Clustered within Manama’s CBD, the Diplomatic Area is the city’s financial district, home to high-rise office blocks for banks and investment firms, as well as Takaful insurance societies based on Islamic law. It’s also the location of numerous government buildings, including the Ministry of Industry & Commerce, Ministry of Works & Housing and the Ministry of Justice.
Both the Central Bank of Bahrain and the Bahrain World Trade Centre are found within the Diplomatic Area, together with the city’s courthouse and the embassies of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. The Bahrain National Museum on the waterfront houses an outstanding collection of archaeological finds detailing the country’s history, together with a recreated souk showcasing traditional arts and crafts. Also of note is Beit Al Quran which boasts an impressive collection of the historic Quran and manuscripts from across the Islamic world, together with a museum dedicated to Islamic arts. The historic Manama Souq with its traditional shops and coffee houses is located just to the west of the Diplomatic Area, while designer labels like Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Dior and Dolce & Gabbana feature in the modern shopping complex of Moda Mall Bahrain. The Diplomatic Area is also renowned for its hotels catering to predominantly business travellers, including the iconic Diplomat Hotel.
The Diplomatic Area is well served by public buses which link it to the rest of Manama, with stops on Palace Avenue along its western edge. The district itself is very compact and easily explored on foot, or there are plenty of taxis available in its streets.
It was in the early 1970s following Bahrain’s independence from Britain that the Diplomatic Area emerged, helping to diversify the economy from oil to the financial sector. A scarcity of space led to it being built on reclaimed land, with the district gradually expanded throughout the 1980s.