Arabic English

Located in Central Manama, the Bab Al Bahrain was originally built in the 1920s to accommodate the government office. In 1945, a ceremonial gateway was added to the structure, marking the entrance to the historical Suq. The building consisted of two wings, an eastern and western wing connected by an archway. At the time, the Bab Al Bahrain was located on open land, facing the sea with direct access to Mina Al-Manama, the main port of the Island.

Bab Al Bahrain lies on a spine which connects the very important access to the covered market to the south with the newly built Bahrain Financial Harbor (BFH) to the north.  The BFH is located on reclaimed land on the site of the former Mina Al Manama. Three east-west roads cut through the site. Two of those three roads, the King Faisal Highway and Government Avenue carry major traffic volumes.

Description of current site conditions
The site today is an accumulation of several surface car parking areas and suffers from a general lack of planning and identity. The area lacks clear pedestrian pathways and crossings, as it is mainly dominated and defined by heavy car traffic.

The small square which faces the Bab Al Bahrain building consists of a roundabout and a drop-off area for taxis. There are little seating opportunities, and the existing ones are most often taken over by the waiting taxi drivers. During the evenings and on weekends, many people resort to "squatting" the roundabout, enjoying a small pick-nick or laying down for a rest in the late afternoon hours, showing the potential the area would have in becoming a lively open and public space.

Furthermore, the current traffic and parking arrangements have reduced the coherence of the old tight-knit urban fabric of the Suq areas and Government Avenue which separates the Bab Al

Bahrain from the rest of the open spaces has created a strong physical barrier which privileges cars over pedestrian movements.

Site boundaries
The site of the competition extends from the Bab Al Bahrain gate to the south to the Bahrain Financial Harbor to the North, and is defined by a series of buildings on the Eastern and Western sides.  It is intersected by the King Faisal Highway to the North which separates the parking zones from the Financial Harbor.  Government Avenue crosses the site to the South and separates the Bab Al Bahrain building from the surface parking areas. Al Fardah Avenue marks the Eastern boundary of the site and is the main access from Manama to the King Faisal highway. The Western side of the site is defined by the Regency Intercontinental Hotel and the Bahrain Financial Center Building.

The area can currently be divided into three distinct zones:
- the first zone is defined by the small square surrounding the roundabout which faces the Bab Al Bahrain building on one side, and the Manama Central Post Office on the other.

- the second zone is defined by a public car parking that serves the Suq area, it is defined to the South by Government Avenue and the Manama Post Office and to the North by Road 1507, and by the Bahrain Financial Center to the West.

- the third zone includes two parking areas serving the Regency Intercontinental Hotel and separated from the Bahrain Financial Harbour and the waterfront by the King Faisal Highway. 




Kingdom of Bahrain Ministry of Culture Manama Capital Of Arab Culture 2012