Building 702, Road 1510
PO Box 75315
Al Hidd, Kingdom of Bahrain
A fund for promoting and supporting maritime education and training through scholarships to Bahraini students has been announced by the General Organisation of Sea Ports (GOP) as the second annual Bahrain Maritime Festival (BMF) kicked off. The proposal for establishing the Bahrain Maritime Education Fund was given the green light by GOP’s Board of Directors the day before the opening of BMF 2011.
The Fund is being set up to provide scholarships and financial support to assist Bahraini nationals, selected through a fair and transparent process, for pursuing higher education and training. In setting up the Fund, the GOP realizes the importance of ensuring availability of well-educated and trained local manpower to help the Bahrain maritime sector to prosper and remain competitive in the global maritime community.
The launch of the Fund, which is expected to become operational by the beginning of next year, follows a detailed study that has laid out the structure, criteria, possible programmes and selection process for applicants. This initiative is part of a multi-pronged strategy devised by the GOP to enhance capacity-building and help promote the career potential of the maritime industry to preserve Bahrain’s deep-rooted sea-based tradition.
Another important initiative that has reached fruition coinciding with the launch of BMF 2011 is the completion of the Seafarer’s Centre, a project that was initially announced during the first annual BMF last year. The Seafarer’s Centre, located at the Khalifa Bin Salman Port (KBSP), will be inaugurated on the 29th of September, 2011, and will provide a premises for the international seafarers calling at the port and office space to Bahrain International Seafarers Society (BISS). The new Centre will enable BISS to provide international seafarers various amenities, services and support for rest and relaxation.
Shaikh Daij bin Salman Al Khalifa, Chairman of GOP, said, “I have great pleasure in announcing these two major developments at GOP during the Bahrain Maritime Festival 2011. They are the culmination of much hard work, and both reflect the gradual implementation of our Strategic Plan 2011-2016.”
Exemplifying GOP’s commitment to further developing both the hard and soft infrastructure of Bahrain’s maritime industry and ensuring that the Kingdom remains competitive on a global level, these two announcements set a positive tone for BMF 2011, which was inaugurated with an industry seminar entitled “Addressing Piracy”. The topic reflects what has been much on the minds of industry insiders due to the steadily increasing threat of piracy on the global maritime, shipping and logistics industry. The seminar’s topic was chosen to directly tie into the International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO) theme for World Maritime Day 2011: “Piracy: Orchestrating the Response”.
The seminar saw more than 130 maritime industry professionals and stakeholders, with key international speakers visiting Bahrain specifically to address the audience. These speakers included Mr. Nick Charalambous, Head of Maritime Safety and Security Division, Department of Merchant Shipping, Republic of Cyprus;, Mr. Bent Nielsen, Managing Director of Maersk Tankers; Mr. Babak Jabbari, SVP of Projects and New Buildings and Head of Maritime Operations at SeaBird Exploration; Mr. Richard Davey, Director of Lambrook Services; Colonel Ala Abdulla Seyadi, Commander of the Bahrain Coast Guard; Commander Todd Offutt, United States Coast Guard - Officer-in-Charge, Maritime Liaison Office, (MARLO) Bahrain; and Captain Tony Neville Aldred, Director Operations Combined Maritime Forces, Royal Australian Navy.
The overall objective for the seminar was to help all stakeholders adopt a practical, comprehensive and sustainable strategy to address maritime security and best practices to counter piracy.
BMF was first conceptualized by the GOP in 2010, and follows a week-long festival format, with a full agenda of activities, all of which revolve around the IMO’s theme or touch directly on the maritime industry. The BMF embodies the spirit of the IMO’s World Maritime Day, which is a global annual IMO initiative, and aims to generate greater awareness for Bahrain’s growing achievements and developments in the maritime industry and further positions Bahrain as a pioneer in the global maritime industry.
In addition to the “Addressing Piracy” seminar, the Bahrain Maritime Festival includes a photo exhibition that will showcase images taken by photo enthusiasts, as part of a photography competition entitled: “Reflection of the Two Seas”. The competition challenged photographers to capture aspects of Bahrain’s maritime life, industry or landscape. Submitted photos were reviewed by a panel of professional photographers, including Mr. Khalifa Shaheen, Mr. Ali Riffai and Ms. Loredana Montello, with the winning and shortlisted photographs exhibited in Seef Mall from the 26th of September through the 1st of October, 2011.
BMF 2011 also includes a youth-oriented educational program slated to begin today (27 September 2011), and to be rolled out over the course of the school-year to enable as many students as possible to attend. The programme, which is being implemented in strategic partnership with Tamkeen, aims to create awareness and generate interest in Bahrain’s growing achievements and developments in the maritime industry among students, as well as to highlight the career potential of the maritime and shipping industry for interested students. The program will include an overview about the threat of piracy, an introduction to Bahrain’s maritime capabilities and field visits to both the Arab Shipbuilding and Repair Yard (ASRY) and the Khalifa Bin Salman Port (KBSP), where students can see the various facets of ports and shipping operations first-hand.
The final activity, the BMF Kids Carnival, will take place in the Bahrain City Center and will run from October 5th - 8th October, 2011. The Carnival will include a number of activities aimed at entertaining children of all ages, and will feature a range of maritime-themed activities.
“Last year, we launched the BMF as a pilot initiative to test the level of interest and I am very pleased to report that we received great feedback, spurring this year’s event to be bigger and better,” said Shaikh Daij, “Each year, we aim to have at least one business event, one educational event and one event for families to enjoy. Moreover, our outreach this year included a viral campaign to engage younger Bahrainis and we have been delighted with the response.”
Multiple channels of communications were used to reach out to stakeholders this year, including social media, which was successful in grabbing the attention of both industry professionals and youth. Updates were regularly posted to the official Bahrain Maritime Festival Facebook page, as well as BMF’s Twitter feed (@BMFBahrain), which helped engage and inform interested participants.
Major companies and media partners have come forward as sponsors to support and be a part of BMF 2011 activities to mark World Maritime Day. While the Arab Shipbuilding and Repair Yard (ASRY) is BMF’s strategic sponsor for BMF for the second consecutive year, Tamkeen is the strategic partner for the school visit as part of the festival’s educational programme this year. This is in addition to Bahrain Flour Mills, Al Jazeera Shipping Co. W.L.L., Bahrain Polytechnic, GAC Bahrain, APM Terminals, and UCO Marines. Media partners include: Al Watan, Al Ayam, Al Bilad, Akhbar Al Khaleej, and Gulf Daily News. The support of these organisations indicates that the business of meetings, incentives, conferences and events (MICE) is very much active in Bahrain and that the maritime industry can contribute positively to this activity.
The United Nations (UN), via the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), initiated World Maritime Day to commemorate the international maritime industry’s contribution towards the global economy, specifically in the shipping and logistics sectors. The GOP joins many countries worldwide, including Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States to observe World Maritime Day. The event’s date varies by year and country but it is always celebrated during the last week of September.