Bahrain - Plans are underway to maintain the momentum of the Manama Suq revival project and boost tourism, according to officials.

New possible activities include outdoor cinema and tours for visitors.

This comes as traders at the iconic market have expressed their keenness to support the Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority’s (BTEA) initiatives to boost commercial movement and tourism in the area.

According to BTEA chief executive Dr Nasser Qaedi, Manama Suq is a significant feature of the authority’s busy event schedule programme planned throughout the year.

He also added that it is an important aspect of Bahrain’s commercial, social and cultural heritage while also being a popular tourist attraction.

“Merchants noted the importance of these events in supporting the tourism and economic sectors in Bahrain such as the ‘Manama Gold’ festival in which about 180 gold shops participated,” he said in a statement yesterday.

“Over the course of its one-month duration, the festival recorded total sales of more than $3.1 million and included a weekly raffle draw where 17 winners were announced including a grand prize of gold bars worth BD5,000.

“The festival also included various artistic performances, a digital museum in co-operation with the ‘Manama Story’ initiative, a traditional fashion show which showcased gold as authentic Bahraini heritage and other events.”

Dr Qaedi reaffirmed the authority’s readiness to host multiple initiatives in the suq such as an outdoor cinema, tours within the market in addition to the Bahrain Design Week scheduled during the second half of this year.

“This success has prompted us to request that the authority organise more market-specific festivals such as heritage market festivals which will bring visitors and tourists to the various traditional markets,” said Old Manama Suq Committee vice-president Mahmood Al Namlaiti.

“A Folk Food Festival can also be held to feature shops such as Alo Bashir, Haji Café and other heritage restaurants.

“I hope these efforts will help to speed up the restoration of the suq to its rightful place at the forefront of tourist destinations in Bahrain and the Arabian Gulf – especially as it is one of the region’s oldest commercial markets.

“In addition to its many buildings it is home to many Bahraini merchant families and the centre of attraction for visitors and tourists from the Arabian Gulf, the region and the world.”

Meanwhile, Capital Trustees Board chairman Saleh Tarradah said that the BTEA’s event programme is an essential component of the project to develop the market and its traditional squares.

He also added that this has facilitated the study of allocation of facilities like parking spaces and other services that meet the needs of visitors and tourists in addition to the needs of merchants.

“We want the Manama Suq to be a key factor in the entertainment and tourism events held by BTEA throughout the year as well as promoting the market outside Bahrain to attract tourists and visitors from GCC countries,” said Old Manama Suq Committee chairman Riyadh Al Mahroos.

“We believe that this is in the common interest of all – for us as merchants, for the market as a tourist heritage landmark and for the Bahraini economy.”

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