Amphitheatre plan for Tree of Life
Manama, April 7, 2013
Extensive work featuring a spectacular amphitheatre overlooking the 400-year-old Tree of Life, one of Bahrain's most famous landmarks, is being planned, a report said.
The $786,800 project will include a viewing area, kiosks and tourist attractions, according to the report in our sister publication, the Gulf Daily News.
The scheme, which is being sponsored by Bapco, is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year, while its first phase will be finished this month.
"Work is on schedule and we are expected to finish the first phase, which consists of setting up the basic infrastructure later this month," said a representative of contractors Bukhowa Contracting.
Contracts have still not been awarded for the project's second phase which will consist of finalising the beautification process.
The project would be set up in a strategic location, which would also give a clear view of an excavation site near the tree.
In October 2010, archaeologists unearthed ancient ruins of a 500-year-old fort at the site of the Tree of Life.
Excavations turned up artefacts and pottery and the tree is located at the centre of the fortification, but the ruins have since been covered with sand.
The development scheme was launched in October last year by the Culture Ministry, in association with the Southern Governorate and Public Commission for the Protection of Marine Resources, Environment and Wildlife.
It followed directives by His Royal Highness Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa who instructed authorities to turn the place into a tourism attraction and promote Bahrain's cultural, heritage and tourism.
Another official supervising the project said the entire area would have a fresh look after the project is completed.
"There are plans to make this area truly attractive for tourists to come all year round," he said. "The Culture Ministry is taking pains to bring the area to life."
He said another project to preserve the archaeological history in the area is also underway.
"That will also be completed in the months to come," he said.
Meanwhile, a Bapco representative said the company was committed to Bahrain's development, particularly preserving its rich history and culture. "The Bapco sponsorship is a step in that direction," he said.
The tree stands in the middle of the desert and its source of water has been a mystery for experts.
A soil and tree ring analysis conducted more than 20 years ago by historian Dr Ali Akbar Bushiri concluded that the Tree of Life was an Acacia planted in 1582 AD.
It was fenced off in 2007 after being targeted by vandals.
The tree still bears marks of graffiti and small holes at the base of its trunk, as well as cracks in some of its branches.
Area councillor Bader Al Dossary earlier said the tree was scarred by messages carved into its branches and trunk, as well as charred by worshippers mainly from the Philippines, India and Pakistan lighting fires around it during cult rituals.
A national committee for the preservation of historical and archaeological sites was supposed to be established in 2007 when 40 environmentalists, historians, archaeologists and scientists met at the Tree of Life.
The gathering took place after it emerged the tree's trunk and roots had been burned. – TradeArabia News Service