The glistening massive new Exhibition World Bahrain (EWB) opened its doors to the world recently, adding yet another marvel to the kingdom’s modern infrastructure.
Exhibition World Bahrain’s inauguration in November was a milestone, not only for its owner, the Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority (BTEA), but also for Bahrain as a nation because the edifice represents the culmination of a long-standing ambition to create a world-class facility that can secure the kingdom’s position as a global and regional MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences, exhibitions) hub, says BTEA CEO Dr Nasser Qaedi.
“We have focused a lot on the scale, scope and size of the facility to ensure that it maintains a competitive and unique position globally. Honestly, it is an asset for the region,” says Dr Qaedi.
The new exhibition centre sits on a plot of over 300,000 sq m and has 95,000 sq m of indoor exhibition space separated into 10 halls. The star feature of the complex will be its Grand Hall at the convention centre capable of seating 4,000 people with state-of-the-art technology to host performances, conventions, ceremonies, weddings, etc.
“We’re positioning the facility as a centre that has all the latest technology, resources and services embedded in one hub,” continues Dr Qaedi.
During the first week of opening, EWB hosted three concurrent events which took over six of the 10 halls. These included Jewellery Arabia, one of the largest jewellery shows in the region and a prestigious one for Bahrain, along with Scent Arabia’s first edition. The show was about 300 per cent larger than the previous editions by virtue of the size of the new facility. Cityscape was also held at EWB, for the first time in Bahrain.
“EWB hosted three separate exhibitions at the same time and this exemplifies the versatility and the value of the centre,” says Dr Qaedi. “EWB is also allowing exhibitions to scale up due to the increased capacity, while benefiting from the different services and facilities available at the centre.”
“It will be a facility that we will use to promote and attract more global events from around the world to Bahrain, ranging from trade shows, conferences, performances, entertainment, weddings, sporting events, etc. There are so many options that the facility can be used for,” he explains.
The expo centre is also strategically located in close proximity to the Bahrain International Circuit, the Al Dana Amphitheatre and the future Sports City. The area is developing itself as a recreational and entertainment hub. Many complementary developments are also coming up in the area, including hotels and resorts. There is a great opportunity for investors to leverage the developments and invest in the south of the country, adds Dr Qaedi.
He also says the BTEA is working aggressively on the global front to promote Bahrain both as a leisure and MICE destination and these assets are a huge value to be able to position Bahrain uniquely.
“The Exhibition World Bahrain is a very important addition to showcasing the new face of Bahrain’s infrastructure. Since 2021, the kingdom has launched the new Bahrain International Airport, multiple resorts and new developments. We now have a unique and new ecosystem of tourism infrastructure. Together with our partners and stakeholders we are keen to ensure that we keep adding content so Bahrain offers something new every few months. As we complement that with new experiences and activities, it helps develop Bahrain as a unique destination,” says Dr Qaedi.
Excerpts from the interview:
What are some of the unique facilities EWB provides?
The complex is unique in terms of its size and design; it’s the largest single site exhibition centre in the Middle East. It also allows for great versatility and flexibility in the types of events that can be hosted. The building is considered one of the best insulated structures in Bahrain from the energy and sound perspectives.
It offers a unique set of integrated facilities. For example, other than the halls, you have the Grand Hall, in-house kitchens that will be able to provide on-site five-star catering to all events and venues; bridal suites for weddings, etc. It is equipped to provide a five-star experience for the luxury events. We also have a multitude of VIP facilities designed to cater to events ranging from the smallest to large summits, both regional and global.
We have a huge number of meeting rooms to allow for B2B meetings and corporate gatherings. There will be multiple F&B and retail outlets too. In short, it’s designed to be a community hub.
When we approach different stakeholders, especially events management companies, we want to tell them: ‘You want the latest, most high-tech venue in the world? It’s in Bahrain’. And that’s something that we are proud to promote to the global MICE market.
The building also takes into consideration the need to be eco-friendly and the facilities are in line with the sustainability aspirations of the country.
How does the expo centre incorporate Bahrain’s culture and heritage?
In all our developments, whether it’s the BTEA projects or the private sector developments, we try to always ensure that they portray our unique national identity. We are part of a civilisation extending over 5,000 years with a rich history and a vibrant culture. In the new exhibition centre, everything from the architecture to the colours to the theming inside, are all reflective of Bahrain’s national identity.
How will the new expo centre contribute to Bahrain’s economic development?
The Exhibition World Bahrain is designed to feed into the national economy by attracting global events and activities into the country; attracting more visitors to the kingdom; and promoting Bahrain as a destination for businesses and investments. When visitors arrive for business or tourism, the multiplier is always significant. The exhibition centre is going to be the strategic enabler for economic development, and create more business opportunities.
ASM Global has been appointed to manage EWB. How will ASM’s expertise help in achieving your vision?
We want to ensure that we have the right expertise to position this new exhibition facility in the right way from the start, to capture global networks. It’s all about creating partnerships and affiliations. ASM is one of the companies that have a large network that will allow them to bring new events, new activities into the country. ASM is also helping transfer key knowledge and expertise to local talents.