The Ministry of Culture organized an open discussion meeting with a number of Indian Expat Businessmen to discuss the latest developments with regard to the "Little India" project. H.E Shaikha Mai bint Mohammad Al-Khalifa chaired the meeting in the presence of H.E Dr Mohan Kumar, Indian ambassador in Bahrain.
India and Bahrain have always enjoyed warm and friendly relations which are based on historical and civilizational ties. The presence of a large Indian community in Bahrain represents a living link which nurtures this long-standing relationship.
H.E Shaikha Mai, said that that this meeting comes as part of the celebrations of the Kingdom of Bahrain and Manama as Asian Tourism City 2014, noting that the Memory of a Place, as embodied in the Suq Manama area, also embraces the Indian community’s contributions. The Minister of Culture stated that the Bahraini society has known the Indian community for decades and it has become part of the culture of Bahrain in many ways. The "Little India" project will honor this strong bond between both societies, H.E argued.
H.E Shaikha Mai lauded the historic visit to India by His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, which has impacted positively on bilateral, cultural, and commercial relations between the two countries. Visiting "Little India", which will be located in Bab Bahrain Old Suq, is a bustling and colorful Indian enclave, and is an excellent venue to get a taste for the Indian culture in Bahrain. Indian music and dances, bright colors, spices and the joyful atmosphere will fill the place and make it a challenging adventure.
A walk through the area will bring you across traders selling flowers, traditional Indian sweets, spices, prayer items, Indian clothes, Indian music and movies, restaurants with scrumptious Indian food, Indian beauty salons and so much more. The unique architecture with colourful walkways will surely have you snapping photo after photo, Frances Staffard, Exhibitions’ Specialist, at Ministry of Culture, said.
Ms. Stafford added that the project is envisaged to cover an open public space, which includes a stage for arts show and a theatrical installation for different events and cultural activities. Many shops can be designed according to the Indian style, to give shoppers the opportunity to buy Indian souvenirs and gift items, inspired by the rich cultural heritage, in addition to the logo of "Little India" on the merchandise for tourists.
The project also includes many leisure activities, such as renting bicycles to discover the alleys of old Manama suq, equipped with baskets and bags for shopping as well. "Little India" could also be added to the general direction and guides’ map to help the visitors find the place easily. Ms. Stafford also said that revenues coming from commercial outlets would contribute in the management and maintenance of the "Little India" project, organize arts lessons for Indian schools’ children, or use these revenues as an annual budget for the beautification of the streets and heritage area.
H.E Dr Mohan Kumar, Indian ambassador in Bahrain, for his part, lauded the efforts deployed by the Ministry of Culture to provide the best services to all residents in Bahrain, including the Indian Community. H.E also praised the historical relations between both countries and stressed the need to enhance them. The Indian Ambassador said this project has his total support and will do whatever it takes to realize it.
A number of India businessmen, who are expats in Bahrain, have expressed their desire to participate in this project, arguing that this would enhance the strong cultural and commercial historical relations between both countries. India and Bahrain enjoy excellent bilateral relations.
Relations are characterized by cordial political, economic and cultural exchanges. Presence of over 350,000 Indian nationals out of a total of 1.2 million residents in Bahrain is an important aspect of India’s bilateral relations with Bahrain. There is a large degree of convergence between Bahrain and India on a wide range of global issues.