BY LLOYD PARKS
Classic meets ultra-modern this April, as Bahrain holds the second edition of Hurafuna Festival, running along side the highly acclaimed Formula 1 event located at the Bahrain International Circuit on the 14, 15 and 16th of April.
The Hurafuna Festival was introduced to Bahrain last year by Bahain Tourism & Exhibitions Authority, in line with the ‘Manama Gulf Capital of Tourism’. Held under the patronage of the Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, H.E. Mr. Zayed Al Zayani, the Festival is aimed at showcasing Bahrain’s rich heritage, exposing the vibrant culture, and encompassing the creativity and enterprise, which is the backbone of the traditional Bahraini Souq, and regional trading lines that have long been a part of Bahrain’s diverse history.
Located in the Arabian Gulf, Bahrain (literal meaning, Two-Seas) has a rich and varied culture, bearing influence from empires, states and protectorates, including the Persians, Sumerians, Babylonians, Portuguese and British. Once known as ‘Tylos’ to the Greeks, translating to ‘the center of Pearl trade’, Pearl Diving was once Bahrain’s economic driver. By the Mid-19th century Bahrain’s Manama Harbor, along with the discovery of oil, helped diversify the economy and became the regions trade route hub, surpassing Basra, Kuwait City and eventually the Omani port.
Bahrain’s economic prosperity, paralleled by its forward thinking has resulted in the Kingdom becoming a leading center for banking and finance in the region, along with becoming a tourist hotspot. In 2006 Bahrain was labeled as the fastest growing economy in the Arab World, alongside being the freest economy in the Middle East. Wealth and evolution in the Kingdom has led to the development of major attractions including the Bahrain International Circuit (home to the F1), the Bahrain Financial Harbor, Bahrain Bay, and the World Trade Center.
Celebrating Bahrain’s rich culture and heritage, the Hurafuna Festival provides the nation and it’s visitors a chance to embrace local festivities and explore handicrafts and craftsmanship that date way back to Bahrain’s beginnings. The handicrafts include basket weaving, pottery making, production of traditional musical instruments, box making, (miniature) shipbuilding and much more. These iconic trades have been a large part of Bahrain’s culture over the years serving the livelihood and wellbeing of many local Bahraini families and have continued to do so right into the modern metropolis that Bahrain is today. Various heritage sites providing such craftsmanship are scattered across the island including; the Jasra Handicrafts Center, A’Ali Pottery Workshop, Bahrain Manama Souq and Basket Weaving in the village of Karbabad.
Pottery making dates back as far as the Dilmun Civilization era, with numerous archeological discoveries found at the Bahrain Fort, and throughout burial mounds across Bahrain. Pottery used to serve a much larger need of necessity such as the production of plates and cutlery, whereas today, it serves a more artistic and cultural purpose. Artisans creating pottery use only high quality, locally sourced mud from Riffa, and to this day use conventional methods that date back thousands of years. To this day pottery is created in Bahrain with one of the biggest centers being found in A’Ali.
Basket weaving, not unlike pottery making, has been developed and created in Bahrain for many years, making use of the limited but versatile resources that is found across the island. Made out of Date Palm, palm tree leaves, basket weaving serves a practical but artistic creation. Used throughout Bahrain for gifts, farming, households and decoration, you can still see this classic creation in action at special sites across Bahrain.
A fitting trade for an island nation, shipbuilding came to rise in line with the enormous pearl diving trade that once existed in Bahrain spurred by the development of the regions leading maritime trade hub. Bahrain has long been known for its expertise in shipbuilding, more specifically Dhows. You can get a glimpse, and if you’re lucky a tour around some Dhow building at the Muharraq Fisherman’s port. These iconic boats can be found throughout the region with much of the resources needed for building materials coming from our friends across the water in India.
The Hurafuna Festival was such a success last year; it ensured it became a regular on the Bahrain events calendar! So make sure you stop by and explore all they have to offer and support the vibrant, rich culture that Bahrain has to offer. The festival was located at the Bab Al Bahrain from April 12th to 18th, 2017.
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