The Pearling heritage of Bahrain is located in the minds of people, like a story, a memory of many who associate different elements and cultural traditions with the time when men went out to the sea every summer. The narrative is equally maintained in place and family names, social hierarchies, surviving legal systems, songs, stories, poetry, festivals, dances, and built landmarks, and in the pearl jewellery that is still crafted locally using natural pearls collected from Bahrain’s oyster beds.

 

The pearling heritage is, therefore, not presented as a single location but as a path, a way that one can walk along and discover different elements of the overall narrative. The site components consist of the oyster beds, where the divers would have captured the pearls, the seashore and its festival at the beginning of the season, the ‘Amarat and the ship building sites to the historic markets and residences of those involved in the economic system.

 

The pathway narrating the story is approximately 2 miles (3.5 km) long and located in Southern Muharraq. Taking its visitors from the beach to the house of one of the grand merchants, the pathway is illustrated in the images and sounds of the precious history of Bahrain and its people.

Oyster Beds

For centuries, the oyster beds located off the northern shores of Bahrain were described in superlative terms for the quality of their pearls, the density of their oysters, and the high ratio of pearl discoveries made during the pearl collecting season. In his Natural History, Pliny the Elder (23/24–79 AD) named the island (then Tylos) as “extremely famous for its numerous pearls”.

The reputation of Bahrain’s oyster beds as the richest in the Arabian Gulf meant that in the season, pearling dhows from Qatar, Kuwait and the South Persian coast sailed to join pearling fleets from Muharraq and the main island of Bahrain in the quest for the prized natural treasures. They were able to do so because the waters of the Arabian Gulf were considered the common property of all its coastal dwellers.

The Bahraini oyster beds proposed for World Heritage nomination are Hayr Shtayyah, Hayr Bu ‘Amamah and Hayr Bu-I-Thamah. Occupying nearly 35 thousand hectares and populated by well over a billion oysters, the beds are also home to diverse marine species such as corals, anemones, sea stars and fish. They have been selected to represent the distinctive qualities of the Bahraini oyster beds and their popularity as a pearl diving location among the Arabian Gulf’s pearling fleets.

 

— HaBū-l-Thāmah

Of the three Bahraini oyster beds proposed for nomination, Hayr Bu-I-Thamah has the strongest reputation among former divers and dhow captains as a source of real treasures. With an average depth of 20 metres, it is the deepest of the three beds, and may also have the highest density of oysters in the Arabian Gulf. Its reputation for producing large and beautiful pearls (Arabic: danat; sing. danah) may have given divers the courage to dive to the bottom of this deepest of beds. It may also have motivated captains to head to the bed, 65km from the northern shores of Muharraq Island, as soon as the divers were up to the water depth.

 

— Hayr Bū ‘Amāmah Oyster bed

Known during the pearling era for its extremely high density of pearl finds to oysters, Hayr Bu ‘Amamah was probably the most popular oyster bed during the main pearling season and was frequented by pearling dhows from ports around the Arabian Gulf. With its extremely high density of pearl finds to oysters, Hayr Bu ‘Amamah promised the divers good finds even with an average underwater density of oysters (4-20 per square metre). Located 63km northwest of Muharraq Island, it has an area of around 4.8 thousand hectare and is the most western of the important oyster beds. Its water depth is a fairly constant 15 metres, with visibility averaging around 10 metres. Previous surveys have estimated the number of oysters on the bed at 482 million, and the surveyors have found the oysters in a healthy condition. The sea anemones, sea urchins, sea stars and a colourful variety of fish, molluscs, corals and sponges found at Hayr Bu ‘Amamah make it a fascinating place of discovery for scuba divers.

Included as a marine protected area since 2007, Hayr Bu-I-Thamah is in excellent environmental condition and enjoys a high degree of control over fishing and trawling. Although the water quality is also excellent, with the oyster bed demonstrating a high species diversity, especially in its range of living corals, visibility is limited to about 7 metres. This could result from the additional water depth and resulting stronger current, or from the movement of the inhabitants of the coral reef.

