Manama in the 1950s

[Bahrain]. Original photographs of Manama, Bahrain.

Manama, [ca. 1952-1954].

17 original gelatin silver photographs (14 small format and three postcard sized). All but three captioned on the versos in pencil.


An excellent group of snapshots of Bahrain, chiefly focusing on the Bahrain International Airport and the capital, Manama.

The photographer is unidentified but was probably a serviceman based at RAF Bahrain, a military installation attached to the Bahrain International Airport from 1943 to 1971. Several photographs show the airfield, training base and the inside of some billets. Only one is aerial, a vertiginous bird’s-eye view of Muharraq Island, where the airfield was located.

In addition to the expected images of military life are glimpses of Manama, where the servicemen spent their time off. There are interesting views of commercial streets, the Al-Fadhel Mosque and the Bab Al-Bahrain. Some provide lively period detail, such as the film poster for Nau Bahar (an Indian drama released in 1952), a dealership advertising Ford cars, and a street lined with flags in preparation for the state visit of King Saud Ibn Abdulaziz in April 1954. That visit, undertaken shorty after Saud became King, was witness to the first suggestion of a bridge linking Eastern Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, an idea that eventually came into being with the construction of the King Fahd Causeway in the 1980s.

Some staining and spotting to the versos, a few printed from damaged negatives, otherwise very clean and clear with little fading.