Thursday, November 20, 2008

Call to Prayer in the Kingdom of Bahrain

After being at sea for a day I was looking forward to disembarking the ship to explore the Kingdom of Bahrain. Bahrain, two seas in Arabic, is a small island famous throughout history as a passage between ancient civilizations and seafaring nations. Glimpses of expansion were everywhere; we could see the skyline littered with construction cranes as we pulled into the port. I’m sure this is just the beginning. All of the Gulf States are building fast and furious with the oil money but many Bahrainis are diversifying as they know their oil supply won’t last forever.

One of the most interesting stops was at the Bahraini – Saudi Arabian border: the King Fahad Causeway. It was completed in 1986 with Saudi money to connect the two countries. There’s not much to see at the stop, although we did see the Saudi skyline, but the connection allows Saudis easy access to Bahrain for weekend trips or to just get away. Today was a busy traffic day in part because it was Thursday – in addition to regular Bahraini traffic; the streets were ingested with Saudis visiting at the beginning of their weekend.

One of my favorite things about traveling throughout the Muslim world is hearing the call to prayer. We arrived at the Grand Mosque in Manama, the capital of Bahrain, right at sunset in time for the 5 pm call to prayer. The mosque has 2 minarets and is a beautiful and truly grand architectural structure. The Grand Mosque can hold 7,000 people – 5,000 in the main hall and another 2,000 in the courtyard. Hearing the call to prayer and seeing the mosque at sunset has always been a calming, relaxing, and peaceful experience. Tonight was no different. The mosque was framed by the beautiful, sunset light enhanced by the melodic words that bring worshippers to the mosque. It was one of those experiences where time stops and you just take a step back and a deep breath and bask in the moment.


Leah said...

thanks for the wonderful blog! We are all following along back in DC and glad to see you are faring well on your Journey. Bahrain sounds like a dream. Looking forward to seeing your thoughts on Qatar!

Erin said...

it sounds like you are having such a great time!! i can't wait to hear about everything when you get home! (enjoy the weather while you can because it is chilly here!!) it's a good thing that you don't get seasick...unless you do?

Alice said...

I can hear the muezzin calling out, "Allah akbar!" and it is sending chills down my spine. I don't know how you find the time to post your entries amongst all your hostessing duties, but it is fascinating reading. Thanks for bringing us along to the Arabian Gulf.