Category Archives: Bahrain

Bahrain World Trade Center: Wind Turbines on Twin Towers?

The most interesting architecture in the world?

Where’s the most interesting architecture you’ve seen? Have you ever seen a building with its own massive wind turbines? I found the Bahrain World Trade Center to be fascinating! It might be the best example of wind energy integration.

The first thing you’ll notice is the unique shape. Those twin tower triangle shapes are to help maximize the wind power.

This is what I look like on less than an hour of sleep. Impressive architecture though!

How big is it?

The Bahrain World Trade Center is 787 feet (240 meters), 50-floors, with three wind turbines in between twin towers. The turbines are 29 meters, 68 tons, and generate 1100 megawatts per hour. Impressive!

Did you know

Bahrain World Trade Center was the first skyscraper in the world to integrate wind turbines into its design.

Wind Power, in an Oil country!

It’s great to see a country with an oil economy innovate. I never would have guessed that the first country to have a building with wind power integrated is an oil rich economy.

I was fascinated to learn how it was specially designed to maximize wind power. Perhaps you will be too –

Bahrain actually has two skyscrapers with twin towers right near each other. The Bahrain Financial Harbor is even larger than the Bahrain WTC.

How the technology in the Bahrain World Trade Center works:

The tapered, elliptical towers act as airfoils, channelling offshore winds to drive three massive wind turbines set between the towers on a series of skybridges. Engineers say the turbines are designed to generate between 11 percent and 15 percent of the centre’s energy needs.

– Otis (full case study linked here)

Engineers say they used computational fluid dynamics and sophisticated wind-tunnel tests to determine the ideal shape of the towers to maximize the power generated by the wind turbines. Their analysis led to an elliptical, tapered design that funnels offshore winds between the towers and creates negative air pressure (or lift) from behind. That innovative design accelerates the wind’s velocity as it hits the turbines “

More info on the design

The elliptical plan forms and sail-like profiles act as aerofoils, funneling the onshore breeze between them as well as creating a negative pressure behind, thus accelerating the wind velocity between the two towers. Vertically, the sculpting of the towers is also a function of airflow dynamics. As they taper upwards, their aerofoil sections reduce. This effect when combined with the increasing velocity of the onshore breeze at increasing heights creates a near equal regime of wind velocity on each of the three turbines.

research by Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat
Bahrain World Trade Center - Visit50
Bahrain World Trade Center

More from my Bahrain trip

I found Bahrain to be really interesting! My Bahrain trip was compressed into just 19 hours on my way to Jordan.

The “500 camels” might have been my favorite part of my Bahrain trip, and I hadn’t even planned to visit!

The Bahrain WTC isn’t the only fascinating architecture in Bahrain

one of the many camels I met in Bahrain

500 Camels in Bahrain

Photo tour: Royal Camel Farm in Bahrain

I’d seen camels before, but never this many, and never like this.

Business tourists visit Bahrain ask, are there camels in Bahrain? There’s lots of of camels in Bahrain, but the reason might surprise you. Here’s the quick story he shared:

My guide told me that the King of Bahrain (actually Sheikh Mohammed) wanted camels, and thus 500 camels were brought to what became the Royal Camel Farm in Bahrain. He decided to open up this Royal Camel Farm to the public. I’d never seen so many camels!

Camels in Bahrain at sunset

Bahrain consists of mostly desert, making it the ideal habitat for camels.

Feeding a camel at the Royal Camel Farm in Bahrain
Feeding a camel in Bahrain

Despite being called a camel farm, the camels here are not for eating. Sheikh Mohammed set up the farm to preserve the presence of the camel in Bahrain which, before the advent of the motor vehicle was the Bahraini’s foremost mode of transport. Indeed, the Arabian Peninsula has a huge cultural connection with the camel, and for the Bedouins of the past, the camel was revered as a sacred symbol of life amid the inhospitable desert. –Time Out Bahrain

posing with a camel in Bahrain at the Royal Camel Farm
posing with a camel in Bahrain

meeting the camels in Bahrain
this photo reminds me of the creature in Star Wars that they ride

I mostly just observed and took photos, but camel rides around the farm can be arranged.  You can also play with them, feed them, watch them, or take photos with them. If you’re feeling adventurous, there’s also the occasional sale of camel milk.

cute camels in Bahrain

Note, the post is called “500 Camels” because that’s what my guide/driver called it, but it looked more like 150 or 200. Either way it’s a lot of camels, and waaaaay more than I had ever seen.

so many camels in Bahrain! Royal Camel Farm

my guide shows some love to the camel in Bahrain
my guide shows some love to the camel in Bahrain

Royal Camel Farm in Bahrain

Visit Bahrain Royal Camel Farm info

Where is the Royal Camel Farm in Bahrain?

