Big tourism plans unveiled for Bahrain Fort
Manama, May 21, 2012
Massive plans, including new restaurants, shops and museums, are being planned to turn the area around Bahrain Fort into a major tourist destination.
The Manama and Northern Municipal Councils have revealed a blueprint that includes seafood restaurants, fishing equipment and souvenir shops, a maritime museum and cafes focused on the arts.
However, before work can start 64 families will have to be relocated from a village next to the fort into new government homes nearby.
Permits to construct small seafront hotels and recreational facilities up to a height of three storeys would also be made available in co-ordination with the Culture Ministry.
A walkway would also be established allowing people to stretch their legs in eyeshot of the historic landmark and the sea.
The plan also includes boat trips around the fort, a "sea market" selling fresh fish and even a centre to teach people local fishing skills.
"It is six years since the fort was granted World Heritage Status by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco), but there were no major plans to turn it into a proper destination," said Manama Municipal Council vice-chairman Mohammed Mansoor.
"Yes, the fort's museum and a cafe were built, but that's not enough for a place with international recognition that means a lot not just to Bahrainis, but the whole world.
"We can't blame the Culture Ministry because it may have plans for tourist facilities, but they can't turn them into actual projects due to residents still living in the fort's village.
However, Mansoor said work on the seafront could start immediately.
"The ministry can have a walkway on the coastal stretch that has been left untouched under Unesco regulations and ferries taking tourists around the fort, through a 'boat market' selling fresh seafood and possibly offer lessons in local fishing skills," he said.
"Since work on the new homes is nearing completion the ministry can plan for seafood restaurants, fishing equipment and souvenir shops, maritime museums and cafes for art and poetry.
"Other attractions that are fort-related could be introduced inside the vacated homes."
Northern Municipal Council public utilities and environment affairs committee chairman Hussain Al Sagheer backed the plan. "Mansoor presented me with the idea and I backed it on the condition that residents are completely moved before any house is taken for tourist purposes," he said.
"A new idea to have other projects on the coast was brainstormed and initial drawings were drawn up by Mansoor, envisioning how the place would look like.
The fort's coastline falls in Mansoor's constituency, while the village next to the fort is within Al Sagheer's constituency.
Work to relocate families living near the fort began last year after being put on hold. The families were supposed to be moved from their existing homes after the fort was granted World Heritage Site status in 2006.
However, initial land earmarked for their new houses was deemed off-limits after builders discovered ruins of a 400-year-old palace during preliminary excavations. – TradeArabia News Service
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