 

— Hayr Shtayyah Oyster beds

Located 24 nautical miles (44km) off the northern shores of Muharraq Island, and with an area greater than 24 thousand hectare, Hayr Shtayyah, was a popular anchorage at the opening of the pearling season. Importantly, it is one of the shallowest oyster beds, with high visibility, making it a favoured location at the start of the season when pearl divers had to rebuild their form after eight months onshore. Second, the water temperature of Hayr Shtayyah is some three degrees warmer than the temperature of deeper oyster beds, a significant difference, particularly during the colder first and last weeks of the season, for divers who had to spend up to two hours in the water without a break. Finally, the cluster formation of Hayr Shtayyah’s oysters made them easier and faster to collect. Oyster clusters were also believed to be a good source of pearls. A 2008 survey of Hayr Shtayyah found that the oyster bed remains in good condition, with a pearl oyster density varying from 4-30 oysters per square metre, and a rich habitation by fish, echinoderms, molluscs,corals and sponges.

The Seashore

The seashore had key cultural and strategic functions in the pearling economy. It was the point of the pearling fleet’s departure for the annual diving season (Ghus al-Kabir), and its return some four months later. These occasions were the most important in Bahrain’s pearling calendar, marked not only by farewells and reunions (or, alternately, by scenes of tragedy when a father or son did not return) among loved ones, but also by large festivals held on the shore.

 

The seashore was also pivotal to the island society’s relations with the wider world. It was here that visitors arrived and departed outside the pearling season, where international traders unloaded goods shipped from India or other parts of the Arabian Gulf, and where diplomatic visitors were officially received.

 

A third role was the seashore’s strategic defensive function: it protected the Muharraq settlement largely due to inaccessibility. Most of Muharraq’s seashore was extremely shallow as a result of shallow, offshore coral reefs, most of which have now been converted into land through successive land reclamation programs. Muharraq’s harbour was an open area of deeper water at the very southern tip of the island. From there, passengers and goods would be transferred into rowboats, and landed at the island’s southernmost shore of Bu Mahir.

 

Bū Māhir Seashore

Bu Mahir Seashore is located at the southernmost tip of Muharraq Island, on what was formerly a tidal island. Largely unchanged since the decline of the pearling economy in the 1930s, it is the only remaining authentic beach where the pearling season’s festivals were celebrated.

 

A sandy point jutting into Bahrain’s main harbour, Bu Mahir Seashore was the last solid ground many pearl divers stood on before they embarked for the main pearling season (Ghus al-Kabir), and the first they set foot on after several months at sea. These twice-yearly rites of passage, involving crossing from a life on the land to a very different one at sea and back again, made Bu Mahir a very special place.

 

Festivals marking the departure (al-rakbah) and the return (al-quffal) of the pearling fleet were the most important ceremonies held along the seashore, but by no means the only ones. Boat construction (usually carried out north of Bu Mahir Seashore), the launching of new boats and the re-launching of repaired vessels were all accompanied by beachfront celebrations.

 

Bu Mahir beach also served as a playground for youngsters, a site of folkloric beliefs and rituals, a place for playing folk music, and an open-air gathering place (majlis) where traditional food was served.

 

Larger vessels visiting Muharraq anchored in the deeper waters of the harbour basin off Bu Mahir Seashore. Visitors, diplomatic missions and goods alike had to be transferred into smaller rowboats and landed at the seashore.

 

Departure and Landing of the Fleet

The first day of the pearl diving season, the day of departure (al-rakbah), was one of great excitement in which Muharraq’s entire population gathered along the shore for final farewells and festivities with many of the women and children dressed in special costumes. The head of state (amir) announced the departure about 10 days ahead, to allow the pearling fleet time to finalise preparation of the dhows and ensure provisions for families left behind.

