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Crazy nightlife and dreamy beaches: the cheap surprise of the Middle East - Walla! Tourism

2021-10-14T16:40:27.465Z

It does not have the good reputation of Dubai, but precisely because of this Bahrain is the surprise of the Middle East. And now there is also a direct flight for $ 199. Details at Walla! Tourism



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Insane nightlife and dreamy beaches: the cheap surprise of the Middle East

A boiling nightlife scene, beautiful skyscrapers, delicious and up-to-date food, beaches alongside turquoise waters, luxurious hotels and huge markets and malls.

It does not have the good reputation of Dubai, and precisely because of this Bahrain is the surprise of the Middle East. And now there is also a direct flight for $ 199

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  • Bahrain

  • Travel around the world

  • the Middle East

Nir Yahav, Bahrain

Thursday, 14 October 2021, 14:25 Updated: 16:05

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Sea - Bahrain (Photo: Nir Yahav)

The owner of the Suleimar nightclub in Bahrain approached me running in the middle of the party and grabbed my hand.

"Come with me!", He shouts - and I run after him until we both get into the DJ position.

"Grab the smoke gun," he shouts at me and we both scatter clouds of smoke that unite with the flickering purple lights, with the smells of cigarettes and joints and with the atmosphere of love that prevails below us.

Dozens of young and foreigners dance below us in the plaza and shout to the skies the words of SHOUSE's addictive song: "All I need is your love tonight."



Yankele Rotblit has stated in the past that things seen from there are not seen from here, and from the position of the high DJ I finally manage to understand the sentence. Two meters above the beautiful and happy guys and above the girls with the bikinis and champagne - I understand how strongly our stigmas about Muslims and Arabs are ingrained within us and how much we are wrong about them time and time again. Three beautiful dancers with minimal attire suddenly appear in the DJ position, dancing and heating up the already hot atmosphere at the beach club - and we get off the stand to dance with everyone and participate in the trendiest scene in the little kingdom. "Now it's calm," one of the club's passers-by shouts in my ear, enveloped in the smells of alcohol. "Arrive a few more hours, at midnight or one at night, and you will see the real madness here."



The bustling nightlife in Bahrain - which is mostly located in an area called "Block 338" - is just one surprising aspect of the small and beautiful kingdom.

About a year after the signing of the Avraham agreements, which also led to a peace agreement between Israel and Bahrain, we visited the kingdom as part of a delegation of journalists who boarded the first Gulf Air commercial flight from Tel Aviv to the capital Manama.

We experienced there a boiling nightlife scene, thousands of years of history, beautiful skyscrapers, delicious and up-to-date food, beaches alongside turquoise waters, luxurious hotels, rich markets, huge malls and great sports attractions.

In short, everything from everything.

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With bikini and champagne.

Nightlife in Bahrain (Photo: Nir Yahav)

Nightlife is bustling in Bahrain.

The capital Manama (Photo: ShutterStock, Preju Suresh)

Towards arrival: Corona, Visa and Money

First, a few important things to know about Bahrain before flying: A flight from Tel Aviv to Manama takes only two and a half hours and costs $ 280.

For those booking by the end of October a flight will cost $ 199.

Gulf Air flights depart on Mondays and Thursdays and must also issue a $ 25 visa.

The weather in Bahrain is very hot (in the summer months the temperature climbs up to 50 degrees and the humidity to 90 percent) so the recommended months to visit are November to April.

There are currently no communication agreements with Bahrain, so it is advisable to purchase a local SIM there.

The local currency is the dinar - and one dinar is worth 8.5 shekels.

It is possible to pay here and there in dollars, but it is worth converting some of the money in Bahrain and of course to have an international credit card.

Getting around the kingdom is done by taxi or Uber, the buses are not comfortable.



Bahrain covers an area of ​​only 760 square kilometers, and the good thing is that it can be reached very quickly from place to place. Speaks English.The kingdom consists of 33 islands, some of which are artificial, and five of them are central and populated.At every possible moment the kingdom is working to dry up parts of the sea to create areas to be added to it.



The condition of the corona in Bahrain is excellent: the morbidity is very low, thanks in part to the strict adherence to masks and social distance.

Once you land in the country, you need to download the Beware Baharain app, to which you will get all the corona test results you will do.

When leaving the country, a vaccine certificate must be presented (or recovering or a negative test from the last 24 hours).

Upon landing in Bahrain you need to do a corona test (costing about $ 100) and you will get the result within a few hours.

Until then, stay at the hotel only.

