Day 16 – Manama, Bahrain, and Kuwait City, Kuwait

7 Apr

I thought Bahrain would be crowded with tourists because of the Grand Prix. All the hotels are sold out, but the only people I’ve seen at mine is a handful in Ferrari team uniforms. (Just the plebs. The drivers stay somewhere private.) Maybe because it’s a night race everyone else was in bed while I explored Bahrain Fort for over an hour with nobody else there except a security guard at the gate. Not a particularly thrilling place but much more atmospheric with no people and no noise, and its rare to have a UNESCO world heritage site entirely to yourself.

The National Museum was also deserted.

Muharraq Souq was a different story, one of crowded chaos, but still without tourists.

Muscat felt a bit Mediterranean and the rest of Oman was old fashioned subsistence goat farming. Dubai is clean and rich and new and tall and wide and calm. Bahrain is old and small and crowded and noisy and hectic.

In Dubai, everyone you see out is Arab or white, and everyone working in the hotels, shops, and restaurants is Indian, or thereabouts. In Bahrain it seems like Indians make up at least two thirds of the population.

Then Kuwait. The airport is a chaotic shambles and its dusk by the time I get out. There’s so much dust and sand in the air that the darkening skies seem filled with smoke as if things are on fire. Traffic is heavy and absolutely everyone is driving like an utter maniac, seemingly all going the same way. It feels like a neighbouring power has invaded and people are fleeing for their lives. I haven’t watched the news lately….

But no, it’s just normal. Kuwait is just one of those places where the driving is so frenetic and the infrastructure so car-based and pedestrian-blind that you have to take a taxi if you want to cross the street without being killed.

The hotel is also a shambolic mess, and the executive lounge is very limited. The only people in there sound like American Sunday school missionary-type teachers, there to save the poor little a-rab children, and because Kuwait is a completely dry country the strongest option to take the edge off their fantastically annoying conversation is not going to be enough…