In Summary
  • My Souq story can’t finish without window shopping at the gold market, it is probably the fastest steps my husband takes leaving the Souq, just in case temptations start with an empty pocket!

Bab Al Bahrain, the gateway of Bahrain, is a historical building in Manama, the Capital of the Kingdom of Bahrain. Once you cross this gate, you find yourself entering the main Manama Souq.
Every time I go there, something new catches my eye. There is always a new corner to discover. It is truly a bazaar that reaches out to all your senses.

The eyes get the biggest portion of the attraction, all those colours of garments, clothes and accessories, such a feast of different shades. The Chinese products, besides the Indian ones, the locally made men’s clothing, rubbing shoulders with the fake brands, name any designer and you will find a copy here.

Ears get their fair share of attention too, loud noises of vendors standing at the entrance of their shops, inviting you to enter.
“Madame, come in and see, I have Gucci scarfs and LV bags,” I say no thank you and move on, he continues in a louder voice, “I have Rolex watches and Dior perfumes, very cheap Madame!” And I keep moving away.

We pass by a little coffee shop, a historic one, we sit on a blue painted bench, with a high table, we order for Chai Karak, a strong tea with condensed milk and spices, we order chapattis too, yes, they love chapattis here, some fried liver and onions and a fish based pastry makes the set complete, very delicious and reasonably priced. Sense of taste satisfied we move to the spices part of the market, before reaching there, we pass by some local perfume shops.

The incredible aroma of the burning oud, and other perfumes mix and a capturing fragrance massages every sense of smell, and even before it recovers, the nostrils are given a tour of the spice fragrances.

Cloves, cinnamon sticks and cardamom stand out, a little colourful pyramid of different spices is now a permanent feature of any spice store. Layers of slat, pepper, curcuma, chilli powder, curry and many more are parts of the pyramid. However, I never go for those, I always ask for the sealed bag that contains the mixed spices made at home.

Nuts and dry fruits sit side by side with the spices, American pistachios competing with Iranian pistachios, waiting to see if there will be some Chinese ones competing any time soon.
On the way out we must make a final stop at a famous Bahraini delicacy shop called Halwa. A bomb of calories and immensely yummy, one can taste it served with a cup of Arabic coffee.

My Souq story can’t finish without window shopping at the gold market, it is probably the fastest steps my husband takes leaving the Souq, just in case temptations start with an empty pocket!