The island nation of Bahrain in the Persian Gulf is waiting for you. Situated right between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the archipelago of around eighty-four islands is what dreams are made of. The island nation is the third smallest in Asia, following the Maldives and Singapore, with an area of just 780 square kilometers. Bahrain is connected to Saudi Arabia via what is known as the King Fahd Causeway, which stretches 25 kilometers between the two countries.
Originally measuring around 665 square kilometers, Bahrain now has an area closer to 800 square kilometers, due the process of land reclamation. This was possible mainly because the country is generally quite flat, thus facilitating the overall process. In fact, the highest point is only at 134 meters, on a peak called the Mountain of Smoke, which can be found in the center of the main island. Bahrain Island, the largest and most important of the archipelago, boasts a 100-mile coastline. Being an island, and due to the generally arid landscape, Bahrain’s climate is generally quite humid – making the winters quite mild, with minimal rainfall, while the summers are usually scorchers, with temperatures reaching over 100°F in the summer months.
The wildlife in Bahrain is spectacular, and a bird-lover’s paradise. Over three hundred types of birds have been recorded on the island, twenty-six of which breed there. Given that the climate is dry, and the landscape that of a desert, a very small number of mammals are indigenous to Bahrain. Driving around the desert, you may see desert rabbits, gazelles and even hedgehogs.
Touring Bahrain couldn’t be easier once you’ve picked up your rental car and the price won’t set you back too much either. Whilst it is more expensive than some parts of Europe, vehicle rental can be found for a little more than $10 per day if a car is booked for five days or more. The most convenient place to pick up the car is from the airport, although there are several sites for pick-up and drop-off beyond the airport. The two companies offering the cheapest deals, Budget and Sixt, both have a desk at the airport.
Local deals in Bahrain:
Since public transportation is not at its best yet, and locals and visitors alike are wary of taxis, many people choose to drive their own vehicles instead. This of course, leads to congestion in some areas, and a little bit of chaos in others. As the weekend starts on Friday, the traffic on Thursday nights is the worst, while on weekdays, and until around lunchtime, the traffic is quite light.
Being a tourist there does not give you free access to just drive as you want – keep in mind that if renting a car, it is imperative to respect the rules of the road. This means absolutely no drinking and driving; even a whiff of alcohol will get you arrested and that will ruin everyone’s vacation – not just your own. Also, driving through a red light is a big no-no. In fact, observing traffic lights is so important that they have a sensor which indicates to the traffic light mechanism if the car waiting for the light to turn green has stopped behind the white line. If you have passed the white line, the traffic light will not turn green until you do. Speeding is also a big issue in the Bahraini archipelago, and the government has implemented a number of systems in order to control speeding. Speed cameras are common, and on long stretches of motorway, traffic lights (complete with white line sensor) and speed cameras have been installed to catch anyone driving excessively fast.
Local drivers often turn without indicating, even at high speeds on the motorway. Moreover, there is no middle ground when it comes to the headlamps. Some drivers will not turn on their lights at all – day or night – while others insist on turning their lights on using the brightest setting. Sometimes, a driver coming from the opposite direction may flash their lights at you, this is typically a signal that they are giving you the freedom to pass. In the case this flashing comes from behind, the driver is telling you to speed up or change lanes.