Hidden Gems and Treasure Troves in Saar

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Once in a while you’re pleasantly surprised by locating a shop with really nice stuff packed into it. A treasure trove really, and I’m not talking about those second hand shops or a car boot sale. I’m talking about shops that are elegantly designed and fitted, but recessed and tucked away from the normal beats. That’s what I discovered this afternoon.

Saar, like the rest of Bahrain, has tremendously changed over the last ten years, let alone over 30 or 40 years. Maybe it’s a bit late to catch up with the various other areas of the island probably due to the mass exodus of the majority expats who preferred this area of the island and made it their own, especially in the seventies to the naughtees. They were so prevalent in this area then, to the extent that a phrase was coined to identify some of those busy-body expat women as “Budaiya Betties” or “Saar Sallies”; spaced-out and closer to fishmonger-mannerisms than class and royalty they proclaim to have. Anyway, to each their own.

So Saar has developed into a business attraction lately. First came the Najibi Centre, then a little down the road we had St Christopher’s School and between the two several shops, restaurants and even shopping malls popped up. The latest addition to that class of properties is the quaint Saar Mall, just a few steps from St Chris and Alnakheel Mall, the second mall to be inaugurated in the area, I’m not counting the Country Mall, it’s on the Budaiya Highway of course, but not in the Saar area.

Saar Mall has quite a number of shops already open, we thought of exploring a bit before we had our coffee at Costa, our preferred coffee destination. This mall sports the customary food hall which is quite unexpected. I was under the impression that “provincial malls” are more low key affairs. They do contain restaurants of course, but I didn’t expect a full fledged food hall. Or maybe it’s just me.

Upstairs in the food hall, they have quite an attraction: a huge fish tank with salt water fish. Nimo and the like. Though I’m really unsure why that tank also has mollies and guppies. I thought those were fresh water fish, no? Maybe they’re food for the little shark with its permanently attached sucker? A weird feature on both sides of the main tank are open sub-tanks with fish in them as well. I shudder to think how those fish will fair. I have a vision that people will be trying to catch them, or “feed” them by tipping their food trays in, or even squeezing their left-over mayonnaise and catchup packets there too. I hope no one does. It will be a shame to vandalize that feature. It would be good too if the mall management spent some time properly cleaning that installation. The green algae is building up, and the water, as of this afternoon, is a bit murky.

It is on the same floor that we discovered quite a nice shop. Innovation Bahrain. I must confess that I have a fetish for interior decor and furnishings shops. I love nicknacks; though I’m banned from buying any because Frances says that our house is stuffed and can’t take any more. I ignore her once in a while, and she tolerates my “rebelliousness”, but I know that she has the final, silent, word. I notice the disappearance of some of the items I purchase sometimes. I am also pretty sure that the BSPCA thrift shop has been the beneficiary of some of my trinkets too.

Anyway, have a gander at this lovely treasure trove:

Panorama of Innovation Home in Saar Mall

Quite cool right? I’m definitely going to visit again, if not to buy, then it will be for inspiration.

As to the mall itself, I just hope that its owners become a bit selective to create a nice variety of shops. There is an indication that is not on their mind at the moment, with three phone shops and two phone pods upstairs, something that the nearby Alnakheel seems to be much better at in their selectivity. I also hope that it keeps its cleanliness and not transform into a villager backwater where no one would choose to visit unless they’re compelled to do so.

It was a pleasant afternoon.. and the coffee was good too.

To the gym at last!
Hidden Gems and Treasure Troves in Saar