The site consists of seventeen buildings in Muharraq City, three offshore oyster beds, part of the seashore and the Qal'at Bu Mahir fortress on the southern tip of Muharraq Island, from where boats used to set off for the oyster beds. The listed buildings include residences of wealthy merchants, shops, storehouses and a mosque. The site is the last remaining complete example of the cultural tradition of pearling and the wealth it generated at a time when the trade dominated the Gulf economy. It also constitutes an outstanding example of traditional utilization of the sea's resources and human interaction with the environment, which shaped both the economy and the cultural identity of the island's society.
The traditional sea-use of harvesting pearls from oyster beds in the Arabian Gulf shaped the island of Bahrain's economy for millennia. As the best-known source of pearls since ancient times, the Gulf industry reached the apex of its prosperity at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. The wealth of what had become a global trade is reflected in the development of the merchant quarters of Muharraq city. A few distinctive commercial and residential buildings remain as a testimony to this proud but dangerous and demanding economic activity which suffered a sudden and catastrophic demise in the 1930's as a result of the development in Japan of cultured pearls from freshwater mussels.
The property includes seventeen buildings embedded in the urban fabric of Muharraq city, three off shore oyster beds, and a part of the seashore at the southern tip of Muharraq Island, from where the boats set off for the oyster beds.
Availability: Daily Morning / Afternoon (Mosque outside visit on Friday)