Manama: Shaikha Mai Bint Mohammad Al Khalifa, Bahrain's Culture Minister, has lined up a broad raft of programmes and events that will be held throughout next year to celebrate the designation of the Bahraini capital, Manama, as Cultural Capital of the Arab World 2012.

The honour is a first for Manama since the initiative was launched by the Arab League in 1996, as part of UNESCO's cultural capitals programme.

"This title emphasises Manama's significant role in the fields of culture and knowledge in the region," said Shaikha Mai whose name has been closely associated for years with cultural activities in the island kingdom.

The broad range of activities incorporating different aspects of Arab culture will take place month by month throughout the year.

January will concentrate, for instance, on fine arts, and there are various art exhibitions and a sculpture symposium planned while February will focus on architecture, and one project will be a competition for proposals to redevelop Bahrain's most popular souk, or market, Bab Al Bahrain.

Heritage is the theme for April, and an international conference on the World Heritage Convention will take place.

June will be the month for poetry, and July for literature. A highlight of August will be screening of Arab movies, followed by music as the focus for September, with a special production on the masters of Arabic singing, coinciding with the 21st Bahrain International Music Festival.

Events in October will look at the environment and include a forum on traditional knowledge for the management of nature reserves and heritage sites.

Among the events scheduled for November, when theatre is the theme, is the staging of a play highlighting the history of Bahrain.

The whole programme concludes in December with a look at the theme of homeland , and the launch of a series of books based on the 12 pillars of culture in focus throughout the year.

Events lined up for the year also include the new National Theatre, the launch of a Regional Centre for World Heritage, the holding of an international fashion show and a convention of leading Arab intellectuals.