Bab Al-Bahrain Souq at night

13 Oct, '06

Bab Al-Bahrain Souq at night

Bab Al-Bahrain Souq at night, originally uploaded by malyousif.

I took my daughter Hanan and son Arif for a quick visit to the Manama Bab Al-Bahrain souq last night to visit my uncle and to show them (very quickly!) what it looks like at night. What I determined to do is that I’ve got to take them there again and spend more time going through the shops and alleyways to have a sense and to remember it before the schedule complete re-building of the area.

This is where my grandfather established his shop selling traditional Arab bishts (official cloaks) and abayas (women’s cloaks) in the centre of the Bab Al-Bahrain road souq, the first shop he established is actually just to the right of where I took this shot.

Have a wonderful Friday my friends!

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Comments (18)

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  1. Manhal says:

    Hehehe…I guess you opted for the traditional look on Saturday. Like I said, out of all people you should be born with one of these in your crib. Kinda like Armani not having a suit to wear! =P

  2. mahmood says:

    You got it on one man! (and the secret is out now!!)

  3. amal says:

    lovely! i love the souq, it’s so much fun.. and the things you see there, unbelievable!

  4. Zoosh says:

    Lovely picture, our souq truly is gorgeous.. our Manamahatten..

  5. lizardo says:

    our manamahatten
    ..u mean our delhihatten our dakhahatten our dont-smell-here-hatten….

    nice photto Mahmood .

  6. can we talk now says:

    next year take them on nasfa/girgaoun night.
    a wonderful experience, a truly ethnic experience.. it’s an all night party with zalabya and khanfaroosh and samboosa and popcorn and all kinds of yummy food and drinks and balloons, really really nice especially for our kids to experience. the whole souq comes alive..
    but park your car far away and walk..

  7. mahmood says:

    thanks guys, there I’ve uploaded a series of 6 of these pictures on flickr, one of them shows a guy and his horse at a money exchanger!

    CWTN yes I know about that experience and we’re fortunate enough to have had them experience this as we actually lived in New Zinj at some point when they were young so they experienced the ma’atem and its environment, nasfa and girga’oun as well. Then we lived in Arad and they experience the hia-bia and the way that Aradies celebrate with the friesa and things. I’m not sure if they all remember all those lovely things, but maybe deep in their memories which some day might come back to the surface.

    Of course, there is no reason for getting them to experience it all again!

  8. Actually, Zoosh is absolutely correct. I was in Manhattan earlier this year and their renowned Garment District which is downtown, a few blocks away from the World Trade Center. It is almost exactly like the suq in Bab Al Bahrain. Tight alleys and narrow shops with just about everything in stock on display. Lose your way into Chinatown or Little Italy and the smells are EXACTLY like you were walking through the souq, sometimes even Central Market (The only exception being the absence of incense, both Arabic and Indian).

    As for Bab Al Bahrain looking too much like Dhaka demographically, well there are plenty of people who actually appreciate the diversity and novelty experience over the sterility of the suburbs.

    As much as I agree that the Suq cannot compete with the nearby megamalls, I hope that they can find away to thrive economically and retain their cultural value and vitality the way Downtown Manhattan has done.

  9. Jett says:

    My dad talked of the Souq a lot when I was a kid. He said he loved to go down there and bargain with the shop keepers. A few years ago my family went back and when my brother needed a suit they headed to the Souq and a tailor handmade a suit for him then next day. I believe he still has the suit! Looks like a fun place to visit.

  10. Pamela says:

    I’d like to go there. do they have a perfume souk, or a sterling silver souk? Do they have a place where you can get sweets? Baklava (non walnuts tho, allergic, so it has to be pistachios only).

  11. mahmood says:

    Pamela this was the heart of trade before the malls sprang up, so yes, you can find all of those things you crave, and more. The thing is though you have to know which neighbourhood you have to go to for certain kinds of things, as similar traders seem to cluster in certain areas of the old town.

    I think this would be an excellent subject for a vlog or a short movie, just documenting the souq before it gets torn down and redone in new guises.

  12. Pamela says:

    OT Mahmood,

    well now I can sympathize with your bathroom and leaking situation. Had to call emergency maintaince for my apartment. carpet is soaked in my dinning room. They are tearing up my bathroom as I write this. It is 1:16AM. The leak is from my bathroom.

    Thankfully this is a 2 bedroom 2 bathroom apt. so my room mate will have to share the other bathroom with me untill mine is back together.

    I have a rather large headache now!

  13. mahmood says:

    oh I’m sorry to hear that Pam. I hope it’s fixed soon and the damage limited. good luck!

  14. sadferret says:

    They’re not tearing down the Souq are they? I have many many happy memories of squirreling about for treasures, I can recall the spicy smell like it was yesterday. As I write this I’m actually wearing the silver bangles I bought in the Souq over thirty years ago.

  15. Nawab of Kabab says:

    One of the things that I really miss about Bahrain is the festive atmosphere that once prevailed during the last few nights of Ramadan. I remember we used to tag along with our parents and go shopping in the Bab-al-Bahrain area and just enjoyed ourselves as kids.

    All that seemed to have disappeared with the appearance of the megamalls, and with the new-look souq appearing in the horizons, I guess, it will be a definite masalaama to the past.

    I dont like the plans they have for the souq because it appears like another retro-trendy look they have in mind for something we’ve grown old loving it just the way it was.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Mr Mahmood, would love to explore the souk. Is there any website or map detailing the various areas / where to buy what? I have been b4 and was overwhelmed…really interesting place.


  17. donia says:

    salam everybody..
    please I want to know what is the oldest suq in Bahrain, beecause I have a research in my college regarding to it..
    thanx alot..

  18. john says:

    Can any one tell me where to get a good suit in Bahrain?

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