Early hours. Open road. The screeching of engines fills Bahrain International Circuit as the drivers rehearse before the spectacle of speed and smoking tires. Be there later on when the show begins for good and Manama is at its fastest. Meanwhile, take a romantic walk along the endless King Fahd Causeway, focus your camera on picturesque Al Fateh Mosque, delve into the past in the artifact-filled National Museum, and raise your head up high in front of the Bahrain World Trade Center. Then stroke a cute-faced dromedary at the Royal Camel Farm, toast your Arabian adventure upon the hallowed ground of the Hard Rock Cafe Bahrain, and get ready for a night of racing, belly dancing, and sawt soaking from the speakers.
For thousands of years, Bahrain has been a living museum and it's not only in the capital that splendid heritage can be admired. More than 100,000 grave mounds mark this speck of a country in addition to the myriad ancient temples found hidden below massive sand-drifts. Until very recently, the antiquity had the leading voice in Bahrain, but now that the shallow emerald waters all around give plenty of opportunities to reclaim land, massive expansion plans have engulfed the royal land and antiquity has to share the podium with ultramodern development. Those shallows that once harbored an invaluable pearl trade now have given way to almost 3 million square meter horseshoe of man-made islands adorning the southern tip of the country. And more high profile projects are in progress.
However, despite heavy cranes and scaffoldings being the dominant feature of the Bahrain's cityscape at the moment, it is visibly the country of "Two Seas" (Bahrain in Arabic), encircled with all shades of blue, gently lapped by almost imperceptible waves, and hushed by almost inaudible whispers of the breeze. And if everything goes well, the construction mess is cleared up, and the enterprises don't assume too glossy, inflated a form, Bahrain is going to become a prime tourist hotspot in the Middle East.