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.
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