Good Morning

Hon. Stephen Lashley Min Culture and Sport and Youth

Mrs. Ruth Blackman Permanent Secretary Culture Sports and Youth

Members Barbados World Heritage committee

Mrs. Sharon Johnson Focal Point Historical Bridgetown and its Garrison

Mrs. Sharon Christy Rep Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Staff of Diamonds International

Specially Invited Guest,

The Media,

Staff of Diamonds International,

Ladies and Gentlemen

On behalf of Diamonds International and Mr. Jacob Hassid, Managing Director of Diamonds International who is at present off Island, I have been asked to say a few words. My name is Oral Brathwaite and I have been associated with Diamonds International for 18 years. I am in charge of the Main Branch, one of our 2 locations on Broad Street. So I am well aware of the changes our city has been through.

Diamonds International Barbados opened February 1997 at this location our first store on the Island with several other locations coming afterwards

Last year Mr. Hassid & Mr. Eddie Abed met with the Minister and officers in the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth to address some of the challenges facing historic Bridgetown such as the littering, inadequate security and lighting, and the slow collection of garbage to name a few. These issues made the city less appealing to visitors and locals, and as a result persons were doing more business outside of Bridgetown in the malls where the facilities and the environment were more pleasant and attractive.

The result was disastrous for Bridgetown with the decrease in commercial activity and the closure of many businesses. Additionally, cruise ship passengers were avoiding Bridgetown and choosing tours that completely by-passed the city. Bridgetown was losing its relevance and became surrounded with negativity. A plan had to be put in place to attempt to restore its dignity.

Following that meeting with the Ministry of Culture, a consultation was held with other stakeholders and it was agreed that the city needed a facelift to boost its look and feel.

Thus the Bridgetown Urban Renaissance Project was born as a means to revitalize the city and make it more appealing aesthetically. One of the cornerstones of the project was the Artscape Mural program which seeks to reclaim some of the alleys and lanes that so long ago were an important part of the history of this city which has been bestowed the honor of being named a world heritage site by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Mr. Jacob Hassid, Managing Director of Diamonds International, recognizing the significance of this project, offered the wall of his business in Flower Alley for the start of the project. It will transform the space and hopefully will encourage Barbadians to protect and care for their city which has had such a special honor bestowed on it. Bridgetown cannot be neglected. In addition, there's the possibility for partnerships with tour operators and the Ministry of Culture, which can greatly assist in promoting Bridgetown in an effort to improving its profile and bring in additional revenue to the city. Jacob, my staff and I are extremely proud to be the first recipients of this extremely beautiful and unique mural. Hopefully other businesses will follow suit, and by working together we will succeed in bringing Bridgetown back to the glory days. Diamonds International has been and will always be committed to Bridgetown and we are very active with The Barbados Chamber of Commerce. We would like to thank the various bodies and Government, Hon Min Stephen Lashley and Chamber of commerce along with the UNESCO Body and the People of Barbados for their involvement to help the continuous improvement of our City Bridgetown.

Thank you.

Saturday 23rd April 2016.            Bridgetown, Barbados

Manager of Diamonds international main branch Mr. Oral Brathwaite addressing the small group there for the launching of the  Bridgetown Urban Renaissance Project

( read full address at right . )

 Diamonds International

Playing a major role in the beautification of Bridgetown Barbados.

 View Pictorial of the Diamonds International  sponsored launch of the launching of the  Bridgetown Urban Renaissance Project.