The Persian Gulf, also known as the Arabian Gulf, is an extension of the Indian Ocean which stretches approximately 615 miles from Iran to the Arabian Peninsula. With great fishing grounds, stunning coral reefs and pear oysters, the Persian Gulf has plenty to offer. Consisting of seven countries – Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirate and Qatar – there is plenty to learn, see and do.
The Persian Gulf is home to some magnificent marine life. One of the animals that you may get the pleasure of seeing is a dugong. Closely related to the manatee (“see cow”), dugongs are gentle mammals. They can reach up to three metres in length and feed on sea grass.
If you’re a scuba diver, this is certainly the place for you. With beautiful, colourful corals stretching along the coast, it really is an opportunity for you to delve into your adventurous side and witness some mesmerising sights. Over 900 types of fish, stingrays and even turtles make their home in the Persian Gulf. If you fancy getting up close and personal with the tremendous abundance of wildlife, you can book a scuba dive from Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman, or the Kish Islands.
If you decide to go diving, you may be lucky enough to see the hawksbill sea turtle, a critically endangered sea creature. They tend to be found in tropical reefs or underwater caves, making them tricky to spot.
If you prefer staying on dry land, then perhaps a bird tour is best for you. The most popular bird tours are in and around Oman. They normally take you to the unspoilt part of land, with deep gorges and high mountains. Sometimes the tour guides may take you to the unspoilt land and closer to the coast line, so you can really experience the diversity of the country, as well the diversity of the wildlife.
If you’re lucky enough you may get to see the Egyptian nightjar, an extremely rare bird that is hardly ever seen. You never know – you might get to see one on the tour!
Where should I visit in the Persian Gulf?
Why not do something completely different and go pearl diving? This used to be how Bahrain made their money, but back then, it was extremely dangerous. Nowadays, with the technology we have it is as safe as a normal scuba diving. You can also visit the pearl diving museum in Bahrain. The museums really reflect the historic side of this trade, showing the tools that were used, and providing endless amounts of fascinating information about the tradition.
To get an insight into Bahrain’s history, make sure you take a trip to the Bahrain National Museum. The museum has two buildings, and includes three halls, which are dedicated to the history, archaeology, ancient civilisation, culture and lifestyle of Bahrain – definitely the perfect place to go to learn more about the country.
For a peaceful day, visit the Al Areen Wildlife Park. It’s great for families and wildlife lovers as it gives you the opportunity to leisurely explore the grounds of the park without any rush. The wildlife sanctuary was built for a reason – it was built to protect different types of Arabian species, including the oryx, the adax and the reem Gazelle. There are also hundreds types of birds flying around, giving you an opportunity to see wildlife you wouldn’t see in your everyday life.
The capital of Saudi Arabia, Riyadh, is a city that you simply have to see whilst in the Persian Gulf. The city is full of culture, history and amazing architecture. This fast-growing city is one of the most prosperous in the world.
Close-by sits the Olava district, which is the heart of the city. Here you can find accommodation, entertainment, restaurants, shopping and markets, which are all very cheap.
Al-Balad (Saudi translation “downtown”) is situated in Jeddah which is Saudi Arabia’s second largest city. If you’re after a unique cultural experience this is where you should visit. With striking historical buildings, contrasted with modern engineering, the town has something new to offer every time you turn a corner. To get a real feel of “Old Jeddah” make sure you visit the mosque that was built in 700 AD – it is truly magnificent.
Another tourist attraction in Saudi Arabia is the Corniche Dammam which is a seaside project stretching from Azizah Beach to Tarot Island. The project really shows off the artistic side of Saudi Arabia and is gradually becoming a very popular place for tourists and residents of the country – especially in the evening. Nearby, you can find sporting facilities, including the opportunity to try out some water sports.
Designed by Swedish architects and opened in the 1970s, the Kuwait Towers are one of the most popular tourist attractions in Kuwait and the Persian Gulf. What makes the Kuwait Towers so unique and popular is their mixture of traditional Islamic design mixed with modern architecture.
The design is made up of three towers – the main tower is the tallest, standing at 613.5 feet. At about 269 feet there’s a restaurant for visitors to take in the magnificent views. At 403.55 feet, there is a second sphere which is the “rotating view sphere”. Turning 360 degrees every half-hour, the viewing sphere gives visitors the chance to see Kuwait city from all angles.
The second highest tower, standing at 478.5 feet high, serves its purpose as water towe, and can store up to one million gallons. The third tower, which stands at 370.75 feet, contains all the electrical equipment for the towers, allowing the towers to be illuminated at nights and the viewing tower to rotate.
Kuwait Municipal Gardens is another attraction in Kuwait that is also very popular with residents and tourists alike. It is a popular place for relaxing after sunset, with beautiful views of the indigenous nature and plenty of intriguing decorative features. It can get busy, but the relaxed and happy atmosphere is contagious. The Gardens have children’s parks and entertainment too, allowing the kids to let off steam and have some fun.
Kuwait Zoological Park is another popular tourist hotspot and, spreading over 180,000 square metres, there really is a lot to see. The zoo is home to lots of different species of birds, mammals, reptiles and insects – brilliant for wildlife lovers. There are also zoologists that can provide education about the different wildlife in the park – great for kids and adults alike.
[the following was a guest post by Helen]