Tourism plan for Al Sayah Island

PLANS are underway to turn a protected historic natural island off the coast of Busaiteen into a tourist destination.

Works, Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning Minister Essam Khalaf told the GDN that talks were continuing between the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities (Baca) and municipal officials to draw up development plans for Al Sayah Island.

“The place has the potential to become one of the most attractive historic and environment sites in the country,” said Mr Khalaf.

“Preserving the place was the first step and we managed to do so in the past few months and now is the time to give it a presentable facelift that would ensure it continues to keep its natural beauty and at the same time draws in visitors.”

The GDN reported in September that the Muharraq Municipal Council wanted Al Sayah Island to be secured by the police to ensure that it doesn’t get vandalised or destroyed.

Area councillor Waheed Al Mannai also wanted signs put up for visitors and tourists.

Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities (Baca) president Shaikha Mai bint Mohammed Al Khalifa declared the island as a national heritage site in the Official Gazette in April and has informed the Survey and Land Registration Bureau to identify it on maps.

“The natural island with a six-metre diameter circular opening in the middle includes a natural water spring,” said the declaration.

“It has the remains of what could be a fort or a defence tower with parts of the walls still standing.”


The council has been campaigning for years to protect Al Sayah Island from being swallowed up by reclamation work on a new bridge linking Muharraq and Manama.

Mr Al Mannai suggested that the island could have a natural park, restaurants and cafés, and be used as a possible venue for outdoor events. “The best way to protect the place from vandalism or sabotage is to open it up for investors,” he said.

“But, again we want something that doesn’t distort or harm the island, but instead takes its unique concept and builds on it.”

He added that the council’s efforts have seen the new bridge rerouted away from the island by 34m last year.

“We have previously managed to have two water openings that are 21m and 31m wide to allow water flow circulation in the area.

“As it’s just 50m away from the reclaimed coast of Busaiteen it would be nice to have a wooden jetty too.”

The new BD94 million bridge linking Muharraq and Manama, reclamation work for which started in January last year, has been rerouted to avoid the island.

The 550m bridge is an extension of the 7.8km-long North Muharraq Highway project which also includes the 4.2km-long Muharraq ring road.

The project will connect north Busaiteen and Bahrain Bay.

The island has a rich history and folklore which includes tales that Prophet Mohammed once passed through Al Sayah.

A hungry genie was also rumoured to have once inhabited the island. Named Bu Gedo, it supposedly demanded picnickers leave food for it.

A number of scientific studies conducted by researchers from Bahrain University concluded that the sounds attributed to Bu Gedo over hundreds of years were the natural ecological release of air during low and high tides.




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