Natural wonders of Bahrain

    30 May 2021

    Let’s investigate the natural wonders of the island nation Bahrain. This is a small archipelago made up of 70 natural islands and an additional 33 artificial islands, centered around Bahrain Island which makes up around 83 percent of the country’s landmass. The country is between the Qatari peninsula and the north eastern coast of Saudi Arabia to which it is connected by the 25-kilometre King Fahd Causeway.

    The Tree of Life in Bahrain.

    The ever-green Tree of Life of Bahrain, or otherwise referred to as Shajarat-al-Hayat by the locals, is approximately 400 years old. This is mesquite (Prosopis cineraria) growing in a place that is devoid of water. It’s believed to have been planted in 1583. The tree is covered with green leaves, despite being in the Arabian Desert. The Tree of Life is located 2km from Jebel Dukhan. It is approximately 9.75 meters tall and a lone tree standing in the desert, with no other vegetation around it. Minimal vegetation can be spotted a few miles away from the Tree of Life. The tree is called the Tree of Life due to its ability to thrive with no obvious source of water.

    The tree is low and wide. Unlike most trees of its age, one can easily touch its leaves while standing on the ground. The branches grow downwards towards the ground before curving upwards. The leaves of the tree are delicate and feathery. At the trunk of the tree, there are quite a number of scribbling, done by tourists who frequent the site.Some have inscribed their names or the names of their loved ones. There are small holes drilled on the trunk that were used to extract ring samples for the study. The temperatures around the Tree of life are usually around 41 °C. In fact, it sometimes rises to around 50°C. The desert experiences frequent sandstorms.

    How Does The Tree Of Life Thrive Well In The Arabian Desert?

    People have been wondering how a tree can remain green and “healthy” in such dry conditions and harsh climate. The tree receives little to no rain at all annually.Some scientists have established that the tree draws water from an underground stream that is said to be two miles from the tree. Some theories have also established that the tree draws moisture from the breezes that originate from the Persian Gulf. It is also said that the tree draws little moisture from the sand. There are also beliefs that the tree is growing in the Garden of Eden, and therefore has its own mysterious ways of obtaining water.

    Some of the locals also believe that the tree is sustained through the protection of the Sumerian god called Enki.

    All these myths put forward are as a result of no scientific proof to the existence of the tree. However, it is highly probable that the tree has a superior tap-root system that helps it draw underground water.

    Tree Of Life As A Tourist Attraction

    The Tree of Life is one of the top tourist attractions in the desert. In fact, it is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the entire Bahrain. Over 50,000 tourists visit the tree annually. Its popularity is due to its mysterious survival in the desert. The surrounding area is also considered an archaeological site. The Tree of Life can be accessed by a dirt road. It can also be spotted from a distance since the area has not much vegetation or structures around it.

    If you’re looking to catch a glimpse of a lesser-known wonder of the world, located two kilometers outside of Jebel is the Tree of Life. This mythical site has been nominated to join the official 7 wonders of nature list and is considered a true marvel by many who visit Bahrain as the ancient tree is located in the midst of the desert without a water source anywhere near it. Approximately 65,000 people make the trek to see this legendary tree every year (except pandemic 2020).

    The tree stands on top of a 7.6 m high sandy tell that formed around a 500-year-old fortress. Since October 2010, archaeologists have unearthed pottery and other artifacts in the vicinity of the tree, some of which may date back to the Dilmun civilization.

    Hawar Island

    Hawar Islands Reserve

    The Cabinet of Bahrain issued a Resolution of 1996 designating Hawar islands and the territorial sea surrounding them a protected area.

    The Hawar Islands Reserve is approximately 26 kilometers southeast of Ras El Bar, the island of Bahrain. They include six major islands, in addition to more than 30 small ones, with a total area of about 51.4 square kilometers. The maximum length of the largest island, Hawar, is about 17 kilometers, and maximum width 3 kilometers, while its maximum height is 19 meters.

