Pearl Islands - The History of Bahrains Natural Gems

The story of the pearl is a tumultuous tale of incredible proportions. Since 4000 BC the pearl was revered as the gem above all other gems. Its magical lustre and almost otherworldly glow captured the imagination of people around the world in a way that has changed the course of history.


Through the use of imaginative graphics we will portray how priceless pearls funded Roman wars, endowed ancient kings with an elixir of everlasting life, allegedly protected Knights as they marched into battle and adorned the wealthy and powerful. The Queen of Sheba, Roman Caesars, Mogul Emperors, Queen Elizabeth I and Catharine the Great were all devoted to this most precious gem and spent their lives collecting them.


As man's quest for pearls escalated the islands of Bahrain became venerated as the source of the world's finest natural pearls. Spectacular aerials filmed with state of the art photographic equipment will reveal this archipelago of thirty-three islands in the Arabian Gulf. Known as the Garden of Eden, Bahrain was rich in date palms and freshwater springs promoting it as a centre for trade in the Gulf region.


For thousands of years pearls dominated the life and the economy in Bahrain. Every summer a 3,000 strong fleet of magnificent pearling dhows went to sea. The Save Our Seas team equipped with the latest High Definition cameras will journey to the oyster beds on a dhow. They will show how these beautiful boats were operated, the men singing traditional songs and the divers harvesting oysters. Sharks, stingrays, jellyfish and sea snakes were regularly encountered. Rare dugongs, turtles and whale sharks also frequent Bahraini waters and the film will feature all of them. On board the dhow we will discover how these men survived at sea, what they ate, where they collected water and how they used remarkably effective yet simple remedies for common ailments.


Traders visited the seafaring captains bartering for the best pearls. Returning to the main island, they then sold the gems to exporters and retailers in Bahrain's bustling and vibrant souks.


After the astonishingly influential success of pearls for thousands of years we'll see how modern times witnessed a sharp fall in their value. As cultured pearls flooded world markets and oil was discovered in Bahrain the natural pearl fell from favour. Modern Bahrain has changed beyond recognition but real pearls still retain an unfathomable allure. Now there is a renewed demand for pearls. Tourists drawn to Bahrain learn about exciting and ground breaking proof, contrary to popular and scientific belief, that pearl bearing oysters can be identified. Once again there are divers searching the oyster beds for the world's most precious gem.


Director: Caroline Brett

Caroline Brett graduated from Bristol University with a BSc Honours degree in Zoology. She is a highly experienced and award-winning producer/ director. A keen photographer, her stills are housed at the Oxford Scientific Films Library. She has written seven books on wildlife and had numerous articles published in various magazines and newspapers. Caroline worked for twenty one years for the prestigious Survival series making programmes in numerous locations including out on the ice in Arctic Canada, in the rain forests of Sierra Leone, in the seas around the Shetland Islands and on a remote Vietnamese island in the South China Sea. She directed and produced numerous one-hour Survival Specials as well as the highly successful 'Predators with Gaby Roslin and 'Wild about Essex with Tony Robinson'. She has recently written, produced and directed films on 'Ice Whales' in the Arctic, macaws in Peru, black caiman in Brazil and street children in India.

Caroline joined the Save Our Seas Foundation to direct and produce "Pearl Islands: The Story of Bahrain's Natural Gems". She is now the Save our Seas Foundation film producer working on numerous marine productions and initiatives around the world.

United Kingdom
33 Min.
Director: Caroline Brett
Cinematography: Dan Beecham, Barbara Tyack
Editing: Jon Trusler
Music: Philip Adams
Narrator: Derek Jacobi
Editor: Caroline Brett
Nominations: Award of the Juvenile Jury 2010
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