Bahrain enjoys a long and diversified historical and cultural legacy. Manama was nominated as the Capital of Arab Culture in 2012, the Capital of Arab Tourism in 2013 and the Capital of Asian Tourism in 2014. In 2013, the headquarters of the Arab Regional Centre for World Heritage under the auspices of UNESCO was founded in Bahrain. Bahrain Pearling Trail and Qal’at Al-Bahrain (Bahrain Fort) were two properties inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list for the years 2005 and 2012, respectively.
According to The Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2013 of the World Economic Forum, Bahrain ranked 3rd among Arab states and 55th globally. The number of arrivals via sea, air and land reached 12.4 million in 2013, and the number of hotel guests was 1.069 million for 1.99 million tourist nights.
Bahrain has many remarkable archeological and historical sites which reflect its rich history and civilization; the most important of which are:
- Historic Forts such as: The Qal’at al-Bahrain (Bahrain Fort), the center of the Dilmun civilization, resides on an archeological hill built more than 4000 years ago; Arad Fort, one of Bahrain’s most important fortified castles, overlooks various sea passages of Muharraq’s shallow seashores. In the past, there was an inaccessible marine channel which was controlled by the local people to prevent ships from breaking through to the island where the fort is located. It was built in the style of Islamic forts at the end of the 15th and early 16th centuries; Shaikh Salman bin Ahmed Al Fateh Fort, commonly known as Riffa Fort due to its location, was built by Shaikh Ahmed Al Fateh on the ruins of an old fort in 1812. The fort was later converted into a residence and then became the government’s office in 1869. Since the seventies of the last century, it has become an important historical site.
- National Museums such as: Bahrain Fort Museum, located along the northern waterfront of the Fort, was opened on the 18th of February 2008 as a witness on the importance of archeological sites. With 500 artefacts showcased, the long settlement history of the site is evoked to the unique backdrop of the wall, which recreates the different archaeological layers uncovered at the site; Bahrain National Museum, the first museum to open in the Arab Gulf region in 1988, is the crowning achievement of the Kingdom of Bahrain’s ongoing efforts to preserve the nation’s heritage and history; The Heritage Centre and Museum of Pearl Diving commemorates Bahrain’s culture of pearl diving.
- Religious Sites such as: Al Khamis Mosque, one of the oldest mosques in the Arab world and was built during the Umayyad period in 692; Al Fateh Mosque, built in 1987 and named after Shaikh Ahmed Al Fateh, is considered the biggest mosque in Bahrain. It has the capacity to accommodate over 7,000 worshippers at a time; Beit Al-Quran as well as churches and other temples.
- The Bahrain pearling trail is a 3.5 km trail located in the island of Muharraq. The pathway consists of 17 buildings in Murharraq, 3 oyster beds located in the nearby sea, a segment of the coast and the seafront of Bu Mahir fortress in the southern tip of Muharraq. The buildings listed were the residences and majlises of rich pearl merchants and includes the home of Bahrain’s ruler between 1869 to 1932, Shaikh Isa bin Ali Al Khalifa, along with shopping establishments, storage houses and the Siyadi family mosque.
- Bahrain has many touristic places and more than one hundred elegant hotels. There is a wide range of entertainment and environmental and sports activities, many historical houses to visit, as well as gardens, parks, resorts and elegant malls.
- Gardens and parks such as: Al Areen Wildlife Park, Prince Khalifa Bin Salman Park in Hidd, and lots of beaches, water parks, sports and entertainment clubs.
- National Theatre of Bahrain, the 3rd largest theatre in the Arab world and can seat 1001 people, and lots of cinemas, national theatres, historic and cultural houses.
- Bahrain International Circuit: the home of motorsport in the Middle East, and it has been hosting Formula 1 World Championship since 2004.
- An Arab and international centre for exhibitions and conferences. Bahrain hosts more than 139 events annually, of which 43 are international exhibitions ranging between economic, commercial, industrial, cultural and environmental exhibitions, including the Bahrain International Air Show, Bahrain Garden Show, Bahrain International Book Fair and Fine Arts Exhibition.
- Hosting many events and festivals such as the Spring of Culture, Bahrain Summer Festival and Ta2 AlShabab.