Source: Gulf Daily News

Bahraini families could be rehoused under moves to separate tourism and residential areas.

This would be cheaper than moving hotels, particularly in areas such as Exhibition Avenue, said Information Minister Nabeel Al Hamer.

Plans are already being studied on creating tourism zones, he told MPs at yesterday's Parliament session.

Mr Al Hamer backed calls from MPs for hotels, nightspots and other tourism attractions to be kept away from residential areas.

The proposal was put forward by legislative and legal affairs committee chairman Dr Abdullatif Al Shaikh, Hassan Bukhamas, Abdulaziz Al Meer, Dr Saadi Ali and Mohammed Khalid Mohammed.

It calls for a gradual zoning process, with tourism establishments or householders being compensated for having to move.

Mr Al Hamer said the ministry was already working on the zoning process.

"This issue isn't just related to the ministry, which is only responsible for giving licences," he told MPs.

Mr Al Hamer said a joint committee should be formed with representatives from the Works and Housing, Municipalities and Agriculture, Finance and National Economy Ministry, Interior, Commerce and Cabinet Affairs Ministries.

It should also include the Public Commission for the Protection of Marine Resources, Environment and Wildlife, to come up with zoning plans for the future.

He said that it would be a tough task to apply zoning plans in Hoora, which has many hotels.

"We have two choices here, either turn the place into residential area and remove all tourist facilities, which would cost the government huge amounts of money, or compensate residents to move. This would be easier and better, since there are few houses," said Mr Al Hamer.

Dr Ali said the plan would initially include only people living in houses amidst tourism attractions, not people living in flats.

There are often fights between Bahraini residents and nightspot customers in the area, said Dr Ali.

"Our children are being affected by what's happening around them and we don't want them one day turning into those people they see in the neighbourhood," he said.

"If it was a family tourism area then there would be no problem, but indecency and non-Islamic acts are being committed."

Minister of State for Shura Council and Chamber of Deputies Affairs Abdulaziz Al Fadhel said municipal councils were in charge of giving building licences to facilities in the area and they should be talked to about the matter.

"Investment and tourism attractions are two main things Bahrain is trying to get and the way you are handling them at the moment is keeping them away," he said.

"Both are needed to solve the unemployment problem, which Parliament is trying its best to find solutions for."




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