Bahrain motor forum gets good response
Manama, February 10, 2008
Half the stands at the Motor Sport Business Forum, taking place ahead of the Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix, have been snapped up within two weeks of it being announced.
It is the first time the forum is being held outside Monaco, but Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) chairman Talal Alzain says the response has been phenomenal. Out of 50 exhibitor stands on offer, 25 have already been booked.
Organisers say the fact that the event is being held in Bahrain indicates the massive amount of international interest in the region's racing future.
'In the last couple of years, billions of US dollars have been invested in motor sport in countries in the GCC,' said an event spokeswoman.
'Qatar, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, Saudi and Bahrain have all got racing circuits and two of those are FIA Formula One-sanctioned.
'That means they have to be up to a certain standard, which means there is even more money spent.
'Bahrain spent $150 million and Abu Dhabi spent $200 million on their F1 tracks. With the others, that alone comes to $700 million to $800 million and if you think about all the regional race series that have been created, along with international drag racing, it is running into hundreds of millions of dollars.'
'The likes of Gulf Air and Etihad have sponsorship of anywhere between $50 million and $70 million.'
'Then if you look at Mumtalakat's investment in 30 per cent of McLaren, Abu Dhabi's 5 per cent investment in Ferrari and sponsorship of the Ferrari Formula One team - all of this shows how much money has been spent on motor sport and promoting the region across the globe.
'The forum chose this region simply because there was so much vested interest in the sport and the business aspect.
'The Middle East can use this forum as a platform to leverage and develop its investments in the motor sport industry.'
Meanwhile, Alzain said the fact that the Bahrain leg of the forum marked the first time it had taken place outside of Monaco reinforced the country's pole position in the region's motor sport industry.
'We were able to secure the title of 'the home of motor sport in the Middle East' and having the business forum here solidifies that,' he said.
'It's opening the eyes of people outside the region to come and look at Bahrain. It's very important for all the stakeholders in the motor sport business to gather here in Bahrain.'
He said the forum, which is expected to attract 500 delegates from around the world and feature an address by McLaren Group chairman and chief executive officer Ron Dennis, would highlight opportunities available in the local market.
The Motor Sport Business Forum takes place at the RUF complex, next to the BIC, on April 1 and 2. It is being held just days before the Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix, which takes place on April 4, 5 and 6.
Alzain said there would also be a showcase of investment opportunities in Bahrain held alongside the Grand Prix for the benefit of local companies.
'The management of the circuit is able to keep the circuit world class,' he said.
'It's one of the few circuits in the world that you can visit at any time of the year.
'It is spotless, clean, top quality. That I give to (BIC chief executive) Martin (Whittaker) and his team, but we are always improving on the facility.
'This year we are adding for Formula One, for example, new facilities that will not only improve the circuit itself, but add value to some of the industries in Bahrain. 'We will showcase investment opportunities in Bahrain so that businesses will be able to benefit.'-TradeArabia News Service