Junaibiya Highway in Al Janabiya (near Manama), Bahrain

Hours: open to the public every day.

Sunset at the Royal Camel Farm in Bahrain
Sunset at the Royal Camel Farm in Bahrain

Besides the spitting, the camels in Bahrain were very friendly!
Besides the spitting, the camels were very friendly!

Camel in Bahrain

This destination wasn’t even on my list of things to visit in Bahrain, but ended up being a highlight!  I trusted my driver a bit more to improvise from my prepared list, but that trust was short-lived. The next place he showed me was… the Bahrain King’s Parking Lot. I’m serious. I tell the quick story here.

Do camels really store water in their humps?

For some reason people learn that camels store water in their large humps, to allow them to live in desert climates. That’s not actually literally true; they store fat in their humps, but it is a crucial part of how camels bodies allow them to live in hot deserts. This video on how Camels store water explains it in just 2 minutes. Enjoy!


How does Jordan fit into a SE Asia trip?

Wonder no longer!  I’ve been asked about it dozens of times already, so this is the story of how Jordan and Bahrain, two countries in the Middle East, made it into my southeast Asia itinerary. I might have the strangest itinerary and route of anyone I’ve met in my travels.

While I was enjoying Bali and Java, Indonesia, Fan was working on a business trip in Tel Aviv, Israel, and suggested we meet up. They’re not even remotely close, but just for fun I did a quick search, and was to surprised to find an incredible deal! For $181 USD rountrip I could fly from KL (Kuala Lumpar, Malaysia) to AMM (Amman, the capital of Jordan), with a layover in Bahrain via Gulf Air.  That’s about the same price as the short trip to the next country in the area that I was about to book before seeing this. It must have been an error in the system, or perhaps a generous promotion, but either way, after checking that Gulf Air was a reputable airline, I pounced!  Changing dates or revising the plan so I could route through Israel or Egypt would have made it cost prohibitive, but at this rate I could certainly swing it.  An hour later it was almost twice the price. Later that night the price had nearly quadrupled.

The initial flight I found included a 4.5 hour layover in Bahrain. Layovers are often built into my longer flights to save money. In case it’s helpful, here’s my philosophy on layovers:  One hour layovers are fine, and 10 hours are often enough to leave the airport and explore. But 4.5 hours is just inconvenient. So I extended it to 19 hours for the same price, giving me enough time to experience some of tiny Bahrain before heading to Jordan. It wouldn’t have been possible to book a deal like that if I was on a schedule. I spontaneously decided to take advantage of tremendous savings with a week-long detour that took me halfway back home before returning to the Middle East. That’s the beauty of a long trip like this.

I can barely fit both Jordan and Java, Indonesia, on the same map. Java’s on the southeast corner of the map (Java Sea is labeled), whereas Jordan’s located on the northwest corner of the map, in between Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming – photos and stories from Jordan!

Got out of Bahrain just in time!

Just a few short weeks after leaving Jordan and Bahrain, the Middle East fell apart. Egypt has been all over the news, but there’s been quite a bit going on in Bahrain and Jordan (where I traveled) as well. I’m now out safely – I’ll post more of Jordan today but wanted to let you know that I’m out safely.  The New York Times just posted this story with an update on what’s going on in Bahrain:

Clashes Erupt in Bahrain as Tumult Ripples Across Mideast

Bahrain - tear gas and rubber bullets used to disperse protesters in Diraz in2011
Police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse protesters in Diraz, Bahrain

This small nation in the Persian Gulf, with only about one million residents, half of them foreign workers, has long been among the most politically volatile in the region. The principal tension is between the royal family under King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa and the ruling elites, who are mostly Sunnis, on one side, and the approximately 70 percent of the local population that is Shiite on the other. Occupying mostly run-down villages with cinder block buildings and little else, many Shiites say they face systemic discrimination in employment, housing, education and government.

