By Andy Sambidge
Investment bank chief sees tourism sector growing in importance to economy.
Tourism could double in importance to Bahrain's total income over the next decade, according to a leading Islamic investment bank chief.
Global Banking Corporation (GBCORP) investment banking head Ahmed Mohammed Al Khan said the tourism sector could bring in a quarter of the country's total income by 2020, with weekend tourism leading the growth.
But he said developers needed to recognise Bahrain's heritage and traditions while planning multi-million dinar seafront properties.
"There should be proper awareness about the project among the local community and it must be done with the full understanding of the local culture, needs and aspirations," he said in comments published by Gulf Daily News on Tuesday.
He was speaking on the final day of the Second Annual Urban Waterfronts Conference at the Sheraton Bahrain Hotel.
The paper reported that he saw tourism as one of Bahrain's fastest-growing sectors, currently representing 12 percent of its total income but was expected to rise to 25 percent by the end of the next decade.
He criticised the lack of focus on developing Bahrain's coastlines, saying: "Bahrain is an island nation and for long has enjoyed a rich maritime lifestyle and a cultural heritage that dates back to the Dilmun civilisation," he said.
"But unfortunately the island concept has not figured much in the way we live and have developed our habitat."
What is there to do in Bahrain? It is one of the most boring places in the Middle East. Even a weekend there is spoilt by thousands of Saudis pouring in looking for "fun". but really, there is so little to do that even a weekend can drag on. I would challenge the tourism department to name more than three things that would be interesting for visitors?!?
I would agree with Joe Bloggs, and as the end of the article's first paragraph reads "..with weekend tourism leading the growth", I understand that to mean "tourism from Saudi Arabia". If Bahrain is going to get a quarter of its total income from tourism by 2020, I think they will have some really hard work to do in order to attract tourists other than Saudi pleasure-seekers.