Culture-rich Bahrain welcomes visitors

Bahrain takes on its title as Capital of Arab Tourism for 2013

THE Kingdom of Bahrain, heir to a rich cultural heritage, ancient civilization, and host to the FIA Formula 1 Grand Prix is looking to embrace its cultural side. With this background it was a fitting honor when UNESCO bestowed to Manama the title of Arab Capital of Culture 2012, following it up in an unprecedented gesture with the title of Capital of Arab Tourism 2013.

The former is an initiative taken by the Arab League under the UNESCO Cultural Capitals Programme to promote and celebrate Arab culture and encourage cooperation in the Arab region, and has already inspired a year-long program of cultural activities and events in the country. The Capital of Arab Tourism award is another Arab League initiative, which is aimed to encourage inter-Arab tourism while highlighting customs and traditions particular to each country.

For the year ahead Bahrain’s dynamic Ministry of Culture, plans a program that will highlight aspects of the country and place it strategically at the centre of the region’s cultural and tourism landscape, focusing on the country’s roots and its strengths and in so doing, promote Bahrain as a world class destination.

Building on these strong foundations, the year has been divided into four strategic time zones that will focus and highlight a facet of the country. The idea will be to emphasise the uniqueness of Bahrain, its open and hospitable climate and people, and its potential for visitors looking for different experiences.

Cultural Spotlight: January to March will focus on Cultural activities, particularly centered on Bahrain’s hugely successful annual Spring of Culture featuring star studded acts and events from around the globe.  The spotlight will be on Bahrain’s rich culture including its souqs, museums, its heritage sites, handicrafts and so on.

Sporting Events: April to June will focus on Sports and sporting activities, opening with a splash with the spectacular FIA Formula 1 Bahrain Gulf Air Grand Prix. Bahrain has won a place in the region’s annual sporting calendar with a number of important events like the Bahrain Air Show and the Endurance Race. This second quarter of 2013 will put the spotlight firmly on the country’s sporting enterprise.

Leisure and Summer Fun: The Summer months between July and September are traditionally a time when holidaymakers leave the country for cooler climes. The Ministry of Culture has worked to bring about a change, highlighting leisure activities and encouraging visitors by introducing the Bahrain Summer Festival which after three astoundingly successful runs, is now becoming a much awaited event. With a unique line up of events it entertains and enthralls visitors and residents of this country all through the summer season.

Think Green: With the end of the year, the focus moves to an aspect that Bahrain has worked to promote in recent years. This will be the season for Eco Tourism. As an archipelago surrounded by water bodies and underground fresh water springs, Bahrain has much to offer for those fascinated by Nature studies, for marine enthusiasts and bird watchers. Date palms and desert life forms; sandy beaches, calm waters, coral reefs and more. The islands that dot the surrounding seas, including Jarradah Island and Hawar Islands, provide unique opportunities for marine activities and to explore and enjoy the bio diversity of the islands.

Preparations are afoot all through Bahrain, there is excitement in anticipation of what the year holds. One thing is for sure, a lot of people in the region and across the globe are going to sit up and take notice of this little country in the sun; and Bahrain will once again live up to its name as the Pearl of the Arabian Gulf.