Flight from Bahrain to Jordan on Gulf Air

After the craziness on my first flight on Gulf Air, they redeemed themselves with this wonderfully comfortable and uneventful flight.

This plane was modern and the seat design seemed very innovative – there was plenty of leg room because the area for the tray table and magazines was set higher than most airplane seats. Why doesn’t every airline do it this way?

The next post will be from Jordan – so excited for Petra!

Driving Towards Saudi Arabia

We took a drive down the  King Fahd Causeway in Bahrain, headed  towards the Saudi Arabia border.

a rainbow of colors in the sky for the drive

Where is Bahrain?

The Kingdom of Bahrain (Arabic: مملكة البحرين‎, Mamlakat al-Baḥrayn, literally: “Kingdom of the Two Seas”), is a small island country of approximately 800,000 people.

It’s a tiny country – while Bahrain is an archipelago of thirty-three islands, the largest (Bahrain Island) is 34 miles long by 11 miles wide. [wikipedia]

Location: it’s just east of Saudi Arabia, connected via the King Fahd Causeway, and north of Qatar(World Cup 2022) across the Gulf of Bahrain. It’s southwest of Iran, and northwest of the UAE (directly west of Dubai).


Currency in Bahrain: Dinars

What’s the Currency in Bahrain?

Bahrain’s currency is called the dinar (دينار Dīnār Baḥrainī‎), abbreviated BHD (or BD for short). The unit of money for the currency in Bahrain is called the dinar and is divided into 1000 fils (فلس). Photo of Bahraini currency below.

The Bahrain Dinar is the 2nd highest valued currency unit in the world. Trivia: what’s the highest?  Answer at the bottom of this page.

Exchange rates: Currency in Bahrain for US Dollars

Current exchange rate for Bahrain currency in US Dollars is found here. So during my trip, 1 BHD was worth 2.65 USD (one USD was worth $0.38 during my 2011 trip). This should be rather consistent as the Bahraini Dinar is pegged to the US dollar.



Bahrain Currency - Dinars are the Currency in Bahrain
Bahrain Currency – Bahrain Dinars

What’s pictured on the Bahraini Dinars?

Pictured in the above image:

1 Dinar. The back displays galloping horses and the Sail and Pearl monument, and the other side, the front displays Al Hedya Al Khalifiya School (Bahrain first school).

10 Dinar shows Sheikh Hamad ibn Isa Al Khalifah (Bahrain King)

20 Dinar bill shows the Al Fateh Islamic Center.

What’s the origin of the name Dinars?

The name Dinar comes from the Roman currency called “Denarius”

Trivia: what’s the highest valued currency unit in the world?

The highest valued currency unit in the world is the Kuwait dinar. The currency in Bahrain dinars coming in second. It was one of two countries I visited on this trip that had a higher currency value than the U.S. Dollar – Jordan and Bahrain.  I looked it up – the UK is 5th, Australia is 12th, Canada 13th, and United States at 14. Latvia’s 4th!  Info from 2011. Full list is found here.

More info on Bahrain currency on and wikipedia.

The King’s Parking Lot

If you want to see everything in a country in just 7 hours of daylight, you have to be organized, and thus on my flight over I put together a list of places I wanted to visit and mapped them to see if it was feasible. Upon arrival I always try to get local feedback, because often there’s a gem that just doesn’t get publicized.

I hired a taxi driver to tour me around for the day, and he offered to show me some great places that “you can’t leave Bahrain without seeing.” Outstanding! That’s precisely what I was looking for.   However, it appears that his idea of the can’t miss sights greatly differed from mine. He had such a tremendous respect for the Bahrain King and it appears that may have influenced his perspective.  For example, he took me to the parking lot of a old building that the King typically uses when he visits this area.  I figured I heard him wrong, but he repeated it a bunch of times.  It looks like every other parking lot you’ve seen.  A parking lot?