|Life before and after the discovery of oil|
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Each village had at least one well, which before the introduction of chemicals would be cleaned by immersing small fish in the water, which would eat all the plankton and foreign matter. After a day or two they would then be removed.
The island of Muharaq was the main commercial centre, linked to the larger island and Manama by boat only.
An Islamic society, simple mosques were the centre of village and town life and at the weekend, markets would be set up outside where the people would buy their food as well as the spices, rice and fabrics that had been imported from India on the returning merchant ships. “People had little need to travel around the islands and therefore slightly different dialects were detectable from each village” comments Mohammed Al Orrayed.
One of the regrets common to all of the older generation interviewed was the change in the culture of proximity and communication. Saleh Al Tarradah comments “the community spirit is now broken, neighbours no longer talk to each other. We never used to call in advance before seeing each other”. The fact that large families used to live together in one house was seen as the best way to live. There is no lack of understanding as to why children and grandchildren want to be independent, but sadness at the fragmentation of families now. “I always listen to the day’s obituaries after the news every day, otherwise how would I know who has died and I could miss the condolence” says Saleh Al Tarradah.
Employment was in agriculture, fishing and pearl diving and of course trading for the lucky few. There was no deep water harbour, so any kind of boat trip always necessitated wading to shore. With the advent of larger boats such as steamers, they would have to anchor up to 3 miles offshore, with freight and passengers being ferried to shore by smaller boats. There was no infrastructure as such.