 

On the departure day, usually in early June, the captain called his crew together to haul the boat from dry land, where it had wintered. They heaved the dhow to the sea, accompanied by the women singing Mrad songs expressing the hope for a safe return. Their voices mixed with the drum beats and diving songs from crew on-board hundreds of pearling dhows as they set sail.

 

Similar festivities awaited the crews upon the annual return from the main diving season (al-quffal) in mid-September or early October. The quffal was the most important day in Bahrain during the pearling era, a day of both tragedy and celebration. The announcement of the close of the season on the oyster beds was followed by an almost immediate return to the island. Women and children assembled on the shore at the first sight of the fleet, watching in trepidation for the black flags that indicated a death. As the fleet landed, songs of thanks mingled with mourning for those who would not return.

 

 

Qal‘at Bū Māhir

The earliest depiction of Qal’at Bu Mahir is shown on a Portuguese map of 1635. Originally a solid, four-towered fort with massive defensive walls, Qal’at Bu Mahir dominated the Bu Mahir Seashore and played an essential role in the pearling economy. It both defended the nearby Muharraq settlement and protected the basin between Muharraq and the main island of Bahrain. The latter role was vital for the protection of the pearling fleet against pirates and other Arabian Gulf aggressors at the beginning and the end of each diving season. In addition, the fortress protected Muharraq town’s principal water supply, a sweet water source located in the sea.

 

Qal’at Bu Mahir’s defensive role came to an end in 1868, when British Naval forces destroyed large parts of the fort and assumed some of the protection of Bahrain. From this time, the structure took on a new importance for the pearling society, in particular for the festivals marking the departure and arrival of the pearling fleet, offering spectators one of the highest vantage points on the island’s southern tip for viewing the dhows as they set off and returned.

 

The many historic events that took place at the fortress or in its immediate vicinity mean that Qal’at Bu Mahir is tied closely to Bahrain’s national heritage. Today, only the southern tower and its attached defensive wing remain. The rest of thefortress’s is visible in the excavated archaeological remains of the north-western and south-eastern towers and the foundations of the northern wall.

Qal‘at Bū Māhir, 2016, Camille Zakharia

Qal‘at Bū Māhir, 2016, Camille Zakharia

Qal‘at Bū Māhir, 2016, Camille Zakharia

Al-Ghūṣ House

Al-Ghus House – the pearl diver house -, is thought to have been built by a boat captain (nukhidah), a captain’s second-in-command, or perhaps a master boat builder in the first decade of the 20th century and is said to have been inhabited and used by related divers.

 

Al-Ghus house was originally located at the seashore, overlooking the sea passage that provided crucial access to the formerly tidal island of Bu Mahir (Halat Bu Mahir), Bu Mahir fort (Qal’at Bu Mahir) and the outer harbour. It is a simple single-storey structure, initially of three enclosed rooms and an open colonnade (liwan) arranged around a central courtyard.
In the contemporary urban fabric, al-Ghus House is a reminder of a coastal location official visitors would have passed by on their way from the seashore to the Muharraq market or to the ruler’s palace during the peak years of pearling. Older Muharraq residents recall that pearling related goods were sometimes stored inside the front section of the house until the tide had receded sufficiently to allow access to Halat Bu Mahir.

 

Although most divers (ghasah) and their even lower paid haulers (siyub) lived in huts constructed of palm materials (barasti), al-Ghus House is still representative of their housing since barasti shared a very similar ground plan, with a few rooms occupying, in most cases, two sides of a shared but enclosed courtyard. The building is a prototype of a modest lower- to middle-income family home constructed of locally collected coral stone.

Al-Ghūṣ House, 2016, Camille Zakharia

Al-Ghūṣ House, 2016, Camille Zakharia

Al-Ghūṣ House, 2016, Camille Zakharia

Badr Ghulum and Turabi Houses

Badr Ghulum Suleiman was a traditional folk medicine therapist and barber who set up his business in Muharraq in 1912. In the absence of modern medical services in Muharraq, his residence, Badr Ghulum House, progressively gained the character of a small health clinic, and today it contains the city’s earliest remaining structures built for the purpose of medical provision.

