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Bahrain - A Travel Guide.

THERE IS NO shortage of travel guides to the Gulf states these days. Ten years ago that was not the case but in 1993 it is possible to enter an ordinary booksellers and emerge with at least three very acceptable tomes on how to go, where to go and what to do when you get there. There are the serious guides and the slick ones, some are geared to the age of the user, others to the wallet. There are in fact so many travellers guides to the Middle East that they have become almost boring in their predictability. Philip Ward's guide to Bahrain is refreshingly different. Alongside the usual information concerning hotels, weather, passport and visa restrictions runs a text that leaves the reader in no doubt the author clearly likes and enjoys Bahrain. It should, you may think, be a mandatory requirement that travel guide writers should know and like the country or countries they write about but too frequently they do not. True, one rarely reads that X is a dump and the capital city of Z little more than a mosquito-infested swamp. But often, reading between the lines, that is dearly what the author thinks.

However, this is clearly not the case with Philip Ward and Bahrain. His enthusiasm for the island state shines through on every page of this comprehensive guide which takes the form of a series of personalised accounts of people and places as much as anything else.

Bahrain has long been an important transit point but the opening of the King Fahd causeway in 1986 created a long lasting impetus in favour of Bahraini tourism. To date, the majority of tourists to the island come from neighbouring Gulf states but the government is working on a plan to promote and attract visitors from further afield. Bahrain, as Philip Ward points out, has a lot to offer. By contrast with other Islamic cities such as Karachi or Kabul, Cairo or Casablanca, Manama retains an intimate atmosphere, with a population that is still manageable, excellent public services and hotels, impeccable hygiene and a reputation for security and good public order, the author notes.

Ward catalogues the people, the customs, shops, clubs, hotels, hospitals, mosques, historic monuments and other tourist attractions. He discusses with the reader the fascination of the capita Manama, religion, history, oil and economics. The usual, useful information contained in a traveller's guide is also here and is both comprehensive and informative However, the true strength of this book lies with the author's fascination for his subject and his obvious delight in sharing that knowledge with the reader.
COPYRIGHT 1993 IC Publications Ltd.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:The Middle East
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Feb 1, 1993
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