippers at a time and is the largest place of worship in Bahrain. It is also one of the top tourist attractions in Bahrain. The dome is currently the worlds largest fibreglass dome and is over 60,000 kg in weight. Al-Fateh includes the new National Library which opened to the public in 2006.
Corniche al-Fateh. On the east coast of the city, this pleasant seaside promenade offers good views of the skyscrapers to the south and planes taking off from the airport nearby. Plenty of fun fair rides for the kids and shisha bars for the older set.
Museum of Pearl Diving. Is considered as the most important historic buildings in Bahrain. It derives importance as being the first official center for Bahrain Courts. The building was inaugurated by Late H.H. Sh. Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa, the past Governor of Bahrain, during Calendar year 18th October, 1937. At that time the building comprised of four Supreme Courts, apart from three Directorates. Later on, during 1984 the building was transformed into a Traditional Heritage Center. Currently, the Museum of Pearl Diving is under the control of Directorate of Archaeology and Heritage, one of the major Directorates of Ministry of Cabinet Affairs and Information.
Bahrain National Museum, Al Fateh Highway, Natural and cultural history of Bahrain.
Tree of Life, 30 km south of Manama. Famous lonesome tree in the middle of a dry desert. Scientists haven't figured out how it survives, since no underground aquifer or spring exists under that area. In fact, all underground water sources are around the tree are contaminated with salt, suggesting the tree may in fact possess a mutation rendering it salt-tolerant.
THINGS TO DO
Dolphin Watching, Take a boat trip and you can watch the dolphins and manatees playing in the warm Gulf waters, and see local fisherman head out in traditional wooden dhows to catch the prized local hammour - a type of grouper. Dolphin watch trips take place three times daily. BD6 for adults, BD3 for children under 12 years.
Scuba Diving, Bahrain Yacht Club & Al Bandar resort.
Horse riding, Saar, For anyone wanting riding lessons or an occasional hack, the Twin Palms Riding School and the Dilmun Club are good places to start.
Horse racing. Arabia is of course famous for its horses. The national racecourse at Al Sakhir hosts races every Friday from October to March. The grandstand holds up to 3,000 spectators and entry is free, although visitors should be reminded that betting is prohibited.
SHOPPING IN MANAMA
Al A'Ali Mall, Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Highway, Seef District. A'ali Mall has the look and feel of a traditional open air souk within its air-conditioned confines. A glass roof, stores with old-fashioned Arabic wooden doors and carts selling souvenirs all add to the atmosphere. Outlets include Top Designer stores.
Bahrain City Centre, Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Highway, Seef District, Bahrain City Centre is the first and biggest mixed-use development in Bahrain offering the best shopping, leisure and entertainment experience to its customers under one roof. Bahrain City Centre has introduced a world-class retail ambience and hundreds of other 'firsts' to the Kingdom including 150 of its over 350 internationally reputed brands making their debut in the country. The Centre’s stunning entertainment offer includes the region’s first indoor/outdoor temperature controlled 15,000 square metre Wahooo! Waterpark, Bahrain’s biggest cinema complex Cineco 20, and a family entertainment centre for children and young adults, Magic Planet. For food and beverage options, over 50 food court outlets have been lined up to offer the most popular as well as exotic choices from all over the world.
The Bahrain Mall. The Bahrain Mall is situated in the heart of Bahrain's new retail district. This ideal location is easily accessible from the main highway and all parts of the city. It covers an area of 750,000 square feet and has more than 120 international brands and specialty stores.
Dana Mall, Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Highway. Find an abundance of stores for your wardrobe, pampered lifestyle and unique trends.
There is evidence of human settlement on the northern coastline of Bahrain dating back to the Bronze Age. The Dilmun civilisation inhabited the area in 3000 BC, serving as a key regional trading hub between Mesopotamia, Magan and the Indus Valley civilisation. Despite the discovery of the mounds, there is no significant evidence to suggest heavy urbanisation took place during the Dilmun era.It is believed that the majority of the population lived in rural areas, numbering several thousands. Evidence of an ancient large rural population was confirmed by one of Alexander the Great's ship captains, during voyages in the Persian Gulf. A vast system of aqueducts in northern Bahrain helped facilitate ancient horticulture and agriculture.