 

Among the many members of the pearling community, rich and poor, who sought treatment at Badr Ghulum House were pearl divers seeking relief from the pain and suffering they endured from long-term diving afflictions such as lung, eye and skin diseases. The clinic was one of the rare locations where everybody was welcomed equally and treated with dedication and respect.

 

The history of the property, still owned by the Ghulum family, illustrates the expansion of the family activity in several construction phases up to the most recent, which saw the treatment room rebuilt in coral stone. This room, still preserved today, contained the apothecary, where herbal and mineral pastes and syrups used in treatments were prepared.

 

The house with its flourishing courtyard garden is embedded in a traditional urban pattern of meandering narrow pedestrian lanes framed by single- and double-storeyed residences. Three rooms at the western side, a colonnade (liwan) towards the courtyard and the treatment room survive from Badr Ghulum House’s original plan.

Badr Ghulum and Turabi Houses, 2016, Camille Zakharia

Badr Ghulum and Turabi Houses, 2016, Camille Zakharia

Badr Ghulum House, 2016, Camille Zakharia

Badr Ghulum and Turabi Houses, 2016, Camille Zakharia

Al-Jalahma House

The al-Jalahma family was involved in a wide range of key professions of the pearling economy, from diver and hauler to pearl trader (tajir) and grand pearl merchant (tawwash). Al-Jalahma House, built on the northern tip of Muharraq city at the gateway to al-Halah Island before the age of land reclamations, was the Jalahma family’s home. It offers a prototype of a large, complex residence in which women, as a result of multiple marriages, made up the majority of household members. Consequently, the house provides a unique opportunity to explore the female perspective on the pearling economy.

 

Protecting the privacy of the female members of a household is a well-established tenet of Islamic architecture and in this extraordinary building. We find it guaranteed through a complicated arrangement of corridors, staircases, balconies and courtyards. Of particular interest, is that the separated gender areas of Al-Jalahma House are designed to be completely flexible: reception areas for men, for example, would revert to female domains once male visitors left. In all the other large family residences among the nominated properties, the guest reception room (majlis) is constructed as a separate building, or at least has a separate entrance. In Al-Jalahma House, however, the most representative reception room (hafiz) is located at the centre of the family home. Located on the residence’s airy, elevated first floor, the hafiz was the women’s favourite place during the summer months when the pearl diving season saw Muharraq transformed into a female city.

Al-Jalahma House, 2016, Camille Zakharia

Al-Jalahma House, 2016, Camille Zakharia

Al-Jalahma House, 2016, Camille Zakharia

Al-Jalahma House, 2016, Camille Zakharia

Al-Jalahma House, 2016, Camille Zakharia

Al Alawi House

Al-Alawi House is an example of residential architecture built with wealth derived from the supply trade that underpinned the pearling industry. It has Muharraq’s only remaining functioning wind tower apart from the palace of the former ruler, Sh. Isa bin Ali Al Khalifa.

 

Mahmoud Muhammad al-Alawi, the builder of the house, was a trader like his father and supplied goods to the pearling economy from his shop. This was close by in Muharraq’s main market, where he sold tobacco, rope, anchors and sail cloth for the dhows, fish oil, ground gypsum and caulking for their construction, and pearl diving equipment such as nose clips, collecting baskets and leather tips for fingers. He also operated sweet water boats which delivered drinking water to the pearling dhows. Merchants such as the al-Alawis, typically lived along the shore to be able to supply the pearling boats with essential goods during the season. And indeed, when Mahmoud Muhammed al-Alawi began construction of the residence early in the 1930s, the last decade of the pearling economy, it was on a site located on reclaimed land very close to the bay that once divided the islands of Muharraq and al-Halah.

