An archipelago of over thirty islands, Bahrain is where pearl diving all began. Steeped in history, the island country is home to a range of activities for tourists and makes for an ideal destination for those seeking an authentic Gulf experience. With many flocking to nearby Doha, Dubai and Dammam, Bahrain is often neglected as a tourist destination. But that’s great for you as a visitor in Bahrain, as it means you’ll pretty much have the place to yourself!
The country’s culture spans many centuries, which is why locals take great pride in their heritage and history. From the Dilmum Empire to 16th-century pearl divers, Bahrain has seen a diverse landscape throughout the many years. For this reason, it’s worth making a visit to some of the finest museums in the country. Whether you’re interested in the history of Bahrain, the history of Islam, or the history of pearl diving, Bahrain has a museum for them all.
Bahrain National Museum
Not only is this the largest and oldest museum in Bahrain, but the Bahrain National Museum is also considered the island’s iconic cultural landmark. The remarkable architecture with its marble facade looms over Muharraq Island, offering visitors remarkable views of the skyline. The museum is well-maintained and extremely spacious which makes visiting a pleasurable experience. With permanent and temporary exhibitions as well as an art gallery, the museum takes visitors on a journey through 6000 years worth of history.
Beit Al Quran
Located nearby to the Bahrain National Museum, we also have Beit Al Ouran – a multi-purpose complex that presents visitors with a unique collection of Quranic manuscripts. For those seeking to learn more about the history of the Quran, the Beit Al Quran delivers well with copies dating back to the 7th century. In fact, according to the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities, it is also claimed to be the only institute in the world devoted to the Quran. For those seeking more than just exhibitions and manuscripts, the multi-purpose complex also houses a library with 50,000+ books on Islam written in various languages.
Museum of Pearl Diving
The entire Arabian Gulf region is renowned for pearl diving, which is why a visit to the Museum of Pearl Diving is a must! Did you know that Bahrain supplied 80% of the world’s pearl market in the early 19th century? With its vast history in such activities, pearl diving has been at the centre of the island’s main activities. With a hope to revive the centuries-old pearl industry, the Museum of Pearl Diving boasts excellent architecture, and state-of-the-art layouts to present the story of pearl diving to visitors. What’s more, to symbolise the legacy of pearl diving, visitors will also see a statue of an upside-down man outside the Bahrain National Museum.
Busaad Art Gallery
To appreciate the Busaad Art Gallery, one must appreciate the finest works of art by Ebrahim Busaad. The Busaad Art Gallery is simply an exhibition of his works in which Busaad uses watercolours, oil coolers, calligraphy, wood carvings and acrylic to present his artistic expressions. Busaad was born in Muharraq, Bahrain but travelled far and wide to study, teach and present his works. After graduating with a BA in Fine Arts from the University of Baghdad, Busaad managed to successfully get his works showcased in museums throughout the Gulf countries.
Located in the former capital of Bahrain, Maison Jamsheer is an ideal place to recapture the splendour of the old days. Maison Jamsheer was once the home of the Jamsheer Family, but today it has become a space for showcasing exhibitions, art and heritage. Built in the late 19th century, the building was occupied until the mid-1970s. The best part about visiting Maison Jamsheer is that it provides visitors with a glimpse of what Bahraini life was like before the emergence of technology. Precise materials were utilised for the construction of the house, which cools the house in the summer and retains the heat in the winter. Described as an ‘oasis of calm’ by some, Maison Jamsheer is a great place to appreciate what Bahraini life was like in the 19th and 20th century.