A glimpse of Bahrain

I only spent 4 brief days in Bahrain, so my impression is a fleeting one. However it appears from the outside like this desert island (it actually is a desert on an island) is steadily pouring its one valuable resource down the drain. The island is a old-school kingdom ruled by their leader Shaikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, it does have a parliament but 80% of the cabinet is from the Royal Family! Huge deposits of oil were found on the island in the 30s and 40s, so much that residents don’t pay any tax at all. The crazy aspect to the place is that all the money is being poured into huge air power consuming buildings and massive cars and big motorways. Not to mention massive reclaimations of land that make no consideration of raising sea levels or global warming. Its going to be a crazy ride for them when their oil starts running out!

Sadly they have demolished almost all of their old architecture and building systems, instead choosing to americanize the place with Air Con apartments and giant motorways. Fortunately they have an enlightened Minister of Culture and Heritage who is saving and restoring some of the old houses in the one of the quarters. Below are some photos of the beautiful architecture.

Its classic hot climate stuff; massive walls, ventilations stackes, small windows.

Including beautiful little alleyways that can only come when the main mode of transport is walking.

Plus some very well executed modern insertions into the old city that reminds one not to give up all hope.  They all reinforce my feeling that cars and airconditioning are almost entirely to blame for the global lose of quality built space.

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