Intrepid traveller Ali Hussain Mushaima is well-known for his unique Friendship Arabia tours - journeying by road from Bahrain to various corners of the world. The message has remained the same right from the time he launched his first trip, a 3-month drive to Europe, many years ago: spread the word about Bahrain, its people and all it has to offer. Ali's newest tour, a two month journey from June 23, 2010, is titled: "Tylos to Thassos, Voyage of Discovery".

Appetising way to start my tour
Written by Rebecca Torr   
Monday, 02 June 2008 23:49

Less than an hour on Syrian soil and I was being whisked away to join the Friendship Arabia team for a media gathering in Nobles Palace – a restaurant regarded as one of the classiest in Damascus. It was a beautiful setting and the food and service was undoubtedly first class. 

A large group of local media came to greet us and they immediately started asking questions and taking photographs. I explained to one of the Syrian papers that not only was the aim of the Bahrain to Britain Friendship Tour to promote Bahrain and the Bahrain International Circuit, it was also about spreading a message of peace and understanding among nations. 

I highlighted to them that as a Briton living and working in Bahrain for more than six years I had come to realize that the West and the Arab world shared far more similarities than they did differences. I told them: “We all have the same aspirations for ourselves and our families and the majority of us are just normal people who want to live in harmony and enjoy our short time on this earth.” 

Taking in the attractions
Written by Petra Beuchert   
Monday, 02 June 2008 22:59

Greeting riders on camelback on the way to Palmyra


Today, some of the team went back to once more walk through the main market, while others visited a craft market close to an ancient mosque. Apart from leather products, pottery, baskets and handmade jewellery, there was also a small glass blowing workshop.

At noon, we left Damascus for Maaloula, a small mountain village. Its main attraction is the monastery, St. Serge.

From here we started our journey to Palmyra, situated some 200km northeast of Damascus. Two thirds into the journey, we stopped for refreshments at a very original restaurant, Bagdad Cafe 66. The cafe has a souvenir shop and part of its attraction is that you can dress up in traditional Arabic costumes and have your picture taken. Outside, you can also view an original Bedouin tent.

When we arrived at Palmyra, the sun was about to set and we headed straight to its famous attraction, the magnificent ruins of an ancient metropolis which was ruled by the Queen Zenobia in the 3rd century AD.

An unbelievable reception
Written by Ammar Hammad   
Sunday, 01 June 2008 23:57

Bahrain's Ambassador to Syria Mr Al Sayar asks team leader Ali Mushaima about his experiences


Today was an amazing day in Syria, starting with a visit to the world's largest intact Roman amphitheatre and ending with the most amazing reception held for us by Bahrain's Ambassador H.E. Waheed Mubarak Al Sayar. 

In the morning, we left Damascus and headed to the ancient city of Bosra, site of the amphitheatre.

Later Zakaria took us to his restaurant where we had a delicious home-cooked meal.

We returned to Damascus and a group of us went back to the Suq El-Hamidiyeh and ate homemade Arabic ice cream.

The highlight of the day was the reception that the Bahrain Embassy organized for the Friendship Arabia team. It was covered by all the major newspapers who sent their reporters and photographers. The reception was held at a restaurant that was said to be the best in town and attendance was great.

We had the chance to talk to the Bahraini Ambassador about our trip.

Almost all members of Friendship Arabia were interviewed by the press, amid a frenzy of photo-flashes.

360-degree panoramic images
Written by The Friendship Arabia Team   
Saturday, 31 May 2008 23:07

The Gallery section of this website has earned a lot of favourable comments. Hardly surprising, because several members of the team are aces with the camera.

Starting today, photographer Ammar Hammad is also adding the occasional Quicktime panoramas of some major attractions - offering visitors 360 degree views of these sights and the ability to zoom in and out of areas that catch their interest. 

You can access these images from the 360º Virtual Tours menu link.

A homecoming of sorts
Written by Ali Mushaima   
Saturday, 31 May 2008 19:26

A mosque only 200 metres from a church in Damascus



It is so nice to be back in Syria... it feels like home. Visit this country once and you will always come back. 

In Syria, history is everywhere, people are very welcoming and it's certain you will make new friends.

