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Gem of a trip coming up
Written by Ali Mushaima   
Wednesday, 09 December 2009 00:23

bahrain pearls

Watch this space for details on a brand new expedition - and a chance for you to win a certified Bahraini natural pearl!

(An advance hint: The contest answers can be found on our sister website Bahrainguide.org - feel free to go ahead and do some reading. 

Meanwhile, here's some more information on the Bahrain pearling project that the expedition is supporting, courtesy the Gulf Daily News:

 

Bid to preserve a 'rich' heritage 

BAHRAIN's heritage experts and researchers are working on a proposal to put Bahrain's pearl diving tradition on the World Heritage List.

Officials from the Culture and National Heritage Sector of the Culture and Information Ministry will submit the proposal to United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) by January 1, 2010.

It will take 18 months for the proposal to be reviewed and it will be considered for the World Heritage List by Unesco in 2011.

The Unesco nomination covers three oyster beds north of Bahrain, which range between 25km and 70km offshore, the beach area at the southern tip of Muharraq where boats would arrive and leave, and parts of Muharraq, including historical buildings.

Part of the nomination includes having a three-kilometre historical trail for visitors that will start at the seaside and continue through the streets of Muharraq, including Al Qaysariya Suq, which the sector plans to preserve and turn into a cultural heritage attraction.

From there, tourists will follow a trail that takes them on a historical journey, where they will visit homes belonging to divers, captains, pearl traders and jewellers.

A visitor's centre containing exhibitions and a cafe will also be created as part of the trail.

Part of the initiative is to encourage pearl diving because according to heritage experts, there is evidence that harvesting oysters is beneficial for oyster beds.

Sector heritage management and Unesco affairs counsellor Britta Rudolff said the BD15 million project, dubbed 'Pearling: Testimony of an Island Economy', would be rolled out over three years.

"The main concepts are in the process of being finalised and renovations will begin on four or five sites late December or early January," she told the GDN.

"We have done a lot of diagnostic and conceptual work and found experts to help with the renovations."

Sector heritage management specialist Eva Battis, who is one among a team working on the pearling project, said the focus of the initiative was to preserve the testimony of pearling history in Bahrain because in the early 20th century, the whole of Bahrain's society was involved in the industry.

"We will have to develop the heritage trail and a lot of research needs to be done to know what the full story is - we have already been researching it for two years," she said.

"It's important for Bahrain's identity to have it as a Unesco site, it differentiates the country from other nations.

"In ancient books, Bahrain was noted as the prime location for pearling in the world, so it's important for humanity, for the world, not just Bahrain."

Meanwhile, adventurer and travel guide publisher Ali Mushaima will promote tourism and heritage in Bahrain, including the Unesco nomination for pearling during a road trip from Bahrain to Oman (Manama to Muscat) on December 14. In 2010, he will be making another trip, from Bahrain to Yemen (titled Port of Pearls to Port of Coffee).

The last trip will be from Bahrain to Greece (Tylos to Thessaloniki), not only to promote the pearling, but also to highlight the historical link between Bahrain and Greece.

"The trip will take us to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan, Syria, Turkey and finish in Greece. We will visit Unesco sites in these countries," he said.

"We want to do our part to publicise the pearling sites in Bahrain.

"We like to complement the work the government is doing because we have something in Bahrain that is unique and we think Culture and Information Minister Shaikha Mai bint Mohammed Al Khalifa is doing a great job."

The trip follows on from Mr Mushaima and his team's Friendship Tour of the Gulf in April and a Friendship Tour around the Middle East and Europe last year.

To follow the upcoming trip or for more information visit www.friendshiparabia.com.

Bringing the pearl diving tradition to the public is Al Dar Islands manager Mohamed Slaise, who conducts pearl diving excursions daily.

He has been pearl diving since he was 15 and believes the hardest part is opening the oysters and searching for a pearl.

"The oyster has to be ill to have a pearl, it defends itself by producing a pearl when a particle gets in," said Mr Slaise.