Head to Manama Souq to experience the Kingdom’s first ever Manama Gold Festival.

If you’ve lived long enough in Bahrain or are a tourist scouring the island for interesting things to do, we bet you’ve heard of Manama Souq. Steeped in local tradition and the hub for many of the Kingdom’s art and culture festivals, it is set to host the debut edition of Manama Gold Festival, organised by Bahrain Tourism and Exhibition Authority (BTEA) in cooperation with Manama Digital Museum – The Manama Story. It’s a civil initiative concerned with documenting social, urban and commercial life in Manama and restoring its leading roles.

Visit the Souq until April 20 to visit the many shops selling gold, pearls and precious stones, which are participating in the festival. You can also enjoy other things while you’re at it; there are weekly prizes and a weekly event, featuring Bahraini shows, traditional clothes’ shows, documentaries on the gold industry and trade in Bahrain, activities for children, a bazaar and more.

Bahraini gold is most sought after as it’s usually 21- and 24-carat and hallmarked. Further, it’s available in a wide range of styles from traditional Bahraini designs – the iconic gold coin among other things – through to internationally inspired collections particularly Indian, as well as modern and contemporary – it spoils you for choice! We recommend you check out Gold City – a building full of gold shops – which is the relatively newer gold market in Manama Souq, and the independent shops dotting the lane of the Souq near the Hindu temple – the original gold market. You can find ready-to-wear collections and bespoke pieces that come studded with diamonds, pearls and precious and semi-precious stones. Bahrain’s pearls are equally infamous. In fact, the pearl industry is what drove the economy until the early 1930s until it suffered a setback with the entry of cheap Japanese imitations. Bahrain harvests a variety of pearls that are used in jewellery-making, including a rare variety, marshush, which has pink overtones and ranks higher than the premium Jiwan (G1 – Grade 1) pearls.

There have been several initiatives to harvest the Kingdom’s legacy as the centre of pearling: In 2012, the Bahrain Pearling Trail was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site and has since been widely promoted. Bahrain started organising diving tours and expeditions in 2017 and 2018 witnessed the first edition of Marathon, which offered aspirant divers and enthusiasts a platform to learn the nuances of pearl diving from the last generation of yesteryear divers. ✤