Looking ahead to Bahrain - a pearl in the gulf
The final stop on the 2013 FIA World Endurance Championship is just around the corner and 28 cars (and 79 drivers) will soon be heading to the 5.412 km (3.363 mile) Sakhir circuit in the Kingdom of Bahrain. The 6 Hours of Bahrain, a race into the night, will take place on Saturday 30 November.
Bahrain is a small island country situated near the western shores of the Persian Gulf, reflecting that in Arabic ‘al-bahrayn’ means ‘the two seas’. It is an archipelago of 33 islands with Bahrain Island the largest, the capital of which is Manama.
The Kingdom has been one of the Gulf’s most important commercial crossroads for over 4,000 years. With a large part of its income coming from the petroleum industry, first discovered in 1932, the Emirate which became a Kingdom never stops seeking to diversify its economy, anticipating the depletion of its resources of the black gold. Prior to the discovery of oil, Bahrain first prospered through its pearl trade, its waters providing an ideal natural habitat for pearl oysters.
This desert land, which is subject to powerful sandstorms, has been enriched above all by the exploitation of black gold with, as its key, a high standard of living for its 1.2 million inhabitants, of which just over half are of Bahraini nationality. These people live in an area of 765 km², of which a sizeable area was reclaimed from the sea, the waters surrounding the islands being shallow. With a density of 1,646 inhabitants per km², Bahrain is the fourth most populated in the world, beaten only by city-states.
As a reflection of its willingness to diversify, Bahrain’s banking and financial sectors are growing very rapidly and the construction of the Sakhir Circuit in 2004 was a national objective for Bahrain, initiated by the Crown Prince, Shaikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa.
Linked to Saudi Arabia by the 25km King Fahd Causeway, it is planned that in five years’ time a causeway will also link Bahrain with Qatar, to the southeast. At 45km, the ‘Friendship Causeway’ will be the world’s longest land bridge.