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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Rediscovering the old town of Bosra
Written by Ali Mushaima   
Sunday, 27 June 2010 19:10

The team enjoying a tour of Bosra, Syria 

We set out from Saudi Arabia on Saturday morning and drove through Jordan into Syria.

The lineup at the border crossing was long; once we were done, we drove to the old town of Bosra. This town, about 30 km from the border, is where our friend Zakareya hosted us during the Friendship Arabia Expedition in 2008 on our way to Britain. We met up with him once again, then decided to tour the old town. We hired a guide, Hammam, who showed us around and explained the history of the town.

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Saudi hospitality to the fore again
Written by Ali Mushaima   
Sunday, 27 June 2010 00:15

Young men curious about the cars and the trip in the northern Saudi city of Turaif 

After we left the Fort Museum, we set off right away for Saudi Arabia, driving 500 km before spending the night in Hafer Al Baten town, which we reached around midnight.

In the morning, we had our breakfast and then drove to the north of the country where a punctured tyre set us back a bit. It was too badly damaged to seal, so we had to replace the tyre with a new one.

We stopped a few times – for lunch, fuel and refreshments and it was dark when we reached Turaif town which is only 175 km from Jordan. We drove around for quite a while looking for an internet cafe, almost giving up before came across one called Internet World. The owner Moammar Hussain was very interested to learn  about the Friendship Arabia Expedition, and not only offered us the service for free, but also made us coffee. Every time we come to Saudi Arabia, we experience the great hospitality of its people, which makes us feel home.

We are now heading for Jordan before driving to Syria, the first main destination on our trip.


 
Tylos to Thassos - The journey begins
Written by Gulf Daily News   
Friday, 25 June 2010 00:00

The Sendoff 

The team with Ambassador Sarra at the start of the tour. 

BAHRAINI adventurer Ali Mushaima and his team began their 12,000-km friendship tour from Bahrain to Greece from the Bahrain Fort yesterday.

The publisher of travel guides, postcards and travelogues is leading the team of photographers and writers from Bahrain through Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Jordan to Syria, where they will spend one week and then on to Turkey before finishing in Greece.

During the six-week trip they will promote Bahrain, also called Tylos by the Greeks, and the pearling project, which Bahrain is aiming to register as a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) site. The Bahrain International Circuit will also be spotlighted.

The group will be travelling in the same Land Rover four-wheel drive that Mr Mushaima used in 2008 for his 24,000-km Bahrain to Britain voyage.

The launch of the friendship tour, dubbed Tylos to Thassos, was attended by Culture and Information Ministry Under-Secretary Dr Isa Amin, Syrian Ambassador Suleiman Sarra, archaeologists, heritage experts and media.

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Greek coins from the Tylos era
Written by The Friendship Arabia Team   
Tuesday, 22 June 2010 00:07

Imiitayion Greek coins dating back to the 2nd century BC 

Visitors to The Fort Museum in Bahrain will notice in one of the corners a jar discovered in 1970 close to the north rampart, which contains approximately 310 silver tetradrachms, imitations of the official coinage of Alexander the Great used in the Seleucid Empire. 

These careful imitations were minted during the 2nd Century B.C. by a regional workshop, which has not been located with any certainly. Made up of two distinct types, all of these coins represent, on the front, Alexander portrayed as Hercules and on the reverse, a seated figure. Contrary to the Greek prototypes showing a bearded Zeus, the figure on the reverse side, beardless and rather juvenile in looks, represents Shame or Shamash, the principal divinity worshipped then in Eastern Arabia.

This exceptional monetary hoard makes up one of the most significant discoveries of Tylos phase Bahrain.


 
A new voyage of discovery
Written by The Friendship Arabia Team   
Saturday, 12 June 2010 12:26

 The Acropolis

The Acropolis in Athens, Greece

Two years after his remarkable 24,000-kilometre Bahrain to Britain voyage, Ali Mushaima will be driving off for a Tylos to Thassos trip on June 23.

This year’s two-month, 12,000-kilometre itinerary takes in six countries on a voyage of discovery of the links between Bahrain and Greece.

The trip will promote Bahrain, also called Tylos by the Greeks. and the Pearling project, which Bahrain is aiming to register as a UNESCO site. The Bahrain International Circuit – venue for Formula 1 races on the island – will also be spotlighted.

The Greeks were in Bahrain in the first three centuries of the current era though Alexander the Great (4th century BC) despatched three exploratory vessels down the Gulf, two of them possibly arriving at Tylos, the Hellenic name for Bahrain.

The 16th century Arad Fort adapted a Greek word “Arados,” as its name though the Hellenic people never occupied the fortress site.

Mushaima, publisher of travel guides, postcards and travelogues, will lead a team of photographers and writers from Tylos, or Bahrain , through Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan, Syria and Turkey before reaching Greece.

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Bahrain pearls featured on CNN
Written by The Friendship Arabia Team   
Thursday, 08 April 2010 23:29

 Bahrain pearls on CNN

Harvesting pearls was a major source of income for Bahrain and the region until the early 20th century. CNN has a video report on Bahrain's pearl industry.

 
Pearl joy for our contest winner
Written by The Friendship Arabia Team   
Saturday, 03 April 2010 14:07
Carlo with his pearl ring

FILIPINO Carlo Olinarez, pictured here, won a Bahraini pearl ring in the Friendship Arabia competition to promote the country's pearl diving industry.

