Bahrain’s hidden pearl – Zaafaran Cafe

Bahrain is a wonderful place; it’s a country that is always full of pleasant surprises. My wife and her family told me about a restaurant called Zaafaran, a small place in the heart of Souq Muharraq that is known for its traditional Bahraini dishes. We headed down to Muharraq on a Friday morning and I had to keep my eyes open when looking for the place (Zaafaran is just after Souq Al Qaiseriya a right hand turn after all of the sweet shops on the main road for those who know Muharraq).

After spotting the place and finding a parking spot, which is no mean feat in Muharraq, we headed to Zaafaran. The restaurant itself is tiny, with seating for no more than 30 people. The decor is traditional, and the staff are also dressed to match in traditional Bahraini attire. The setting is almost as impressive as the food, with (comfy) wooden benches to plump yourself down on.

The breakfast menu is set, with a selection of small dishes that include balaleet or sweetened vermicelli with egg, nakhi which is a Bahraini twist on chick peas, mahiawa bread or bread cooked in fish sauce, fuul, spicy tomato beans, and Bahraini kebab sandwiches (which are vegetarian for anyone who’s interested). It’s most fun to eat with your hands and the bread basket which comes as standard.

I wouldn’t be doing justice to Zaafaran by saying that this place is remarkable both for the food and the setting. If you’re looking for both a wonderful eat as well as an amazing time out then head down to Zaafaran. It’s right next to Souq Al Qaiseriya which is one of the oldest markets in Bahrain and an amazing spectacle in itself. And as for the cost? It’s a whole lot cheaper than Dubai’s Biker Cafe’s breakfast for the best local breakfast in the Arabian Gulf and costs about 50 to 60 Dirhams a person including all the chai kerak tea you can woof down. Just down measure your cholesterol levels for a good few days after!

Enjoy the pictures and get down to Zaafaran while there’s still space left at this remarkable restaurant-cafe.

Geant launches a budget brand called… Advert (in Arabic)

I love budget brands. I used to live on them when I was a uni student. There’s nothing better than paying as little as possible for the basics, especially when money is tight and we don’t want to forgo those everyday essentials as well as a treat now and then. I was excited to see Geant in the UAE launching a low-cost series of items. Low-cost brands haven’t been common in the Middle East despite the increasing popularity of hypermarkets in the Gulf.

Geant plumped for the name Elan in English, which could suggest inspiration or style. So far so good (though one could ask if the concept of inspiration fits well with budget tissues, mineral water and ketchup). But then we come to the Arabic. And here’s where we have a concern. Elan has been translated as اعلان which means… advert.

I don’t understand the thinking behind the brand’s naming. Was someone thinking this space would be sold? How did brand manager think this would resonate with Arab shoppers? Would you buy a bottle of mineral water called Advert?

Kudos to Geant for taking the initiative to launch a budget brand, especially when food and household prices are rising. But please think about that naming good people. You can do so much better.

PS for a full list of what Geant sells in its Elan range click on this link.