Largest underwater theme park launched

BAHRAIN is soon expected to be on every scuba diver’s “bucket list” after it launched the largest underwater theme park in the world.

The project, Dive Bahrain, involves submerging an aircraft 20 metres in the waters off Hair Al Shathiya, a protected marine site in the north of the island.

The first phase kicked off yesterday as safety tests were carried out on a Boeing 747 at a site off Diyar Al Muharraq.

Extravaganza

The decommissioned aircraft, purchased from the UAE for $100,000, will be taken to the actual site of the park in the next couple of days.

The 70m-long aircraft, which has been specially modified to meet strict environmental standards, will form the centrepiece of the underwater extravaganza.

“We embarked on this project as part of our coastal development,” said Industry, Commerce and Tourism Minister Zayed Alzayani yesterday.

“Part of this initiative is to launch this underwater dive site spanning an area of 100,000sqm which would make it the largest underwater dive park in the world.

“The focal point is a 747 aircraft which will be submerged within the next 48 hours.”

The minister was speaking on the sidelines of a Press conference held at Diyar Al Muharraq yesterday to announce the launch of the first phase of the project.

It was attended by senior government officials, MPs and representatives from different diving schools in the country.

Dive Bahrain will open in August and is expected to attract marine biologists, environmentalists and researchers.

Mr Alzayani said the first phase of the project also includes submerging replicas of traditional Bahraini pearl merchant’s house (Beit Al Nokhitha), artificial coral reefs and sculptures made from eco-friendly material.

The second phase of the project will witness an underwater sculpture gallery featuring works of local and international artists, decommissioned ships that will be submerged at the site and reef balls to guide divers to different locations of the park.

“This is an ongoing project that will provide a memorable experience to the divers,” said Mr Alzayani.

“Safety is paramount for us and this site will be restricted to only licensed diving companies that will accept licensed divers.”

He told the GDN that the eco-friendly project meets strict environmental standards and adopts best practices.

“While executing this project, the aircraft parts were stripped down as we do not compromise on safety or environmental regulation.

“I can assure that the highest regulations are adopted and this is the safest environment-friendly underwater park in the world.”

He revealed that Bahrain had spent $100,000 for the aircraft, with other project costs including logistics, transport and clean-up.

Tourists

“This is a great asset for Bahrain that will attract tourists and divers from across the globe,” he said.

The aircraft will be anchored to the seabed using heavy duty hooks to stop any movement during strong water currents.

The ministry is working on the project with Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority, the Supreme Council for Environment (SCE), the Office of the First Deputy Prime Minister and other private entities.

Bahraini Mohammed Al Mahmeed who has worked on the project with other government entities said there is a huge interest among divers.

“The dive site is located in Hair Al Shathiya and we have received several calls from people inquiring about the opening of Dive Bahrain,” said Mr Al Mahmeed.

Bahraini diver Hassan Janahi said the country is now a leader in eco-tourism.

“Divers can swim inside the submerged 747 aircraft through its four doors, and even the roof is modified for sun rays to enter the aircraft giving a unique experience,” said Mr Janahi.

“The diving community in Bahrain and abroad is growing massively, and we expect big numbers to visit Bahrain as part of their travel bucket list.”

Source: http://www.gdnonline.com/Details/553609

 

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