block 338

“Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun.” — Mary Lou Cook.




Editing these pictures reminded me of the feeling I got walking from the parking lot into the squares of Block 338, Adliya in Bahrain. It truly is a treat for sore eyes, with colour, landscaping and art at every turn. The focus of the planning is on the pedestrian’s experience, with ample parking spaces at the edges and side roads of the district and continuous pedestrian space thereafter – loved it!

My cousin Seif was driving us somewhere I can’t remember now, but decided to take a detour for ‘a few minutes’ stating, ‘Fatma, you’ll love this place’. What was supposed to be a thirty minute walk-through turned into a one and a half hour excursion into sunset. I bet you my cousins wanted to drag me away, because if you know me and my animated mind even flowers and fallen leaves are a photogenic affair.

The walls are covered in art by local artists, not restricted to just paintings but sculptures of varying scales too. Not understanding much about the Bahrain culture and politics, a few pieces seemed to have a deeper meaning, a statement of sorts, which made me question what the artist’s message truly was. For example, these cute houses all falling into a blue bin by Ali Hussein Merza. Is this a message about the abundant social housing around Bahrain? I loved their housing! But probably it was a political message I need to look into a bit more to understand. And then the ethereal paintings against black walls by an unnamed artist. On a lighter note, cartoon looking characters and random positive messages in corners were a sweet surprise. Artistic freedom in its most evident form, in my opinion. Everyone’s style is so different, and each one has qualities that are admirable and for an artist to share their work it takes courage – I respect that. Makes me think that’s how life should be – we all have something unique to contribute and that’s one of the beauties of life – the variety.

Speaking of sweet surprises, the district seems to comprise mostly of the cutest restaurants – street after street. I wish I had time to pop by each and every one as each had its own distinct character. It’s always a great idea to see and try to understand new things we come across – to soak up how other creatives interpret space and interiors. The interesting thing is although each building had it’s own character, they all seem to marry well together, forming a balanced yet eclectic mix.

I’ve mentioned before how one of my favourite things is art galleries with integrated coffee-shop/  restaurants. Well, the Al Riwaq Gallery was a page out of my fantasy art gallery mood board. I had the pleasure of interviewing Wafa al Ghatam who is a research architect currently having an exhibition at the gallery titled, ‘The Village in the City’, while I was there which I’ll share in the next post on here. I got to interact with a few other creatives and lady architects in that short period. They recommended that I try the peach iced tea from the gallery’s cafè which seems to be a hit with the customers. Peach iced tea, need I say more? (I loved it).

Not too far from Block 338 are more ‘traditional’ stores selling Persian carpets, oriental scarves, dresses and basically the ‘old school’ Arab experience. Oh and the best darn shawarma/ malghoum shops too, at a great bargain. Cravings!

Also, I feel like I’ve said gallery too much. Need to dust off a few books and grow my writing skills further.

Favourite pilgrim spots at 338?

Al-Riwaq Art Space (pictures coming up in a separate post).
Florence de Mediteranee, which is the cutest French restaurant at the edge of the district (also coming up in a post. Need to get more hours in my day!)
And uhm, basically the whole place! Wish I had more time to explore 🙂

Google maps location pin here.

Useful links to check out when visiting Bahrain:

Bahrain Authority for Culture and Authenticity.

Visit Bahrain.

Time Out Bahrain.

Take me back already, yah? 🙂

pilgrim in bahrain

“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have”.

– Eckhart Tolle.



Day 101/ 365

This time round, my pilgrim adventures took me beyond the Kenyan borders and into the Persian Gulf. Bahrain has been good to me, although I fear that my overexcitement may be driving my family crazy. I’m always the last to enter and leave whatever space I find myself in – marveling at the beauty of life in it all – tugging around and switching between my phone and camera that I got a few days ago (which I’m still learning how to use), and coming up with new places to see.

On my 4th day in Bahrain, my uncle decided to treat us to an afternoon at the Amwaj Islands, which are a group of man-made islands about forty five minutes drive from the capital Manama. Bahrain is a fairly small place, and with the progressive infrastructure it’s easy to connect and move around between places. The drive was forty five minutes long only because we left the house during the usual 4 pm rush hour, when everyone was getting out of work, and even then, it was an enjoyable trip, with uncle explaining to us that most of the buildings we saw were built on reclaimed land. Amazing. Even more impressive was the beautiful public housing he’d point out to us, where residents don’t pay rent and the house is considered their own. Mind blown.

For now, I’ll just take a back seat on the touristy stuff and focus on enjoying my time with my family. Maybe make them a lovely meal and help around the house tomorrow, then venture out the day after? I have a few places in mind and I want them in their best moods so they can willingly accept 🙂

To expound on that thought, I recently read somewhere online that the best way to explore a new place is by foot, walking around and familiarizing yourself with the sights. Maybe I should just walk around the neighborhood and get a few shots not too far from the house so I don’t get lost? With technology these days, I could navigate with Google maps – only problem is I haven’t got a local sim card and just depend on spaces I can access wifi to talk to my loved ones back at home or upload pictures on Instagram. No wi-fi, no connection beyond the spaces I find myself in, and I realized today that it’s been making me anxious. I’ll try to be more present and in the moment instead – remind myself what I’m grateful for. It’s so important to savour the beautiful little moments life offers us, and be grateful for exactly where we are. Alhamdulilah.

I shot all these pictures in manual mode. This post would have been up sooner if I didn’t have to sift through all the test shots, a folder of about 70 pictures that I downsized to these 11 on this post, ha! I just lightly edited them on Photoshop, the usual brightness, contrast, curves and colour balance functions. I feel like there’s a lot to be learnt and I’m excited at the opportunity to keep growing.

Chat more soon.