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Bahrain's 10 Best Art and Culture Events in Summer 2014
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Bahrain's 10 Best Art and Culture Events in Summer 2014

Picture of Isabella Bengoechea
Updated: 27 January 2016
While Bahrain may not be one of the Gulf’s must-visit spots for many tourists, the oil-rich island country Kingdom is nonetheless a veritable treasure-trove of cultural gems, from breath-taking mosques, burial mounds and forts to exciting contemporary cultural events. This summer, check out these ten events around Bahrain’s galleries, concert halls and museums, which are offering stand-out concerts, exhibitions and festivals over the coming months.


Culture | Market at Ramadhaniyat Souq

9 – 19 July

As part of the Ministry of Culture’s mission to expand its tourism industry through cultural shows and events that advertise the best of Bahrain’s culture and history, the Ramadhaniyat Souq at Bab Al-Bahrain will be celebrating those traditions which are still alive today, with a market offering cultural and innovative Bahraini products and handicrafts from the souq’s shops and kiosks. As part of this annual celebration which takes place during the Holy Month of Ramadan, live folk music concerts and performances will also be held in the souq, and various family-oriented events and activities will also take place. This is a modern cultural event which will allow you to immerse yourself in the values and traditions which Bahrain represents and which it still breathes today.

Ramadhaniyat Souq, Bab Al-Bahrain Mall, 28, Sanabis, Bahrain


Culture | Educational Workshops at the Bahrain Summer Festival

31 July – 30 August

Summer sees the arrival of the Bahrain Summer Festival, an annual celebration of the best cultural offerings from inside the country and from all ends of the international scene. Part of the Manama: Capital of Asian Tourism programme, the festival is now in its sixth year. There will be all kinds of workshops and events over the month, from educational craft workshops and theatrical shows, to a showcase of Bahrain’s best folk music in a series of open-air performances at many of the island’s most famous sites. Across August there will also be numerous opportunities to try your hand at different art and theatre workshops, to learn about the culture and tradition of the country in a programme of events designed with a (mainly) family-friendly audience in mind.

Event takes place at various locations across Bahrain, +973 17542542


Art | Visible Differences

Until August 31

This temporary exhibition celebrating the contemporary art of 20 different women from across the world comes to the Bahrain National Museum this summer, in collaboration with the Royal Society of Fine Arts. Originally dreamed up in Valencia, Spain, the exhibition concept of Visible Differences, which explores the concerns and values of contemporary society, then moved to the Middle East. Now in Bahrain, the exhibition has been joined by prominent Bahraini artists Balqees Fakhro and Hala Al Khalifa, whose works join the selection of uniquely personal artworks, as well as those confronting important feminist issues. Dr Khalid Khreis feels that ‘art is done by human beings regardless [of whether they’re] male or female.’ ‘The reason here is to represent issues that sometimes men can’t express and at the same time show the different ways of expression between all the women participating.’

Bahrain National Museum, Al Fatih Hwy, Manama, Bahrain, +973 1729 8718


Performing Arts | Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy

31 July, 1 August, 2 August

From the end of July into the beginning of August Bahrain will be playing host to the spectacular phenomenon that is Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy, an explosive whirlwind of colour and music which has been touring the world since its first show in 2008. Described by New York Magazine as ‘The grandest circus spectacle east of Vegas,’ it is now Bahrain’s turn to invite a huge cast of dancers, acrobats, contortionists, aerialists, jugglers and musicians to the stage in a dazzling performance inspired by the natural world. Awe-inspiring and daring acrobatic feats, brilliant costumes, stunning dance, both traditional and modern, exhilarating and stimulating music and electrifying visual effects all create a buzzing jungle of entertainment aimed to appeal to all ages.

Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy, Bahrain International Exhibition Centre, 58 Avenue 28, Sanabis 11644, Bahrain, +973 1755 8800

Music | Ilham Al-Madfai

14 – 15 August

Another contribution to the Bahrain Summer Festival will be the much-awaited musical performance of internationally acclaimed Iraqi singer, musician and composer Ilham Al-Madfai. Beginning as a guitarist, he and his band are said to be the first in the Arab world to utilise ‘modern’ instruments, including guitar, drums, bass and piano, which allowed him to create a distinctive style that crosses modern sounds with traditional Arabic folk songs. Attracted to jazz, and later discovering the Spanish guitar, his music gained in popularity and made a huge contribution to the development of the Arab world’s musical heritage and development, bringing new life to traditional songs. This concert in Bahrain will present his distinctive style of Oriental latin and jazz which have made him one of the pioneers of Arabic music and gained him a devoted following across the world.

