I Love Bahrain (That Day)!

Busy is such a super lame excuse but not showing you what I did during Eid-Al Adha in Bahrain is definitely a sin.

About 2 months ago, Moslems around the World celebrated one of the biggest religious holiday called Eid-Al Adha. It’s that time of the year when people around the world who can afford go to a pilgrimage in Mecca. For those who can’t afford it yet are not obligated to go.

The question is, where can you celebrate the holiday any better than the Mecca itself? As literally the country which is just right beside to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain can be on the top of the list. At least that’s what I thought.

The government of Bahrain had this pretty huge celebration all over the places during the holiday. We had 3 days of official public holiday while in Indonesia, it’s usually just one day. And as it happens every year, restaurants are full booked as the part of the culture that people like to dine outside rather than at home as Indonesian culture.

Bahrain has this beautiful big mosque called Al Fateh Grand Mosque located in the capital Manama. Instead of making it as the celebration for Muslim only, the committee had this brilliant idea of having an open house in the mosque special for expats and tourists in any beliefs for 2 days. Too awesome!

View from the street

The fountain just across the main street. The lighting is beautiful at night.

Standing magnificiently as the 6,500 square meters, The mosque was built by the late Sheikh Isa ibn Salman Al Khalifa in 1987 and was named after Ahmed Al Fateh, the conqueror of Bahrain. It is located next to the King Faisal Highway which is pretty much one of the main highways that can be easily accesed. It was actually pretty closed to my home so I just needed around 30 minutes of walking to get there.

The whole Mosque with a little bit Isa Cultural Centre in the background.

Al Fateh Grand Mosque

Once I arrived, all the visitors had to entered a giant tent where we had to do a registration. Many people from all over the World were there. There were a couple of Russians beside me as we had a little conversation while we were waiting for the tour guide. At first, as always, they thought that I was Filipino and asked me to wait for the Tagalog speaking tour guide, but since the only Tagalog that I know was all swearing words, I chose to tell them, again, as always, that I am an Indonesian. Despite of that, It was pretty organized that they have tour guides who spoke English, Arabic and also Hindi and Tagalog as the majority of expats who live in Bahrain are from those countries that speak both language. My first impression was really neat. They even provide an abbaya for women who came there wearing short pieces.

As our tour guide asked us to follow, we entered the Mosque through the main door. They gave us map and explained that there were around 16 booths that we could visit as we wish with some really interesting information all around the corners. The booths were various from General islamic knowledge like Hajj and Quran, scientific information like Science in Islam and of course some fun like photo booth and food corner.

Firstly, we were brought to the main praying area which was a really big square room with such a beautiful interior. Our tour gruide introduced himself that he was from Uzbekhistan and told us general information about the mosque. We were informed that the huge dome built on top of the Al-Fatih Mosque is constructed entirely of fiberglass. Weighing over 60,000Β kg, the dome is currently the world’s largest fiberglass dome. The marble used in the floors is Italian and the chandelier is from Austria. The doors are made of teak wood from India. Throughout the mosque are calligraphy writings in a very old type of style called Kufic. It was surely such a fancy Mosque!

Look at that giant chandelier!

The main prayer area.

The Holy Quran.

Visitors were divided into groups and women should cover their body parts except face.

One of the tour guides were telling us some information about the Mosque history

My throne. Kinda.

People were praying Asr, the third prayer in the day. It goes from Fajr, Dhuhr, Asr, Maghrib, Isha.

After several questions and answers, we were pleased to explore the Mosque as we like, visited the booths that we wanted. I found out that the committee were not just from Bahrain. People from all over the World all could volunteer. There was an american man became a speaker in Hajj booth, A Filipino boy my age were helping at the photo booth, I even met an Indonesian-Malaysian friend who was also volunteering the event.

Free finger foods for everyone!

A native is pouring an Arabic coffee to a visitor.

Fresh Arabic coffee, anyone?

The outdoor area was surrounded by some posters. Look at those beautiful marbles.

I don’t look fat, do I?

One of the posters with interesting paragraphs.

It doesn’t look good on me.

And this is even worse for me.

Relaxing booth. The fabric is Bahrain’s authentic.

As I get there pretty late and it ended at 4 PM, I just get to visit several booths. But to be honest it was a real fun. Everything was well organized. Everyone was really warm and welcome as they really respect diversity and people from other religions. This can totally be a great example of some big iconic Mosque in Indonesia.

The Isa Cultural Centre just 100 metres away

It was a pretty hot day, a t-shirt should save the day.

The main door

*******

As it was too late for the Mosque and too early to just went home, I decided to continue the adventure to Bab Al Bahrain. Once upon a time, the place which is also called as Manama Souq was the centre of Bahrain civilization, even maybe until now, as it is located right in the heart of Manama. I have had written about a really nice breakfast experience here, but this time I visited it evening time which gave kinda different vibe, especially since it was Eid time and more people visited the place.

Kingdom of Bahrain’s centre of civilization.

The buildings around

It was a quite busy night

The alley

One of the stores. Manama Souq was also famous for souvenir’s shopping

Some old pictures of The Souq

The gate from inside

I went there by Bus and took a cup of coffee right after I arrived. It turned out there was a folk band playing in the Souq so I was just there watching it with the rest of the people which was surprisingly a lot. The band was playing inside the big hall in the Souq. It was the first time ever I saw a traditional Arabic band playing in real life and it was pretty fun. Everyone was dancing happily as the music played. I finally felt like I was in a foreign country!

I believe it must be such a heavy door

The hall inside the Souq

People are watching the Folk Band

Overall, that was actually one of my best days in Bahrain. I really explored the local iconic place and experienced the native culture. I give my thumbs up as the whole thing was organized by the Ministry of Tourism. There were actually more things going on like Leona Lewis concert and another concert in Tree of Life which was quite far. But hey, I was trully satisfied with the day so yeah, I loved Bahrain (that day)!

I *heart* BH

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