The contest also marked adventurer Ali Mushaima's road trips to Oman in December 2009 and March 2010 where he promoted tourism and heritage in Bahrain.

Participants were asked to name any three of Bahrain's must-see attractions on the website www.bahrainguide.org and were entered into a raffle.

The winning name was drawn at the Gulf Daily News offices in Sanad and Mr Olinarez received his prize, which came with a government certificate of authenticity.

The Bahrain resident of 13 years works as a graphic design artist for Miracle Graphics.

Mr Olinarez said he and his nine-year-old daughter Mary Carl would give the ring to his wife Grace for Mother's Day.

For more information about the Friendship Arabia tours, contact Ali Mushaima by clicking here or e-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


 
Our last day and a half
Written by Maria Ramos   
Wednesday, 23 December 2009 22:27

Bait Al Baranda

The team at Bait Al Baranda 

In the morning, we visited Mutrah’s Bait Al Baranda - a traditional 19th Century house that has been converted into a small museum presenting the sea-faring history, geology, musical heritage and contemporary arts of Oman.

Breathtaking Al Bustan. Finally one of the moments I’d been waiting for – our trip to Al Bustan hotel! We had contemplated it from afar during our boat trip but now the moment had come to enter this luxurious former palace that has won the award for the best hotel in the Middle East several times!

Nestling between a beautiful backdrop of mountains and the sea, this is definitely the most amazing hotel I’ve ever seen. We toured the hotel accompanied by the Assistant Director of Sales Sameer Al-Harthy. He showed us around the restaurants and luxurious suites furnished with wooden mother-of-pearl engraved beds, and butler-serviced rooms!

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Caves, blind fish and Omani Halwa!
Written by Maria Ramos   
Sunday, 20 December 2009 05:25

Lion Head Formation at the Al Hoota Cave  

Now imagine this, on one fine sunny Omani morning you take your goats out to pasture and you find a 5km underground cave that ends up becoming one of Oman’s greatest tourism sites. That’s how the more than 2 million year-old Al Hoota Cave was discovered. I just hope the goat herder got some recognition!

Al Hoota Cave is in a town called Al Hamra, 221 Km South West of Muscat. We arrived before lunch, after checking out of our Muscat hotel. Once again we were joined by our Omani friends Mohamed and Faiz who make our trip feel truly authentic.  I absolutely love their ‘kummah’ (traditional Omani caps) and bombarding them with questions. 

The magic of Oman’s mountains. The drive to Al Hamra is spectacular. I love mountains and there is something so indescribably magical about the drive from Muscat to Al Hamra via Nizwa. Peak after peak regally rise all around you. These majestic mocha and beige mountains are breathtaking and so very calming. Your mind just floats above it all. Most striking of all are the scattered clouds painting the mountains with their shadows…

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New Year lunch, sea and stars
Written by Maria Ramos   
Saturday, 19 December 2009 02:01

Marco and Julia

Team members with Marco and Julia who might someday be part of the team

I must start by saying just how great it is to be back in the region and on the road again with my fantastic Friendship Arabia team!  The past few days have been a bit hard for me as I learnt that my granny passed away on the day I set out for Oman. Miles away from Spain, and missing my beloved granny who lived 90 beautiful years, I was very lucky to be surrounded by such a friendly team!

Happy New Year! Today is Islamic New Year, Happy New Year to all the Muslims around the world on behalf of the Friendship Arabia team!

For New Year’s breakfast this morning we were joined by Ali’s French friends Julie and Marco who actually work in Oman. Julie is a famous French photographer, interested in Friendship Arabia’s work and may join the team on one of our expeditions. Look out for her work… 

Bahrain’s triathlon team in Oman. It’s good to see we’re not the only people promoting Bahrain in Oman. By chance Ammar bumped into Sager bin Ahmed and the rest of Bahrain’s Cycling Association in the hotel lobby. The team had just completed a triathlon in Muscat and are vying to build up Bahrain’s triathlon team for the Olympics.  We wish you guys all the best! 

A diplomatic coincidence.  During our last trip in Jordan His Excellency Faoud Salman Al Moawda was serving as Bahrain’s Charge D'Affaires to the country. A year later, we meet again in Muscat where H.E., now Ambassador to Oman, hosted us for a traditional Bahraini lunch at his residence. 

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A (natural) history lesson
Written by Maria Ramos   
Thursday, 17 December 2009 21:25

 Sperm whale skeleton at the Omani Natural History Museum

 Sperm whale skeleton at the Omani Natural History Museum

It’s a 9am start followed by a fantastic buffet breakfast for the Friendship Arabia team.  Next, time for a photo shoot with Mr Francois Galois, the General Manager of our new hotel - The Park Inn Hotel (Al Khuwayr – Muscat).

This is in fact the first Park Inn in the GCC and opened in March this year.  But, Mr Galoisy who hails from Bordeaux is no stranger to the region and has spent around 7 years in the Middle East. Well-travelled and versed in regional tourism efforts, he spoke very highly of our project.

Next, we hit the road in search of one of Muscat’s most popular museums. En route, while searching for a petrol station, we discover that the word shisha also means petrol station in Arabic!

First destination of the day, Muscat’s Natural History Museum, the place to examine Oman’s fauna and flora from time immemorial. The highlight of the Natural History Museum is the skeleton of a sperm whale, which was washed up the shores of Oman in the 1980s. Adjacent to the Natural History Museum is the Faisal Museum which houses traditional Omani weaponry and of course the famous Khanjars.

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