As protests flare up across Bahrain, rulers try and highlight the economic benefit
The platform that the race produces presents a fabulous shop window for Bahrain
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The Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix has brought with it full hotel bookings, increased restaurant traffic, and spike in business throughout the taxi, rental car and retail sectors, said a top official.
"The platform that the race produces presents a fabulous shop window for Bahrain," said Sportique88 managing director Martin Whitaker at the 'Business in Formula 1' event at the Paddock Club of the Bahrain International Circuit, according to a report in the Gulf Daily News, our sister publication.
He was taking part in discussions on the 'Value of Formula One to the host nation', which was also attended by Transportation Minister Kamal Ahmed.
Bahrain comes under the spotlight for more than 500 million television viewers today as the Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix takes centre-stage.
German Nico Rosberg will start in pole today after clocking a best time of one minute and 32.330 seconds in the final Q3 segment of the qualifying hour for Mercedes.
Leadership 'will not sit in bunker'
Meanwhile, Bahrain will not "isolate" itself from progress and reforms amidst its political crisis, said the country's Crown Prince.
The only way forward is continuing dialogue at all levels, stressed HRH Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Premier.
He was speaking to journalists at the Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) yesterday during the second day of the Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix.
"Sitting in a bunker and isolating ourselves is not going to help. We are talking and we will continue to talk," he said.
"This is because we feel that is the only way we can solve issues. We may be talking about different things now and we may be talking about other things in five years from now but we have to keep that process going.
"We are an emerging democracy and we will have differences. We will, however, solve those differences and move ahead. The dialogue is going ahead and we are making progress."
The Crown Prince said he respected people's difference in opinion, but has no respect for those behind street violence in the country
'Race can bring back unity'
The Crown Prince added that the race was a chance to bring the country together, according to Reuters.
"There are families out there - fathers, mothers, children - having the best times of their lives without regard to either ethnicity, sect or social income. So, I'm happy. And I go out there and I walk among the people and I'm comfortable," he said.
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