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Manama

[Pers. ma-na-muh, -ma]

Manama (Arabic: المنامة , transliteration: Al-Manāmah) is the capital and largest city of Bahrain with an approximate population of 155,000 people, roughly a quarter of the country's population. Manama has emerged as the capital of independent Bahrain after periods of domination by Portugal and Persians earlier in its history. Today, it is a modern capital with an economy based around the sales promotion industry as crude oil takes a less pronounced role in the economy. (See Economy of Bahrain). Because of its thriving economy, a Danish firm has proposed a skyscraper that would be over tall, called the Murjan Tower, currently only a concept, if built it would be the world's tallest man-made structure, even surpassing the supertall Burj Dubai skyscraper.

History

Manama was mentioned in Islamic chronicles at least as far back as 1345. It was conquered by Portugal in 1521 and then by the Persians in 1602. Since [1783] it has been under the control of the Al-Khalifa dynasty. Manama was declared a free port in 1958, and in 1971 it became the capital of independent Bahrain.

The north of Bahrain’s main island which is dominated by Manama today has seen human activity for roughly 5,000 years, as is indicated from the remains around Bahrain Fort. The Dilmun Civilisation made this area their capital, burying their dead farther south at the tombs of A'ali. The islanders were soon, however, disturbed by a series of invaders that arrived here by sea, beginning with the Assyrians during the BC period and ending with the Arabs. During these many centuries Dilmun, as it was at first known before its name was changed many times by each new invading power, was a trading post whose importance fluctuated depending on which empire dominated. Manama and its inhabitants first discovered Islam during the 7th century and by the 9th century began to lean to a more conservative almost socialist belief system that caused considerable friction with the surrounding Muslim lands. The Qarmartians, as this group was known, ransacked Mecca in 930 during the sacred Hajj, killing hundreds before escaping with the much revered Black Stone. A feud with the Baghdad-based Abbasids less than 50 years later saw the Qarmartians run out of town. The next major foreign intervention in Bahrain came at the beginning of the 1500s when the Portuguese naval fleets arrived, quickly crushing the small local population in Manama and the surrounding areas. Bahrain Fort was built during this era, probably to keep out the Persians who nevertheless managed a series of invasions as the whole island swapped hands between the Portuguese and Persians for the proceeding two centuries. Once the Persians eventually triumphed, it wasn’t long before the Al Khalifa family appeared from nowhere, or at least from nearby Qatar, to take control of the whole of the island at the end of the 18th century. The new rulers, whose dynasty continues to this day, sought protection against the Persians from the now dominant, empire-building British as Manama entered a period of colonialism that increased over time, not least when oil was discovered south in the centre of the island and first extracted in 1931. After World War II, Bahrain moved slowly towards independence and eventually in 1971 the British pulled out leaving Manama in charge of its own affairs. This was the beginning of a period that has seen it grow and flourish mainly thanks to considerable wealth accumulated through oil production and processing.

Climate

In common with the rest of Bahrain, Manama experiences extreme climatic conditions, with summer temperatures upto , and winter as low as with even hail at rare occations. Average temperatures of the summer and winter seasons are generally from to about . The most pleasant time in Bahrain is autumn when sunshine is low, along with warm temperatures tempered by soft breezes.

Geography

The city is located in the far north-eastern corner of Bahrain on a small peninsula, due to this fact the city obtains a pleasent and a reasonable waterfront. As in the rest of Bahrain, the land is generally flat (or gently rolling) and arid. Manama is served by Bahrain International Airport on the nearby island of Al Muharraq, to which it is connected via a causeway.

Law and government

Manama is part of the Capital Governorate, one of five Governorates of Bahrain. Until 2002 it was part of the municipality of Al-Manamah. Councils exist within the governorates; eight constituencies are voted upon within Capital Governorate in 2006.

Economy

Manama is the focal point of the Bahraini economy. While oil has decreased in importance in recent years due to depleting reserves, petroleum is still the mainstay of the economy, while heavy industry (e.g. aluminum smelting, ship repair), banking and finance, and tourism are increasing in importance. Several multinationals have facilities and offices in and around Manama. The economic base for Manama itself is financial services, with over two hundred financial institutions and banks based in the CBD and the Diplomatic Area. There is also a large retail sector in the shopping malls around Seef, while the center of Manama is dominated by small workshops and traders.

Transport

Road network

Manama is the main hub of the country's road network. At the moment the city's road network is under a huge wave of development, as the Ministry of Works is taking all the pressure to improve the road network in Manama, due to the fact that it is the capital and the main city in the country, where most of the government and the commercial offices and facilities are established, along with the entertainment centers. The Ministry of Works has set several plans and projects to ameliorate the situation of traffic in the city; it is concluded with some potential points. Roundabouts considered as one of the busiest spots in Manama, for that it was necessary to remove most of the roundabouts in the city and replace them with traffic signalised junctions. In additions, some of the junctions on the main routes around the city are being replaced and improved to interchanges, tunnels, flyover bridges and exits. Besides the traffic-jams, the vehicle population is increasing rapidly, which makes it difficult for the authorities to cope with the traffic problem. The outline of the present road network was traced in the early 1930s, soon after the discovery of oil. The four main islands and all the towns and villages are linked by well-constructed roads. There were of roadways in 2002, of which were paved. A causeway stretching over , connect Manama with Muharraq Island, and another bridge joins Sitra to the main island. A four-lane highway atop a causeway, linking Bahrain with the Saudi Arabian mainland via the island of Umm an-Nasan was completed in December 1986, and financed by Saudi Arabia. In 2000, there were 172,684 passenger vehicles and 41,820 commercial vehicles. Bahrain's port of Mina Sulman can accommodate 16 oceangoing vessels drawing up to . In 2001, Bahrain had a merchant fleet of eight ships of 1,000 GRT or over, totaling 270,784 GRT. Private vehicles and taxis are the primary means of transportation in the city.

Buses

Manama has a comprehensive bus service which is far more economical than other modes of transport. A minimum fare of 150-200 fils allows you to travel by bus. There are bus routes to other towns such as Muharraq and Isa Town.

Air traffic

Bahrain International Airport is located on Muharraq Island, approximately from the CBD. It is a premier hub airport in the Middle East. Strategically located in the Northern Gulf between the major markets of Saudi Arabia and Iran, the airport has one of the widest range and highest frequency of regional services with ideal connections to major international destinations in Europe, Asia , Africa , the Far East and Australasia.

Education

Manama has a wide range of universities, colleges and schools. The following are some of the most popular:

Colleges & Universities

Culture

Bahrain is not fully Islamic and Arabic, the country attracts a large number of foreigners and foreign influences, with just under ⅓ of the population hailing from abroad. Alcohol is legal in the country, with bars and nightclubs operating in the city. This is in contrast neighbouring Saudi Arabia, which bans alcohol under all circumstances. This is seen as a sign by most people that while both Manama and Bahrain are strongly Islamic, they are open-minded and tolerant with others and other cultures. Soccer is a popular sport, with three teams from Manama participating in the Bahraini Premier League.

Manama photo gallery

See also

Notes and references

External links

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