A historic building located in Manama, the Bab al-Bahrain, which, in English, means the Gateway to Bahrain, marks the entrance to the Manama Souq. While the building may have undergone several renovations over the years, it has been beautifully restored to its former glory, and is now considered to be quite the cultural landmark.
Gold and Pearls
The Gold Souq is always one of the first points of calls for visitors to Bab al-Bahrain, because, with over 100 stalls packed with glittering goods, this promises to be a sight unlike anything else that you will have seen. Bahrain gold is usually 21 carat, and fashioned into a huge plethora of styles, from the traditional to the contemporary. In addition to its gold, Bahrain is also famous for its pearls, and these can also be purchased from the Gold Souk. The pearls that you will find here are natural rather than cultured, which is why their shape and color are quite irregular, with everything from cream and white to stunning greens.
Spices are what many believe are the secret of Arab cuisine, as these carefully chosen blends are what provide the dishes with their distinctive flavor and aroma. As soon as you enter the souq, the smell of spices will hit your nose, and, as you wander through, you will soon come across a quiet corner of the main souq that is often referred to as the spice souq. Whether you intend to purchase any items or not, it is still worth exploring the spices on display, as you will learn so much about the intense flavors behind Bahraini cuisine.
Textiles and Handicrafts
While it may initially seem as though the souq is packed with mass-produced souvenirs, you only have to venture a little deeper into it to find the traditional goods on offer. Textiles have always played a significant role in Bahrain, and you will find the most beautiful fabrics for sale here, as well as stunning authentic handmade Bahraini carpets. There are also plenty of handicrafts to be found, all of which are ideal to take back home as gifts.
Traditional Bahraini Cuisine
In addition to the shopping, one of the highlights of a day out at Bab al-Bahrain for many is the traditional Bahraini cuisine that can be found here, and while you will not find any fine dining establishments, these budget-friendly eateries serve up some of the tastiest dishes in town. From the Naseef Café that serves up an authentic Bahraini breakfast, as well as a deliciously refreshing mango ice cream, to the vegetable samosas of Aloo Basheer, which has been around for over 50 years, to Haji Gahwa, the oldest café in the kingdom, there is such a wide variety of local food available here that even the pickiest of eaters will find themselves more than satisfied.
The Bab al-Bahrain has always been one of Bahrain’s most popular attractions, and it is easy to see why. With its wonderfully authentic traditional shopping experience, combined with some of the tastiest local cuisine in the kingdom, it is always a pleasure to spend the day at Bab al-Bahrain.