Another day before returning to Israel, another corona examination must be performed.

So far the bureaucracy, now it is possible to talk about entertainment.

More on Walla!

The sky for Bahrain opens: Golf Air will start flying to Israel

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Dubai, just calm.

Bahrain (Photo: Nir Yahav)

One of the cheapest countries in the Persian Gulf

"We are like Dubai, only calmer," we were told several times in Bahrain referring to our Gulf neighbor. And the truth? They are right. The pace in Bahrain is more relaxed than Dubai, the atmosphere is less stressful, even the wealth is less eye-popping - and in general it can be said that Bahrain is one of the cheapest countries in the Persian Gulf. A night for a couple at the spectacular "Ritz Carlton" hotel is about a thousand shekels (!), And for those who really want to live the dream can book for 7,000 shekels per night one of the hotel's secluded and magical family villas, a few meters from the sea. There are several villas side by side so families can get together and spend time together.



The beach at the hotel (and other hotels) is private and closed to hotel guests, and is one of the most beautiful we have seen. Due to lack of sand, the sand on the hotel beaches is imported from Saudi Arabia. The water is calm and warm - and you can easily spend whole days in a lazy passage between the sea, the pool, the luxurious room and the meals. Many hotels in Bahrain - led by the prestigious Ritz Carlton and Four Seasons - are making a supreme effort to brand themselves as resorts that provide a total and complete experience. Ritz Carlton, by the way, goes out of his way to appeal to all possible audiences, so much so that he recently opened the first kosher kitchen in the kingdom in order to attract the Israeli audience that keeps kosher.



And when it comes to food, it is important to say that the kingdom abounds in wonderful restaurants with trendy and delicious food, including for example the classic The Orangery, the chic restaurant at the boutique hotel The Merchant House and the Greek retro restaurant Attic.

Along with all of these, do yourself a favor and drop by to visit Haji's Cafe, which has existed since 1950. Most people who come to it do so for the traditional breakfast served there - small pastries, sour chickpeas, beetroot chickpeas, lentil stew, Sweet noodles that form the basis of a vegetable omelet ("Balalit"), a vegetable salad and a sweet drink with saffron.

The prices, as mentioned, are equal for each person.

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Classics and tradition.

Haji Cafe (Photo: Nir Yahav)

A celebration of flavors and aromas.

Bahrain Market (Photo: Nir Yahav)

The pearl - the national symbol of Bahrain

Not far from that traditional cafe is Bahrain's ancient market. You can not miss the beautiful entrance gate to it, made of hundreds of gold chains dangling from the ceiling. It is not too big a market, but also not too small, and it includes clothing stores, shoes, toys, electronics, food, spices, antiques, souvenirs and furniture. Unlike many other markets around the world, the goods sold in it are of very good quality and of course it is advisable to bargain for the price. The feeling in the market is very safe, thanks in part to security cameras scattered everywhere, and the atmosphere there is very relaxed and calm. On the side streets of the market are also the Pearl Market and the Gold Market, where you can buy original jewelry at reasonable prices. The pearl is the national symbol of Bahrain and therefore it is not impossible that it is cheaper to purchase a pearl necklace there.



Those who want to combine pearls with a marine experience, are welcome to join a snorkeling dive at one of the places that offer it on the island of Jarada.

Get on a motorboat, sail for about 15 minutes to the heart of the sea, jump into the sea, dive with snorkels and with the help of a guide try to find oysters.

This is not an easy task, even though the water is shallow.

At the end of the cruise, they return to the beach, learn how to open the oysters and even find tiny pearls in some of them.

One pearl is not worth a lot of money, but if you find several - you can definitely get organized on an earring or necklace in one of the shops in the pearl market in the city.

The price of the experience is about 350-250 shekels and is intended for diving and sea lovers.

There is also beet hummus.

Ritz Carlton's chef talks about the rich breakfast (Photo: Nir Yahav)

Get a helmet, uniform and give gas!

History buffs could get lost at Bahrain Fortress, located west of Manama. The fortress was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site 16 years ago and includes the remains of residences, worship complexes, sarcophagi and temples. It features an unimaginable array of archeological finds in the country. Much of the exhibits are dedicated to Dilmon culture, the same ancient culture that ruled the bay. Adjacent to the museum is the Bahrain National Theater. Between the two tall towers are installed three wind turbines that generate electricity.



One of the things most associated with Bahrain is a magnificent car track where the Formula 1 race is hosted every year and next to the complex there is a karting track, which attracts many tourists who come to visit the kingdom.

