The glorious Arad Fort, also known as Qal’at ‘Arad, stands tall and proud in the village of Arad, on the Island of Muharraq in Bahrain. The fort convincingly welcomes each eager visitor as they land on the strip of the Bahrain International Airport. The massive fort lays approximately ten kilometers north-west of the capital city, Al Manamah.
Although history is not definite as to the date of its construction, the fort was believed to be erected around the 15th century and has served multiple purposes for the country throughout the years. Its infrastructure is testament to how it has served as an effective defensive site when Bahrain was invaded by the country of Portugal in the year 1622. The fort served the same purpose when it was occupied by the Omanis in the year 1800. The materials used to build the original fort were mostly limestone from coral rocks believed to come from the surrounding sea, mud and sand, and wood from palm trees.
The fort was designed in a classic Islamic manner, typical of many forts constructed during the same time period. The location, as well as the construction of the fort itself, is incredibly tactical and ingenious. The structure was rather simple when mapped out; it was of a quadrangle shape lying on the edge of the island, overlooking the water. To add to its impenetrability, the fort had a deep trench surrounding it. In each of the four corners, there stood cylindrical-shaped towers reminiscent of typical military structures. These towers provided an excellent lookout over the nearby shallow sea passages to guard against approaching enemies.
The walls of the fort were thick, and in every angle there were triangle-shaped openings which were most probably used by marksmen, or for dumping water, hot oils or other corrosive liquids on possible attackers. Nearby, two wells can be found, in addition to one in the middle of the enclosure that provides fresh water. The fort also features a small anterior courtyard, upper walkways that connect all of the four towers together, a water duct, and the deep sea as milieu. Also, in numerous excavations done to determine the building’s history, an assortment of relics have been uncovered that now serve as testaments to the fort’s colorful past.
Over the years, the fort has gone through extensive restoration and fortification work due to wear and tear. The most recent of which was a three-year renovation in the 1980’s. In order to preserve its value and to maintain historical accuracy, the only resources used for its reconstruction were the original materials used by its ancient builders. However, to promote tourism, the fort is illuminated at night which is exceptionally beautiful to behold. Today, the fort is quite a travelers’ attraction because of its position being quite close to the airport.
For those who would like to visit the fort, it is advisable to wear a couple of layers of clothing as it can be windy at times. It will also be a good idea to wear flat shoes with a firm sole grip because the ramparts could be slippery due to sand and dust. Those who are interested to see the Arad Fort would be allowed to enter with a small fee.