Jun 22 2012
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Bahrain launches plans for iconic area revival
Friday, Jun 22, 2012
Manama An old bank building in central Manama is to be turned into a museum under an initiative launched by the minister of culture.
Shaikha Mai Bint Mohammad Al Khalifa has already taken steps to transform the HSBC building near Bab Al Bahrain, the iconic white gate to the old Manama market, into a museum of fine art that will house pieces by Arab artists from Bahrain and the region.
The move is part of plans to reinvigorate areas that have profound and rich heritage and cultural significance and connotations, the minister, one of three women with portfolios in the government, said.
Under the initiative, the old post office across from the Gate will also be turned into a museum that will showcase rare postal items.
Shaikha Mai has reinforced her interest in culture and heritage by restoring several old houses, turning them into museums that highlighted Bahrain’s history.
The Shaikh Ebrahim Centre, the best-known private cultural premise in Muharraq, has hosted several concerts, lectures and cultural events that often brought together Bahrainis, foreigners and diplomats.
However, Shaikha Mai had had several standoffs with conservatives in Muharraq over the merit of the centre after they claimed that its activities clashed with the religious mindset prevailing in the area and which opposed concerts and the mingling of men and women.
The annual Spring of Culture festival in March was used by both parties to reinforce their argument.
Shaikha Mai also waded into controversy with the lower chamber of the bicameral parliament when she refused the request of conservative lawmakers to cancel the Spring of Culture or the Manama Capital of Arab Culture activities over the events in Syria.
By Habib Toumi Bureau Chief
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