Bahrain and the New Gulf

Flying into Bahrain this morning I was really taken aback once again by just how big and developing this island country is just like Kuwait. From above you can see cranes as far as the eye can see and you can see them constructing very tall amazingly designed buildings and islands. Literally island communities for people to live on right in the Persian Gulf. When you arrive at the airport and all around Manama all you see is ads for the new developments. It is astounding really. Everyone has heard that Dubai is doing this with the countries of the world but it is all of the Gulf States. The region is literally pouring trillions into it’s 22nd century infrastructure and tourist attractions now. You should see some of these plans they have drawn up and already selling to investors. The Gulf is getting ready for the next century right now because they know that within a century their oil reserves will be all dried up. How’s that for foresight?

I was sitting next to an American expat on the plane who lives in Bahrain but travels all over the Gulf for work. He told me that there are well over 10 million expats living and working in the main Gulf States which makes up over 85% of the work force. He says he loves living out here and from what I’ve seen so far, who can blame him. Granted I haven’t seen everywhere in the region, including the UAE yet but I have seen enough to realize that this place is stunning and the potential is limitless.

It reminds me of something like what Phoenix or Vegas once was before all the people got there. Now the traffic in both cities is brutal and it was overdeveloped too quickly. Here it isn’t like that. The traffic is very little and they are expanding outwards and upwards with brand new state of the art gorgeous resorts, buildings and residencial communities and they aren’t even that expensive. Granted Michael Jackson lives here in Bahrain now in some wacko jacko palace but most people have stunning views of the gulf or live on PGA professional designed golf courses or on a makeshift beach. People here live very well and they have everything at their fingertips.

Honestly, if it weren’t for all of the Arab men and women walking around you wouldn’t even know you weren’t in the States. They have American fast food and casual dining restaurants everywhere except they are very clean and the people are very nice who work in them. There are world class sports events held in Bahrain and all of the other Gulf States as well. Bahrain in particular is known for their state of the art Formula One track just south of the capital Manama, which hosts a huge race each year and is one of the drivers’ favorite stops on tour.

The streets of Bahrain much like Kuwait are just so clean it makes me mad at New York City. Everyone is nice and most people speak English very well. It is expensive to visit here and all of the Gulf States for that matter but living here isn’t nearly as expensive when you factor in cost of living with cooking etc. Salaries are also much higher here as well plus there’s always the tax advantage of living and working out here.

The people I have met in Bahrain and Kuwait so far have been great and made me understand why everyone wants to live out here. It is very nice and new, the weather is great and the living is easy with all the comforts of home. Apparently Qatar and the UAE (Dubai, Abu Dhabi, etc.) are the most sought after places to live and work and I will be visiting both of those in the next few days. I also just found out that the Dubai Desert Classic Golf Tournament is going on in Dubai this weekend. I got a ticket for the final round on Sunday to watch Tiger Woods and the rest of the field. They actually pay Tiger Woods like $1.5MM to just show up at the tournament as his appearance fee-not too bad for just showing up. I am really looking forward to that right before the Superbowl which I will be watching at 3am I believe.

I have a tour of the outer areas of Bahrain this afternoon and am looking forward to checking out the coastline. It is however, driving me nuts that I cannot visit Saudi Arabia even though I am only like 20 miles from the border and there are signs everywhere pointing to Saudi. The visa situation to get into Saudi is just a real nightmare. What I should have done was get a business visa to get in there because those are much easier to obtain than tourist visas which are expensive and nearly impossible without an organized and weeklong tour. You live you learn.

Also, I have gotten a bunch of emails about why I am not posting pictures of my trip. I don’t travel with a laptop and I do take a lot of pictures and will post some of them when I get back to the States. If you wanted specific pictures of certain places just email me and I can email you the pics when I get back because I don’t post all of my pictures. Check back with me later, maybe I’ll have run into Michael Jackson!

Comments

  1. Hello Lee, I am British born but live in India and travel to Bahrain and the Gulf very often. It is an amazing place and I am glad that you can embrace it as it is instead of being scared of visiting like many Westerners I have come across. It seems to me that almost all of the expats living in the Gulf are Americans and Brits so I never understood the fear. It;s not like people walk around with weapons hunting down Westerners.

  2. You can see Saudi Arabia from the top of the restaurant on the causeway, but even if you did get into Saudi Arabia, there’s nothing to see in that part of the country, so other than “checking it off”, you wouldn’t see any of its interesting sites. Better to save it for when you can dive deeper and really explore the mysteries that lie inside the country.

  3. You’re exactly right on that which is another reason I didn’t bother dealing with the hassle to get a visa and I do plan to take the full tourist week long tour at some point to see Jeddah, Riyadh and some of the other sites in central and western Saudi to fully experience it because I believe Saudi to be a unique place.

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