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Seef Mall Turns 20! #Nostalgia

I heard the news today at 8am.

Nostalgia hit me hard!

20 years! I remember when Seef Mall first opened. Talk of the town, it was. Seef Mall was the beginning of it all!

Back in the day, our weekends in Bahrain were Thursday and Friday. This meant that every single Wednesday, and I do mean EVERY SINGLE WEDNESDAY, right after school, we would carpool and one of the parents would drop us at Seef Mall.

Times were simpler.

Our weekly allowance, which we spent all at Seef was BHD5/- (BD1 for KFC, BD2 for the cinema, BD1 for your Cinema snacks - remember when Sweet popcorn was launched? - and finally BD1 to buy earrings from the notorious Tweety); that was the life. Growing up in Bahrain in the 90s was something else.

To celebrate Seef Mall’s 20th anniversary, I made a small list of memories only kids who grew up in Bahrain in the 90s would get all warm and fuzzy on the inside about:

  • Toys R Us and the bowling alley that was right next to it at Seef Mall; all the cool kids were there. There used to be a pay phone there as well, used to call our parents to pick us up and Pick Up was always at the Toys R Us entrance.

  • When Magic Island opened. Holy Cow! The allowance didn’t go up, but we started thinking about spending and priorities. Good stressful times, eh? (they rebranded too incase you forgot)

  • Remember when Seef Mall opened the new extension? Everyone was SO excited to see the new cinema. Word was spreading about it being the “coolest and biggest in the region.” I still remember one particular rumour: “you don’t need to walk to the cinema; the floors all move like conveyor belts.” lol… How silly were we? The new cinema didn’t disappoint though, the blue lights and stars on the floor were the bomb.

  • The Cinema Guide had pictures of us movie goers. Common guys, how many times did your picture get published there? I remember we used to collect them.

  • ALL phone numbers on the island were 6 digits. Yes, only 6. Then came the terrible day when the new numbers were released. You had to add silly numbers before you started to dial a number you knew by heart, ugh.. what a disaster that phase was.

  • Channel 55 and Saudi Arabia TV.

  • You were automatically a popular kid if you had a Bleep. Your Bleep needed to be in a color no one else had. A matt finish was a bonus.

  • Ice Cream at the Salmaniya roundabout Dairy Queen… When Grill and Chill came along, it felt like a piece of my childhood was ripped out and thrown in the trash. Laish inzain?

  • VHS and VHS Rental Shops. I used to rent my videos from a place in Um Al Hassam. They had a huge catalogue separated by genre. The nice guy there always suggested the movie for us. The reason I remember this random info is because he was the one who introduced me to The Nightmare Before Christmas. So yes, it is a big deal.

Today, I still go to Seef Mall, which, by the way, hit the jackpot and rebranded itself to being the “Mommy / Family Mall.” The new logo grew on me, but the old one will forever trigger my emotions. Most of us 90s kids are parents now; this means we are still loyal kids on the inside and we do take our kids there at least once a month, if not weekly.

When growing up, did you ever think that a day would come and you would take your kids to Magic Island? The exact same place you used to go to as a teenager?

Today, Seef Mall has prepared a whole month of festivities and activities to celebrate this joyous occasion. Check their websites for the schedule.

At the end of the day, no matter who you are, growing up in Bahrain in the 90s was ALL about Seef Mall. All our major memories happened there…

From all us 90s kids,

thank you Seef Mall.

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