Bahrain launches state-of-the-art MICE venue
The Gulf is now home to one of the world’s most advanced events centres with the recent opening of Exhibition World Bahrain (EWB). The new venue aims to meet expanding demand in the meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions industry as face-to-face experiences stage a comeback after pandemic-induced lockdowns and border closures.
With ten exhibition halls spread over 950,000-sq-ft, EWB is one of the world’s most advanced facilities, venue management company ASM Global said in a media statement. It joins ASM Global’s portfolio of more than 350 venues around the world.
“We’ve seen a rise in the number of event organisers and managers looking for a new location, and one that offers a more ‘authentic’ experience. And that’s exactly why Bahrain is an appealing new destination in the MICE market. It offers a perfect balance between modern sophistication and timeless traditions. It is a cosmopolitan society open to the world, and a warm, welcoming nation true to its identity of genuine Arabian hospitality and rich heritage,” Dr Nasser Qaedi, CEO of Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority (BTEA), told TTN.
The kingdom sees tourism as a major economic driver. The new venue is expected to help position the destination as a hub for regional and international events. Potential source markets include the Indian subcontinent, Asia and Europe, but could also extend to the US, he added.
“EWB is designed to feed into the national economy by attracting global events and activities; and promoting Bahrain as a destination for business and investments. The centre is planned to be a strategic enabler for economic development and the creation of business opportunities, opening Bahrain to new markets.”
Dr Qaedi said BTEA was aligning plans for the venue with the objectives and goals of Bahrain Tourism Strategy 2022-2026. “A key component of the new strategy is integrating international marketing, events and infrastructure into one transformational agenda that will help accelerate Bahrain’s tourism growth. EWB is a key part of making that happen, given that the MICE industry is identified as priority within the tourism strategy,” he said.
EWB will prioritise events that support the development of industries identified in Bahrain’s Vision 2030, to encourage trade exchange, knowledge sharing and geo-cloning of international events, he added.
As a differential, BTEA will look to strengthen events’ social and ‘bleisure’ components to create a holistic experience for visitors.
“It is not only about the events taking place at the venue, but about the social program around these events and what the country has to offer on the side lines,” Dr Qaedi said, pointing to the island’s entertainment, sports, culture and culinary offerings. “This would encourage our visitors to bring along their families and really get to enjoy the country. Adding one or two extra days has an incredible impact on GDP [and] job creation… the multiplier effect is always significant.”
His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Bahrain, attended the opening on behalf of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.
Three events took place concurrently over five days immediately after the opening, including Jewellery Arabia, real estate event Cityscape and the inaugural edition of Scent Arabia.
EWB has a full calendar through to the end of 2023, Dr Qaedi said.