Bahrain National Museum


The Bahrain National Museum which is on the waterfront in Manama, is one of the country’s main tourist attractions. One of my Bahraini contacts took me out to see it during my free day after I’d after I’d arrived and before the course I was running started.


It has a very interesting collection of archaeological artefacts from over 5000 years of history plus displays showing the traditional lifestyle of Bahrain, traditional handicrafts customs and traditions hall, ancient documents and manuscripts and the history of Islam in Bahrain.


The Middle East was the cradle of civilisation and the group of small islands that make up Bahrain were once the centre of the kingdom of Dilmun which flourished from about 3000 BC to around 330 BC and which,  at the height of its power, controlled the Persian Gulf trading routes. Some of the most interesting exhibits told the story (at least what is known) of Dilmun. One of the notable features of the civilisation are the burial mounds that are found in Bahrain particularly in the north of the island. The following picture is from Wikipedia

The museum displays included artefacts taken from the burial mounds, but they weren’t particularly “photogenic” so I didn’t get any decent shots.

I particularly liked the reconstructed souk and displays showing the traditional way of life before the relatively recent modernisation following the discovery of oil in the 1930’s.


Baking bread


Enjoying a shisha


A rug seller


A weaver


A potter


Basket making




A model of a traditional Dhow


Pearl fishing was a major occupation


and there was a display of different types and grades of pearl



A traditional large house. My host was able to tell me about how people lived when he was a boy – he would make a good museum guide! Given the hot, dry climate people spent  lot of time outdoors. The courtyard and area around houses and dwellings were part of the living space


A smaller, traditional dwelling


Old men sitting and gossiping


Women working togethor


Being so used to seeing muslin women wearing traditional black robes, it was interesting to see how the mannequins were dressed in colourful clothes like the ones above and this wedding dress.


Outdoors there were two statues that emphasised the importance of pearl fishing to Bahrain in the past

A fisherman diving for pearls


A dangerous occupation.

Here is his wife and children looking out to see, hoping for his safe return

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The museum was definitely worth a visit. I learned a lot about the history of the island and it’s traditional way of life and crafts.



I’ve recently returned from a visit to Bahrain. It was good to take off from a wet, windy, wintery Manchester and arrive somewhere warm and sunny. Being the winter, the climate was very pleasant.

I went to work but did manage to see something of the island. Getting around isn’t easy as there isn’t really a public transport system other than buses used by workers which weren’t practical for sight seeing and taxis are expensive, especially as sights of interest are spread around the island. I was staying to was the south of the island near where I was working, but I had some spare time and one of my hosts generously offered to show me around.


Bahrain is an island in the Arabian Gulf, off the coast of Saudi Arabia (to which it’s connected by a causeway) and Qatar. It was here in the 1930’s that oil was first discovered in the Gulf. Originally the population lived by fishing, peal fishing and farming. Today the country is quite different with a largely urban population in rapidly growing towns and with many modern buildings in the capital city, Manama.


My host, a local who was clearly proud of his country, was keen to show me modern Bahrain. So we spent quite a lot of time looking at some of the modern developments and shopping centres. But we did also manage to visit the national museum which I found particularly interesting.




I met both expatriates and locals during my stay, all of whom were hospitable. It was interesting talking to them about their lives out there. The way of life of locals, European professional expats and the (mainly) Indian workers I met were quite different.

It was nice to experience some winter sun and warmth. However, although short visits are enjoyable,  the life of an expat out there would not appeal to me.