The Souq, Bahrain
Did you ever ask yourself, how various spices are mixed in the perfect, traditional way of the Middle East ?
We have visited this interesting shop for spices and this was my favorite thing to see: a big "mountain" of various spices and when buying a bit of it you take the spoon and start taking away your part from the bottom of the "spice-mountain" to the very top, so at the end you will have a bit of every spice to take home !
And all over this shop in the old souk of Al Muharraq there was a terrific smell !
You will see more infos and pictures of this shop in my shopping-tips !
Windtowers are the AC of the poor and you will find them in many places in the Middle East, in noble palaces like here in my photos of the Isa ibn Ali Al Khalifa house in Al Muharraq or in simple huts and tents, where the windtowers are also made of cloths.
Windtowers like in my photos here were a clever and also quite a cheap way to get some fresh wind into the lower floors of a building, no matter wether the buidings were made of stone or of leaves. There is a steady wind on the islands of Bahrein and this oldfashioned Aircondition is still working perfectely day and night without electricity.
Inside the windtower the space is devided into 4 parts in order to be able to catch the wind from all directions and there are covers for each of the 4 parts in order to select one, depending on the direction of the winds.
You will see such windtowers in many places of the Middle East, the one in my pictures here is in the Isa ibn Ali Al Khalifa house in Al Muharraq !
How ro get a steady cool breeze of wind into a building in the desert ?Take a look at these interesting "Wind-Saloons" like you see them on top of many of the old traditional palaces in Manama like here in this case the Isa ibn Ali Al Khalifa house in Al Muharraq, the old part of Manama. There are windows at all sides and when all of them are open you will feel a steady breeze of fresh air that makes even the hottest day in Bahrain quite comfortable.
Windows are covered by decorative fences from outside, so birds would not be able to get in and in the innerside of the windows they could be closed as well by wooden doors.
In these pictures here you will see some interesting examples how the ceilings in the Isa ibn Ali Al Khalifa house in Al Muharraq and other traditional buildings in the Souks of Bahrain were built: more or less strong branches of trees or wooden truncks were covered by straw and other material that was finally covered by some kind of a "light concrete" that was broken already at many places but obviously still strong enough to walk over them.
For such buildings it is obviously a big advantage that it hardly ever rains a lot in Bahrein !
The Baraha is a small meetingpoint, where for instance the pearl-divers have met when the work was done.The Baraha is normally fenced in by palm truncks and covered by carpets and you will find them in empty squares and courtyards.
This picture was made in the National Museum, where such sceneries are arranged with puppets and explanations given for the visitors in arabian as well as in english language.
Traditional doors of Bahrain can be seen in the National Museum of course, but also on this various old buildings like the Shaikh Isa Bin Ali Palace and many more in the Souks of Manama and Al Muharraq ! Just keep your eyes open, when walking through the old souks of Bahrain.
Also the wooden locks are quite interesting, these doors had to be locked from the interior and had no place to open them from the outside ! (my last 2 photos)!
Another surprise for me in Al Muharraq was the fact that a lot of shops are offering modern, western ladies fashions as well and are even advertising it in the streets.
I really did not see many ladies wearing such clothes in the streets, so these are maybe for special festivities or for tourists from other countries closeby.
And something else that I found quite interesting to learn is the fact that also those ladies who wear an abayat will have modern western jeans or something similar wearing underneath and the only difference to western ladies is the fact they wear an abayat above all of that, when leaving the house.
The Souq is a cultural institution of the Middle East.
Everything on show is for sale, only the prices are not listed.
This is because the price varies depending who you are.
Prices for foreigners are twice or more than locals would pay,
and 3rd world foreigners can get a better price than Westerners.
This is based on an 'ability to pay' principle, by which
the more you are able to pay, the more you should pay.