/**/ Info Bee: The Culture Meter Middle East & Africa - In Focus : Bahrain

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Culture Meter Middle East & Africa - In Focus : Bahrain

The name ‘Bahrain’ is derived from an Arabic word meaning ‘two seas’. This refers to the freshwater springs and salty seawater found around the country.

History, Language, Places of Importance and Interest
Bahrain is a group of 33 islands in the Middle East. It has been occupied since prehistoric times and was the seat of the ancient Dilmun civilization and also a key trading centre. After being under Portuguese and Persian rules, the al-Khalifa family (also the current ruling family) secured it. The family approached the UK for help in protecting the region following which Bahrain became a British protectorate. In 1971, it became an independent nation. Since then it has witnessed rapid modernization and is considered the fastest growing nation in the Arab world.
Some facts
 Capital : Manama
 Population : 728,709 (Jul 2010 est., CIA factbook)
 Religion : Islam
 Languages : Arabic (official), English (widely spoken)
 Time   zone : GMT +3
 Currency : Bahraini Dinar (BHD)

Places of importance and interest
·  Manama: The capital city, Manama is the largest city in the country and is the economical, political and cultural hub of the country. Al-Fateh Mosque, the largest mosque in Bahrain with a capacity to house around 7000 people, is one of the attractions in Manama. Other places of interest include the Bahrain National Museum, the Pearl Monument and the Manama souq  (traditional market). Two landmarks in the city are the Bahrain World Trade Centre and Bahrain Financial Harbour. The Tree of Life, a solitary tree in the middle of a desert, is situated near Manama.
·  Bahrain Fort: Located on Bahrain Island, the fort is UNESCO World Heritage Site.  The Qal’at Al Bahrain, as it is known in Arabic, is an archaeological site and offers a glimpse into the country’s history as the site of the Dilmun civilization.
·  Khamis Mosque : It is said to be the first mosque to be built in Bahrain. The foundations of the mosque date back to the seventh century.
·  Other interesting places include the Arad Fort, the Riffa Fort, Dilmun Burial Grounds and the Al Areen Nature Park.

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