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".


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'Friendships can overcome borders'
Written by The Friendship Arabia Team   
Friday, 20 June 2008 21:31

Over the course of the trip, Ali and the rest of the Friendship Arabia team have been receiving many messages of encouragement. From time to time, we will feature some of these on the site.

Here's what Biljana Davceva has to say:

"I am a Macedonian who lives and works in Bahrain. I can't tell you how happy I am that Ali has visited my country on his route through the Middle East and Europe. 

"I do hope that he will have wonderful memories from Macedonia and that my people have given him warm hospitality just like the Bahrainis have offered me their hospitality and friendship during the past 5 years here in Bahrain.

"Your trip is proof that friendships and humanity can overcome any borders. Good luck for the rest of your trip."

• To send Ali a message, please use the Contact form. 

 

 
Another reason to come back!
Written by Ali Mushaima   
Thursday, 19 June 2008 21:54

 Ali, left, exchanges books with Sotirios Vosdou, Secretary General for the Region of Ionian Islands.

After a much needed rest, I woke up in the morning and called Mr. Spiros, who works in the tourism department of the Ionian Islands (which include Corfu). I had met him earlier in Dubai during the Arabian Travel Market, and he told me to get in touch with him when I visited the island.

When I arrived, I showed him some of our publications including the best-selling Visitor's Complete Guide to Bahrain and the first of our new travel book series, 101 Things to See and Do in Yemen. Three more books in the 101 Things... series are currently in the pipeline and Mr. Spiros was very interested in having the Ionian Islands added to that list.

He arranged for me to meet Sotirios Vosdou, secretary general for the Region of Ionian Islands and talked about tourism in general and how can we work together on some good projects.

Mr. Spiros also very kind and arranged to host us on the way back, to visit some small islands which are lesser known than Corfu and Kefalonia.

We exchanged books - he gave me a coffee table book about the Ionian Islands.

After lunch, I visited Sissy Moschidou, a Greek friend who run a ceramics workshop and does very nice pottery.

Later, it was off to enjoy the beach for a while before going to meet an artist friend and have dinner and go to bed early.

 
Time for a break in Greece
Written by Ali Mushaima   
Wednesday, 18 June 2008 22:18

Corfu Island in Greece 

After four busy days in Macedonia, I arrived at the Greek island of Corfu to rest for a couple of days and will also visit some friends. 

It was also hard to leave Macedonia since it was my first visit, but I am sure I will be back since I didn't have time to explore the entire country.

 I was amazed with the people, the landscape, the food and shopping. Unlike other European countries, it is not very expensive. I highly recommend it for people who want to discover new places.

With all that Macedonia has to offer, it deserves to be called the jewel of the Balkans.

Buying honey on the way to Corfu 

 
A shared cultural vision
Written by Valentina Miskovska-Petrovich   
Tuesday, 17 June 2008 22:30

With new friends at the MKC, Saso Dodovski and his team

Yesterday was a very busy day. In the morning, Ali had a very interesting meeting with an enthusiastic bunch of young people who work with the Youth Cultural Centre (MKC in Macedonian), based in Bitola.

The people in MKC were very interested in Ali's tour and what it was all about, as their work also mainly deals with promoting understanding between different ethnicities and promoting cultural achievements.

They are currently working on an interesting event called Bitola Open City, which opens next month. Young people from all over the world will come and preform for the citizens of  Bitola, and show what can be achieved with goodwill and understanding.

Read more...
 
A ministerial welcome in Skopje
Written by Ali Mushaima   
Tuesday, 17 June 2008 08:27

Ali presents Macedonia's Minister for Foreign Investment Gligor Tashkovich with a copy of the Visitor's Complete Guide to Bahrain (see bahrainguide.org) 

Prior to setting out on the Friendship Arabia Tour, I applied for my Macedonian visa at their mission in Doha, Qatar.

When the Macedonian Ambassador heard of the reason for my visit, he went out of his way to make me feel welcome, sending a car to my hotel in Doha to pick me up, gave me the visa, and asked his driver to drop me back. I was touched and impressed that he would do so much to promote his country.

When I arrived in the Macedonian capital Skopje today, I made it a point to call the Ambassador, who promptly arranged for me to meet the Minister for Foreign Investment Gligor Tashkovich. 

Read more...
 
So much to explore in Macedonia
Written by Valentina Miskovska-Petrovich   
Monday, 16 June 2008 07:24

The monastery of St. Jovan Bigorski (John the Baptist), high in the mountains. During the rule of the Ottomans, it was the Muslims from the surrounding villages who would defend the monastery from highway bandits. 

We started early to explore western Macedonia. 

Ali drove through the villages to the town of Kichevo, which is famous for their goldsmiths. From Kichevo, the road took us via the mountain pass of Straza(1,430m above sea level) to the town of Gostivar in the north-west corner of Macedonia. The town is a mix of cultures and religions, mainly ethic Albanian Muslims and Orthodox Christian Macedonians. We visited the main mosque in town, and the clock tower, witch many centuries ago was a part of the notorious Ottoman Turkish prison. 

