Qal’at al-Bahrain

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One of the goals I have set for myself is to visit 25 UNESCO World Heritage Sites by the time I turn 25. I’m currently 23 and I have been to 11. The most recent one that I’ve been to is the Fort of Bahrain, which I visited with my family last month. I thought it was funny that I’ve lived in the Middle East for most of my life and this is the first time I visited a UNESCO Heritage Site in the area. We visit Bahrain on a regular basis, but we usually went there to go shopping or to watch a movie. in the 18 years I’ve lived in Saudi Arabia, it was the first time we went to Bahrain to go on a historical trip.

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Qal’at al-Bahrain or the Bahrain Fort has been built and rebuilt in the past and the fort currently standing has been around since the sixth century. It is considered as one of Bahrain’s most important archaeological sites. Bahrain is an island and the fort served as the region’s trading port from as early as 2300 BC. 

It was the first time I brought my family with me to a World Heritage Site visit. The previous times, I was usually alone or with friends. My family isn’t as into travel as I am but I’m glad that they were able to appreciate the history that surrounded the Fort. 

It wasn’t as grand as the other World Heritage Sites that I have been to but it’s amazing how well-maintained the fort is given that it was built around 2,000 years ago. What I noticed about myself whenever I go to these places is that I have a different energy in me. I feel stronger and more energetic and my family noticed this. I was able to go up flights of stairs with no complaint – something I dislike doing on a regular day because it tends to trigger my asthma. 

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I was able to climb up to the top of the fort and take a picture with the flag. The first thing I noticed when I got to the top was the contrast between the archaeological site I was standing on and the busy city center of Bahrain.  Image

 

When you enter the Bahrain Fort, you forget that it’s situated just 15 minutes away from the city center. The location feels old and it makes you feel like you’ve been transported to a barren desert land. It’s quiet and peaceful. There were not that many tourists visiting the area despite it being a weekend. I guess just like us, most people visit Bahrain for the malls and the city attractions. I’m so glad that I was able to visit the Qal’at al-Bahrain before leaving the Middle East. 🙂 

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Visiting the Beautiful Sand Dunes of Shaybah

I have lived in Saudi Arabia for most of my childhood but this was the first time I was really amazed by the beauty that this country has to offer. Growing up, I’d mostly go to the beach in the camp or to the city center to go shopping. We never went to the desert – which is funny, because most people think that Saudi Arabia is just one big chunk of desert land. It’s a common misconception that I’ve heard from people, along with “Wait, so Saudi Arabia is not in Dubai?” and “Isn’t it very hot in Saudi Arabia?? (No, it gets freezing cold during the winter brr)”.

Shaybah is found in the Rub Al Khali or the Empty Quarters. It is the largest sand desert in the world, stretching over four countries – Saudi Arabia, Oman, UAE, and Yemen. It’s quite far from where I live so we had to ride an airplane to get there. It was a beautiful sight, probably the most beautiful one I have ever seen. The sand was pure and untouched. My family and I climbed up the sand dunes to witness the sunset. I’m asthmatic but I took on the challenge. Although it was quite difficult to climb, it was very rewarding. Every time I see the pictures we took from the top of the sand dunes, I am still amazed by its beauty.

I really don’t have enough words to use to express how awestruck I was by the view, so here are some pictures that we took from that day.

 

With my brother!

 

Sunset to twilight shots. All taken without any filter.  It was that beautiful. Last two pictures were taken with my iPhone 4S. 







I’m definitely glad I was given the opportunity to go on this trip! We almost didn’t go because it was just a few days after my Bangkok trip and the tickets were really hard to get (people were lined up for tickets as early as 4am!) I’ve always wanted to fly away to far off countries to see the beauty of the world. What I didn’t realize was that one of the most beautiful things I would see was just an hour away. I love this world.