Bahrain seeks Pearling Trail inclusion in world heritage list

June 27, 2012

Muharraq's Pearling Trail - BNA

Bahrain is hoping that its Pearling Trail will be included in the World Heritage List as the regular session of the Unesco World Heritage Committee starts Sunday a meeting in St. Petersburg to consider 33 sites. Shaikha Mai Bint Mohammad Al Khalifa, the culture minister, will push for the inclusion.

“Pearling: a testimony to an island economy”, as the project is known to the Unesco World Heritage List, is a 3.5km walkway through the heart of historic Muharraq, Bahrain’s second largest town.

The site is a serial site consisting of 15 maritime, seashore and urban properties identified as reflecting most vividly major social, cultural and economic aspects of the grand narrative of Bahrain’s pearling activities.

The nominated properties represent the culmination and final expression of some 7,000 years of pearling history in the Arabian Gulf, a tradition that fostered the creation of the grand narrative of Bahrain’s pearling economy, the culture ministry said.

They include vast natural pearl-producing oyster beds located in the northern Bahraini territorial waters and seashore that was the scene of the ceremonial departure and return of Bahrain’s pearling fleet each year during the pearling era.

It also features a seafront fortress that has safeguarded for centuries the pearling city and its fleet and 12 historic architectural properties located in the heart of old Muharraq.

The buildings, surrounded by what remains of the Arabian Gulf’s pearling capital, range from family residences and reception rooms (majlis) to a family mosque, shops and storehouses.

They represent the central locations and players in the pearling economy from divers, haulers, dhow captains and boat builders to folk medicine practitioners, general goods and pearl traders and grand merchants. The role and perceptions of women in the pearling economy is also paid particular attention.

Several historic buildings and houses have been undergoing conservation, beginning from the port and old fort and ending with the home and majlis of a grand merchant. The culture ministry says that the site is important for Bahrain and the region “as it retells the story of the pearling economy and culture that has sustained the Arabian Gulf and has formed an important component of its identity”.



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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