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April 14, 2002

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It takes an easy day drive to see Bahrain, so we rent a car and peruse the country. The rent-a-car places offer unlimited mileage for no extra charge because you can't drive very far. Manama, the capital city, is a poor-manís Dubai; liberal (we see signs of prostitution), cosmopolitan (a large foreign workforce of Asians), and diverse (the economy here is less dependent on oil because their reserves are small, therefore they have developed offshore banking, shipbuilding, and commercial trade).
Burial mounds stand out as the main attraction for tourists. Over 85000 burial mounds cover the country, a legacy from Bahrainís rich historical past when this country was an empire and not just a small island nation. Itís impressive to see so much land dedicated to the dead on an island with limited land resources.
'Royal Tombs,' so-named for their immense size (the largest burial mounds in Bahrain), stand unlabeled and unadorned in the middle of A'ali village. The village has grown around this old burial ground and takes no notice in burial mounds that must be over 1000 years old.
Bahrain shows diversity in its tombs. These at Sar show close-knit stone enclosures. Like the other tomb sites, no sign posts mark the old graves. If you didn't read about them you'd think it was a construction site.
Camels and oil, symbols of the Arabian desert.