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".

A forced change in plan
Written by Ali Mushaima   
Monday, 04 August 2008 22:59

We were invited to visit Lugano, Switzerland, again, and decided to do so on our way back to Bahrain.

Ammar and Shafiq were especially looking forward to seeing this beautiful town. Traffic was heavy as we left Annecy in France because of a major event there which included fireworks. 

When we got to the border, we were told that if we entered Switzerland, Ammar and Shafiq couldn't enter Italy (our next stop), since they had single-entry Schengen visas. France and Italy are both part of the Schengen group of countries, but Switzerland is not, so crossing the Swiss border would mean their single-entry Schengen visas were no longer valid.

Golden hour worth the wait
Written by Ammar Hammad   
Friday, 01 August 2008 23:19

Today was a relaxing day in Annecy, France. Not that we wanted it to be, but it was pouring rain most of the day. 

With very little to do, I put together some 360º Quicktime movies of our hotel room while we waited for a respite from the rain.

Fortunately the clouds cleared at the right time, at what we photographers call the golden hour. It's the time just before sunset and we had the chance to capture the colourful sky, the mountains and the lake in their full glory. 

Shafeeq and I went trigger happy and took many photographs of the lake and the surrounding areas.

The magic of Paris
Written by Ammar Hammad   
Thursday, 31 July 2008 22:36

View from the Arc de Triomphe in Paris 

Yesterday, Ali had to work on some logistics for the coming stops, so Shafeeq and I decided not to waste the day and headed to Paris from Brussels early in the morning. 

It was our first visit to Paris and we wanted to make the most of it. We reached Paris at about 9:30am and – thanks to Denis O'Dwyer's primer on the city – quickly got familiar with its efficient metro system. 

The first thing we did was to visit Basilique du Sacré-Cœur which lies at the highest point in Paris. It was a great place to start since you can see the whole city from up there and also witness one of its architectural and historical wonders.

Ambassador plays the perfect host
Written by Ali Mushaima   
Tuesday, 29 July 2008 23:29

At the Bahrain embassy with Mr. Ghaffar and Mr. Ebrahim Abdulla 

We started our day by having a traditional Belgian breakfast, prepared by Denis O'Dwyer, along with a traditional Bahraini one with eggs and tomato, which is what the people of Bahrain usually have in the morning. 

Then we contacted the Bahrain embassy in Brussels and asked if we could come and meet the Ambassador, H.E. Muhammad Abdul Ghaffar. We had an immediate response back: Not only would the Ambassador be more than happy to meet up with us, he was also aware of the Friendship Arabia Tour.

After the meeting, Denis presented Mr Ghaffar with his book Colours of Bahrain. The meeting lasted an hour and we were very grateful to Mr Ghaffar for making the time and meeting us at short notice. 

Mr Ghaffar even invited us to have lunch or dinner with him tomorrow, but we had to decline as we will be on our way to France.

Later in the day, we decided to visit Brugge, a town described as Little Venice. After parking the Land Rover and buying our boat tickets, we met a Bahraini who initiated a conversation after noticing I was wearing a Bahrain International Circuit T-shirt.

 The team with Shaikh Nawaf bin Hamad Al Khalifa

We introduced ourselves during the tour - his name was Sheikh Nawaf Hamad bin Abdulla Al Khalifa - and we had a good talk and took pictures with him.

After leaving Brugge, we drove back to our accommodation, had dinner and went to bed. We are looking Forward to our next destination, France, especially the Anncey area, which is close to Geneva.


A detour to Brussels
Written by Ali Mushaima   
Monday, 28 July 2008 23:13

Ali with Denis O'Dwyer and his book Colours of Bahrain, which featured the art of Abbas Al Mosawi

After four days of exploring Scotland, it was very hard to leave, but as it was, tickets for the ferry from Newcastle, England, to Amsterdam in the Netherlands had been booked. 

The drive from Perthshire to Edinburgh went smoothly, then we drove to Newcastle to take the ferry.

After check-in, we went to the top deck to enjoy the view, then after the ferry set sail, we had dinner, worked for a bit in our cabin and then went to bed.

After arriving in the Netherlands, we drove to Utrecht, a quiet and pretty town which is home to the famous Domkerk Church.

I had earlier accepted an invitation from a friend, Denis O'Dwyer to visit him in Brussels, so we drove on to Belgium. Denis published Colours of Bahrain, a book featuring the work of leading Bahraini artist Abbas Al Mosawi, last year. (More info at

An interesting last-day encounter
Written by Ali Mushaima   
Saturday, 26 July 2008 23:10

Neil Cowan, who worked in Bahrain from 1959 to 1965, was waiting for us near our vehicle when we left the restaurant. 