 

The two-storey structure is the last remaining example of a once-frequent type of middle-class family home, consisting of a square structure surrounding a small central courtyard and with a corner wind tower.

Al Alawi House, 2016, Camille Zakharia

Al Alawi House, 2016, Camille Zakharia

Al Alawi House, 2016, Camille Zakharia

Al Alawi House, 2016, Camille Zakharia

Fakhro House

Fakhro House was the luxury residence of Yousif Abdurrahman Fakhro, a successful timber and boat merchant at the height of the pearling boom. The original scale and rich detail of Fakhro House invites comparisons to the elaborate houses built by the grand pearl merchants (tijar al-lu’lu), and also offers a unique example of a family home that in early land reclamation practices gradually expanded into the sea as need required.

 

The owner of a fleet of up to 50 boats, Yousif Abdurrahman Fakhro had his own dock adjacent to his residence, and could watch his fleet landing and departing from the windows of his private apartment and from his seaside majlis. The property’s total area is some 3000 square metres, of which nearly half remains built structure. Yousif Abdurrahman Fakhro’s warehouse (‘amarat), used for both storage and dhow construction, is located nearby in Muharraq’s commercial centre.

 

Requiring a large waterfront site for the residence in an already heavily built-up coastal neighbourhood, the merchant created the Fakhro property with one of the earliest large-scale land reclamations in Muharraq. As his wealth and his family grew, extensions became necessary. The only way the property could be enlarged was with further land reclamations. This makes Fakhro House unique apart from its splendid architecture and illustrates the importance of sea access for boat and timber merchants.
The eastern half of the property is still in use as a Fakhro family residence.

Fakhro House, 2016, Camille Zakharia

Fakhro House, 2016, Camille Zakharia

Fakhro House, 2016, Camille Zakharia

Fakhro House, 2016, Camille Zakharia

Fakhro House, 2016, Camille Zakharia

Fakhro House, 2016, Camille Zakharia

Fakhro House, 2016, Camille Zakharia

Fakhro House, 2016, Camille Zakharia

Fakhro House, 2016, Camille Zakharia

Murad House

Murad House and Murad Majlis are two buildings facing each other on either side of a small public square, separated by a mosque. They belong to the Murad family, for many generations pearl traders (tawawish), and are still in use today. Constructed of coral stone, they provide the best preserved and most authentic remaining example of the residence and guesthouse of a tawwash.

 

The Murad House, located in the corner property of two small alleyways and inaccessible to vehicular traffic, was at one time just 50 metres from the shore. The land was a gift to the family from the ruler, Sh. Isa bin Ali Al Khalifa, at the end of the 19th century. It is a classic courtyard house with spacious ground floor rooms arranged around a large, open, central courtyard and a second storey featuring roof terraces which would have once allowed a clear sea view. Of interest in the family head’s room, located near the ground floor entrance, is a safe (tjurr), in which the household’s valuables, including pearls, were stored.

 

As was typical for tawwash complexes, the Murad Majlis was constructed as aseparate building set apart from the primary family home. This is where male guests were received, pearl sales and purchases negotiated, and overnight visitors accommodated. The architectural and decorative detail of the majlis is relatively simple compared to the prestigious guest reception rooms built by the grand merchants – and thus credibly documents the status of a tawwash.

Murad House, 2016, Camille Zakharia

Murad House, 2016, Camille Zakharia

Murad House, 2016, Camille Zakharia

Murad House, 2016, Camille Zakharia

Murad House, 2016, Camille Zakharia

Murad Majlis

Murad House and Murad Majlis are two buildings facing each other on either side of a small public square, separated by a mosque. They belong to the Murad family, for many generations pearl traders (tawawish), and are still in use today. Constructed of coral stone, they provide the best preserved and most authentic remaining example of the residence and guesthouse of a tawwash.