I have been familiar with Syria for a very long time. As a child, I used to accompany my late parents and we visited the country every summer. If you enjoy history, museums, music, shopping or just want to learn something new, Syria is the place.

Today, we visited the old suq as well as Azem Palace. We met our friend Ahmad Sadat, a tour guide who also runs the Rosa Damascina Motel. Ahmad had looked after us during the 2004 Friendship Tour.

We visited his motel and had tea with him. David also did a live interview with him for Radio Bahrain during which he spoke about the history of his country.

After a very good lunch in the Italian restaurant at the Semiramis Hotel, we headed to Bloudan and Zabadani and enjoyed the beautiful weather in the mountains.

After dinner, we will head to the airport to welcome Petra Beuchert, who also did the 2004 Friendship Tour. Petra will join the team for a week before she returns to Scotland.


Goodbye Maria, hello Syria
Written by Ammar Hammad   
Friday, 30 May 2008 19:45

The team enjoys some fresh tea with mint leaves by the Roman amphitheatre in downtown Amman


After a wonderful six days touring Jordan, the Friendship Arabia team is now in Damascus, Syria.

Earlier today, we packed our bags in Amman and got ready for the two-hour drive across the border. En route, we stopped by the Roman amphitheatre in downtown Amman and it was a spectacular sight. 

Our last full day together...
Written by Maria Ramos   
Thursday, 29 May 2008 19:53


Floating on the waters of the Dead Sea!


It's our last full day together. This sad thought made me wake up at 6.30am. But it was spectacular to see the sunshine gently bathing the mountains of Wadi Rum. 

My early start began with lots of laughter as Haider was already up, taking pictures of our Bedouin camp and some of the tourists who had come to stay at the Captain's Camp the night before. Best of all, our guide Awad was already here to say goodbye. Awad, Haider and I started clapping and playing the 'Dembuka' but soon stopped because we realized people were still sleeping. 

The magic of Wadi Rum
Written by Maria Ramos   
Wednesday, 28 May 2008 15:17

Awad plays entertainer during a break in the drive


Wadi Rum is the most beautiful place I've ever seen! 

Nothing else matters when you're here, it's just you, God and the magic of his hand. I really don't have words to describe this desert paradise, I'll let Ammar's pictures do the talking... 

A treat for the senses
Written by Maria Ramos   
Tuesday, 27 May 2008 06:17

Petra, you are truly a 'Wonder of the World'! You're still a treat for all the senses, even if it’s my second visit to you.  

It was John William Burgon’s poem entitled ‘Petra’ written in 1845, which gave Petra the name ‘rose-red city’:

‘Match me such a marvel save in Eastern clime,

A rose-red city half as old as Time’.

Our guide Marwan took us around the Rose-Red city, 85% of which is still underground! Apparently, Petra lies on the African Rift fault line and has been rocked by many earthquakes. It's the iron in the sedimentary rocks that gives Petra its rose-red colour. It is laced with a myriad of colours which, funnily enough, reminds me of the pyramids of local spices in Manama suq! 

Making history in Petra
Written by David Bloomer   
Tuesday, 27 May 2008 01:00

David Bloomer phones in his report to Radio Bahrain


I got up yesterday at my usual time of 6am, it was  another beautiful day in Petra. There was time to spare before the group was due to meet for breakfast so I decided to go for a run. 

The town of Wadi Musa is built on the side of a mountain and our hotel is located at 1,350m so at the gate I had to make my mind up quickly - do I start off running downhill or up? A quick mental toss saw me turning right out the of the gate and heading up a very steep hill. 

Petra continues to captivate
Written by Ammar Hammad   
Monday, 26 May 2008 21:04

Camel drinking water


On our second full day in Jordan, we took in some more sights in Petra. The weather, once again, was clear and perfect for photography.

Among the sights we took in were Siq, the dark, narrow natural gorge which is truly awe-inspiring (you can view some of the pictures in the Gallery), as well as Al Khazneh, where Bedouin music is played in a very surreal atmosphere. 

If you visit Petra, make sure to bring a digital camera with extra memory sticks - you will need them!


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