Wedding halls on brink of financial ruin in Bahrain
Wedding halls have been left on the brink of financial ruin as a result of weekly trouble in towns and villages. At least two businesses, Al Baraka in Jidhafs and the Teatro Restaurant and Lounge in Sanabis, have closed down as a result of losses caused by the unrest.
Numerous other wedding halls have been badly affected by illegal roadblocks and disruption caused by anti-government protesters and extra security measures brought in to stop them. It has decimated reservations and left many too afraid to attend the weddings of their family members.
One Bahraini bride who booked a wedding hall in Daih ended up moving to Muharraq after many guests said they would not show up amid safety fears. "Several guests and friends literally told me that they won't be coming to the wedding if I was to hold it in those areas," said the 25-year-old, who did not wish to be named. "My cousins and aunties, who I consider very close, worried they'd go through the trouble of paying and preparing themselves at the salon and then (potentially) not be able to enter the place." But despite losing a deposit on her booking, the teacher said she would rather switch venues than have fewer guests at her wedding. "The hall management rejected returning the advance payment even though they agreed that the situation was unsettling," she added.
Among the wedding halls worst affected has been the Al Tafaol Hall in Barbar, whose manager said it had received no bookings since the unrest. "We have had none whatsoever, prior to that period the hall used to be reserved nearly every night of the summer holiday and almost every weekend," said the woman, who did not wish to be named. The Al Mesbah wedding hall in Sehla has also been badly hit.
"The situation is awful, during regular months we'd have 15-25 weddings a month with a minimum of BD10,000 income, at the moment we only have three to five with BD1,500 income," said an official. "If the area gets closed, the wedding gets cancelled as no one can enter the hall including the catering company, photographer, DJ and guests. "We keep saying that the situation will get better, but it doesn't." The situation is similar at the Al Shabaka Wedding Hall in Jidhafs. "We renovated the hall at the beginning of this year, but ever since February we have had very few bookings," said a spokesman. "Before, we had 10-15 weddings a month but now we barely get two or three."
Other wedding venues such as the Musalla Al Eid Hall in Jidhafs, Prestige Events Hall, Marmaris in Daih, Jumaira in Salmaniya and Zenat Al Afrah in Isa Town have also suffered a drop in bookings. However, staff at the Shahrazad wedding hall in Budaiya said business was finally starting to pick up after months of lost trade. "No events were being reserved between February and June, but the business is slowly getting back on its feet since July," said a spokesman. "Before we used to have 20-25 weddings and now we receive a maximum of 15 a month. "I suppose people are now getting used to this condition and adapting to the situation."