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An overview of the fort at night

Tourism plan for area around Bahrain fort

MANAMA, July 2, 2015

Plans are underway to turn the area around Bahrain Fort into a major tourist destination.

Homes vacated by 64 families in December could be turned into seafood restaurants, souvenir shops, fishing supply stores, cafés and a maritime museum, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.

Plans also include turning some of the homes into small guest houses, which would be the first time the concept has been introduced in Bahrain.

A walkway would also be established where people can exercise near the United Nations World Heritage Site and the coast.

Blueprints also include boat trips around the fort, a “sea market” selling fresh fish and even a centre to teach people local fishing skills.

Ideas for the project were put forward in 2012 by the former Manama Municipal Council, which was replaced in December by the Capital Trustees Board.

The plans were put on hold by the Culture Ministry, but the Works, Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs Ministry which has taken over responsibility for tourism has now given the scheme the green light.

Homes near the fort housed Bahraini families until the end of last year, but have been empty since residents were given new properties at a nearby development.

However, Minister Essam Khalaf reportedly told the Capital Trustees Board that the scheme would have to be funded solely through private investment.

“I don’t know why the project was delayed since 2012,” said Capital Trustees Board chairman Mohammed Al Khozaie.

“Artist impressions and designs could have been drawn up for the homes in line with the former council’s ideas.

“The fort was granted World Heritage Site status by Unesco (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) nine years ago, but in actuality it lacks what it needs to be a comprehensive destination – despite the presence of a museum and café.

“Everyone knows how things were managed under the former Culture Ministry, with ideas necessarily coming from within – or else they got shelved even if they were excellent.

“But now things are set to change with Khalaf taking charge and his interest in the project.

“The idea of turning the whole project over to investors is excellent and it will definitely fast-track development work.

“I have already received verbal interest from several businessmen.”

Al Khozaie, who is due to travel on holiday to Thailand next week, said he was keen to learn how Bahrain could adopt practices that had made Thailand such a popular destination.

“We have taken most of the former council’s concepts, but there are advancements in tourist attractions that we could integrate and Thailand is a good example that we could learn from,” he said.

“It is not just the vacated homes that we are interested in, but the whole area surrounding the fort and we will make modifications to the plan accordingly.

“By the end of the year we will hopefully meet potential investors and we expect work to begin a year from now.” - TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Bahrain | tourism | fort | attraction |

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