Els Slots (The Netherlands):
This cleverly marketed Tentative WHS will undoubtedly turn into a full WHS this summer. It's Bahrein's nomination for 2011, and they are hosting the World Heritage Committee Meeting this year - so this will be their reward.
Politics aside: I loved it! The Shaikh Isa Bin Ali House
is the single most impressive sight that I have encountered in Bahrain. As I was a bit underwhelmed by the other "attractions" of the island (the forts, the tumuli), this is a kind of site that I really like. It is centered on a few streets in South Muharraq. Here you'll find glimpses of another era, when the Bahraini lived from the pearl trade, and before all that came with the oil. The narrow streets have a slight resemblance to Zanzibar.
I started with a visit to the Shaikh Isa Bin Ali House - this was used as the seat of government in the late 19th century (Muharraq was Bahrain's capital at that time) and the residence of the ruler. It is a complex consisting of 4 separate quarters, almost a labyrinth to walk in. The decoration of the doors and windows is wonderfully done. The house also has the best example of a Wind Tower, a local implementation of early airconditioning.
Closeby are the Siyadi House and adjacent mosque. The house unfortunately is closed to visitors - I wonder if it will open again after the area has become a WHS. It does look stunning enough from the outside though.
I read in the National Museum that they plan to connect 16 or 17 historic buildings in Muharraq with the dhow harbour in a 3km long heritage trail. When I visited I did not find any clear evidence that this has been implemented yet. And there's not much activity left in the dhow harbour.
Date posted: October 2010