I was honored to be chosen as a USA delegate to the Global Entrepreneurship Congress in Bahrain. However, in all honesty, I was a little nervous about the idea of travel to Bahrain as a single woman. Would I have problems? would I have to wear a scarf over my head? Where exactly is Bahrain?
Well, I’ll answer all those questions below, so if you’re traveling to Bahrain, I have a few answers for you.
Travel to Bahrain
I’m not one to shirk from adventure or travel, so when I was given the opportunity to do two things I love, connect with others about entrepreneurship and travel, I said yes!
Research About travel to Bahrain
I didn’t find a lot of information about Bahrain on the internet, specifically for women traveling alone. What I did find was that one should wear modest clothing (cover shoulders and knees). And that single women should probably wear a wedding ring as they travel in order to avoid problems. Bahrain is a Muslim island country in the Middle East.
In preparation for attending the conference and my travel I chose modest clothing options and picked out a “wedding ring” to wear. I was looking forward to wearing my choices at the conference and feeling confident in my choices. (This is a foreshadowing, because if you know me and my travels things never exactly work the way I planned)
Getting to Bahrain
Getting to Bahrain from Albuquerque, New Mexico is no easy task. I had to have long layovers somewhere. So, on the way to Bahrain, I had a 9-hour layover in LA. I couldn’t just sit in the airport for that long, so it’s a whole nother travel story that I’ll share later.
Then I had a 15-hour flight from LA to Abu Dhabi airport, which was pretty uneventful. I ended up sleeping a lot after my long time in LA and I remember watching a couple of movies while on the flight. Then a short wait for the flight from Abu Dhabi to Bahrain.
And So It Begins – No Luggage
I arrived at around 9pm into Bahrain and all that carefully chosen clothing for my conference was not with me. I have to admit that I cried a little. Why so upset? I had a very strict budget for this trip and most of that money was set aside to eat dinners. I had no plans or budget to purchase extra clothes.
And why didn’t I carry more clothes on my carryons? One reason was that I was already carrying roller skates for my LA layover. And, to be honest, I’ve never had my luggage not show up.
At least my hotel, Le Meridien, is attached to a big mall so I had quick shopping access.
The Global Entrepreneurship Congress
I’ll create a separate post about the Congress and the events I attended, but it was a great event filled with people from all over the world who spoke the language of entrepreneurship.
Without my luggage, I felt underdressed in my jeans and casual top. I think that left me feeling a little less than my normal confidence.
Then, there was a swanky dinner on Monday night that not all the delegates were chosen for. On the plus side, my name was chosen. On the minus side, I had to spend my time shopping in the giant mall attached to my hotel instead of relaxing. And it wasn’t easy! I had to find something that fit (translate sizes) and that fit my budget (translate Bahrain dinar).
The dinner was worth the time! I had a great time with the other delegates and the food was tasty.
On the second night of the congress, we were taken out for dinner again. This time, several blocks of downtown were blocked off and every attendee of the congress could pick a meal at any of the restaurants for free. It was crazy, beautiful, and generous.
There were also booths where we could purchase items from local artists. I loved the henna tattoo artist, and had to get mine done. The US delegates met at the Meat Co. for dinner. The steak was good, although it was weird to see an ashtray on the table.
On the third night of the congress, there was a big party at the Four Season’s Hotel. However, I was so tired from travel, conference, and shopping, that I had to take a night off. I stayed in the hotel watching movies and ordered “Chicken wings” which actually came as chicken nuggets. But they were good!
Day four of the conference and I hear that my luggage may soon arrive. Turns out that even though I was following up with Etihad Airlines, they had left my luggage at the LA airport. It took a friend’s brother, who works for them, to follow up and then they finally requested my luggage to be sent to Bahrain. I’m definitely not a fan of their lackluster customer service. Plus, they still haven’t paid me for the shopping that I did – minimal as it was.
Travel to Bahrain as a Single Woman
You may be wondering about those questions I was looking into. I honestly felt pretty comfortable except for one incident in the Abu Dhabi airport. I had a man dressed in a thobe out and out stare at me as I exchanged my dollars for dinars. He turned and stared as I walked away too. Definitely made me feel uncomfortable.
Other than that one incident, I never felt uncomfortable because I was a woman. The mall, the hotel, and the conference were all populated with people of like minds. That what we wore or who we were wasn’t as important as the work being done.
When I did some touring on the last day in Bahrain, I traveled with a guy who also had one more day in the country. That might have made a difference in how I experienced the tourist places, but I still felt comfortable.
Definitely, plan on dressing modestly and having a scarf if you plan on seeing the grand mosque, but that was the only time I had to wear one.
My luggage arrived in the middle of day four. the conference was over, but we were taken to the local museum for an opportunity to network. I felt bad for the organization that put on the networking. After three and 1/2 days of work and networking, I think we were networked out. But, we got to see the museum, and most of us had a boat ride to see the pearl museum and fort. Both were fun to see.
Last Day to see the Rest of Bahrain
I had made friends with Adam, an entrepreneur from North Carolina, and we had all day Friday to see the sights of Bahrain.
We nabbed a cab and went to see the Tree of Life (a 400-year-old tree in the middle of the desert). Adam really wanted to ride a camel and we had heard you had to go to a specific place – that the Royal Camel Farm didn’t allow rides. So, he asked the taxi driver and the driver was like “Oh yes. I can take you to ride camels.” So we trusted in him. Turns out, he took us to the Royal Camel farm, so poor Adam didn’t get to ride a camel.
Then we went to see the grande mosque, however, you can’t take a tour if it’s Friday!
General Impressions of Bahrain
I love checking out cities and places by walking, but that wasn’t really possible in Bahrain. Because the country is so narrow, the main thoroughfare is a highway, so in order to go anywhere, you have to walk long distances to cross over the highway. Also, it feels a bit like Las Vegas – the buildings in Bahrain are huge and span long distances.
So, if you plan on coming out to Bahrain, plan on using a cab, or Uber (there’s no Lyft here).
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