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UN heritage listing to spur Bahrain tourism.

Bahrain's historical pearl diving heritage could boost tourism after becoming the second site in the kingdom to be included in Unesco's World Heritage list.

The 3.5km Pearling Trail, testimony of an island economy, consists of 17 buildings in Muharraq city, three offshore oyster beds, part of the seashore and the Qal'at Bu Mahir fortress on the southern tip of Muharraq Island, from where boats used to set off for the oyster beds. Bahrain already has one historical site included, Bahrain Fort, which was listed in 2007.

The decision came as the 21-member World Heritage Committee, the independent body responsible for the World Heritage Convention, met in St Petersburg, Russia, on Saturday.

It could also benefit the country's economy as it could attract more foreign investments, said Chamber of Commerce tourism committee member Abdulhakeem Al Aradi. "This would attract more tourists who are interested in historic sites," he added.

"Protecting such places would ensure that people from around the world would come and see these places. I think that such projects enhance the tourism sector and thus open a new door for investors."

His comments were reiterated by Muharraq municipal councillor Fatima Salman, who said such initiatives could contribute to improving the financial situation in the country.

"Bahrain is now considered a country of heritage which can activate the tourism sector and raise more awareness regarding protecting such places."

Meanwhile, Bahraini historian Ali Bushehr hoped the committee would consider adding 11 other historic locations to the list, such as burial mounds, remains of temples and historic relics.

"This decision came at the right time because it will save a great historical site," he said. "Each foot in Bahrain speaks of a rich history and I really hope that other locations like the Tree of Life and the burial mounds get acknowledged internationally as well."

Dammam Regional Museum archaeologist Nabiel Al Shaikh said the decision would not only benefit Bahrain, but highlight the entire region on the international arena.

"This is great news to the whole region, because it will benefit us as well in exploring the old economical bonds between the two countries and other countries in the GCC," she said.

"Bahrain's old professions like pearl diving and pearl trading will be saved forever because of such initiatives." -- TradeArabia News Service

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Publication:TradeArabia (Manama, Bahrain)
Geographic Code:7BAHR
Date:Jul 2, 2012
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