Ilham Al-Madfai, Bahrain International Exhibition Centre, 58 Avenue 28, Sanabis, Bahrain, +973 1755 8800


Art | Recreational Purpose

Until 15 August

Take a fascinating tour of the world of Bahrain’s photography with this group summer photo exhibition at the Bahrain National Museum in the country’s capital, Manama. The exhibition will display the work of photographers from both Bahrain and the international scene to capture images that represent the cultural and historical appeal of Bahrain, and which accentuate its touristic appeal. Photographers have sought to capture all different aspects of the island kingdom, from its modern, architectural wonders to its beautiful natural features, its everyday living to its wealth of exquisite archaeological secrets. Take a tour around these stunning exhibits for an insight into intriguing sides of this little-known country. Artists participating include Batneeji Hurair Sarkisian, Steve Sabella, Ghada Khunji, Haya Al Khalifa and Camille Zakaria.

Recreational Purpose, Bahrain National Museum, Al Fatih Hwy, Manama, Bahrain, +973 1729 8718


Dance | Blaze

16 – 17 August

As part of this year’s Bahrain Summer Festival, dance spectacular Blaze lights up the Exhibition Centre as part of its hugely successful world tour. With a cast of 16 of the most talented, exciting street dancers from all over the world, witness this thrilling and show-stopping performance of some of the most creative and contemporary street dance to a soundtrack featuring music from acts including Lady Gaga, David Guetta, Michael Jackson, Snoop Dogg and Kanye West. Immerse yourself in this high-energy performance described as ‘a theatre show with the energy of a pop concert and the feel of a club night,’ with impressive set designs, lighting and projections, and choreographed by some of the leading lights in the West End.

Bahrain Summer Festival, Bahrain Exhibition Centre, 158 Avenue 28, Sanabis, Bahrain, +973 1755 8800


Culture | Qal’at Al Bahrain through the Ages

Until 24 April 2015

Running for the next few months, this exhibition at the Qal’at Al Bahrain Site is a stunning new art installation created by French artist Marie-Françoise Rouy, French composer and sound designer Luc Martinez and guest Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota, which aims to educate people about the significance of the fort. The site once stood as the capital of the Dilmun civilisation more than 4000 years ago, though its subsequent legacy has seen various peoples including the Kassites, Portuguese and Persians occupy it, and where the impressive fort, which became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005, now stands. The current project sees engraved-glass steles and art installations around the fort, introducing visitors to the site’s incredible history and emphasising its cultural significance.

Qal’at Al Bahrain Through the Ages, Qal’at Al Bahrain, Karbabad,Capital Governorate, Bahrain, +973 1756 7172


Music | Chico and the Gypsy Kings

26 August

Continuing its stellar line-up of stars and performances from the music world, the Bahrain Summer Festival sees Latin music band Chico and the Gypsy Kings take to the stage as the festival draws to its close. For one August evening enjoy a performance by the new French band started by Jahloul ‘Chico’ Bouchiki, co-founder of legendary band The Gipsy Kings, which strives to emulate its incredible legacy. With a highly distinctive sound in the fashion of Latin pop and rock, with influence of such musical traditions as passionate flamenco and sensual rumba, Chico and the Gypsy Kings aims to use its music as a method to promote tolerance and understanding between cultures and nations. Showcasing a mix of established favourites as well as new, as-yet unheard tracks, the show promises a lively celebration of Latin rhythms.

Chico and the Gypsy Kings, Bahrain International Exhibition Centre, 58 Avenue 28, Sanabis 11644, Bahrain, +973 1755 8800


Bahrain Salsa Festival

27 – 30 August

The Bahrain Salsa Festival brings the energy and seduction of salsa to the heart of the Arabian Gulf, offering one and all the opportunity to learn, dance and observe one of the most exciting of Latin dances. Taking place at the idyllic and exclusive Al Bander Beach Resort, the festival offers a selection of dance workshops taught by salsa instructors, more than 40 salsa artists, both international and from the region, big dance names in the world of salsa, live music, performances and numerous parties all within a stone’s throw of a tropical beach. Famous names currently lined up include OtraDanz, Angelique Kerber, Tamambo and Sheila, Sara Sarra and Ahmed Salsa. A great experience if you are looking for something rather unexpected and different.

Bahrain Salsa Festival, Al Bander Resort, Umm Al Saad Venue, Bahrain, +973 1770 1201


By Isabella Bengoechea