Bahrain businesses eye $500m F1 boost
Manama, March 18, 2014
Bahrain is expecting a $500 million boost in trade from next month's Formula One race in the kingdom.
Business leaders have said they are looking forward to the weekend race which has always positively contributed to the country's economy, reported the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
The Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix will be held at night for the first time ever at the Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) in Sakhir, from April 4 to 6.
Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) executive committee board member Khalid Al Ameen said direct and indirect revenue from the event regularly reached the $500 million (BD188.5 million) mark.
"The local economy always flourishes and blooms in the weeks before and after the F1 and during the event itself," he said.
"That's because of the number of people coming to Bahrain, either involved directly with the race or as spectators from the GCC, Middle East and the wider world.
"The F1 has really moved and shaped the economy over the past 10 years and there are high hopes that this year's anniversary race, the first night race in Bahrain, will again see high visitor numbers - perhaps an extra 25 per cent."
The BCCI is working hand-in-hand with race organisers and the BIC in an attempt to double visitor numbers over the next five years, added Al Ameen.
Nabeel Kanoo, a BCCI executive committee member, said world-class events like the F1 helped inspire great optimism among Bahrain's trading and business communities.
"It's always a fantastic event and we are always optimistic," he said.
"And with it being a night race this time around, perhaps that will attract even more people to come and watch.
"Overall we are hoping that the hotel rates will be reasonable and that the strong marketing campaign will bring many tourists to Bahrain."
However Kanoo, a former BCCI hotels and tourism committee head, did sound a note of caution about the recent upsurge in street violence ahead of next month's event.
"Security is a big issue," he said.
"Something has to be done to ensure that people can come and enjoy the race without being exposed to acts of terrorism.
"The government has to do what the government has to do - I am not a government official - but I think they should take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that this rubbish stops, because it is affecting the business community and (next month) the eyes of the world's media will be watching."
MP and BCCI board member Abdulhakeem Al Shammary told the GDN the benefits of the Formula One lay not just in the annual Grand Prix, but in the improvements to infrastructure and facilities that development of the area around the BIC has provided.
"Near the Formula One circuit there are developments that have already taken place, such as the Sofitel hotel at Zallaq, and those that are still expected, such as a new exhibition centre," he said.
"And besides that there are many projects coming forward related to housing and industry.
"In our observations the circuit is busy all year round with drag racing, festivals and side championships. It is not just about the Formula One, although that is a very important part of it." - TradeArabia News Service