Everyone gets a helmet, uniform and car - and he holds a racing competition with anyone who wants it.

The price of the experience ranges from NIS 150 to NIS 300, depending on how long you want to drive on the route.

Caution: It's addictive.

It is better to arrive at sunset.

Bahrain Fortress (Photo: Nir Yahav)

Calm and safe.

Bahrain Market (Photo: Nir Yahav)

Shopping: About a quarter of the prices in Israel

And what about shopping? Aside from the rich market, the kingdom has eight huge malls, including City Center, Al-Waha, Avenue, A-Sif and Dana. We popped in to visit the spacious and cozy "City Center", and in the best bay tradition it includes dozens (if not hundreds) of shops. All the major chains are in them (Zara, Gap, Nike, Adidas and more and more), you will not be less than five minutes in line to pay at the checkout, and the prices in them are about a quarter of the prices in Israel.



And it is impossible without the Jewish point of course. In the area of ​​the market complex, the only synagogue in Bahrain operates. The head of the community, Avraham Nono, greets us with excitement and tells us about a community that at its peak reached thousands of Jews but since 1948 it has dwindled - and today it numbers only 35 people. Inside the synagogue, which was renovated two years ago, is the Ark, Torah scrolls, a television screen that broadcasts what is happening at the Western Wall and a sign with dozens of commandments in the Arabic language.



"I never thought of moving to live in Israel," admits Nono, who served as a member of the Bahraini parliament for two terms and whose niece Huda Ezra Nono was ambassador to Bahrain in the United States, in a conversation with Walla !. "I'll tell you why I did not think of coming to Israel - I believe your home is where your work is, and I have always worked here. I never felt threatened here, I had no reason to think about moving to Israel."



With a hand on heart: Were you surprised when you heard about the peace agreement between Israel and Bahrain?


"I was shocked. It surprised us very much. First of all we were surprised when we heard that a peace agreement had been signed between Israel and the Emirates, and we were even more surprised when we heard that Bahrain is joining and signing a peace agreement with Israel. We expect a lot of Israelis to come here now. That day will come. "



To the extent that?


"Yes, because for years you have lived here, and read newspapers, and seen how Israel is presented and attacked time and time again - and you do not really expect that to change. That is why this agreement is so amazing to me."



And how are the reactions on the street to the agreement?


"Listen, people have been educated here to believe that Israelis are bad people. It is very difficult for them to change this perception overnight and make them understand that Israel is no longer an enemy but a friend. It takes time to go through this process. I am Bahrain so I can understand them, I live here. There are quite a few people here who are not comfortable with the peace agreement, but slowly they are getting used to it. "



We will also see tourism from Bahrain to Israel?


"I believe so. People have already come to me who have said they want to come."

We were in shock.

Avraham Nono in the only synagogue in Bahrain (Photo: Nir Yahav)

Sea motorcycle in Bahrain (Photo: Nir Yahav)

Things you see from Bahrain you do not see from Israel

The Jewish minority does receive warm treatment from the authorities and even maintains a seat in parliament. Nono himself was a Member of Parliament and in 2006 his niece Huda was appointed, who was later appointed Ambassador of the Kingdom to the United States and later to Canada. Eligible to receive a salary from the state A few years ago, the king even ordered the establishment of a new Shura council, which includes nine women, including Christians and Jews.



Tensions between Sunnis and Shiites in the country have lasted for many years, culminating, of course, in the "Arab Spring" protests that took place a decade ago. The demonstrators then demanded equality for the Shiites and eventually the protests were suppressed and the king improved their representation. When we ask the citizens on the street if there is any opposition to the government in Bahrain, they respond with ridicule. "There is opposition," they reply. "She's sitting in the UK." Beyond that, Bahrain is the leading country in education and health services and provides them for free to all citizens. The average price of an apartment is NIS 900,000 and the average rent is about NIS 2,500.



In total we spent four days in the Kingdom of Bahrain.

It will be difficult to impossible to determine on the basis of those four days decisive determinations on the nature of the Bahraini or on their mentality.

It would be rude to pretentious to rule on the basis of those four days what the human rights situation and freedom of expression in the country are.

One can only judge by what we saw with our eyes, and even though it is a partial picture - what we saw certainly proved to us that Bahrain is a unique country, much more open and egalitarian than we thought, wanted to see Israeli tourists, and most importantly - one that manages to surprise at any given moment.

After all, things you see from Bahrain are not seen from Israel.

The author was a guest of the Bahrain Tourist Board and the Gulf Air Airlines.

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Source: walla

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