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Council nod for cable car plan.

Bahrain: Bahrain is set to have its first telepherique network connecting several attractions in Muharraq under a new project approved by councillors yesterday.

The proposal for an aerial cable car network was approved by the Muharraq Municipal Council during its final meeting of the municipal term and referred to Works, Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs Minister Essam Khalaf.

The council has given the ministry until September to determine locations through a study that would be presented to investors to select from.

Councillors have proposed the network which mainly covers Al Ghous Bay, situated between Shaikh Hamad Bin Isa Causeway and the Shaikh Isa Bin Salman Causeway, which both link Manama and Muharraq.

Al Ghous Bay, which separates Manama and Muharraq, was last week put up for tender two years after investors pulled the plug on a multi-million-dinar project.

The council suggested projects should include new ferry services, maritime sports facilities, seafood restaurants, seafront cafes, a walkway and even hot air balloon rides.

Bidders are now being invited to invest in the project.

Muharraq Municipality acting director general Yousif Al Ghatam said the project will be tendered to private investors with it having the potential to be successful.

"Tourists would love moving around Muharraq in a telepherique - if not for the interest of the area's attractions, being in the air itself is a fascinating experience," he said.

"I am certain that bidders would be interested in offering the service. It would be a profitable business, considering that it comes as part of a comprehensive blueprint to develop and promote Muharraq to a larger audience.

"We have already opened bids as asked by the council for Al Ghous Bay and making it the network's focal point will certainly make it more valuable."

Council chairman Mohammed Al Sinan said Bahrain was not in need of mountains or anything artificial to attract tourists to use the telepherique network.

"Whether it is the Al Ghous Bay view or the Pearl Route project, a World Heritage Site under the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco), or old homes and buildings, we have what it takes for the project to succeed," he said.

"It will succeed and we have already spoken to a number of investors from the Far East and Europe who have shown interest."

Council financial, administrative and legislative committee chairman Ghazy Al Murbati said tourists can look forward to a ride of a lifetime.

"The view in Muharraq is extraordinary. Thailand has just introduced a similar aerial network to cover tourist attractions," he said.

"Of course, what we offer here is different but having a telepherique network will certainly boost tourism in Muharraq, which is rich in heritage and culture."

The Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities (Baca) was last year given the go-ahead through a Royal Decree after the National Assembly approved to take a $48 million loan from the Islamic Bank for Development to fund the Pearl Route project, which will involve buying properties from homeowners and turning them into cultural attractions.

A total of BD10m has been set aside in the national budget to fund the Pearl Route project, which highlights Bahrain's traditional pearling industry.

Baca is working to acquire 200 properties for the project, while owners of other properties will be able to continue living there.

The former Culture Ministry, replaced by Baca, was initially supposed to renovate 200 homes, preserve 17 buildings and create 11 open spaces in the historical neighbourhood where people involved in the pearling industry used to live and trade.

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Publication:Gulf Daily News (Manama, Bahrain)
Geographic Code:7BAHR
Date:Jun 20, 2016
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