Bahrain’s F1 places region’s event industry in pole position
Bahrain’s Formula One (F1) Grand Prix has propelled the Kingdom onto the global stage by attracting more TV viewers from around the world than any event ever hosted in the Middle East.
The full extent of the benefits derived from F1 will be revealed by Manama-based Martin Whitaker, general manager, Bahrain International Circuit (BIC), during Festívale, the Middle East’s first convention for event organisers and destination management professionals, from April 24 to 26 at the Dubai World Trade Centre.
Whitaker will evaluate the economic impact of the event for the Bahraini economy and demonstrate the huge commercial and public relations value F1’s global audience provides for the region’s thriving events organization business during Festívale 2005.
An average 345 million racing fans are expected to tune-in for the second Gulf Air Grand Prix, making it the most watched televised event across the region. By the time the 19-race season finishes in Beijing in October, more people will have watched the races than will have watched the last World Cup or the Olympics.
“F1 is a window to the world for corporate events and hospitality companies,” said Whitaker. “It has to be remembered that TV commentary doesn’t just focus on the race. Any aspect of the organization that falls short of team, sponsor or spectator expectation is broadcast to the millions of people around the world.”
“On the other hand, if everything runs smoothly, millions of people from ordinary fans to other sports associations, multinational corporations and even governments will be able to observe at first hand the expertise of the event organisers.”
As far as F1 is concerned however, the Middle East’s event organising capabilities have already taken a commanding lead. The region’s debut fixture in April 2004 resulted in the Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix being voted the best organized Grand Prix in the world by the sport's highest global body, the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile.
“To win such a prestigious award for our very first Grand Prix was an incredible achievement.” said Whitaker. “In terms of global perception it reinforced Bahrain’s status as a major events destination with a superb organizational infrastructure, more than capable of hosting even the most demanding and complex events.”
Investment in staging an F1 Grand Prix is considerable but the dividends are high and immediate. To host a fixture is to showcase the country, its people its facilities and sponsors with its event and hospitality organisers out in the lead.
“The Bahrain Grand Prix demonstrates that countries in the Middle East can host major international events,” said Sabine Enthammer, executive director conferences, IIR Middle East, organisers of Festívale 2005. “The 2006 Asian Games in Qatar and the Leaders in Dubai forum later this year will again highlight the very best of event planning and organization in the Middle East.”
More than 30 speakers from around the world, including Rod McGeoch, chief executive of Sydney’s winning Olympic Games bid, and member of the Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games, will address the convention.
Other speakers include, Virginia Kern, chairman, Fair and Exhibitions Ltd; Amanda Stainer, head of exhibitions, The Society of British Aerospace Companies Ltd; and William J, O’Toole, managing director, Event Project Management System, Australia.