Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Across the King Fahad Causeway...

Last week, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz bin Saud of Saudi Arabia  decreed that the weekend in the Kingdom would align itself with its Gulf neighbours (Friday / Saturday) from the normal Thursday / Friday weekend in Saudi Arabia, which means we had the advantage of a three day weekend last week so we took the opportunity to take a road trip to Bahrain…..

Bahrain is a small country made up of islands that sit just off the east coast of Saudi Arabia close to the cities of Dammam and Al Khobar in the Eastern Province. Its just a little larger than the Isle of Mann and has a population of 1.2 million, some 500,00 of whom are non- Bahraini’s, so it feels a lot like its Gulf neighbours, United Arab Emirates and Qatar.
King Fahad Causeway

It is connected by bridge / causeway to Saudi Arabia via the King Fahad Causeway which was built back in 1986, so one can drive from the Riyadh to Manama, the capital of Bahrain in five or six hours.

We set off (four of us) in a hire car from Riyadh at 4:30am on Thursday morning last, heading eastwards on the large open highway through the desert, and took an early coffee at one of the rather chaotic, stark and rather untidy service stops, the logic for the early start being that we knew that traffic volumes hitting the causeway at the weekends can be high and given we had a longer weekend, was likely to be much busier.
Manama Skyline

We hit the Causeway in four hours  and parked up the car at the border which is in fact on a man-made island halfway across (the causeway is some 24 km), where we met our pre-arranged Bahraini taxi and were over the formalities in about 30 mins and by 11am were in our hotel in Manama relaxing, we later heard that the afternoon queues at the Causeway were running at five hour delays…

Bahrain is a typically modern Arabian city with a very multi-national feel to it, there are some very fine hotels, restaurants and bars and we even found a rugby club to watch the Lions second test against Australia on Saturday afternoon before we returned back to the Kingdom….a good weekend.

Sunset in the Eastern Province