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MPs clash over burial mounds

MPs clashed last night over whether to 'build for the living', or to preserve all the country's ancient burial mounds.

The row flared over the government's proposal to turn just one of the A'ali burial mounds into an open museum.

Some MPs had earlier proposed that all the areas mounds be turned into a protected heritage site.

But MP Adel Al Mo'awda said the land would be better used to build homes for the living.

He was responding during a special evening Parliament session to a letter from Prime Minister Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, citing plans to turn one of the A'ali burial mounds into an "open natural museum".

The Premier said that the move was in line with the government's policy to preserve and develop historical sites.

"In line with the proposal, one of the (ancient) royal burial mounds that is owned by the government has been allocated to be turned into an open natural museum," the Premier said in his letter.

Preserve

He said that the museum would be created in co-operation with the Danish archaeological expedition.

The Premier said that the government, through the Information Ministry, would continue to purchase private land elsewhere with historic burial mounds, to preserve them as archaeological sites.

But Mr Al Mo'awda said that there was no need for the government to exert further efforts in turning burial mounds into archaeological sites.

"People are looking for land to build new homes and we here are preserving graves," he said.

"I agree with the government that one burial mound is enough for tourists to visit and the remainder can be allocated for housing projects."

Mr Al Mo'awda said that there was no need to preserve more mounds since all of them looked the same.

"The mounds in the remainder of the area should be removed, since housing for the living is better than the graves for the dead," he said.

Mr Al Mo'awda said he was not proud for the country to be associated with the burial mounds.

"We must have pride in our Islamic roots and not some ancient civilisation from another place and time, which has only given us a jar here and a bone there," he said.

Mr Al Mo'awda said that the sites of some of the burial mounds had become a haven for drug dealers and users, who were a menace to society.

But his comments, which were backed by Jassim Al Mawali and Jassim Al Saeedi, angered other MPs, who called for the protection of the sites.

"This is a national heritage and its preservation means the preservation of the country's historical identity," said MP Mohammed Al A'ali.

"The government has not been paying enough attention to archaeological sites, which resulted in the vandalism of most of the mounds."

MP Fareed Ghazi said that only six per cent of the burial mounds in A'ali remained.

"How can we as men of intellect and culture say such things about the A'ali burial mounds," he said.

Mr Ghazi said they belonged to future generations and that building new homes should not be at the expense of an historic site.

MP Abdulnabi Salman said that most of the burial mounds which had been destroyed had become land owned by "influential people".

"The government's response should be rejected and I consider their actions illegal," he said.

"How can you reduce one of the world's largest historical burial mounds to a small site?"



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