    The importance of the Hawar Islands is that they are among the few places that have not been tangibly covered the urbanization process, so they are characterized by their pristine environment, beautiful landscape, natural geographical distribution and unique species.The Hawar Islands have attracted many species of birds that live and breed at different times, because of their geographical distance and different heights. Indeed, the islands are home to the largest colony in the Middle East of the Phalacrocorax nigrogularis or the Socotra cormorant birds, locally known as “Allooh”, whose number has reached about 25,000 in the South Suwad Island. Studies indicate that the Socotra cormorant birds in the island represent between 20 and 25% of their world population, which proves the international importance of such islands.

    The islands also host some other unique birds, such as the Osprey (or the fish eagle), living in the heights, and the Falcon concolor, which is an endangered rare bird which is taking refuge in Hawar Islands to breed and nest.The Hawar Islands were listed among the reserves included in the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Convention), which was ratified by the Kingdom of Bahrain in 1997. Ramsar is an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.

    A short boat ride will get you to Hawar Island on the southern end of Bahrain. The island boasts many resorts with hotels and water-sport rentals to venture into the Arabian Gulf. Hawar Island is Ramsar Wetland, this is home to the endangered Socotra cormorant bird and those who visit may also see an Arabian oryx, Bahrain’s national animal and, as some believe, the origin of the fabled unicorn.

    Bahrain’s newest tourist attraction comes in the form of the world’s largest underwater theme park, Dive Bahrain. This dive site features beautiful artificial reefs and the first decommissioned Boeing 747 to be submerged. The site will provide a unique view of Bahrain and an exceptional dive experience located off the coast of Muharraq. For sport lovers, Muharraq is also said to have one of the best football teams in Bahrain.

    Al Areen Wildlife Park

    Al Areen Wildlife Park is a nature reserve and zoo, located in Sakhir, Bahrain. It is one of five other protected areas in the country and it is the only designated protected area on land, in the country.

    The park covers a total area of 7 km sq and was first established in 1976. Species native to Bahrain, both plants and animals, as well as species originating from Africa, south Asia are present in the zoological park. In 2013, the park attracted 199,235 visitors to the park.[3][4]

    As of 1999, the park was attached to the ministry of cabinet affairs and information.

    The park features 100,000 planted flora and trees, & more than 45 species of animals, 82 species of birds and 25 species of flora. Species that roam the nature reserve section of the park include the Arabian oryx, which is extinct in the wild, South African cheetah, lion, Savannah monitor, African rock python, Persian gazelle, springbok, African wild dog, Spotted hyena, saluki dogs, impala, fallow deer, Chapman’s zebra, Honey badger and desert hares. Arabian and North African species such as the scimitar-horned oryx, addax (which is rare in the wild), dama gazelle, giraffes, Nubian ibex, wild goat, barbary sheep and Asiatic onager are also present.

    The Al Areen area covers a total area of 800 hectares, divided into two 400-hectares sections; one section dedicated to the public while the other section is a protected reserve, equipped with two surface reservoirs for flora and fauna. The park has undergone multiple renovations in the previous decade, adding an aviary and an Arabian wild animals complex. A falcon stadium and petting zoo was opened in 2014 under the sponsorship of Viva Bahrain.

    The reserve is restricted, except for specialists, researchers, veterinarians and the animals’ keepers. Entrance to the reserve area of the park is prohibited unless prior permission is obtained. Public access to the park’s animals is provided by tour-buses from the main entrance. The park itself is a 40-minute drive from Manama, connected by a highway,[14] and is located adjacent to Bahrain International Circuit.

    Al Areen Wildlife Park was established in 1976 and covers an area of 5.4 km 2. It is the first project of its kind in the region, and aims to preserve endangered rare Arab animal species. It is located in the west of the centre of the island of Bahrain, and consists of two parts. The first covers an area of four square kilometers dedicated to preserving the wildlife of the desert environment in the Kingdom of Bahrain. Access to this nature reserve is restricted, except for specialists and researchers, veterinarians and the animals’ keepers. The list of protected species features all types of animals and plants that distinguish Bahrain’s desert environment. They include the Arabian Oryx, the Bahraini Sand gazelle or Reem gazelle, and flora plants. As to the second section, which is the park, it devoted to preserving and multiplying Arabian animals and birds in particular. It covers 4 km2. Collective and individual visits to the park are allowed in the company of qualified guides.

