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Manama, the modern capital of Bahrain, has been at the heart of major trade routes since ancient times. Its renowned Bahrain National Museum contains artifacts from the ancient Dilmun civilization, and its pulsing Bab el-Bahrain Souq offers shoppers items from colorful handwoven fabrics and spices to jewels. Manama has all the hallmarks of a Gulf city - large air-conditioned shopping malls and boldly designed skyscrapers in abundance. But the contrast of Manama's pearling past and oil-rich future is seen everywhere- in the National Museum set alongside the avant-garde National Theatre, and in the traditional homes of Muharraq with views of the downtown skyscrapers.