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Bahrain's Culture and National Heritage Sector is planning to bring the country's historical pearl diving back to life in Muharraq.

The idea is to take visitors on a physical trail of Muharraq that tells the story of the pearl diving industry.

Seven mini-zones with two to four properties in each have been identified and each zone will feature storyboards, telling parts of the story along the way.

The three-kilometre trail will start at the seaside and continue through the streets of Muharraq, including Al Qaysariya Suq, which heritage experts hope to preserve and turn into a cultural attraction.

The zones along the trail and three oyster beds north of Bahrain will be submitted as part of the World Heritage nomination.

Professor Herb Stovel, who is an international consultant for United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) has been invited by the sector to advise on the nomination.

He said to be included on the World Heritage List, the site in Muharraq must have outstanding universal value.

"To make it onto the World Heritage List it must tell a story of compelling value about the development of humanity that will be shared by all societies," said the adviser.

Professor Stovel said the story of the historic pearl diving industry was compelling and the project should be supported even if there wasn't a nomination.

He also highlighted the importance of the pearling tradition in Bahrain, emphasising that it had largely died out by the 1930s following the discovery of oil and the invention of the cultured pearl.

"Muharraq partly lost its identity because of reclamation and there is no longer an original beach. There is a need to establish the idea of why houses are where they area."

Professor Stovel, Dr Rudolff and Unesco representative Karim Hendili have discussed the historical pearl diving initiative with residents of Muharraq - speaking with owners of buildings earmarked to be included in the trail and how they could support the project.

Sector officials aim to submit the nomination to Unesco on February 1 next year.

It will take 18 months for it to be reviewed and it will be considered for the World Heritage List by Unesco in 2010. Professor Stovel said having the pearl diving tradition on the World Heritage List would raise awareness about Bahrain's history and boost the tourism industry. "It's a way of joining the world club with those concerned with heritage." [email protected]

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Boost for Souq
Winners of contest to be announced soon
Alexander M. Arrackal
Staff Reporter

“Winners of the Souq Al Qaisariya design contest are expected to be announced soon,” said Ahmed Ebrahim Khalifa Al Awadhi, Member representing the area in the Muharraq Municipal Council.
The effort is to get participation from the people and the government to develop the souq into a prominent landmark.
He said, “The decision would be taken after a meeting with the Director General of Muharraq Municipality. We had a visit from some university students, who were grouped and asked to design the souq. The winning team was promised prizes.”
“The time has now come to give away the awards. We will, however, keep the designs,” he said. “The plan is to redesign souq Al Qaisarya and uplift the neighbouring areas as well along traditional lines. In earlier times this was the only souq in the true sense of the word,” said Al Awadhi.
“Once developed it will be a major tourist attraction,” he added. Redesign and development of the souq has been a major issue over the past two years.
Earlier Tribune had reported that two designs were submitted – one by the cultural and heritage department under the Ministry of Information and another by the Ministry of Municipalities Affairs and Agriculture.
The arm of the Ministry of Information was given the go ahead. They, however, failed to come up with any concrete design to rebuild the souq. Following inaction, the issue was taken up by the Prime Minister himself, and the design was handed over to his office. “In earlier times, dhows emptied their cargo at the entrance to the souq and it was a bustling trading place. I intend recreating at least some of it,” Awadhi said.
[email protected]

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Suq fate in balance

PLANS for the complete demolition of a 200-year-old Bahraini market are still pending, as councillors wait for an expert opinion on whether 10 to 15 per cent of it could be saved. The Qaysariya Market in Muharraq has been at the centre of a long-running tug-of-war between the Municipalities and Agriculture Affairs Ministry and the Information Ministry.

Both ministries prepared different designs for the market, with the former planning to completely bulldoze and rebuild it, and the Information Ministry planning to have it renovated.

A leading campaigner in the fight to save the market has been Shaikha Mai bint Mohammed Al Khalifa, who was on Monday appointed new Culture and Information Minister in a new-look ministry responsible for the heritage sector.

A new committee set up yesterday by Municipalities and Agriculture Affairs Minister Dr Juma Al Ka'abi and chaired by Muharraq Municipal Council chairman Mohammed Hammada will now assess the situation before the project goes out to tender by the end of next month.

Dr Al Ka'abi said at a meeting with municipal council chairmen on Sunday that the project would cost nearly BD4 million.

The committee also includes representatives from the Municipalities and Agriculture Affairs Ministry, Information Ministry, Muharraq Municipality and the area councillor.

"We have assigned a consultant to present us with new drawings based on the Cabinet's report on the market's condition," said Mr Hammada at the council's general-secretariat meeting yesterday.

"The only thing I am sure of at the moment is that the plans we approved to bulldoze the market completely have been shelved.

"New designs are being prepared and whether the 10pc or 15pc that the Information Ministry wants renovated would be there, is something that the consultant will advise us on."

Mr Hammada said that the committee would meet early next month to finalise the project's direction.

"The project will be tendered next month, so the committee will have to decide matters in two or three meetings within a week or two," he said.

"The dispute has to end and the project has to go ahead because the appalling condition of the market must change, whether we keep the renovated old shops or we turn the place into a new market."

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Al Qaysariya Suq facelift begins soon
Posted on » Thursday, January 07, 2010

THE Culture and Information Ministry has drawn the final outlook and signed an agreement with a specialised architecture bureau to improve the Al Qaysariya Suq, a top official has said.

Archaeology and heritage acting director Salman Al Mahari said the first phase of the facelift project will start soon and is expected to finish by December to coincide with National Day celebrations.

Referring to newspaper reports calling on HRH the Premier to intervene and protect the suq, Mr Al Mahari stressed that due to its importance and critical condition, the suq has been placed on the list of endangered archaeological sites.

Mr Al Mahari said the ministry is striving to bring life back to the suq, taking into account its archaeological spirit and historical identity.

World Monuments Fund link
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