We go behind the scenes at some of Bahrain’s favourite places
Time Out Bahrain staff
Bahrain International Airport The main runway’s almost 4km long with a 2.5km back-up runway. The passenger terminal has the capacity to serve 9million travellers plus the airport handles 322,734 tonnes of cargo per year plus 10 million pieces of luggage!
There are 43 airlines operating out of Bahrain flying to 50 destinations with 1,052 weekly departures and the guys and girls responsible for keeping it all moving – well at least in the air – are the air traffic controllers who hang out in the tower right beside the runway.
They direct more than 315,000 aircraft annually and handle around 87,000 landings.
There are 22 air traffic controllers running the Bahrain operations, three to four per shift and they each train for around three years.
We got a bird’s-eye view from the tower and a sneaky peak inside.
Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) Yes we all know where it is and that it’s the home of the big race. But how much do you actually know about the circuit?
The Grand Prix track is 5.412km long and, aside from F1, every year the circuit hosts around 300 events, both on and off the race track.
Each year the track welcomes well over 100,000 visitors. In 2012, a crowd of 70,000 turned out for the Grand Prix in April plus another 10,000 who attended the Six Hours of Bahrain in September, part of the FIA World Endurance Championship.
BIC also welcomed significantly large crowds to the GP2 standalone event, the CIK-FIA World Karting Championship and Karting Academy Trophy, local championships such as drag racing and circuit racing and a whole lot of other events both racing and otherwise.
On a big race day there are about 20 people who are ‘needed’ in the race control room. The most important of them are the race cirector, clerk of course, chief observer and medical, fire and emergency chiefs.
Even the BIC’s own photographers aren’t allowed to take pictures in the control room on race day so we were pretty pleased to be allowed in when all was quiet for our behind the scenes shot.
Then of course there are the garages where the teams look after the cars on race days, check out the shots of pit lane action at F1 and in the pits and garages during the GP2 Series.
There’s no doubt, this is one seriously impressive place.
Cineco cinema Pretty much all the big films these days come on digital and that’s what’s used at the Cineco cinemas.
However, a look in the projection room reveals the old 35mm projectors are still in place, just in case.The cinema screens seven to eight new movies each week from blockbusters to some of the more surprising lower budget offerings and around 140,000 movie goers pass through the door each month getting through thousands of gallons of popcorn and soft drinks.
Check out our 2013 preview feature for a heads-up on the new films coming this year, whether your preference is shoot ‘em up or a bit of light romance, there’s something to look forward to this year.
Coral Bay By day it’s the Corniche but sometimes at night it turns into a fab outdoor music venue. We went down when they were setting up for the Macy Gray concert – and no we’re not mentioning Battle of the Bands which, last we heard, was rescheduled for Dec 28.
Setting up the stage for a show like Macy’s can take up to four days. Most international artists have a specific technical rider which the venue must adhere to. There were more than 10 people working on the set-up, one group doing sound and one taking care of the lights.
All the set-up is done in Bahrain from local sound/stage suppliers, but in some cases the artist may bring their own stage set-up if they equipment that’s not available in Bahrain and, of course, the musicians bring their own instruments.
The Macy Gray stage took dozens, if not hundreds of lights and different types of lighting equipment to cover the stage from every side, all the band members and also a blinder to light up the audience.
The sound system used was KV2 VHD 2.0, as per the artist’s request, it was provided from a local supplier with sound and lighting engineers, Macy’s band had their own engineers to control the show.
Gulf Aviation Academy (GAA) Think the dashboard of your new sports car looks like the controls of a jumbo jet? Well think again.
If you’ve ever wondered how the pilots who whizz us backwards and forwards every day work out which nobs to jiggle and buttons to press, this is the answer.
Tucked away beside the airport GAA has more than 20 airline clients including some of the largest fliers in the world such as Emirates, Qatar Airways and Etihad.
In the Middle East alone, the estimated demand for new pilots is approximately 36,300 to the year 2030.
While a recent forecast by aircraft manufacturer Boeing estimated that, with new aircraft joining the global fleet and retiring engineers, the world will require 650,000 new aircraft technicians over the next 20 years with 53,000 in the Middle East region and this is where many of them will start their training before moving onto the real thing.
Funland Yes folks, there’s one of these behind each lane every time you go bowling.
They’re called Brunswick machines and they automatically feed the pins back up into the alley at the start of each game.
Funland has 18 lanes with a machine in each. Each one holds ten pins at a time and keeps ten in reserve.
The bowling balls weigh between six and 16lb each, which makes for quite a battering, and, with 5,000 players using the venue each month (60,000-plus a year), it’s a surprise that the pins only need replacing every 18 months. Maybe we need to talk to the manufacturer about our phones!
Gulf Hotel kitchen Hands up anyone who hasn’t eaten in one of the Gulf Hotel’s restaurants, yes we thought so, there aren’t too many of you.
