Major revamp of Manama souq planned
Manama, September 11, 2012
A multi-million dinar plan that includes landscaping and pedestrianising the Manama Souq as well as introducing entertainment facilities, traditional coffee shops and arts and craft stores is now being revived, said a top official.
Many painstakingly developed plans for Bab Al Bahrain were never implemented owing to repeated changes of government ministers, bureaucracy and a lack of financial support, said Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) board member and retail and traditional markets committee head Jawad Al Hawaj.
"Now the area has been handed over to the Culture Ministry, in what appears to be a promising start once again," he said.
"Culture Minister Shaikha Mai bint Mohammed Al Khalifa has some brilliant ideas. She has a vision for Bahrain and I am sure the area will be developed very well under her leadership."
Al Hawaj said the minister had been magnanimous in co-ordinating with the BCCI and asked for copies of all plans that had been developed in the last few years.
"It would be great if some of the plans are incorporated into the new scheme of things," he said.
The businessman plans to meet Shaikha Mai soon to discuss the development of the souq and take the plans further.
"We have, over the years, worked very hard to develop the market and preserve the traditional heritage of Bahrain, with even well-known experts sending in plans to make the changes happen," he said.
Al Hawaj said repeated presentations to ministers in charge had elicited enthusiastic responses.
"On several occasions, ministers have agreed to the implementation and promised action. But then their portfolios were changed and the ministers moved before the plans could be implemented or budgets allocated," he said.
"We then presented the plans to the new ministers and the same thing happened. As a result, the plans have always remained on the back-burner."
The ministry has had six ministers in little more than a decade with Shaikh Khalid bin Abdulla Al Khalifa, Jawad Al Arayyed, Mohammed Sitri, Ali Saleh Al Saleh, Mansoor bin Rajab and Juma Al Ka'abi at the helm.
Al Hawaj said HRH Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, the Prime Minister, had always taken a personal interest in the development of the souq and hopes the Culture Ministry's involvement will improve the situation for suffering businessmen.
He revealed traders in the souq were rightly upset at the turn of events since a lot of plans made were never implemented. "Everyone has a business to run and if they lose it, they have a right to be unhappy," said Al Hawaj.
"However, they should know there is work being done behind the scenes and the government also is deeply concerned about the development and traders' welfare." – TradeArabia News Service