The commercial network of Dilmun lasted for almost 2,000 years, after which the Assyrians took control of the island in 700 BC for more than a century. This was followed by Babylonian and Achaemenid rule, which later gave way to Greek influence during the time of Alexander the Great's conquests.
In the first century AD, the Roman writer Pliny the Elder wrote of Tylos, the Hellenic name of Bahrain in the classical era, and its pearls and cotton fields.
The island came under the control of the Parthian and Sassanid empires respectively, by which time Nestorian Christianity started to spread in Bahrain. By 410-420 AD, a Nestorian bishopric and monastery was established in Al Dair, on the neighbouring island of Muharraq.
In 1330, under the Jarwanid dynasty, the island became a tributary of the Kingdom of Hormuz. The town of Manama was mentioned by name for the first time in a manuscript dating to 1345 AD.
In 1521, Bahrain fell to the expanding Portuguese Empire in the Persian Gulf, having already defeated Hormuz. The Portuguese consolidated their hold on the island by constructing the Bahrain Fort, on the outskirts of Manama. After numerous revolts and an expanding Safavid empire in Persia, the Portuguese were expelled from Bahrain and the Safavids took control in 1602.
Following the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the British Raj used Manama as a military base of operations during the Mesopotamian campaign.Prompted by the presence of oil in the region, the British political agency in Bushire concluded an oil agreement with the Hakim to prohibit the exploration and exploitation of oil for a five-year period. In 1919, Bahrain was officially integrated into the British empire as an overseas imperial territory following the Bahrain order-in-council decree, issued in 1913.
In 1927, the country's pearling economy collapsed due to the introduction of Japanese cultured pearls in the world market. It is estimated that between 1929 and 1931, pearling entrepreneurs lost more than two-thirds of their income. Further aggravated by the Great Depression, many leading Bahraini businessmen, shopkeepers and pearl-divers fell into debt. With the discovery of oil in 1932 and the subsequent production of oil exports in 1934, the country gained a greater significance in geopolitics. The security of oil supplies in the Middle East was a priority of the British, especially in the run-up to the Second World War.
Following the rise of Arab nationalism across the Middle East and sparked by the Suez Crisis in 1956, anti-British unrest broke out in Manama, organised by the National Union Committee. Though the NUC advocated peaceful demonstrations, buildings and enterprises belonging to Europeans (the British in particular) as well as the main Catholic church in the city and petrol stations, were targeted and set ablaze. Another anti-British uprising erupted in March 1965, though predominately led by students aspiring for independence rather than by Arab nationalists. In 1968, the British announced their withdrawal from Bahrain by 1971. The newly independent State of Bahrain designated Manama as the capital city.
Manama has an arid climate.
In common with the rest of Bahrain, Manama experiences extreme climatic conditions, with summer temperatures up to 48 °C (118 °F), and winter as low as 7 °C (45 °F) with even hail at rare occasions.
Average temperatures of the summer and winter seasons are generally from 17 °C (63 °F) to about 45 °C (113 °F).
The most pleasant time in Bahrain is autumn when sunshine is comparatively low, coupled with warm temperatures tempered by soft breezes.
The city is located in the north-eastern corner of Bahrain on a small peninsula. As in the rest of Bahrain, the land is generally flat (or gently rolling) and arid.
Manama is the focal point of the Bahraini economy. While petroleum has decreased in importance in recent years due to depleting reserves and growth in other industries, it is still the mainstay of the economy. Heavy industry (e.g. aluminium smelting, ship repair), banking and finance, and tourism are among the industries which have experienced recent growth. Several multinationals have facilities and offices in and around Manama.
The primary industry in Manama itself is financial services, with over two hundred financial institutions and banks based in the CBD and the Diplomatic Area. Manama is a financial hub for the Persian Gulf region and a center of Islamic banking. There is also a large retail sector in the shopping malls around Seef, while the center of Manama is dominated by small workshops and traders.
The neighborhoods of Manama today include:
Manama Souq (including Fareeq el-Makharqa)
Umm Al Hassam
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