Gudaibiya Road & the Lost Glory

Driving through Gudaibiya road today I got flashes of how this road
used to be back in the 80’s and 90’s. It was, and still is, one of the
liveliest roads in Bahrain. Always busy with people running their
lives and endless low-end shops & restaurants with bright signage that
blinds the eyes.

 Al-Hadi Mall (Dasman/Daiso now) was located in the very beginning of
this road back in the 80’s. It was one of the few malls in Bahrain
other than Sheraton and Yateem Center. It was the place to be. With a
small restaurant in the middle that served the best Club Sandwich ever
and Al Ahram music shop in one of the corners where I got my first
Fairouz tape from. We used to run around from a boutique to the other
and all around the fountain while our mothers shopped. I will never
forget the low ceiling part with a sign saying: “watch your head”.

Between the mid and late 90’s my memory goes back to two houses where
I spent a lot of my time with my friends. The Saffy residence and the
Bastaki residence. My best friend used to spend her Thursdays in her
grandfather’s house, Ishaq Saffy, which was located right in the
middle of that road. It’s where we used to meet and then walk around
the fabric shops, the tailor (Methaleya), and a small shop that sells
buttons and linings (Tarrada). The road was busy with expats, but
there were some Bahrains too. Nowadays you hardly see any.

Two of my friends used to live in Al Bastaki residence. It was located
in an alley off the main road. This house witnessed a lot of our
gatherings, parties and sleepovers. Sadly, the Bastakis moved out, the
tailor shifted to Bu Ghazal, and the Saffy residence was demolished.

Guadaibiya Road is now officially a zone that is occupied by expats.
Many old shops are still standing and being run by Asians. All of them
are low-end shops that are boutiques, restaurants, cold stores,
studios, florists, fabric shops, fruit stalls, salons etc. Ramada
Palace hotel was recently built there and it is adding a new vibe to
the road. Mostafa bin Abdul Latif’s office is also still located there
and I really hope that it doesn’t shift. It is giving the road an identity of
what it once was.

Before the 80’s this road was a local residential area. With time,
Bahrainis moved out to other quiet areas, other cities, and Gudaibiya
was history. I love how it’s still vibrant with the same old touches,
the same parking problems and bikes parked randomly on the pavement.
The chaos makes living there very tiring and stressful. But it is nice
to pass by from time to time and remember the old days. The glory days of
Gudaibiya.

I am proud and I love the fact that my first home was there. An
apartment that I can still smell, in Gudaibiya..

Jan 2012
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