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05 April 2014 Spring of Culture Celebrates Tree of Life Visitor Center
Spring of Culture Celebrates Tree of Life Visitor Center

As part of the Ministry's invest in culture projects and towards a sustainable urban environment, H. E Minister of Culture inaugurated the establishment of  the Tree of Life Visitor Center , on Saturday 5th April, 2014.The Minister of Culture praised the generous support of Bahrain Petroleum Company ( Bapco) and their continuous cooperation efforts with the Ministry of culture in the implementation of national cultural projects undertaken by the Ministry. H.E said the centre was expected to attract many more tourists and visitors to the historic site, situated in the middle of the desert in Sakhir.

Speaking on the occasion,  H.E Shaikha Mai Bint Mohammad Al-Khalifa, Minister of Culture praised Bahrain Petroleum Company, BAPCO  for their generosity and , whose belief in the importance of cultural investment to Bahrain's society aligns it with this project. The Minister of Culture praised the strenuous efforts deployed by the company in order to preserve the spatial and environmental identity of the place, to shed light on cultural and urban issues and to raise awareness towards national glorious major projects, which would make Bahrain an international destination.

Tree of Life Visitor Center was inaugurated in October 2012, during the celebrations of Manama as the Capital of Arab Culture, Environment Season, and was celebrated during the first phases of Manama, Capital of Arab Tourism too.  Earlier this year,  Bahrain’s Culture Minister Shaikha Mai Bint Mohammad Al Khalifa said there’ll be various major projects throughout the year including opening a national theatre and establishing a regional centre of world heritage, a museum of sound and a Tree of Life guest centre.

Bahraini folk music was performed at the Tree of Life yesterday to mark the official opening of the Visitor Centre. The performance, part of this year’s Spring of Culture celebrations, was held against a backdrop of the historic tree. The Visitor Centre aims to transform the area into a unique heritage landmark and a cultural asset for the future. The ceremony was organised by the Culture Ministry with an aim to put the Tree of Life, which is coming back to life, as a major attraction in Bahrain’s tourism map. The second phase – beautification process and final touches – is expected to be completed April 2014.

The Tree of Life is all set to get a new lease of life with Culture Minister Shaikha Mai bint Mohammed Al Khalifa inaugurating the Phase One of its visitors’ centre yesterday. Phase One concluded with the construction of an amphitheatre ( 500 seats open air venue), which is circular in shape, around Kingdom’s renowned landmark, which would help preserve the 400-year-old-tree. The 125 meters circular wall protects the tree from vandalism and will provide a shielding rim around it. New lighting designs have also been installed along with an outdoor stage for entertainment. H.E Shaikha Mai’s inaugural speech was followed by a musical performance by an Bin Faris Music band. The renovation works are being carried out by Bukhowa Contracting in cooperation with the Culture Ministry with Bapco as a major financial sponsor.

The Ministry of Culture invests in Bahrain’s natural environment, and the    Minister of Culture keeps her promise with regard to   the establishment of a Tourist Centre at the Tree of Life.  Indeed, in line with the Minister of Culture, HE Shaikha Mai bint Mohammed Al Khalifa’s commitment to the cultural infrastructure of Bahrain and the revitalisation of the country’s heritage, HE has been reviewing the development of a Tourist Centre at Bahrain’s landmark natural wonder, the Tree of Life, with Dr Marwan Basmaji, Director at Basmaji and Bielinska Architects. Plans are underway to establish the centre, which will shed light on the importance of the Tree of Life and its changing surroundings. Underpinning the establishment of the Tourist Centre has been the mission to raise awareness of Bahrain’s natural environment and ecology and the importance of conservation and preservation of its habitat. Visitors will be encouraged to reflect on Bahrain’s ecology and the changes forced upon it in contemporary times as well as appreciating the significance of Tree of Life throughout history and related cultural practices.

 Similarly, Dr Basmaji has been outspoken in his support of the project and in presenting the importance of preserving the local habitat and environment. His team of architects have been studying the subject for over two years and have submitted a number of studies and proposals in that time. Today, project development is underway with the cooperation of Khonji Associates and the teams are examining the best possible solutions to maintain the natural surroundings and provide a holistic result which integrates the country’s ecology with the building’s uses. This project is generously supported by the Bahrain Petroleum Company, BAPCO, whose belief in the importance of cultural investment to Bahrain's society aligns it with this project.

There is no doubt, that tourists will admire the view and discover the urban and environmental heritage of Bahrain too. In fact the ministry has included in its strategy the development of various ancient, archeological, and cultural sites such as the area around the Tree of Life which has been excavated revealing evidence of a settlement dating back around 400 years which has led to plans to develop the site as an attraction in conjunction with oil company Bapco.

In fact, the  ‘Tree of Life’, a 400-year-old wonder of nature, visited by 50,000 tourists every year, will finally be getting the much awaited ‘star treatment’ it truly deserves. Nationals have lovingly bestowed the name to this unique and wondrous miracle of nature, due to its ability to stand firmly and unshaken, amidst a harsh desert with absolutely no source of water for hundreds of years. Now, the Tree of Life, will be cradled with the  new a visitor centre around it. The  project by the Culture Ministry and sponsored by the Bahrain Petroleum Company (BAPCO), the visitor centre, built around this historical landmark, will be opened to the public by next month. Culture Ministry, architect, Marwan Basmaji,  said that providing insights on the magnitude of this project: “The Tree of Life is truly one of Bahrain’s leading landmarks which needs to be protected, maintained and exposed to the public. The idea behind the centre is to allow tourists to enjoy it, while providing a protective circle to keep it away from vandalism and harm.” She also shared that the project consists of a gallery, an amphitheater, and display boards. The tree will also be protected by keeping the cars parked at a distance, with people walking up to enjoy this significant showpiece. Construction of the visitor centre was initiated in March 2013.

Mohammad Bin Faris Music Band performance,  which started at 6pm, marked the official opening of the Tree of Life Visitor Centre, a landmark project set to transform and preserve this uniquely Bahraini cultural asset for future generations. The fascinating Tree of Life is a popular tourist attraction that is located approximately two kilometres from Jebel Dukhan. The lone tree stands in the desert, with its water source unknown. the Tree of Life is visited by many tourists throughout the year. Visiting the tree won't take more than a few hours, as it is just a tree after all, so plan your trips accordingly. It has become a piece of cultural history, with many people including it in their religions and beliefs about the origins of life itself. While these claims may or may not hold any water, the tree does. Somehow, through some miracle of modern evolution, this tree has survived. Come see the Tree of Life and bear witness to this incredible feat of survival. The Center will certainly give it a new bright image and make it a green garden in the middle of desert environment. 

 

Participation in the 43rd Fine Arts Exhibition Bahrain Map