Among them are brothers from the Al Hawaj family which had close ties with him, with the late Yousuf Abdulwahab Al Hawaj weaving Prince Khalifa’s bisht, a traditional cloak worn by Arab men over the thobe.
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“It was a regular affair and I remember holding my father’s hand walking to the majlis where Prince Khalifa would greet and meet everyone,” he told the GDN.
“I grew up watching this charismatic leader who kept his personal ties intact with members of the community.
“It was in the early 50s and we were living in Manama; as a family business we were into making bisht and we used to supply His Royal Highness’ bisht.
“It is a memory I cherish and as I grew up I have always felt his warmth towards me as well.
“Later in the 70s when we moved to Muharraq, I remember I used to watch him in awe – his love and care for the country and its people never ceased to amaze me.”
Mr Al Hawaj also remembers the late Premier visiting the old Manama suq when Mr Al Hawaj headed the suq revamp committee as a board member of the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI).
“I remember him walking into every shop in the suq, sitting down and exchanging a word or two with all.
“He remembered everyone by name and family.”
Mr Al Hawaj’s younger brother, Professor Abdulla Al Hawaj, said the late Prince’s majlis reminded him of the “golden days” of Arab culture where the rich and poor, politicians and traders gathered.
“I loved the harmony I saw in HRH’s majlis which I grew up watching and visiting; I published a book on it two years ago,” said Prof Al Hawaj, the founder president of Ahlia University.
“As soon as I returned from my studies, I remember him telling me to ‘share the knowledge’.
“I can still feel the warmth of his hand holding which he told me to give back what I learnt to the people.
“If I missed one majlis, I knew he would ask about my well-being – the same went for all; we will miss that personal touch.”
The professor recollected the visionary leader saying he believed in the great theory of the world being a “large tent” where there are no differences between people.
“He always stressed on the community, unity of the Arab world and the human race.”
Meanwhile, senior businessman Fouad Hussain Showaiter says Prince Khalifa was a selfless leader, full of courage.
“He was a great man of unity, and a huge advocate of cohesion in the community,” he told the GDN.
“I recall the time when there was a devastating fire in the Muharraq suq in 2014, with many businesses destroyed.
“Upon hearing the news, and even before the rescue crew had completed their recovery work, HRH visited the scene to offer his support and be amongst the people of his birth town.
“I remember a group of us following him as he stepped into an unsafe charred structure and, fearing for his safety, I suggested that perhaps he would like to survey the damage from the outside for fear of the roof caving in.
“I will never forget how he looked at me and said, ‘Fouad, if the roof does fall, it won’t fall on me alone, it will fall on all of us together’.”
Emotionally overwhelmed, Mr Showaiter also echoed the common feeling that Prince Khalifa “never forgot a face, and always took the time to ask even the youngest of citizen his name, whose son he was, which part of Bahrain he was from, and how he could help”.
“I’m proud to say that this thoughtful man of immeasurable kindness was my friend.
“He will not be forgotten, and his profound legacy will live on in every inch of our kingdom; his loss will leave a gaping space in our hearts, but he will always be in our thoughts and prayers and in the very soil of our beloved Bahrain.”
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