Women 'strength of Bahrain pearl industry'
Manama, January 8, 2011
The historic role of Muharraq women is being championed as the main reason behind a strong pearl-diving industry, thanks to their strength in maintaining a tightly-knit society.
Their achievements are highlighted in a study by Nooh Khalifa on their impact on social and economic development.
The study, entitled Muharraq Women: Historical and Contemporary Roles and Functions, is the fourth research project undertaken by Khalifa.
It highlights the role women had in developing the island over the decades during the rise of the pearl-diving industry. The work is a continuation of previous studies that highlight social changes in Muharraq.
Khalifa said that the inspiration for the study was his personal observations of Muharraq women's social ties during his childhood. "I was raised in Muharraq," said Khalifa, who is a first lieutenant at the Interior Ministry.
"I remember how fascinated I became with Muharraq women's ways of dealing with everyday life and how strong they were.
"I had witnessed their meetings and social gatherings and their tremendous ability to be patient through tough times and this made me curious about the history behind it."
Khalifa said that Muharraq women historically built the social fabric of the island, where men were mostly pearl divers, who contributed to the country's main industry before the discovery of oil in 1929.
Pearl diving, which employed 90 per cent of Bahrainis, largely died out when divers took up new jobs following the oil discovery.
Divers used to stay out at sea for over four months, searching for pearls in the thousands of oysters they collected each morning. As a result, their wives had to take the role of their husbands back home to raise their children and put food on the table.
"A pearl diver would go to sea for four months and 10 days. "This meant their wives had to take over their role in maintaining their homes and safeguarding the society," he added.-TradeArabia News Service