 

The Murad House, located in the corner property of two small alleyways and inaccessible to vehicular traffic, was at one time just 50 metres from the shore. The land was a gift to the family from the ruler, Sh. Isa bin Ali Al Khalifa, at the end of the 19th century. It is a classic courtyard house with spacious ground floor rooms arranged around a large, open, central courtyard and a second storey featuring roof terraces which would have once allowed a clear sea view. Of interest in the family head’s room, located near the ground floor entrance, is a safe (tjurr), in which the household’s valuables, including pearls, were stored.

 

As was typical for tawwash complexes, the Murad Majlis was constructed as aseparate building set apart from the primary family home. This is where male guests were received, pearl sales and purchases negotiated, and overnight visitors accommodated. The architectural and decorative detail of the majlis is relatively simple compared to the prestigious guest reception rooms built by the grand merchants – and thus credibly documents the status of a tawwash.

Murad Majlis, 2016, Camille Zakharia

Murad Majlis, 2016, Camille Zakharia

Murad Majlis, 2016, Camille Zakharia

Murad Majlis, 2016, Camille Zakharia

Siyadi shops Block A and B

A number of historic commercial buildings located in Muharraq’s traditional market area form part of the heritage site and its narrative.

 

Siyadi Shops is a series of shops and storehouses (‘amarat) built from 1860. The buildings have been in continuous use by the Siyadi family ever since, and complete the narrative of the grand pearl merchant . Although not as remunerative as pearls, selling goods such as dates, rice, sugar, tea and coffee was the day-to-day business of grand merchants.

 

‘Amārat Yousif A. Fakhro

A number of historic commercial buildings located in Muharraq’s traditional market area form part of the heritage site and its narrative.
A group of three ‘amarat of the Fakhro family, originally a boat and timber trader family, is found immediately to the west of the Siyadi Shops. Of these, the two northern ‘amarat were initially owned by Ali Rashid Fakhro.
The third storehouse complex, ‘Amarat Yousif Abdurrahman Fakhro, remains only as a ruin, and as such illustrates the decline of the pearling era.

‘Amārat Ali Rashed Fakhro I

A number of historic commercial buildings located in Muharraq’s traditional market area form part of the heritage site and its narrative.

 

A group of three ‘amarat of the Fakhro family, originally a boat and timber trader family, is found immediately to the west of the Siyadi Shops. Of these, the two northern ‘amarat were initially owned by Ali Rashid Fakhro.

 

‘Amarat Ali Rashid Fakhro (I) is a shop and storehouse complex operated by the Fakhro family from the 1890s. Two massive doors, one at each end, provide equal access to the storehouse from the former market and the seashore. The building still houses one of Muharraq’s longest continuously operating coffee shops, the Qahwat Bu Khalaf, an important social institution in the market precinct during the pearling era.

‘Amārat Ali Rashed Fakhro II

A number of historic commercial buildings located in Muharraq’s traditional market area form part of the heritage site and its narrative.

 

A group of three ‘amarat of the Fakhro family, originally a boat and timber trader family, is found immediately to the west of the Siyadi Shops. Of these, the two northern ‘amarat were initially owned by Ali Rashid Fakhro.

 

‘Amarat Ali Rashid (II) is the most intact of the historic ‘amarat and the only one in the market area still used by merchants in its traditional function of storing trade goods.

Nūkhidhah House

The building described as Nukhidhah House is, to be more precise, the majlis of the boat captain (nukhidhah) Jassim Ajaj, built in the 1920s.

 

A captain’s professional success was vitally dependent on his ability to establish and maintain a social network and relationships. Always eager to attract the best divers to work on his dhow, a captain also needed to maintain close relationships with pearl traders (tawawish) and foster camaraderie among his crew. His majlis was the key location where the captain conducted his business, received regular social visits from his boat crew and also from prospective new divers coming to negotiate the seasonal advances.

