Bahrain… the pearl of the arabian gulf.

Posted by Tandarin Nike Saturday, November 28, 2009 12:22 AM
Bahrain, the pearl of the arabian gulf as it is known is truly a great place to live and work among all the gulf countries. Having stayed here since last twenty four years and with the same organization tells a lot about the excellent conditions under which we as expatriates work here.

Having arrived here as a young lad of twenty seven, I took to the place like fish to water. My assignment with the electricity and water ministry (now an authority) was for an initial period of two years. I had arrived here from Europe. My last assignment there was with a Japanese electronics company in Canary Islands (Tenerife). The next twenty two years just passed by with my twin sons born and brought up here.

Today my boys are doing their last year engineering in Nagpur, India. They wait at the end of their semesters to come and visit Bahrain even if it for a short duration of ten days. Coincidently, they just arrived yesterday for a two weeks break after their seventh semester. Even today, after close to four years of study in India my boys look forward to visiting Bahrain which for them literally is a second home.

The place, its people and the tranquil surroundings are definitely an attraction to any foreigner working and living here. This definitely requires me to write this blog on the small island nation. Historically, Bahrain though being a very small island has a very rich past.

Bahrain, site of the famous Dilmun (3200 -1600 B.C), the ancient "land of immortality" was a major port of call in the sea trade routes between Mesopotamia and India centuries ago. The island was a natural stopover for trading vessels because of its plentiful supplies of sweet water. Today, the island is still playing host to a multitude of visitors from across the globe but the Bahrain of the 1990s has much more on offer than sweet water supplies.

This ancient island of Dilmun was once an ancestral burial site where it is said immortality could be obtained by those that passed by. The thousands of ancient burial mounds all over the island were a constant reminder of the dead and sometimes at weekends during my early years here we would take on dares with our friends to go out in the early evening to walk amongst those huge intimidating, mounds. Once back in the confines of our home we would recount the weird events with spine-chilling stories of ghosts, strange lights and noises of the unearthly kind to our younger colleagues.

Many theorists and archaeologists have proposed that Dilmun was the true location of the Garden of Eden whilst many others dispute the theory. I like to believe the former. Most probably with a bit of bias towards the love I have towards this wonderful country.

Bahrain's main Island (the Kingdom is made up of 33 islands) is thought to have been torn from the Arabian peninsula around 6000BC. It has been inhabited since prehistoric times. The islands of Bahrain were home to one of the great trading empires of the ancient world. This was the civilization of Dilmun, founded during the Bronze Age around 3000BC and lasting, in one form or another, for over 2000 years.

Dilmun developed as a centre of trade and commerce because of its location along trade routes linking Mesopotamia (southern Iraq) with the Indus Valley (today's India and Pakistan). Its decline dates from the fall of the Indus Valley civilization in the middle of the second millennium BC. This would of course have stripped Dilmun of its importance as a trading centre between Mesopotamia and India.

Once the decline had set it continued over the following centuries. There is mention of Dilmun as a vassal of Assyria in the 8th century BC and by 600BC, it had been fully incorporated into the Babylonian empire.
Though Dilmun enjoyed considerable power and influence, it is difficult to gauge exactly how much. There is no question that at one time Dilmun controlled a large part of the western Gulf shore, but there is dispute over how far north and inland its influence was felt.

There is virtually no information about what happened between Dilmun's absorption by Babylon and the arrival of Nearchus, a general in the army of Alexander the Great. He established a colony on the island of Falaika off the coast of Kuwait in the late 4th century BC. It is known that he explored the Gulf at least as far south as Bahrain. From the time of Nearchus until the coming of Islam in the 7th century AD, Bahrain was known by its Greek name of Tylos.

The six hundred years from 300B.C. to 300A.D. seem to have been relatively prosperous ones. Writing in the first century A.D, Pliny mentioned that Tylos was famous for its pearls.

In June 1932 oil was discovered in commercial quantities in Bahrain by William Taylor, it was the first discovery of oil on the Arab side of the Gulf and it coincided with the collapse of the world pearl market which had been Bahrain’s main export.

Because Bahrain was the first Gulf state to discover oil, it was also the first to enjoy the benefits that came with the revenues, with a marked improvement in the quality of education and health care.

Bahrain's oil production is minimal. The UAE, produces about 2 million barrels a day while Bahrain's daily production is less than 50,000 barrels. Bahrain does refine a large quantity of Saudi oil which arrives in the country through an undersea pipeline. Because of its limited oil production, the country has developed a more diversified economy than the other Gulf states.

When Lebanon collapsed in the late 1970s, Bahrain made a conscious effort to attract the formerly Beirut-based banks and bankers to Manama and the effort paid off. In the late '80s, Bahrain's financial services sector expanded into offshore banking; though competition in this field has been stiff it has emerged as the Middle East's pre-eminent financial hub and a worldwide hub for Islamic Banking. In the recent past, the government has also begun a drive to attract tourists to the islands.

The highlight of this was winning the competition to host the Formula One Grand Prix on the Island, beating off stiff competition from neighboring countries and enhancing its up market image.

Today, Bahrain is a very modern island nation. It attracts tourists from every nook and corner of the world. Formula one grand prix, a four day event attracts huge crowds each year since its inception. The infrastructure accommodates all these visitors without any burden to the day to day activities.

It goes without saying that a visit to this wonderful place should be on your itinerary in case you pass via the gulf on the way to the west. With a strong expatriate community mainly consisting of fellow Indians, the hospitality rendered by fellow compatriots is worth experiencing and enjoying.

So do visit us and enjoy the true hospitality of this lovely kingdom, its people and their zest for life.

3 Response to "Bahrain… the pearl of the arabian gulf."

  1. Rao Says:

    Hi MM,
    I liked your article very much and its very informative. I enjoyed reading it again and again.

    Hope I will get a chance to visit your place in near future.


  2. Tandarin Nike Says:

    Thanks Mr.Rao. Like I said earlier, please do visit us here in Bahrain. It would be a pleasure to have you in our midst.

  3. Angela Says:

    Hi, I work for a Media company in Los Angeles, Visionaire Media, and we're looking to cast a family in the Middle East for our next project Trading Places. I would love to get some advice on how to reach potential families in Bahrain. Please let me know if I can discuss with you further. My email address is And more information on our projects can be found at
    I look forward to hearing from you. Sincerely, Angela

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