Public Open Spaces in Bahrain: Connecting Migrants and Urban Heritage in a Transcultural City

  • Wafa Al-MadaniEmail author
  • Clare Rishbeth
Part of the The Urban Book Series book series (UBS)


Developed around a question of what urban heritage might mean for migrant populations, this paper argues that urban heritage sites are inclusive spaces and that protecting heritage does not conflict with transcultural processes and adaptation of migrants. In common with many Silk Roads cities, Bahrain has highly modern urban development alongside ancient heritage sites, with a population profile of more than 50% migrants. The paper sets out selected findings from a landscape architecture PhD research, which explores the role of public open spaces in transcultural cities. This research used a qualitative methodology, integrating observation, on-site short interviews, in-depth go-along interviews and expert interviews. The participants included both Bahraini and migrant groups from different generations. The intention was to understand diverse personal interpretations and socio-spatial associations, and analyse these alongside different patterns of use in urban public spaces. This paper focuses on three sites in particular: Bab Al-Bahrain area, a historic square and souk, the Pearling Trail, a UNESCO Heritage site, and the Hunainiyah Park, located in a desert valley beside a fort. The findings highlight the fact that these heritage sites also act as significant transcultural sites for migrant leisure practices. These sites were connective locations for people and provided support with a sense of belonging and welcome. The evocative quality of these places also prompted memories that connected migrants to different heritage locations and experiences in home countries. Participants valued these sites as places to gather, echoing patterns of socialising that span centuries. We conclude that these heritage sites can be both highly rooting at the local scale and support transcultural adaptation. Public open spaces and landscape character are integral dimensions of heritage, hence landscape architectural practice can play a vital role in achieving the agenda of both conservation and social inclusivity.


Public opens spaces Urban heritage Migration Transcultural practices Bahrain 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of BahrainIsa TownBahrain
  2. 2.University of SheffieldSheffieldUK

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