During our February 16 webinar "Cross-Border Business Development; Palm Beach & Bahrain" we were honored to have so many diplomats and professionals speak about the evolving relationship between the business and educational communities of Palm Beach and Bahrain, including Rose Sager, Trade Representative from the Kingdom of Bahrain.
Thank you very much, Your Excellencies, all the dignitaries and all the attendees and especially Mr. Al Zucaro for making this possible.
Bahrain is a hidden gem, as we all know, and so is Palm Beach — Yes, I agree. I'm so used to speaking just about business, but now tourism has become a game changing project, and it is going to increase our business, and it is part of our Vision 2030. I must go into tourism first and I'll tell you all about our wonderful developments.
Bahrain is preparing for a tourism boom as a “game-changing” project, five-island developments which will not only lure visitors with beautiful hotels and idyllic beaches, but also with its deep-rooted culture and heritage. This will add 60% more island land, which will provide a pipeline to waterfront corniche activities, to take advantage of the beautiful Arabian Sea. The Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities (BACA), headed by Shaikha Mai Al Khalifa, had the vision to restore, preserve and maintain the old buildings and homes, to reflect Bahrain's past history. The country is home to three UNESCO World Heritage sites. One of them is the Dilmun Burial Mounds from the ancient civilization. Another is the Pearling Path which connects the history and legacy of Pearl Diving in Bahrain, and third is Qal'at Al Bahrain, an ancient harbor and Fort in the old capital of Dilmun. Today, you can go Pearl diving and keep the pearls if you're lucky enough to find an oyster with the Pearl in it. They are considered one of most treasured pearls in the world.
Bahrain offers what I call "Religious Tourism," an amazing part of our heritage in Bahrain, we have religious freedom – we have coexistence. You can tour the Al Fateh Grand Mosque, a huge, gorgeous, magnificent building. You can tour the Synagogue from the early 1900's that has been restored. We have the Budist Temple, and we have one of the largest Catholic Churches open now in Bahrain, all within a few miles of each other.
The architecture in Bahrain is "old mixed with the new," the old Souq, which is maintained and considered to be authentic and an old-fashioned market. Then there is the iconic World Trade Center Bahrain, a site to behold, and the first green-conscious building in the Middle East, plus Bahrain Bay and other modern architectural designs. And, of course, as was mentioned, we have the world's largest undersea water park, with a sunken Boeing 747. By the end of the year, the new Bahrain Exhibition Centre will be ready to support more events, festivals and conferences, including the Air Show and the Jewellery Arabia Shows — they are fun, not just work events! Of course we cannot forget the Formula One Races, held every year in the Spring!
Our new Airport will accommodate a projected 14 million annual passengers, and we are planning another causeway connecting Bahrain to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. And, as was mentioned previously, we are planning to have the new Bahrain Metro system, which will connect the airport with main locations in the downtown area.
The best tourist attraction of all is the Bahraini people. They are the warmest, friendliest and most hospitable you will find anywhere in the world. We look forward to welcoming you to Bahrain, the Jewel of the Gulf!
Thank you all.
— Rose Sager
Trade Representative from the Kingdom of Bahrain