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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Flying high in Capadocia
Written by Ammar Hammad   
Wednesday, 07 July 2010 00:03

Up, up and away.... enjoying the balloon ride

It's our second day in Capadocia. After making sure that Haider's heath was good, Shafeeq, Taha and I bought tickets for the famous Capadocia balloon tours from the night before. Pick ups start at 5:00am, we were up and loaded with photo gear for an exciting ride. 

The driver took us to where they set up and launch the balloons. They also had breakfast served on site. It took only 15 minutes to go from a completely wrapped balloon to being boarded with tourists. 

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Turkey reveals a kind heart
Written by Archie D'Cruz   
Tuesday, 06 July 2010 14:22

Haider, right, with Dr Sinan Alkinis 

Early on Monday morning, one of our team members Haider Akbar took ill and we had to have him rushed to the hospital. It was around 4am, so we drove to the nearest big hotel and called the ambulance. It was there within minutes, and they drove us to Nevsehir's main hospital where Haider was admitted.

We went back to the hotel and then returned to the hospital around 8am, but were told he was still in the ECU and that we should come back in the afternoon. 

The next time we went back, Haider was feeling much better and we were allowed to see and talk to him. The staff of the hospital were friendly and very good to us. They told us they may have him stay there a day or two more, just to make sure that he was fine when he leaves.

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A beautiful night under the stars
Written by Ammar Hammad   
Sunday, 04 July 2010 18:20

Rock of Cappadocia 

Today we left Syria and we miss it already; our stay was full of excitement and adventure. We thank the people of Syria for their great hospitality.

Crossing the Syrian-Turkish boarder went smoothly and we then continued driving for about six hours to finally reach the majestic town of Cappadocia. Like always, the Turkish landscapes took our breath away and made the drive seem a lot shorter.

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A 4,000-year long journey
Written by Ammar Hammad   
Sunday, 04 July 2010 00:39

 Ali presents a gift to Syrian Prime Minister Muhammad Naji al-Otari

Another day and another city. Early today we arrived at Aleppo, pronounced 'Halab' in Arabic. Aleppo is one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world, it has known human settlements for at least 4,000 years. Such a long history is probably due its being a strategic trading point midway between the Mediterranean Sea and the Euphrates.

The first attraction we visited was the National Museum of Aleppo, it takes you on a journey through the history of Syrian civilizations. As with the previous museums we visited, it shows the historic significance of Syria.

We arrive at our hotel to find it packed with cars and visitors. It was holding an economic forum and Syrian Prime Minister Muhammad Naji al-Otari was taking part in it. We were lucky to get a few moments to show our appreciation and present His Excellency with a small gift from Bahrain.

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Salah ed-Din citadel a fabulous sight
Written by Ammar Hammad   
Saturday, 03 July 2010 00:11

The Citadel of Salah ed-Din 

We left our hotel in Latikia and drove to Slonfeh. It's a mountainous town very similar to Kasab, nice weather and very lively during this time of year. We headed straight to the Citadel of Salah Ed-Din, a UNESCO world heritage site and a spectacular architectural design.

The Citadel of Salah ed-Din is strategically situated in the mountains off the Syrian coast, approximately twenty-five kilometers east of Latakia on the way towards Aleppo. It stands on a long ridge encompassed by two gorges on either side creating a grandiose presence amongst the surrounding forested landscape. 

While the site was probably first settled during Phoenician times in the first millennium BC, the bulk of what survives today is from the early 12th century, Crusader period, including stone walls, high protective towers, and the presence of a moat. 

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Little Kasab a treat for visitors
Written by Ammar Hammad   
Friday, 02 July 2010 00:45

A restaurant in the middle of the forest leading to Kasab 

We had an easy day today, It has been a week since we left Bahrain and a proper rest was much needed. I took the chance to sort out my photos and work on assembling a Virtual 3D Tour. I'm working on something new that visitors to the site will hopefully like.

We left our hotel during the afternoon and visited the neighbouring little mountainous town of Kasab. It is lush with greenery and temperatures were ideal for summertime. No wonder it's the place where people from all around Syria and neighbouring countries choose to spend their summer. 

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Afamia rich in ancient history
Written by Ammar Hammad   
Thursday, 01 July 2010 05:06

The ruins of the ancient city of Afamia 

Early in the morning, we checked out of Dedeman and headed to the Ministry of Tourism and showed our appreciation for hosting us and all they had done to make our stay as comfortable as possible.

We drove for two hours to reach the Homs, where we had the chance to visit the government office and meet with its secretary general Ahmed Alnajar who wanted to know more about our expedition and arranged for a few journalists from local newspapers to meet us.

After leaving Homs, we had some time to visit an amazing archaeological site of the ancient city of Afamia.

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The ancient sights of Palmyra
Written by The Friendship Arabia Team   
Tuesday, 29 June 2010 23:36

Camels walk past the ruins of Palmyra

Early this morning, we left Damascus and took a three-hour drive to Palmyra. We visited the  Ba'al Temple, the Ancient City and the museum.

Palmyra  was an ancient Aramaic city. In times past, it was an important city of central Syria, located in an oasis 215 km northeast of Damascus and 180 km southwest of the Euphrates at Deir ez-Zor. It has long been a vital caravan city for travelers crossing the Syrian desert and was known as the Bride of the Desert.

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Making news in Syria... and Serbia
Written by Ali Mushaima   
Tuesday, 29 June 2010 13:28

Ali being interviewed on Syrian Television 

After we finished with the event organised by our Embassy, we were contacted by Syrian TV. We were interviewed, and explained the goal of our trip of promoting Bahrain, Syria and friendship between nations. It was an interesting interview and the network promised to support the Friendship Arabia Expedition.

While returning to our hotel, we met Novakovic Vladimir and his wife Sladjana, who work for RTS 1, a TV channel in Serbia. They were on the last day of a three-week tour of Syria, and when they noticed the branding on both our vehicles, asked if they could interview us about our visit to Syria and what it has to offer. They told us how much they were amazed with what they had seen.

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Bronze Age discoveries
Written by Ali Mushaima   
Monday, 28 June 2010 23:56

Mosaic at the museum 

Today, we began with a visit to the National Museum of Damascus, where we saw some amazing pieces from the Bronze Age.

We started from Ugarit Hall where we saw how the first alphabet in the world originated and where clay tablets contain information about the Phoenicians and their contribution to the world as noted traders in the 14th century.

Next to Ugarit is the Hall of Ebla, another important bronze age site discovered by the Italians who are still working and translating the huge royal archive of 17,000 clay tablets.

Finally we toured the Islamic section which has wooden decorations, glass vessels, pots and handmade copies of the Quran; all dating back to different periods from the 12th century to the 19th.

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Taking a trip back in time
Written by Ali Mushaima   
Monday, 28 June 2010 00:00

 Roman theatre in Bosra

We started our day at 8am with breakfast, then met up with our guide Ahmad at 9am before driving to Shahba, which is 90 km from Damascus. This city goes back to the 3rd Century AD, built by a Roman Emperor called Philip The Arab.

Philip ruled from AD 244 till 249, and was the only Roman Emperor who was purely Arab.The city has a little theatre, now a museum, which has four original mosaics that have never been removed or restored; these mosaics are masterpieces which are well kept and good examples of so many other masterpieces of the Roman world in Syria.

Then we moved on to another site not far away called Kanawat; another Roman city that has temples which were rebuilt as churches. The city, which is built with basalt like all sites south of Syria, is an example of many other cities everywhere in the area of Jabal Alarab and Huran.

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