Charles and Camilla buy souvenirs in Bahrain bazaar


The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall have been shopping in a traditional Bahraini market - buying a set of dolls and a cushion.

Charles and Camilla are in Manama, the capital of Bahrain, as part of their tour of the Middle East on behalf of the British Government.

They visited the Manama Souk, the old bazaar in the city, where local shops sell souvenirs, carpets, gold and brightly-coloured lamps.

The Duchess took her husband into Ali Baba Cave Antiques & Carpets, and they bought a set of nine Russian-style dolls and a cushion.

The shop is a family business run by Abdul Wahed.

"This is a very old traditional design," Mr Wahed said.

"We have some items made in Bahrain, some come from India and Pakistan but all in the traditional Bahrain design."

Some parts of the souk have been redeveloped to increase tourism in the area, giving visitors an opportunity to experience the rich local culture and lifestyle.

A traditional Bahraini band played as Charles and Camilla made their way through the bustling market, stopping to look at handmade boats, studded boxes and baskets.

Earlier, the couple visited the Post Office Museum, where they viewed Bahraini stamps featuring King George V and Concorde.

They unveiled two stamps to mark the 200th anniversary of relations between Bahrain and the UK.

Charles and Camilla removed their shoes and wore floral garlands and yellow scarves for their visit to the Krishna Temple in Manama.

They toured the temple, which is the oldest Hindu temple in Bahrain, and learned about the history of the Hindu community.

The Duchess stopped and chatted to four women making garlands from jasmine and rose in the temple.

"They smell fantastic, they are very, very nice," she said.

The royal couple then went to a courtyard below the temple for a reception with members of different faith communities.

Ebrahim Noor, who was representing the Jewish community in Bahrain, handed the Prince two notes worth 100 trillion dollars.

"Thank you very much," said Charles.

Mr Noor, who gave the Prince one 50 trillion note for himself and another for the Queen, said the notes came from Zimbabwe.

"I gave him a souvenir - one for him and one for his mum," Mr Noor said.

"They come from Zimbabwe where there is hyper-inflation.

"When I gave them to him I think he had an idea they were from Africa. The numbers are ridiculous."

Mr Noor said the Jewish community in Bahrain was between 45 and 50 people.

"It is a very beautiful feeling to see the royals here because a lot of us have grown up in the UK and have connections to the UK," he added.

"To see them here as a very special moment. There's a lot of admiration for the Royal Family because the Queen holds the moral values that everybody seeks.

"People feel that she really is the most moral person of all."

Bahrain is one of the most religiously diverse countries in the Middle East, with freedom of worship guaranteed for all faiths.

Bahraini Jews, Christians and Muslims work in parliament, the government and in the public sector.

The prince has worked for many years to encourage inter-faith dialogue and a greater understanding of religions.

He was previously awarded an honorary doctorate from The Al-Azha University in Cairo, Egypt for his work to encourage inter-faith dialogue and was the first Western man to receive this honour.

Charles next met volunteers working for the Migrant Workers Protection Society, which was established in 2005.

He chatted to Eskedor Girnay, 39, who was wearing gold jewellery in her hair.

"He asked what I was doing, where I was living and I said I was from Ethiopia but living in Bahrain," Mrs Girnay said.

Charles attended a private audience with the prime minister of Bahrain, Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, on his private island.

He then joined a roundtable at Bin Mattar house in Muharraq on the topic of empowering communities for positive change.

The discussion, with a diverse group of Bahraini society, included entrepreneurship, education and active citizenship.

The event was organised by the British Council in collaboration with the Global Shapers Community Manama hub - part of a network established and led by young leaders.

His Excellency the Foreign Minister, Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifa also attended.