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Tue 17 Aug 2010 09:06 AM

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Bahrain's 'Pearl Route' heritage site to cost $27m

Work on the 2km Muharraq street project is set to begin in January 2012.

Bahrain is to spend $27m to renovate one of its oldest neighbourhoods in a bid to retain memories of the country’s pearl-diving past.

The Pearl Route, in Muharraq, will see a 2km stretch of the town where pearl traders used to live and trade transformed, the Gulf Daily News reported.

The Culture Ministry has already finalised work on the potential World Heritage Site project, where work is set to begin at the beginning of next year, an official told the newspaper.  

"Committee officials will inspect the location, before we get the go-ahead to begin work in January. It would take us until December 2012 to complete it,” said Culture Ministry under-secretary Dr Isa Ameen.

Officials from UNESCO are expected to visit the site in October.

Ameen added that the ministry plans to include around 50 homes on the proposed route, with plans for 20 already complete. It has already classified houses in the area into three types: those earmarked for demolition and rebuilding, those which need renovating, and those which need to be protected and which will be bought by the government.  

The newspaper said that 20 homes were likely to be demolished.

The Pearl Route scheme has already been a source of some confusion in the area, with the Culture Ministry blocking the requests of around 200 local residents to renovate their homes.

Residents wishing to rebuild their houses were informed that they needed to use certain expensive designs and colours to obtain their permits, which many refused to do.

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