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Persian Gulf UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman


The first country to discover oil, in 1930

One of the smallest countries in Asia, Bahrain is an archipelago consisting of Bahrain Island and some 30 smaller islands. Its name is from the Arabic term al-bahrayn, meaning “two seas.” The highest land is 134m. It has limited supplieds of oil so it refines the oil for Saudi Arabia and gets to keep 30% of it. The King Fahd Causeway, 15 miles (24 km) long, links Bahrain to Saudi Arabia across the Persian Gulf. (A 40km bridge to Qatar is planned.) The ruler used to be titled Emir but is now King since 2002. He selects the Council of Ministers including the Prime Minister. Bahrain has only 3 inches of rain from an average 10 days of rain a year. Water is mainly from desalination plants powered by natural gas.

Bahrain International Circuit

Having cost some US$180 million to build, the state-of-the- art racing track boasts unparalleled features that place it among the world's best Formula 1 venues. We visited both the VIP tower for all-round views of the circuit as well as the media centre, once the largest in the world. We even got to see the F1 control room - the place where key decisions are made during a race.

A'ali Burial Mounds

There are around 170,000 burial mounds dating between 3000 BC and 600 AD. Each mound contained a stone-built chamber which formed a grave for a person buried in the fetal position. The best preserved of the mounds, including tall mounds are referred to as royal burial mounds.

Al-Fateh Mosque

Al-Fateh Grand Mosque is one of the world's largest with a capacity for more than 7,000 worshippers. Built in a variety of Middle Eastern architectural styles, the impressive building is crowned by the world's biggest fibreglass dome. Correct dress attire was very strict.