By: Emily Nelsen

Home Sweet Home

My alarm clock beeped and flashed 7:00 a.m. Groggily, I wandered downstairs and out the door to collect my morning newspaper. This morning was different, for there was no newspaper, but a mysterious machine sitting on my porch. There was nothing around it, except for a few stray leaves from the street. I looked inside of the machine and tried to find any clue that would help me understand what it was. There were buttons all over, but they just had little triangles and lines on them. It looked similar to the cuneiform language I remember learning about in 8th grade Social Studies. As a result of being exhausted from the night before, I pressed a few buttons in my confusion. Then, my home vanished, and I fell asleep again in the darkness. When I awoke, I found myself laying on top of hot grains of sand. I squinted open one eye, only to feel as if it was being burned from my skull because of the heat from the scorching hot sun. There were people all around me speaking a language I could not understand. Once I regained my senses, I wondered where I was. Very few of the stone houses had doors, so I stumbled into one and asked where I was. The family I encountered, answered you are in at the Dilmun civilization, 2200 B.C. I couldn’t believe what I had just heard, and fainted again onto the sand.

2200 B.C.

I enjoy being a citizen of the Dilmun civilization. It is a very peaceful civilization, and is in an ideal location for trading. It is situated in a location where it links Mesopotamia (present day Southern Iraq) to the Indus Valley (present day India and Pakistan). One of the major exports are pearls, which you must dive for to retrieve yourself. A local citizen convinced me to try it, but didn’t warn me about the fearsome sharks the loomed in the Persian Gulf. Also, not a lot of people had good luck. Every time I picked up a clam, I was so excited. I called my buddies over, but the clams were always empty or the pearls inside of them were dead. Eventually I finally found one and called out “Shukran sun God” (Thank you in Arabic). However, my good fortune was overshadowed by a shark who approached our tiny boat and was about to devour my leg. Luckily, I managed to climb aboard our ship just in the nick of time, but I was so scared that I dropped my valuable pearl. While I quietly sobbed and my friends stared at me in shock, I imagined my pearl resting in peace at the bottom of the ocean where it belonged.

Today, I am venturing out to a temple for a burial. I was told by a townsperson that I had to bring an animal to sacrifice in the temple. I couldn’t bring one of my only friends, my stray dog, so I brought my pet rock. The leader said it was an unsatisfactory sacrifice, and that I had to bring a real animal. I sadly said goodbye to my best friend as he joined all the other blackened animal bones in the chamber as sacrifices for the gods. I couldn’t comprehend why these people would want to sacrifice these innocent creatures, but religion was very important here. On the other side of the altar, carved steps lead down to a pool where I must go worship were Enki, the water dwelling god of wisdom lived. Finally, we must do the burial ceremony. There are thousands of mounds all over, and sadly our fellow citizen must be buried in one. We are burying him with various possessions such as food, drinks, gold, tools, and even weapons. I don’t think the weapons are very safe, since he was put to death for killing someone. However, we believe that he will have a better afterlife, and will demonstrate less propensity for violence there.

July 2, 1932

I have just become employed at the first oil well discovered in Bahrain. Today is the company’s opening day. It is the first place where oil has been discovered on the Arabian side of the Persian Gulf. Pearl diving used to be the main successful economic trading activity, but now oil is starting to make Bahrain really rich. I was not very successful at pearl harvesting, but luckily for me I have been successful at collecting oil with my other fellow employees. We are able to fill about 9,600 barrels or more per day! I feel honored to be a part of such an accomplishment for our country.

The British have been in Bahrain for a long time. It is now 1968, and the British have announced that they are leaving the region. People have been celebrating while others have worried since our country was a protectorate, which meant that the British protected us. After about four years, we finally declared our independence on August 15, 1971. Our leaders had to sign a friendship treaty with Britain, so now we can be considered at peace with one another. Money that we have made with our successful oil market has helped us be able to establish and maintain our own economy. About a year has passed and native male citizens that are 20 years or older are allowed to vote. I am not 20 or a native citizen, but I attempted to sneak in and have my 18 year old opinions about the government taken into consideration. The government didn’t really like our suggestions, because no more elections occurred in the future. I was also caught and punished for sneaking into the elections.

