FREE motorbike rides for expatriates into the heart of Manama to observe a major religious festival have been cancelled.
Thousands of people are taking part in events marking Ashoora, which commemorates the death anniversary of Imam Hussain, grandson of Prophet Mohammed, until September 20.
The event, which features processions and other activities across the country, can result in congestion and limited parking in Manama.
The rides service was introduced last year (2017) but has been discontinued following concerns over safety.
Now, the expatriates wishing to watch the religious proceedings will have to gather near the Police Fort roundabout or at Bab Al Bahrain and contact officials from the Manama Public Processions Commission to be taken on guided tours.
“The free motorbike rides were aimed at helping expatriates reach the processions area without having to walk long distances in the hot weather,” commission vice-president Nader Burdastani told the GDN.
“However, we were concerned about accidents or something going wrong. That’s why we decided to end the service.”
However, guided tours will continue, said Mr Burdastani.
“Tours to ma’atams (Shi’ite community halls), art and musical attractions and processions in their own language will continue, but our volunteers will be present at two new locations.
“Those speaking languages other than English have to inform us at least two days ahead to make arrangements.”
He said it was preferable for men to wear black and for women to avoid wearing revealing clothes.
“Decency is important to avoid harassment or embarrassment.”
Several food stalls will be offering free food and drinks.
However, Mr Burdastani said police could be called in to disperse large numbers of low-income expatriates who he said took advantage of the gesture.
“Expatriate labourers just show up en masse and start taking food for the week which is wrong as it leads to fights.
“There is more than enough food and they can show up morning, day and night daily, take their personal meal and then leave.”
At least 150,000 people are expected to converge on Manama for the processions.
“We expect to have at least 150,000 people converging on Manama, but things are under control,” said Mr Burdastani, who is also the Persian ma’tams processions co-ordinator.
For more information or tour arrangements contact Mr Burdastani on 36478888.