Councillors to seek approval to develop Bahrain Fort
Manama, February 24, 2014
Councillors will approach the United Nations next month for approval to develop the area around Bahrain Fort.
They will present their proposals at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) in Paris, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
The plans include setting up Bahrain's first floating market next to the fort, but councillors must first ensure it will not affect the fort's status as a UN World Heritage Site.
Blueprints also include a port, traditional cafes and seafront restaurants and they were approved by the Manama and Northern Municipal Councils last August.
However, a development ban has been in place since the 4,000-year-old fort became a World Heritage Site in 2005.
A delegation from the Manama Municipal Council will now be sent to Unesco, with the Northern Municipal Council deciding to wait for feedback from the Culture Ministry.
However, Manama Municipal Council vice-chairman Mohammed Mansoor - who will head the delegation and whose constituency covers the fort's surroundings - said he had been waiting long enough.
"I have been calling officials at the ministry for four months and have been ignored," he told a press conference at the council's headquarters in Billad Al Qadeem.
"I have been transferred from one office to another.
"When I can't meet with my own country's officials, and I am senior elected council member, I will go to higher international authorities who are willing to listen.
"In fact, Unesco is open to suggestions to give heritage sites more value."
Mansoor said proposed developments at the fort aimed to attract more visitors to the site.
"What I have presented won't harm the fort's World Heritage Site status and will certainly attract more people to the location," he said.
"People these days want to spend a comprehensive day out with their families and in the case of tourists they want to visit historical sites and shop at the same time for souvenirs from the place they visited.
"We don't want to have anything built that would obstruct the fort's views, which is why we suggested a floating market where vendors can sell their goods."
Meanwhile, Northern Municipal Council technical committee chairman and fort village councillor Hussain Al Sagheer cautioned against rushing into any decision that could affect the historic fort.
"We have no problem joining the delegation to present the suggestions to Unesco, but we have to consider that the issue is complicated - especially with regulations on the fort's views and the ban on development," he said.
"This area is significant and rich in history. The Culture Ministry needs time to think the proposals over and I am sure they are as keen to implement them as we are because it will give the fort more glamour."
The GDN announced last year that billions of dinars could be invested in Seef if councillors are successful in getting building restrictions relaxed around the fort.
Councillors have asked for Unesco engineers to be flown in to determine areas where construction could take place.
Forty businessmen, who own plots of land stretching up to three km around the fort, are understood to be keen to begin development. - TradeArabia News Service