Present Day

The emir, or king, has tightened his control on the country. The majority of the population belongs to the Shia muslims, but the king and his family are Sunni muslims. The Shia’s feel as if they are not represented as well as they should be in the government. Finally, the day has come that many Bahranis have been waiting for, the king died in 1999. My neighbor even had a party to celebrate the great news for his fellow Shias. His son, Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, has now taken over the country. Unlike his dad, he is actually liked and has been making good changes to the government. I’ve had a girlfriend for the past three years, and she’s jealous that all the men are allowed to vote. She was overjoyed with one of the changes that Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa has made now in 2002. One of the changes was that now women were allowed to vote. Thankfully for me, I won’t have to deal with her drama all the time.

There are a variety of foods I had to get accustomed to now that I am living in Bahrain. For breakfast every morning before I head off to work, I have fresh khobez (unleavened bread), with scrambled eggs sprinkled with sugar, and cooked beans. Who ever thought of putting sugar on eggs! For lunch, I usually pack a spicy rice dish called biryani (rice with meat) and salona (mixed vegetables). During Ramadan, a lot of my fellow employees bring harees (glutinous wheat and meat dish). As a drink, I have qahwah (unsweetened coffee). Most of the time I sneak a sugar packet with me to make the drink taste better. It’s actually more like ten sugar packets...but than again who’s counting? At night, I often have bajella (boiled beans), khobez, cheese, and sweet tea. When my girlfriend stops over, I make her fresh seafood dishes since these entrees are considered to be gourmet and are served on specia occasionsl. I would prepare her pork, but as a muslim she should not consume that. Nor can she have any alcoholic beverages to drink.

I enjoy being a middle-class Bahraini. Unlike most Bahraini citizens, it is just me living in a home, where as my lower class counterparts have to live in homes with up to three generations living in a single dwelling. My home surrounds an open-air courtyard. I never realized how thankful I was for windows. They allow me to have privacy so that the world doesn’t see what I do inside of my house. Other people who live in western Bahrain live in gated compounds and in tight dormitories. More than half of the people who live in Bahrain (62%) are Bahraini. Unfortunately, I fit into the 37% of people who aren’t Bahraini. The main religion is Islam, and many people are Shia or Sunni muslims. This causes many problems, especially now in 2011 where protesters have overflowed the streets demanding more say in how their government is run. Unfortunately, my friend was killed in these attacks, as were many others as the protests turned violent. The Shia are more powerful, so Sunni are often jealous of them. I haven’t told my girlfriend yet that I am secretly Shia while she’s Sunni, because I fear that she might break up with me.

Interesting Facts about Bahrain

  • 33 islands make up Bahrain, but only 3 of them are inhabited

  • Looking for gourmet food, try a camel burger! They are served in Bahrain

  • More than 90% of Bahrain is desert. Less than 2% is inhabited

  • Michael Jackson once lived in Bahrain

  • The British School of Bahrain has the world record for the longest and largest coin toss

  • Bahrain has no official beaches even though it is situated in the Persian Gulf

  • There is a lone 400 year old mesquite tree that grows in the desert of Bahrain known as the “tree of life.” No one knows its water source

  • The Al-Fateh Mosque, or Great Mosque, is one of the largest mosques in the world. It can hold more than seven thousand worshipers at a time.

  • A typical Bahraini family usually consists of three generations of people living in a house at once

  • Many Bahraini people smoke, for it is a sign of maturity


Most of the time, Bahrain is overlooked because of its small size, but it is really quite beautiful. If you desire to go to a place where you can really experience the culture, Bahrain is a great choice, because more than half of the population are native to the country. Also, since we live in Wisconsin, we have terrible winter weather. The lowest temperature Bahrain can get to during the winter months is 54 degrees, and most days the sun is shining brightly. Bahrain is also a great place to travel if you want to explore the arts, for it is home to many award winning art pieces from around the world. Beautiful artwork is sold in the streets for low prices, and there are scattered museums and galleries all over. Lastly, if you enjoy parties, Bahrain has amazing night life that many people come to experience every night. People who live 15 miles away in Saudi Arabia even come to Bahrain to party the night away. Therefore, my recommendation for visiting Bahrain is yes, for you can take part in many cultural and fun activities everyday throughout the country.
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