The excitement and fascination I saw on people’s faces as they watched the flying display during Bahrain International Air Show 2014, that ended on Saturday, is not easy to describe.
The number of visitors and the amount of business-deals, that this three-day show has seen, however, is somewhat quantifiable.
We were surprised to learn from the organizers that by noon on Saturday alone, the last day, despite rain and cloudy weather, some 12,000 people had already come in. And if we add 22,800 visitors recorded till the end of the previous day, we can estimate the huge number of people that this year’s show has attracted.
Compared to 2012, the business deals signed this year have also tripled. The worth of a USD 3 billion trade happening here is no small matter for this small country. It is a big boost to the economy of this country that hosted a show which now has become a major business event in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
Just look at the size. 120 plus companies (more than double from 2012), 29 military delegations from 18 countries, 57 civil delegations comprising 116 delegates and a total of 106 aircrafts (89 on static display) participated. It shows us the huge magnitude of this event.
And the stunning displays on the ground and in the air, by various International participants at the Air Show give us the amazing splendour of the event.
I particularly liked watching the aerobatics by the Russian Knights and Saudi Hawks, apart from the majestic display by the Typhoon and a flying display by the Indian EMB 1451.
While the brilliant formations by several aircraft teams were a feast to our eyes, the death defying stunts by the Breitiling Wingwalkers made us catch our breath.
Also, the presence of many high-profile visitors at the venue made the event even more special. Among them were His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa, Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Prime Minister HRH Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, members of the Ruling Family, Duke of York Prince Andrew and Dubai Ruler and UAE Vice President Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Makhtoum.
My hearty congratulations to His Majesty’s Personal Representative and Head of the Supreme Organising Committee, HH Shaikh Abdulla bin Hamad Al-Khalifa.
Congratulations are also due to the Transportation Minister Kamal Ahmed for ensuring that this event makes Bahrain’s flag fly high in the international arena.
The 2016 edition of the Bahrain International Air Show (BIAS), according to him, will focus on ‘quality’, while maintaining the growth.
His words to the media were: “Size-wise we saw the 2014 edition growing, as well as in terms of deals, participants and companies and all our chalets were sold out much earlier.
“While we expect the growth to continue, our efforts will be to ensure a platform that will cater a compact platform to the companies and businesses who hope to meet their customers. Too big a show might fall out on this aspect,” he said.
Organised by Bahrain’s Transportation Ministry and the Royal Bahrain Air Force in partnership with Farnborough International Ltd, this bi-annual event, I believe, is achieving a very significant status in the global air-shows calendar.
When we know that over $ 45 billion is budgeted by the MENA region, for this industry, in the next five years; and when we know that that over 60% of this year’s Bahrain show participants have already given a verbal commitment to participate again next time, should we not work harder and make the next one even better?
Yes. I believe we will see a highly spectacular and financially trade-worthy BIAS 2016. Even, better than this one.