After a delicious breakfast, we left Beinn Bhracaigh Guesthouse and drove west in the direction of Kinloch Rannoch. 

Our first stop was the famous Queens View. From here you get a beautiful view over Loch Tummel. The place was named after Queen Victoria who visited in 1866; however it is also possible that the place was named after Queen Isabella, the wife of Robert the Bruce.

We stopped at a camping site to get closer to the shores of Loch Tummel and made the acquaintance of four Scotsmen camping there with family and friends. We started talking and took some photographs. 

Blair Castle well worth visiting
Written by Petra Beuchert   
Friday, 25 July 2008 23:24

Blair Castle 

Scotland is truly a great place for anyone looking for a relaxing vacation. There are just so many places that you can visit here with the people you love the most. Here, you and your loved ones can enjoy a getaway that can relieve you of the stress brought by the daily grind. This is also a great place to look for Edinburgh or Glasgow jobs if you want to have a boost in your career.

This morning we left Edinburgh early to ensure we would be on time for an 11am appointment at Blair Castle in Perthshire. 

On arrival, we were met by Sandy Reid, who only recently retired from his long term position as game-keeper of the Atholl Estates. We started out from the castle with both his and the Friendship Tour Land Rovers. 

The tour was through the privately owned estate, up onto the hills overlooking the castle and beautiful valleys. Unfortunately, we are here a week or two too early which means not all of the heather is in full blossom, but we could still picture how colourful the hills will soon become. 

Enjoying the beauty of Scotland
Written by Ali Mushaima   
Thursday, 24 July 2008 23:33

The team with Sheikh Hamad Al Khalifa who we met by chance during a visit to Stirling Castle. 

We started our day driving to Stirling, a beautiful Scottish town with a famous castle.

The drive was fast and smooth and it only took us one hour to get there from Edinburgh. The tour around the castle was really good since it was sunny, and we took a lot of pictures.

As we started to walk to the car park, we bumped into Sheikh Hamad Al Khalifa, formerly of the Bahrain International Circuit (Formula 1), who happened to be visiting Scotland too. We spoke about Bahrain and the Friendship Arabia tour.
Scotland's simply picture perfect
Written by Ali Mushaima   
Wednesday, 23 July 2008 23:50

Shafiq Khalaf and Ammar Hammad near Edinburgh Castle on their first day in Scotland 

Ammar Hammad, whose photographs and Quicktime panoramas have received rave reviews from readers, rejoined the tour today, accompanied by another top photographer Shafiq Khalaf.

They were looked after by Visit Scotland and will spend four days exploring and taking pictures for a special book to be published after the trip.

Historic Carton House enchants
Written by Ali Mushaima   
Tuesday, 22 July 2008 21:44

Ali presents Aine with a copy of the Visitor's Complete Guide to Bahrain 

Today, we had a four-hour drive from Cork to Maynooth, to visit Carton House - a five-star hotel and golf club resort. There, we were welcomed by Aine Mangan, who a few years back used to work for the Riffa Golf Club in Bahrain.

Aine gave us a tour of this beautifully restored mansion, which was once the country residence of the FitzGerald family - Earls of Kildare and later Dukes of Leinster. 

Carton House is steeped in history, but with all the comforts of a luxury hotel. Just half an hour from Dublin, the elegant Palladian house is set in over a thousand acres of stunning parkland, and has attracted a long list of glamorous guests from Queen Victoria to Grace Kelly.

Water wonderful spectacle
Written by Ali Mushaima   
Sunday, 20 July 2008 21:58

Dancers inside giant bubbles on the water enthrall spectators 

It was an event-packed weekend in Ireland, and helped to underscore how much  there is to see and do in this wonderful and welcoming country.

After breakfast yesterday, we visited the Galley Head lighthouse, which in times past helped ships to navigate the waters. We met Gerald Butler, who works for the lighthouse and proceeded to give us a very informative tour during which he not only explained how the lighthouse worked, but also provided us a history lesson about the area.

Later, we went to Red Strand beach for a swim and a picnic, before taking a walk around Clonakilty where we visited an art gallery.

After dinner at home, we made our plans for the next day, which kicked off with a visit to Charles Fort in Kinsale. After the tour, we went to witness  the various activities being held during Art Week in Kinsale which is famous for its music and exhibitions.

Then we went to the harbour and enjoyed a great show with dancers inside giant  balloons on the water providing a fine spectacle.

If you are planning a visit to Ireland, be sure to visit this beautiful town for at least a couple of days.

For more information about Ireland and its many attractions, take a look at

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