American Express Middle East sponsors restoration of historical monument by Bahrain Ministry of Culture
Plans for the restoration of Bab Al Bahrain (Gateway of Bahrain), an important architectural and historical monument in Manama, were unveiled by Her Excellency Shaikha Mai Bint Mohammed Al Khalifa, Minister of Culture, William Keliehor, Chief Executive Officer, and Mazin Khoury, Chief Operating Officer, American Express Middle East.
The refurbishment of Bab Al Bahrain, located in Manama’s Customs Square, is part of the Ministry’s “Invest in Culture” initiative. American Express Middle East, which has been headquartered in Manama since 1977, is sponsoring the project and the renovation of the memorial office of His Great Highness the late Amir, Sheikh Salman Bin Hamad Al Khalifa, which is situated within Bab Al Bahrain.
Upon completion of the refurbishment process, Bab Al Bahrain will be a heritage monument representative of the history of the Kingdom of Bahrain. It will also become a premium tourist destination and will join the ranks of cultural tourist attractions, which have been revamped and renovated by the Kingdom.
Her Excellency Shaikha Mai Al Khalifa, Minister of Culture stressed the importance of Bab Al Bahrain as a heritage monument that must be preserved and revived in its traditional form, and esteemed as an important tourist attraction destination. She also underlined the importance of Bab Al Bahrain to the trade and tourism sectors for more than half a century.
Her Excellency expressed her appreciation of American Express for its support of the Ministry’s “Invest in Culture” initiative. Emphasising the significance of this distinctive heritage monument in the history of Bahrain, she mentioned that the project would be culminated during the Kingdom’s celebration of Al Manama as the Arabic Culture Capital for 2012. The refurbished Bab Al Bahrain would also be inaugurated ahead of 2013 and the celebration of Al Manama as the capital of Arabic tourism.
To celebrate the heritage of this architectural landmark, a school drawing competition has also been launched for young people in Bahrain. Organised by American Express Middle East and the Ministry of Culture in partnership with the Ministry of Education, children aged 12 to 14, from participating schools, will be asked to draw or paint their interpretation of Bab Al Bahrain and its importance to the Kingdom of Bahrain. The top three winning artworks will be displayed at the newly restored Bab Al Bahrain and the winners will receive valuable prizes.
William Keliehor, Chief Executive Officer, American Express Middle East, said: “American Express Middle East is both an active participant in the local community of Bahrain and a contributor to its economic growth and diversification. It is fitting that we should support the Ministry in the renovation of Bab Al Bahrain, a building with commerce at its heart. Preserving historic places for use by future generations is vital in ensuring the protection of Bahrain’s rich cultural heritage, and we particularly look forward to engaging young people about this important cultural landmark in the Kingdom of Bahrain.”
Designed by Sir Charles Belgrave, adviser to the Emir, Bab Al Bahrain was first built in the second half of the 1940s. It marks the main entrance to the Manama Souq, and initially stood close to the water’s edge, although extensive land reclamation has added new construction and roads around the monument. Refurbished in 1986 to incorporate ornamental architectural features, the building consists of a huge arch, below which runs a road. The restoration of Bab Al Bahrain is anticipated to take ten months to complete.
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