Read more...
 
A busy first day in Macedonia
Written by Valentina Miskovska-Petrovich   
Saturday, 14 June 2008 21:52

Ali's hotel in Bitola, Macedonia , was originally an old house, built in 1915. The architecture is French Colonial with Austro-Hungarian details throw in. 

It feels great to be the newest member of the Friendship Arabia Tour team. Although I live and work in the UK, as a Macedonian, I do know my way around here.

I met Ali around noon and showed him a bit of Bitola. We took a walk through the Shirok Sokak, or Broad Street, and had lunch at a traditional Macedonian restaurant.

After that, we visited Haider Mosque in the heart of the old city. The mosque was built in 1506 and is the oldest religious structure still in use in the city. We also visited St. Dimitrious Church, built in 1863, which has one of the remaining intact wooden carved iconostases (wall of icons) in Macedonia.

We also walked through the old bazaar and market. 

After that we visited Heraklea Linkestis, a town founded by Philip II of Macedon, then taken by the Romans and Busantioum.

From Heraklea Linkestis we took a short ride (10km from the city centre) to Mountain Baba and the National Park Pelister where we stopped to take pictures  of the mountain and the panoramic view of Pelagonia Plain.


 
Questions at the Greek border
Written by Ali Mushaima   
Saturday, 14 June 2008 08:06

While fuelling the car in Greece, Ali made friends with a family who told him they were avid Formula 1 fans who followed the race in Bahrain, and offered him free coffee. 

With the Friendship Tour wrapping up its Turkey leg and entering Greece, it was time to bid adieu to three members of the team - David, Nizar and Ammar. 

It's always hard to say goodbye after going through so many experiences together, and just as with other team members who were with the tour on various legs of the journey - Maria, Rebecca, Petra, Haider and Taha - it was sad to see them go. But it's a long tour and not everyone can get that much time off.

It was also sad to leave Istanbul, which deserves at least a week to really take in the sights. 

On the other hand, going to Greece is like going home for me since I know the country so well – I spend my holidays here every summer.

Read more...
 
It's the end of the road for me
Written by Ammar Hammad   
Thursday, 12 June 2008 23:07

Dinner with Defne, Elvan and Ahmet

It's been a wild three weeks since our journey started. There's been something new to experience everyday, places to see and people to meet in what has seemed like a never ending journey. I was fortunate to be chosen as a photographer for this amazing trip. It was definitely worthwhile and exciting. While it could not be at par with other events in terms of grandiosity, the whole trip was certainly a blast

Today I leave Friendship Arabia, though I will catch up with Ali on his way back from Britain, sometime around mid July.

We had only one full day pencilled in for Istanbul and today was that day. We tried to make the best of it. 

Read more...
 
The long journey to Istanbul
Written by Ammar Hammad   
Wednesday, 11 June 2008 21:14

 On the road to Istanbul

Early this morning, we left Alanya, a town that most of us never heard of  before but came to love. The good times we had in the town along with our Finnish friends will stay in the memory for years to come.

The distance between Alanya and our next destination Istanbul is 800km, clearly not a short stroll. We had to leave at the crack of dawn to make it before nightfall. It was an enjoyable drive - the scenery and the weather were perfect to say the least.

Once we started to get closer to Istanbul, the traffic got slower and slower until it reached a complete halt. We learnt later, while we were stretching our legs in the middle of the highway and mingling with other drivers, that there had been an accident on the bridge that separates that city's Asian and European sections and traffic had to be stopped in order to clear it. 

An hour or so later, we started moving again and headed to our hotel while mesmerised by the beautifully lit grand mosques scattered around the city. The trip took 12 hours, thanks to Ali and David who made the long ride seem shorter with their excellent driving skills.

We checked in at our hotel and left soon after to have dinner. Turkey was playing Switzerland in the European Cup soccer tournament and everybody was on edge because the score was 1-1 heading into injury time. As we got up to leave, Turkey scored its second goal and everybody - Turkish and tourists - were jumping in joy. Even police cars turned on their sirens to celebrate the win. 

Right there and then we felt at home. We're looking forward to visiting Istanbul's historic sights tomorrow.

 
Farewell to friendly Alanya
Written by Ali Mushaima   
Tuesday, 10 June 2008 22:54

Mr. Browning, second from right, with the Friendship Arabia team 

We were very pleased today to meet Richard Browning, CEO of Riffa Views, one of the Friendship Arabia tour's major sponsors, who happened to be on a visit to Turkey. Mr Browning was kind enough to make some time to meet the expedition team and spoke about the importance of this trip to promote Bahrain.

He was very encouraging and we appreciated the time he gave us.

Upon our return to the villa, we had an invitation from Ismet Saz, a Turkish merchant, who hosted the team for a very nice dinner in one of the finest restaurants in Alanya.

Tomorrow, we leave Alanya and our many old and new friends, and drive to Istanbul early in the morning.

 


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