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Culture centre for elderly on track.

A CULTURAL centre for the elderly will be finally built in Muharraq's biggest public park after three years of delays.

Plans for a special cafA for pensioners were originally incorporated in revamps to the Casino Public Park, but were scrapped by the Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs Ministry.

It said earlier that the decision was due to fears that the place would be turned into a facility that was exclusively for the elderly rather than serve families in general.

However, it has agreed to consider giving away space at the Grand Muharraq Garden for a cultural centre that showcases traditional handicrafts and other professions as well as offer recreation facilities and entertainment.

The garden was at one time set to be turned into a 'miniature Disneyland', but the plans were later shelved.

New designs are currently in the final stages and they will be submitted to the Muharraq Municipal Council for review.

Plans to pump BD19 million into the Grand Muharraq Garden were scrapped in April last year after the investor missed three deadlines to start work.

However, the council is now planning to use his BD180,000 deposit to equip the garden with family rest areas, playground equipment and a walkway.

The cultural centre, which will be run by the Bahrain Home for Parents Care, will be funded by Diyar Al Muharraq that originally proposed having the cafA in the park.

"Two stalled projects are finally going to happen at the same time after years of waiting," said council chairman Abdulnasser Al Mahmeed.

"It was sad to have the cafA scrapped and at the same time see the investor miss out on the miniature Disneyland project in the Grand Muharraq Garden, but things are set to change.

"I was happy that the ministry considered having new designs for the garden a few months ago, which are in the final stages, but what has made me happier is incorporating a cultural centre for the elderly.

"This is good news for the elderly who will now have a place to showcase their products and also enjoy their time with traditional music and games."

He said that Diyar Al Muharraq had already backed the plan, confirming that their original offer was still there.

"We are currently negotiating with the ministry to get the deal signed officially, so Diyar Al Muharraq can go on with the necessary procedures."

Mr Al Mahmeed said that the new plans for the garden were better than the original with the addition of the centre.

"This garden is the closest to Bahrain International Airport and it should give a good impression to visitors," he said.

"It is true that the investor has harmed us badly with backing down from the contract, but it is not the end of the road as we have now come up with other plans for the place."

The Kuwait-based Salah Al Rumaih Group was behind the miniature Disneyland project, but the Muharraq Municipality sought the council's approval to withdraw the project in June 2009.

It said delays in starting work had put the project four months behind schedule and claimed the investor changed the agreed designs.

According to the original plans, the project would have featured a variety of rides, landscaping and the country's longest walkway at 1,550 metres.

The designs also included the biggest bowling alley in the Middle East with 45 lanes, which would have been equipped to host international championships.

Other facilities were to include a women's health club, medical centre, restaurants and coffee shops, a hotel with a multi-purpose hall and a three-storey car park with a hydraulic elevator for vehicles.

Plans also included a miniature train to transport guests around the park and 14 buses to ferry visitors to the park from Saudi Arabia.

The park was also due to have its own ambulance and helicopter on standby, in case of emergencies.

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Publication:Gulf Daily News (Manama, Bahrain)
Date:Oct 3, 2011
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