2 December 2007

Back to the Suq...


A little gem that's been forgotten in Bahrain is the Manama Suq (Suk, Souq, Soug). Suq is actually the Arabic word for market, and before the numerous modern shopping malls started popping up all over Bahrain, this was one of the primary places to shop for anything from clothes, electronics, food, gold, and everything in between.

I remember it from my childhood days; my grandmother's house was within walking distance, and so much of our free time was spent wandering the alleyways and streets around the suq. It's been years since i've actually been there, so I passed by tonight to see how much it has changed. Even though the new mall fever has stolen many of the customers, pulling them away to more attractive surroundings, air-conditioned atmospheres with all the modern ameneties, the suq still somehow retains much of it's original charisma and charm.


The Suq is defined by narrow, busy alleyways, with shops on either side. The place feels alive with people walking up and down the streets, bicycles strolling by, children running around, and so on.


You can find almost anything here, from gold, to clothes, to toys, fake designer products, perfume and so on..








Something about the Suq is how down to earth the people are around here. People pass by you, some saying hi, others quietly, random shop-keepers will catch a glimpse of you passing by their shops and call you to see their goods, and so on. It's an outgoing environment, and by the end of my walk-around I caught myself passing by random strangers and just saying hello as I passed by. It's a nice feeling, a nice environment to be in.

One of the shopkeepers who caught me with my camera called me in to his shop to take some shots. Now, if you're into cooking, you'll love this; every single spice and herb you can imagine:




Of course, the Suq is great for getting your spices, nuts, vegetables, and all sorts of foodstuffs in general:


Anyhow, it was getting late, and the shops were staring to close, so a few more shots before I made my way out...






Yateem Center, one of the first actual 'malls' in Bahrain, still standing.








And of course, Bab Al Bahrain (Bahrain's Gateway). Once, a long long time ago, this was actually the seashore. Land reclaimation has pushed it a few hundered metres inland.

Lots of little alleyways all telling a story of Bahrain's past...


And all you have to do to see Bahrain's future is look up...






So I finally made my way out, as the hustle and bustle of the suq died out, and all went quiet.. Seems almost unreal that less than an hour ago, this area was buzzing with life. Even so, I know the buzz will start again very early next morning...


Hope you enjoyed the tour! More of these to come soon :)

23 comments:

Zhu said...

I love it! Great pictures, I felt like I was walking with you.

I went to a few souq in Tunisia when I visited there and I loved the atmosphere... I love markets in general - I had a blast in Latin America!

I want to visit Middle-East one day... it's one of the only part of the world I haven't visited yet.

MSB said...

very nice! made me miss it too! i havent been there in ages! yabeela a quick trip soon...

BD said...

Hey its like souq il mubarakya
3indinaa.... ;D

I would love to visit bahrain

:::: SHAYOUMA :::: said...

I love Bahrain! You know alot of people prefer Dubai, well, I don't feel the same.. Dubai is more like a foreign place. I don't feel the culture there, but Bahrain you feel you are in the gulf and I LOVE that!

Coolred38 said...

Ive only ever been to the manama souk a few times in my 20 years here...the first time was just a few days after I arrived. My then Bahraini husband took me for a walk through...I was totally charmed by the maze like secretive quality about it...we were leaving just around maghreb and so the place was emptying out....just as we started through the main gate...still walking....I felt a rather tentative little squeeze on my back side....thinking it was husband I looked at him and laughed wondering how he had the nerve to do such a thing out in the open *shock*....husband didnt have a clue....so I looked behind me and a few yards away was a Hindi looking back at me to see what my reaction would be(Im assuming he was intereseted to see whether I liked it or not.,..being western and all)...I guess this fellow didnt count on that my husband takes a serious offense to anyone but him being touchy feely with by sacred parts....it was a foot race from the moment I called attention to what had happened.

Before I knew it I was suddenly alone in a strange place, strange country, surrounded by hundreds of men(at least it seemed so) while my husband ran off in hot pursuit of the touchy feely guy. Seems interesting that hubby was hell bent on catching that particular guy meanwhile, in order to do so he had to leave me alone with hundreds of other "potential" touchy feelies.

