From Pearls to Petroleum on the Persian Gulf
Strung like pearls along the western shores of the Persian Gulf, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Qatar are among the wealthiest nations on the planet. Oil-fueled economic booms transformed them decades ago, turning tiny fishing villages and pearling ports into modern skylines framed by glass-covered skyscrapers. Each of these nations has also preserved parts of their past: vibrant, atmospheric bazaars, imposing forts and ornate mosques, and beautifully stark deserts landscapes can be found throughout.
Similarities aside, each of these states is unique and interesting in its own way. Your private trip starts in Bahrain, a Shia majority state in a Sunni dominated region. Persian influences can be felt throughout. You’ll then head to Kuwait – rebuilt after the Gulf War but still seldom visited by travelers outside of the petroleum industry. The final stop is Qatar, a fiercely independent country with an outsized role on the geopolitical stage. Altogether they make for a fascinating trio and a great introduction to the Arab Gulf States.
Days 1-3: Manama (Bahrain)
Start the journey in Manama, Bahrain’s capital. Built across several islands, the city offers glimpses into two very different yet deeply intertwined worlds. The low-slung, traditional architecture and markets of Muharraq contrast with the gleaming, petrodollar-fueled skyscrapers of downtown.
- Learn how Bahrain entered the modern era with a visit to the first oil well in the kingdom, located in the desert just outside the capital
- Savor Bahraini culinary traditions with a visit to the iconic Haji’s Cafe and follow-on cooking class at a local home
- Explore the markets and old town atmosphere of Muharraq
Days 3-5: Kuwait City (Kuwait)
Then head by air to nearby Kuwait City, and ancient seaport known for centuries as a cosmopolitan trading hub. The iconic Kuwait Towers dominate the cityscape, with oil tankers, cargo ships, and traditional dhows filling in the offshore views.
- Marvel at the countless mirrors adorning the glimmering Mirror House in Kuwait City – a labor of love that took the home’s owners (artists by trade) decades to complete
- Get acquainted with Kuwait City’s heritage as a cosmopolitan trading port as you wander the atmospheric stalls and stores of Souq al Mubarakiya
- Explore Kuwait’s history and culture through the ethnographic and historical exhibits at the Bait al Othman Museum
Days 5-8: Doha (Qatar)
Your journey comes to a close in Doha, capital of the peninsular state of Qatar. Skyscrapers dominate the city, but Qatar offers much more – from world class museums to a a UNESCO-listed fort in the rural north of the country.
- Explore Qatar off-the-beaten-path, away from Doha, as you venture around the north of the peninsula, including a fishing town and the UNESCO-listed Zubarah Fort
- Admire the camels at Doha’s Shahaniyah Camel Racetrack – a top spot for this unique Arabian pastime
- Be astounded by both the architecture and the exhibits at Doha’s Museum of Islamic Art and the nearby National Museum of Qatar
Dates & Prices
- Private trip prices vary by season and are subject to hotel availability for your travel dates.
- A Sunday start day is recommended.
- Listed prices below are based on double occupancy and a 2 traveler minimum.
- Hotel upgrades, additional nights, and solo traveler prices are available on request.
Land tour price, per person, starting from:
Available: January - May, September - DecemberTour, double occupancy$3,695Plus internal airfare$510Single supplement$795
- Shared accommodations as noted in the itinerary. Contact MIR for hotel upgrade prices.
- Meals, as noted in the itinerary: 7 breakfasts and 3 lunches, per the itinerary.
- One arrival and one departure transfer. Additional arrival and departure transfers available at additional cost.) MIR will arrange for travelers to be met upon arrival and seen off on departure, whether or not we make your air arrangements.
- Ground transportation throughout itinerary by private vehicle (type of vehicle depends on number of travelers in your group).
- Guided sightseeing tours and entrance fees, as outlined in the itinerary.
- Services of experienced, English-speaking local guides, drivers, and other staff, as noted in the itinerary.
- Complete pre-departure electronic document that includes detailed packing suggestions, reading list links, country-specific information, maps, travel tips, and more.
- Assistance booking your custom flight arrangements, on request. (Please note that international airfare is not included in the land tour cost.)
- Electronic final update bulletin with any late news, updates, and important information.
- International airfare and taxes/fuel surcharges.
- Meals and drinks not specified as included in the itinerary.
- Single supplement if requested or required.
- Baggage handling.
- Items of a personal nature such as phone calls, email, laundry, and alcohol.
- Gratuities to local guides, drivers, porters, and other service personnel.
- Visa fees, excess-baggage charges, airport departure taxes, vaccinations, and other medical costs.
- Expenses incurred as a result of delay, modification, or extension of a tour due to causes beyond MIR’s control.
- Travel-related insurance including cancellation, medical, and evacuation insurance.
- Optional pre- or post-tour extensions.
Level 2: Moderate, but Customizable
This ‘Essential’ itinerary designed for private travel features long days walking and standing, some long days of overland travel, some stair climbing, unpaved sidewalks and streets, uneven surfaces and steps, absent handrails, and lack of elevators. While some of these challenges are inherent in the destinations and sites, as one of our Essential Series programs this trip can be modified as needed for those travelers who are looking for a less challenging (or more challenging) program.
There is a significant amount of touring on foot, and those travelers planning to take the program as written should be able to walk one to two miles a day comfortably. Footing can be an issue and travelers should be able to negotiate streets of packed dirt, cobblestones, uneven surfaces (possibly steep and/or wet), and deal with situations without handrails or ramps. Some attractions are only accessible via steep staircases. Museums may not have elevators.
Past travelers have also encountered challenges with plumbing, bureaucratic service, variety of locally available foods, and availability and quality of public restrooms.
Accommodations in the basic program are generally four-star hotels. Upgrades are available, please call for details.
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