Bahrain is gaining global recognition for its increasingly dynamic digital economy, maturing tech community and rapidly expanding FinTech ecosystem. Often overlooked, however, is the Kingdom’s status as tourism-hotspot – boasting world class events and activities for visitors with all manner of interests. Bahrain is home to three UNESCO World Heritage Sites, with history going back more than 4,000 years to the times of old Mesopotamia – and visitors can enjoy a wide range of activities from indoor skydiving to water sports, pearl diving, luxury shopping, traditional souks and widely acclaimed homegrown food concepts.
The crown jewel of the Kingdom’s thriving tourism sector is Dive Bahrain – a characteristically ambitious initiative that is attracting a new wave of visitors. Launched in June 2019, the 100,000 square metre underwater theme park is not only the world’s largest, but it also boasts as its centrepiece the largest aircraft ever to be submerged – a 70-metre long decommissioned Boeing 747. The eco-friendly aircraft has also been processed in order to encourage the growth of coral and other marine life around it.
Heritage, culture and adventure
The attraction, which in a nod to Bahrain’s ancient pearling industry features a replica traditional pearl fisherman’s house, is attracting a new breed of tourist. And it’s not just the world’s diving enthusiasts who are converging on the Kingdom for the unique Dive Bahrain experience. The underwater theme park is encouraging visitors to explore the ‘other side’ of Bahrain – one of heritage, culture and adventure.
The old and the new
Bahrain could serve as a case study for global attempts to combine old and new; ancient and modern; traditional and progressive. It has served as a commercial hub linking trade between East and West for thousands of years. What was once the epicentre for the global pearl trade is now a burgeoning FinTech ecosystem, soon to be home to the world’s first blockchain-based bourse. It is a place where businessmen dressed in traditional thawbs meet with investors from Shenzhen and Silicon Valley, to pitch the Kingdom’s cutting-edge digital infrastructure, from its nationwide 5G to its hyper-scale data centre.
The pearl of the Gulf
That is what makes Dive Bahrain – and indeed the Kingdom itself – so unique. Bahrain has always been a nation of superlatives and contradictions. One of the world’s smallest countries is now home to the world’s largest underwater theme park. There is an exceptional lifestyle on offer in the Kingdom, for visitors and expats alike. Small wonder then the Kingdom ranked first in all of MENA as the best place to live and work for expats in the Internations 2018 survey. The pearl of the Gulf might still be its best kept secret.