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Bahrain celebrates its rich cultural and agricultural heritage

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© 2015 Iwan Baan. All rights reserved. 
 
Two unique events link Bahrain’s past with its present and future. Both highlight the Kingdom’s tradition and long-established history that are unlike any other in the Arabian Gulf. Interestingly, they are connected across thousands of miles, as well as thousands of years.
 
Old and new – the Bahrain Heritage Festival
 
The 23rd annual festival, this year entitled ‘Our Year of Heritage’, ran from 22 to 29 April and focused on essential aspects of the Bahraini personality. You can view a short video about it here.
 
The festival highlighted popular traditions such as food, handicrafts, calligraphy, musical instruments and perfumes, as well as performing arts – folk dancing, folk music and classical Arab music. Aspects of Bahrain’s maritime and industrial history were also represented, with exhibits on shipbuilding, sailing and pearling.
 
A major feature was the Heritage Village, sited next to the historic Arad Fort. This ancient landmark has hosted rather more up-to-date events during Bahrain’s recent Spring of Culture, including performances by world-famous entertainers John Legend, Joss Stone and Eric Clapton.
 
And the international link? Trees displayed at the Heritage Village, which come into fruit at different times of the year, are now featured at…
 
Milan Expo 2015 – revealing Bahrain’s agrarian past
 
Bahrain is taking part in the Milan Expo, which runs from 1 May to 31 October 2015. Under the theme ‘Feeding the planet, Energy for Life’, Milan Expo explores the complexities of nutrition and calls for a healthier, more sustainable world.
 
The Bahrain Pavilion is designed to address current challenges such as water provision and food security.. But, as the expected 20 million visitors will learn, it is significantly more imaginative than that.
 
‘Archaeologies of Green’
 
This poetic interpretation of Bahrain’s past is realised as a continuous landscape of ten fruit gardens, each with a dominant fruit tree native to Bahrain. The Bahrain Pavilion website extends the experience by showing the trees that are currently in bloom, with accompanying webcam images.
 
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© 2015 Iwan Baan. All rights reserved.
 
The pavilion also features special events and archaeological exhibits from the Dilmun and Tylos eras that refer to Bahrain as a fertile agricultural centre with sweet water springs, as well as many myths surrounding our islands as the location of the Garden of Eden and the ‘land of the million palm trees’.
 
 
From Milan to Manama
 
Bahrain’s pavilion has been built in Milan with renowned Italian craftsmanship to provide an enduring gift. After the Expo, the whole pavilion, constructed from prefabricated white concrete, will be shipped to Bahrain’s capital city Manama to become a botanical garden that reminds local and international visitors of Bahrain’s abundant farming legacy.
 
A view into the 2,000 sq. metre Bahrain Pavilion
 
Commenting, HE Shaikha Mai bint Mohammed Al Khalifa, Commissioner General and President of the Bahrain Authority for Culture & Antiquities (BACA), said: “Bahrain’s history as a wealthy country with abundant agricultural produce, which dates back to its ancient position as the land of Dilmun, linking the Ancient Near East to the Indus Valley, is brought to life in the Pavilion this year. Our choice of design and content was based on our desire to raise awareness of the importance of safeguarding this heritage and conserving the green natural historic landscapes as well as the culinary traditions and cultures associated with it.”
 
 
Snapshots from Bahrain's History
 
Ancient…
 
          Described as a paradise in the ‘Epic of Gilgamesh’, an epic Mesopotamian poem
 
          Previously known as Dilmun, Tylos and Awal
 
          5,000 years ago, the Bronze Age Dilmun civilisation was an important hub on the trading route between Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley in South Asia
 
          A prosperous pearling industry that reached its peak in the 19th and early 20th centuries
 
…and modern
 
          The first Gulf state to discover oil, in 1932, and the first to diversify away from it
 
          The first Middle Eastern country to install a mainframe computer, 1962
 
          The first to launch an Internet service, 1995
 
          The Middle East’s first full Formula 1™ Grand Prix night race, 2014