Bab Al Bahrain to be restored
Manama, November 15, 2011
A nearly 70-years-old Bahraini landmark is to be restored to its former glory in time for Manama to be named the Cultural Capital of the Arab World 2012.
Bab Al Bahrain, which was designed by late Amir Shaikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa's adviser Sir Charles Belgrave and completed in 1945, is to undergo a 10-month-long renovation project, it was announced yesterday.
The project is part of the Culture Ministry's initiative called Invest In Culture and is being sponsored by American Express Middle East, Culture Minister Shaikha Mai bint Mohammed Al Khalifa told a press conference at Bahrain National Museum.
"It is important that Bab Al Bahrain as a heritage monument is preserved and revived in its traditional form, and esteemed as an important tourist attraction destination. It has been important to the trade and tourism sectors for more than half a century and I would like to thank American Express for its support of this initiative,” she said.
"Bab Al Bahrain was last restored in 1986 and with this project, we hope to bring back prestige to the building," said Shaikha Mai.
Work on the monument is due to commence in January and will include the construction of two pedestrian archways either side of the building leading into the suq.
This is in addition to the renovation of the old post office, the police station and the memorial office of the late Amir, all of which are located within Bab Al Bahrain.
Shaikha Mai was accompanied by American Express Middle East chief executive officer, William Keliehor and chief operating officer Mazin Khoury, who stressed the importance of the project.
"Preserving historic places for use by future generations is vital in ensuring the protection of Bahrain's rich cultural heritage, and we look forward to engaging young people about this important cultural landmark," said Keliehor.
A drawing competition has been launched for schoolchildren between 12 and 14 years, organised by American Express Middle East, the Culture Ministry and the Education Ministry.
Children from participating schools are asked to draw or paint their interpretation of Bab Al Bahrain and its importance to the country.
The top three winning artworks will be displayed at Bab Al Bahrain once renovation has been completed and the winner will be awarded an iPad, first runner-up will be given BD150 and second runner-up will receive BD100.
The monument marks the main entrance to Manama suq and once stood close to the water's edge.
However, land reclamation and the construction of new buildings and road systems means that the landmark is no longer directly by the sea.
Restoration was carried out in 1986 to incorporate ornamental Islamic architectural features.
A change in lifestyle and the construction of more shopping malls outside Manama city centre has led to a decline in activity and trade in the Bab Al Bahrain area.
However, the ministry intends to make the landmark a lively urban space, said Shaikha Mai.
An element of this includes musical renditions which have been performed by local musicians and groups every Friday and Saturday afternoon since October.
"We want to encourage all residents, locals and tourists to visit the area and make Bab Al Bahrain the focal point as it once was," said the minister. – TradeArabia News Service