Be careful what you wish for! Some years ago, when I was in Jordan, I met few very smiling people from Bahrain. From where? Yes, I also had no idea about this island – a tiny country, in the heart of the Persian Gulf.
Except those two Bahraini I met, I didn’t know anybody, who has ever been there. News are quite limited (official websites show the heaven on earth, ruled by beloved by everybody king Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, twitter informs about cruel fights with the opposition), google maps shows crazy shapes of artificial islands, the petrol costs 20 cents per liter (Bahrain was the first country in the Gulf, which discovered oil, in 1932) and I suddenly had a chance to see all of it live and discover Bahrain on every single level.
Is it really so rich? Are the women really so oppressed? Can they buy condoms? Can they hug? Can they jump around? How big is the royal family? Is it true that the king decides about the prime minister and other ministers? Why do they think it’s cool? How is the weather? How is the food? How are the people? What to do in the free time? – my friends were sending me thousands of questions.
Let’s start with the most interesting for me: the PEOPLE. Yes, it’s true that a big part of society wears traditional clothes. Men are in thobes and keffiyeh on their heads and many women have covered hair with abayas, or even faces (with niqab). And you know what? When you pass by and look into the eyes, you see little wrinkles, because everybody in Bahrain smiles to you! Old, young, men and women. This is really something I would never expect. You feel safe and very welcomed. I also felt very comfortable to ask questions, people are happy you are interested in their country, their culture and their religion and they want to explain you things in details. And it doesn’t matter if they are close to the king or if they are the protesters of the Arab Spring of 2011. They will do a lot, that you feel happy and not hungry.
I believe in this personal contact with people. In not stealing a picture (coming and pushing the button). So I like to talk even a bit with a person I make a picture of. Of course this is not always easy and sometimes the person doesn’t feel comfortable with the picture (or changes a way of look, smile or position) but people are for me still more important than a good picture. So… have a look on some of the Bahraini faces! Aren’t they lovely? Wouldn’t like to drink tea and talk about life with them?
More pictures and stories from Bahrain – soon! Also some answers for questions! I found out why Bahraini woman cannot have more than one husband (while man can, of course). Any good idea? ;)
Our first book is out!
We have published our first book (for now just in Polish:) about our Central America Trip.
See, read and order here »
Lovely post as always…just one correction -abaya is a long dress for women and hijaab is a head scarf,although hijaab can describe all of the covering and code of manners both for women and man.I’m Muslim myself;)
Thanks for correction, Kamila! A chance to learn – always welcome!
Bahrain is a unique place. I was there almost 25 years ago. Much has changed, for the better. Slowly, bit by bit, the Persian Gulf countries are opening up and becoming nice travel destinations. The Arab people want to share their culture and way of life. I have found them warm and welcoming for the most part with a strong sense of hospitality. I think in the West, our media only shows the governmental and political side of the region, which portrays a skewed picture of its people. Bahrain, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia can be an amazing experience. Thanks.
How was it 25 years ago, what do you rememeber the most?
Beautiful pictures and beautiful people!
We are off to Bahrain next week! This has gotten me excited!