 

Nukhidhah Jassim Ajaj constructed his modest majlis, which included guest rooms for accommodating divers arriving in Bahrain for the main pearling season (Ghus al-Kabir), close to his family home, located just a few metres away across a small alleyway. Typically, the two buildings were physically separate to ensure the privacy of female members of the household.

 

The picturesque, simple majlis illustrates the occupation of a nukhidhah and contributes this aspect of the grand narrative of the pearling economy.

Nūkhidhah House, 2016, Camille Zakharia

Nūkhidhah House, 2016, Camille Zakharia

Siyadi House

The Siyadi complex, created by one of Bahrain’s leading grand pearl merchant families (tajir al-lu’lu’), consists of three interrelated buildings: Siyadi House, a family residence built by Abdullah bin Isa Siyadi; Siyadi Majlis, a second family residence with an impressive guest room built by Ahmad bin Jassim Siyadi; and Siyadi Mosque, donated to the community by Isa and Jassim bin Ahmad Siyadi.

 

The Siyadis settled in Muharraq in the early 19th century. As grand pearl merchants, the family owned its own pearling fleet and was guaranteed of its annual pearl catch. The immense wealth generated from pearls allowed the family to build the Siyadi complex.

 

Siyadi House, dated to 1931 and still occupied by the builder’s grandson, completes the complex and illustrates the wealth of a grand pearl merchant, even as the pearling economy declined.

 

Siyadi House, 2016, Camille Zakharia

Siyadi House, 2016, Camille Zakharia

Siyadi Majlis

The Siyadi complex, created by one of Bahrain’s leading grand pearl merchant families (tajir al-lu’lu’), consists of three interrelated buildings: Siyadi House, a family residence built by Abdullah bin Isa Siyadi; Siyadi Majlis, a second family residence with an impressive guest room built by Ahmad bin Jassim Siyadi; and Siyadi Mosque, donated to the community by Isa and Jassim bin Ahmad Siyadi.

 

The Siyadis settled in Muharraq in the early 19th century. As grand pearl merchants, the family owned its own pearling fleet and was guaranteed of its annual pearl catch. The immense wealth generated from pearls allowed the family to build the Siyadi complex.

 

The exquisitely decorated Siyadi Majlis, the pearling era’s only four-storey building, is the jewel of the nominated pearling testimony. Its ground floor apartments, built in 1850, are among the earliest stone structures in Muharraq. Added in 1921, the majlis offers the last remaining example in which a tijar al-lu’lu’ received pearl merchants from as far away as India and Europe to negotiate over his special pearl collections.

Siyadi Majlis, 2016, Camille Zakharia

Siyadi Majlis, 2016, Camille Zakharia

Siyadi Majlis, 2016, Camille Zakharia

Siyadi Majlis, 2016, Camille Zakharia

Siyadi Majlis, 2016, Camille Zakharia

An overview of the Pearling Path

Siyadi Mosque

The Siyadi complex, created by one of Bahrain’s leading grand pearl merchant families (tajir al-lu’lu’), consists of three interrelated buildings: Siyadi House, a family residence built by Abdullah bin Isa Siyadi; Siyadi Majlis, a second family residence with an impressive guest room built by Ahmad bin Jassim Siyadi; and Siyadi Mosque, donated to the community by Isa and Jassim bin Ahmad Siyadi.

 

The Siyadis settled in Muharraq in the early 19th century. As grand pearl merchants, the family owned its own pearling fleet and was guaranteed of its annual pearl catch. The immense wealth generated from pearls allowed the family to build the Siyadi complex.

 

Siyadi Mosque is a modest, single-storey courtyard mosque with a simple conical minaret and remains in use. Built in 1865 and revised in 1910, it is Muharraq’s oldest preserved mosque and its earliest expression of Islamic religious values in the pearling economy.

Siyadi Mosque, 2016, Camille Zakharia

Siyadi Mosque, 2016, Camille Zakharia

Siyadi Mosque, 2016, Camille Zakharia

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