The 1980s saw a boom in tourism, caused partially by the opening of the 25km causeway linking the island to the East Coast of Saudi Arabia. The government responded to the influx which today is in excess of 2 million people annually by launching a series of tourist strategies aimed at developing the island's potential as a weekend retreat.
In addition to regional tourism, current initiatives are promoting Bahrain as a tourist resort and are bringing tourists from Scandinavia, Russia and even the United States.
While Bahrain's modern facilities cater to the needs of both tourists and locals, the authorities are very concerned about preserving the country's rich cultural heritage. And there is every indication that the formula is working and that Bahrain will retain its popularity with visitors and grow as an international destination.
No Visit to Bahrain would be completed without a trip to the souk , with its profusion of colours, sounds and aromas. All wares are sold, from clothes of colours and textures to gold and jewelry as well as the traditional array of spices and local produce. Bartering is expected, and indeed turns the whole experience of shopping into a challenge to see who can obtain the best price. The central market, completed in 1978, provides modern facilities for trades, which were unavailable, when the market took place in the souk. It is well worth a visit, if only to enjoy the brightly colored display of fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as the scents of the herbs, nuts and spices.
The Gold Souk
Bahrain gold is usually 21 carat and hallmark; it is available in an infinite number of styles, including traditional Bedouin designs as well as the more contemporary European jewelry. If you can't see what you want, then don't worry pieces can also be made to order, although it is wise to confirm a price before the craftsmen go to work.
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