Original plans to give Manama’s traditional suq a facelift were announced by Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority (BTEA) in 2016 and now, finally, a market set to be able to compete with the best in the world is set to be created.

In the past few years, many shop frontiers and signs at Bab Al Bahrain have been restored but all those involved in its upkeep and development accept it is only the start.

“There is more to be done to stabilise, strengthen and elongate the lifespan of some buildings for them to remain intact,” said Capital Trustees Board chairman Saleh Tarradah. “We are also looking into relocating cafés and restaurants to the second floor of buildings at Bab Al Bahrain and putting the ground floor into more interactive use.”

He added that the signage and new improvised buildings would eventually be extended to cover the whole area.

“We still don’t know what exact work will be included in each phase on the new development as the suq committee will meet next month to discuss the latest plans and budgets,” said Mr Tarradah.

Technology will also come under the spotlight to improve the visitor experience and support the businesses based within the suq. “The market should have a virtual view with details of each shop revealed through QR codes, URL links and any other technological advancement,” he added.

“Shops should be numbered, so people know where they are and how much it would take to reach a particular shopping destination within the suq.

“Such a feature would also be a great help for tourists, especially those arriving on cruise ships, as they have a limited time to tour the kingdom.”

A proposal to include solar panels to be used as shades across the main parts of the suq that could also generate electricity for air conditioners and lighting has also been presented by Mr Tarradah.

The original revamp plan included turning the old section of the market into a pedestrian zone, with transportation access for cycles, golf carts and environment-friendly auto rickshaws, also known as tuk-tuks.

The GDN reported earlier that a proposal by Strategic Thinking Bloc MP Ahmed Al Salloom, who is also a Bahrain Chamber board member, to turn the suq into a vehicle-free zone had been taken into account by the government.

The proposals come as the Old Town Manama is vying for World Heritage Site status as it was named on a tentative list to be considered for Unesco.

And, a Bahraini family business museum in the heart of the Old Manama Suq was given the unanimous thumbs-up by the Capital Trustees Board in March this year.

The Kanoo Museum is expected to open later this year at the historic headquarters of Yusuf Bin Ahmed Kanoo in the Manama Suq, which was initially inaugurated in 1960 by the late Ruler of Bahrain His Highness Shaikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, as reported in the GDN.

It will showcase the Kanoo family’s history of more than 130 years in trade and commerce that spans across three continents and shed light on the regional trade and business environment of the Arabian Gulf in an attempt to inspire new generations of entrepreneurs in the region.


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