BD84m expo centre to be largest in Mideast

Bahrain’s upcoming international exhibition and convention centre in Sakhir will be the largest in the Middle East, as it aims to draw visitors from across the globe.

This was revealed by the Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority (BTEA) chief executive Dr Nasser Ali Qaedi in an interview with an American TV business news channel.

He spoke about the BD83.6 million mega project, aimed at giving a major boost to the country as a top MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) destination.

He said despite the pandemic, the government had invested heavily in strategic infrastructure that will play a key role in post-pandemic economic development.

“We started construction of the new exhibition centre last year and are quite excited about that because it’s going to be critical in promoting Bahrain as a MICE hub in the region,” Dr Qaedi said during an interview with CNBC.

“The exhibition centre is sitting on a plot of 1.3 million sqm and the central complex covers 300,000sqm.

“This will be the largest exhibition centre facility in the Middle East and we are very proud of that.”

The official said the project was due for completion by the middle of next year, adding that work was ‘progressing very well’ to meet all deadlines.

His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince Prime Minister, laid the project’s foundation stone in January last year.

The project next to Bahrain International Circuit features exhibition halls and conference rooms fitted with the latest technology to host major shows and celebrations and seal trade transactions.

The centre will include 10 exhibition halls covering a total of 95,000sqm, in addition to attached stores and independent entrances and exits.

It will also feature two VIP majlis to receive high-level visitors, in addition to control rooms, internal roads, services and parking for 1,600 cars, of which about 130 parking spaces will be reserved for VIPs.

Dr Qaedi once again outlined that despite Covid-19, the country continued with its investment in critical infrastructure.

“Bahrain is going through one of its largest and most aggressive spending sprees in its history and this exhibition centre is one of its key components that fits into that,” he stated.

“As we are looking forward to a post-Covid-19 rebound, we are looking to consolidate Bahrain’s position as a key trading hub in the region that covers MICE activities and business.

“We’re anticipating that once business and leisure travel returns, we can then capitalise on that with our ready-built infrastructure.”


He further added that the tourism sector contribution to the GDP has grown over the years, and its role remains critical as part of the 2030 Economic Vision.

“With all these projects, we are looking forward to a rebound to pre-Covid-19 levels and anticipate this growth will contribute to the economy in terms of job creation, business opportunities, and other tourism investments.”

During the interview, Dr Qaedi stressed that the tourism sector will be a key enabler for economic rebound and it’s vital to capitalise on it via new investments.

“We will hopefully accelerate aggressively because tourism is a key contributor to our economy,” he stressed.

The latest report by the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry states the local economy is expected to recover this year, as the real GDP growth is expected to reach approximately 3.3 per cent.

The findings revealed that the number of inbound visitors for tourism in Bahrain decreased by 83pc, from 11.1m in 2019 to 1.9m visitors last year.

The total inbound tourism revenues decreased by 80pc in last year from BD1.5m to BD300,000 as a result of the pandemic.

Furthermore, latest data in the Q4-2020 Bahrain Economic Quarterly Report states the Hotels and Restaurants sector was still suffering from the pandemic impact, witnessing a 13.6pc decline during the period.

However, four-star hotels registered a 23pc occupancy rate, while five-star hotels recorded 29pc at the end of Q4 2020, amounting to quarterly growths of 53.3pc and 20.8pc, respectively.




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