    The entrance to the zoo opens up to family friendly pathways and ponds populated by waterfowl. Due to the friendly atmosphere and abundance of nutritional food, local wild birds like Eurasian collared dove, crested larks, red vented bulbuls, white cheeked bulbuls, cattle egrets, etc. also frequent the park.

    The zoo has a fairly decent population of wild animals. Many animals like Egyptian vulture, Saker falcon, Arabian wolves, Oryx, dromedaries, Saluki dogs (yes, unfortunately, they have kept a few of them in clean pens), etc. native to Gulf countries.

    You can buy tickets for boarding buses that do a drive around a special large section with a 15 minute break at ponds where several species of waterfowl are kept. This is a trip that any nature lover will like.

    The Arad Bay area was declared a marine sanctuaryin 2003. Covering an area of 0.5 km2, the reserve contains the tidal environment in which important living creatures live and contribute effectively to the marine ecosystem and serve multiple species of resident and migratory birds in the lake. The sanctuary is a natural incubator for small fish, plankton and seaweed, whose stockpile is enriched by tide movement coming from the bridge exit leading port to the sea.Arad Bay is one of the most important coastal mangrove reserves in the Kingdom of Bahrain. The mangrove trees have been planted in a thoughtful way in order to enhance the cohesion of the soil and provide a safe haven for small fish. Millions of small and micro-organisms that are important for the marine environment live in the sands of this protected marine sanctuary.Given the importance of this marine environment, a tourist park was established in Arad Bay Reserve, and was opened in 2010.

    The park includes the largest public walkway in the Kingdom of Bahrain, with a total area of up to more than half a square kilometre. The walkway provides a good opportunity for practicing walking within a mesmerizing beautiful landscape.The park includes grass areas, palm trees, games for children, shaded loungers around the lake, a main large fountain, small fountains and waterfalls, restaurants, a prayer room men and another for women, toilets, along with parking lots that can accommodate up to 600 cars, divided into two sections, one is located in the west of the park and the other in the east.

    This is an amazing place to observe waterfowls of the mangroves. It is a 3 km circular track that the visitors normally use for jogging and walking.

    Due to the migrant population of birds, the waters at the winter season are teeming there with waterfowl – flamingos, western reef herons, Eurasian curlews, common redshanks, common sandpipers, intermediate egrets, so on and so forth. On and around the tracks, adjoining grassy fields, and trees, you can  observe Eurasian collared doves, rock doves, red vented bulbuls and white cheeked bulbuls.

    Mashtan Island Reserve

    Mashtan Island and its surrounding area were declared a nature reserve in 2002.

    It is located east of Bahrain Island and north of Hawar Island, and covers an area of about 2.5 km.

    In spite of its small size, the Mashtan Island and the areas surrounding it are important for the biodiversity in the Kingdom of Bahrain, as there are many important marine plants in it of which seven different kinds have been identified. The island also homes many marine creatures that have direct economic returns. There are also wild salt-tolerant plants that are considered part of the innate heritage vegetables in the kingdom. The island is home to some birds, such as the Socotra cormorant.

    Tubli Bay Reserve

    Tubli Bay was approved as a nature reserve in 1995. This was then followed by the Ministerial Edict No (1) of 1995 on the prevention of reclamation and reconstruction in Tubli Bay.

    The reclamation and construction were regulated according to a set of conditions in the sanctuary covering a total area of 13.5 km2. Tubli Bay and declared a protected reserve within the sites included in the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (RAMSAR) of 1997. In the end of 2006, the rest of Tubli Bay was announced a full nature reserve.

    Hayr Bulthama Reserve

    The Hayr Bulthama Reserve is located 70 km north of Muharraq, and covers an area of 7.8 km2. With an average depth of 12 meters, Hayr Bulthama is not as deep as neighboring areas. However, it is relatively deeper compared to the overall Bahrain’s territorial waters, where maximum depth reaches 69 meters. The weather at the Hayr Bulthama is nicer than the rest of the coasts of Bahrain, with temperatures less than 3 to 5 degrees Celsius. In 2008, Edict was issued, announcing Hayr Bulthama a protected marine area.

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