Exploring The Kingdom of Bahrain in The Middle East
The Kingdom of Bahrain is a Middle Eastern archipelago in the Persian Gulf, tucked into a pocket of the sea flanked by Saudi Arabia and Qatar. It's an oasis of liberalism – or at least Western-friendly moderation – among the Muslim countries of the region. It's popular with travelers for its authentic "Arabness" but without the strict application of Islamic law upon its non-Muslim minority. Case in point: alcohol is legal here. Although it has a heavily petroleum-based economy, its more relaxed culture has also made it a social and shopping mecca (so to speak), which has helped it develop a fairly cosmopolitan middle class not found in neighboring countries with just a rich elite and subsistence-level masses.
Bahrain is the smallest of the independent Persian Gulf states and has often had to walk a diplomatic tightrope in relation to its larger neighbors. The country has few oil reserves, however, it has established itself as a hub for refining as well as international banking, while also achieving a liberal (by Gulf standards at least) political system. Its economy depends to a small extent on Saudis interested in a little entertainment, not available in the strictly Islamic Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Despite being much closer to Qatar, the Hawar Islands are part of Bahrain after a long, drawn out much sovereignty dispute between the two nations.
The best time to visit Bahrain is November-March, with October & April being just bearable. Be sure to take along a sweater during December-March as evenings can be cool. Bahrain's summer, which is from May-September, is very hot and humid, though occasional cool northerly winds blow to provide some relief. More frequent are the qaws, the hot, dry summer winds that can bring sandstorms.