After what seemed a long time he came back dragging the offender with him who was pleading for mercy(I assume....as I would be in the same position Im sure)all the while gathering a crowd of possible rescuers by his fellow country men....hubby left no doubt that he was willing to take on the whole "mob". It all ended with abject apologies from his side...embarassed acceptance on myside..and a 'manly man husband who would later prove througout our 20 marriage that he was no better, and at times much worse, then Mr Touchy Feely.

ahhh. the Manama Souk....brings back memories.

Evil Odd said...

You missed the most important shop in the Souk.

Where is the shot of the Aloo Basheer shop?

So disappointed... :(

Ammoontie said...

Thank you for a lovely post and wondeful pictures. It certainly has brought back a lot of fond memories. I love walking around the souq .. there were so much to see but I try to avoid weekends since it was very crowded. Wish you had taken pics of the outdoor tea stalls in one of the alleys.

ammaro.com said...

Zhu; Glad you like it. Come and visit! :)

MSB; ee, yabeela :D it felt nice walking those streets

BD; its only half an hour by plane, what are you waiting for?

Shayouma; dubai is more cosmopolitan. bahrain still retains a little of its small-town charm :)

coolred; well there's something you don't hear every day! But please, visit again! I promise the same wont happen second time around

Evil-Odd; there's still more to come! this is hardly the end of it!

amoontie; dont worry, like i said, theres a LOT more to come :D

Anonymous said...

I hope they never change the way the Souq looks. It is a strong and critical part of Bahrain's history and tradition. Maintaining the old traditional look is very important. At least when our children grow up, they will get a chance to see our heritage in real, not in a picture or a drawing or video.

N. said...

Mashallah real nice you know. Great pictures and nice descriptions.

Shale bin Agnon said...

Getting very melancholy about pre-progress days lately Ammaro?

Moon-Light7 said...

oh, brings up so many memories! I haven't actually walked there in like...9 maybe 10 years!!

Cool to see it again, thanks:D

KJ said...

It's funny how I never say "manama" right the first time... I always say it "manamana" looooooooooool

Great shots man.. nothing like the old souk wallah in any city. You can find the best stuff there and the people are hospitable! Stupid uptight in modern malls should learn from them old folks

ammaro.com said...

Anon; its all going to change. i wonder about singapore, and i figure they've been through what we're going through over the past 30 years or so.

N; thanks. come visit.

Shale; a little nostalgic, yes.

moon; go for a visit. skip your regular seef mall cruise :p

KJ; dude, MA-NA-MA. three syllables. easy. like banana. i've always liked the concept of madinat jumeira in dubai as they blended the old souk with a modern shopping mall.

Shoaib said...

dude.. ur a perfect tour guide.. i';ve lived in bahrain all my life, but i this is the 1st tym i got to know so much about bahrain :-P ..

and on a totally different subject.. the pics r ammmaaaaaazing.. i gota get one of those canon babies :-(

ammaro.com said...

hate to brag, but its the photographer not the camera ;p

Mrs Dynamite aka Lorena +Wonder Women... said...

I love the suq! I love ittttttttttttttttttttttttttttttt

Luminita CRIVET said...

This post already convinced me to spend one year in Bahrain. Wondering how is with the general safety...

ammaro said...

Luminita; What do you mean by safety? In general, Bahrain is a pretty safe society; crime rates are very low, the society is pretty much cosmopolitan, the people are pretty friendly. Sure, there are a few areas which it would make sense to avoid but even then the're not that dangerous. Shoot me an email if you wanna talk about it :)

rosh said...

Reminds me of home, back in the days, prior to the glam sham - peaceful, soulful, friendly and real. Thanks a ton for the pictures - they are brilliant loved 'em all. Bahrain, is indeed a beautiful nation.

Anonymous said...

mAN, YOU ARE ONE HELL OF A TALENTED CHAP! Great pics, truly enjoyed it. Spent some of my very enjoyable youth in Ma Na Ma!! Walked a lot around it, loved old Bahrain, always loved it for being a half way house betwwen phoney Dubai and Looney Saudi! Great work mate, keep it up.

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