This blog post is about several countries: The Gulf States, also know as the oil countries, although the oil is slowly vanishing.
I’m sure that when people think about this area they imagine all the country as being the same and they envision something á la Dubai.
Having travelled around most of them, I would like to take this opportunity to share with you how they all differ from each other. Through my journey in Bahrain, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar I could feel that we shared the same culture but I could clearly see the differences as well.
Bahrain is my country of origin and my current home, so my opinion is probably very bias. Still I feel like the sweetest people are the ones from Bahrain, they are open minded and welcoming. The society is quite liberal and you can find many things to do here. There is a rich cultural heritage that you can see when visiting forts, mosques, and local places. You can even go pearl diving or pearl collecting because we are known for pearl trade before the discovery of oil.
Dubai is the magnet of tourists and no wonder why. This desert has been transformed into a cosmopolitan oasis. You can ski in a shopping mall, swim with sharks; experience the world’s tallest building just to mention a few. It’s a perfect holiday destination for couples, families, and friends. Although Dubai has it all, it also lacks a local touch to it and local people as well. You never get to see the Emiratis, and everything is so plastic fantastic and expensive! Abu Dhabi to say it out loud is quite unexciting. Beside the sheikh zayed mosque (which is absolutely stunning!) there is nothing much to do or perhaps I didn’t find much to do. But it you are visiting Dubai, you should stop by Abu Dhabi to see the mosque, it is absolutely worth the ride!
Saudi Arabia is a world of itself. I have only been to a few places there but I don’t plan on returning. Everything is very segregated and although it is interesting to understand the culture I don’t think it’s my cup of tea. Don’t get me wrong, I am not criticizing the country, I am only sharing what I have experienced and what my thoughts are. Still many Bahrainis go to Saudi to shop because they have an unlimited selection of everything. And the other way around, many saudis come to Bahrain to be "free". Beside if you are a foreigner and not from the GCC, you are not able to get a visa to explore Saudi.
Kuwait is my absolute favorite. It has a long and beautiful stretch of coast, the best weather comparing to the other gulf countries, and they are considered the fashion hub of the gulf region. Although many think that shopping centers and malls are the main attractions in Kuwait, if you are the sort of traveller who likes to see and experience something other than that then this could be the destination for you.
Qatar was my least favorite. Although I cannot say that I saw it all, I can tell you what I have seen and noticed. Qataris are very conservative and reserved and they don’t blend with others that much. Qatar is very nice when it comes to futuristic skyscrapers and other ultra modern architecture inspired by ancient Islamic design, but other than that I was not impressed.
Stay tuned for my next stop, in December I will be going to Oman.
Here are a few pics to give you an idea of the different places..