The Kingdom of Bahrain consists of Bahrain Island and 33 of the 37 Bahrain Islands, lying in the Arabian Gulf's Gulf of Bahrain off the north shore of Asia's Arabian Peninsula. Bahrain's capital city is Manama. The islands are about 24 kilometers (15 mi) off the east coast of Saudi Arabia and 28 kilometers (17 mi) from Qatar. The total area of the country is about 780 square kilometers (301 sq mi), about 3.5 times the size of the District of Columbia. Bahrain Island accounts for about 83% of the kingdom's land area, comprising 590 square kilometers (228 sq mi). It is 48 kilometers (30 mi) long from north to south and at its widest point stretches 16 kilometers (10 mi) from east to west. The island is surrounded by several of the Middle East's large petroleum fields and commands a strategic position amid the Persian Gulf's shipping lanes.
Bahrain features an arid climate. Bahrain has two seasons: an extremely hot summer and a relatively mild winter. During the summer months, from April to October, afternoon temperatures average 40 °C (104 °F) and can reach 48 °C (118.4 °F) during June and July. The combination of intense heat and high humidity makes this season uncomfortable. In addition, a hot, dry southwest wind, known locally as the qaws, periodically blows sand clouds across the barren southern end of Bahrain toward Manama in the summer. Temperatures moderate in the winter months, from November to March, when the range is between 10 and 20 °C (50 and 68 °F). However, humidity often rises above 90% in the winter. From December to March, prevailing winds from the southeast, known as the shamal, bring damp air over the islands. Regardless of the season, daily temperatures are fairly uniform throughout the archipelago.
The dinar (Arabic: دينار Dīnār Baḥrēnī) (sign: .د.ب or BD; code: BHD) is the currency of Bahrain. It is divided into 1000 fils (فلس). The name dinar derives from the Roman denarius. The dinar was introduced in 1965, replacing the Gulf rupee at a rate of 10 rupees = 1 dinar. The Bahraini dinar is abbreviated .د.ب (Arabic) or BD (Latin). It is usually represented with three decimal places denoting the fils.
The Manama souk, located just beyond Bab Al Bahrain, is the perfect first stop. The shops, ranging from tiny open-air stalls to leading department stores, are packed with everything from clothes to electronics, tobacco to incense and antiques to gold.
The souk, with its labyrinthine lanes and alleys is best explored on foot, so if you're driving, remember to leave your car in one of the parking facilities near Bab Al Bahrain.
The secret of Arabic cuisine, with its heavenly taste and aromas, is the spices that go into the meal.
If you're adventurous enough to try your hand at a Bahraini recipe, visit one of the spice shops in the Manama souk. You will find yourself greeted with mounds of colourful, fragrant spices of every possible variety.
Don't be afraid to ask if you're not sure what to buy, the vendors are always more than happy to help
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