With 16 outlets including restaurants, cafés, room service, lounges and bars, the Gulf has one of the biggest and most impressive catering operations on the island.
There’s a huge main kitchen plus outlet kitchens employing 55 full-time permanent staff with lots of others who rotate in when needed. All in they work an average of 3,850 hours per week!
The most popular items are generally Angus fillet, sushi, pasta, sizzling dishes and burgers and, for the most part, this is where they start their journey to your plate.
And with an eye to the environment, all paper waste is sent for recycling while other waste is taken care of by a waste management company.
Hindu temple Arad Not strictly behind the scenes but how many of us who are not Hindu will ever have seen scenes such as these.
The Hindu temple in Arad has been open since 2000, though there is another one in the Souq which has been operating more than 200 years (but sadly they wouldn’t allow pictures).
The temple’s patron god is Lord Ayyappa, a popular Hindu god in India. The walls are painted with murals of other Hindu gods such as Lord Krishna, Lord Shiva and a few locally worshiped gods from Northern Kerala. Members of the congregation are mostly Indian Hindus but everyone else is always welcomed.
The annual temple festival is celebrated on November 2 each year and we’re told that’s the best time to visit.
The temple’s hidden in the garage area of Arad and is open daily from 5.30-6.30am, Wed 7-9pm, Fri 5.30-8am and 6.30-9pm and Sat 6.30-8.30pm.
Radio Bahrain Do you wake up to the dulcet tones of DJ Marie-Claire on Radio Bahrain? Or are you an early bird, tuning into The Fish on the school or work run.
Ever wondered what it looks like in the studio over there near Isa Town? Well wonder no more, here’s Marie-Claire doing the am to pm thang.
She’s one of 45 people working at the radio station, eight of them full timers and the rest are part time.
Radio Bahrain broadcasts 24/7 on two frequencies 96.5 and 99.5 FM. Live shows run from 6am to 7pm on both frequencies and then split with live broadcasting on 96.5 until midnight and feature programmes on 99.5. At midnight 99.5 joins 96.5 for non-stop music right through the night until 6am.
On the technical side the station uses a Klotz digital on-air mixer and two broadcasting systems, Dalet and BPM.
Most recent figures recorded around 500,000 listeners around the region and, very diplomatically, they won’t tell us which show is most popular.
Kempinski Grand & Ixir Hotel Bahrain City Centre Bath rugs – 168kg, bath towels – 60.15kg, bath sheets – 262kg, bathrobes – 20.19kg, bed sheets king – 393.38kg, bed sheets twin – 38.82kg, duvet covers king – 726.68kg, duvet covers twin – 69.24kg, hand towels – 19.15kg, pillow cases – 10.17kg, rags – 3.47kg, food and beverage linens – 152kg, uniforms and management –170kg and guest laundry – 23kg. This is just some of the enormous list of items dealt with by the Kempinski’s laundry every day.
The facility measures 534.7sq m and uses washing machines, tumble dryers, speed dryers, hot plates, dry cleaning machines, a hot body press, a cuff & collar press, hand irons, steam presses, a jacket press, a spotting machine, a machine for plastic covering, weighing scales, a towel folder and a marking machine.
The laundry serves a total of 460 guest rooms, 14 function rooms, nine food and beverage outlets and the hotel’s spa.
They use nine different types of detergent getting through 1,318 litres per month!
There are 17 laundry staff plus five uniform staff and a total of 55 housekeeping staff overall. The team is made up of nine different nationalities including Bahraini, Indian, Filipino, German, Sudanese, Egyptian and Sri Lankan and throughout the day the laundry is filled with music from all the different countries represented on the staff.
Wahooo! Water Park It’s the region’s only indoor/outdoor water park and it’s kept at a constant temperature of 30°C all year round. But, surprisingly, there’s no little guy in the back room shovelling coal to keep Wahooo going.
In fact there’s a whole massive plant room a bit like a swan paddling away beneath the surface.
The temperature’s controlled by Menerga air handling units which capture the humidity and redistribute the water back into the pool system – this can be as much as 25,000 litres per day!
Within Wahooo!’s water treatment plant there are four operating systems. Each has its own disinfectant dosage, filtration filter and temperature control. Wahooo! uses a specialist filter called a Neptune Benson Defender filter. Compared to the more commonly used sand filters, these earn an annual saving of 2 million gallons of water!
All the pools are kept at a PH between 7.2 and 7.8, with the PH values for each system constantly monitored through an automatic balancing unit and manually checked every four hours.
And all plant room operators hold the National Pool Plant Operator certificate from the Institute of Sports and Recreation Management.
The wave pool operates waves every 30 minutes and has up to eight different wave patterns and the Flow Rider’s standing wave can reach three metres and, at full capacity, can pick up to speeds of 1,000 litres per second, allowing surfers to perform somersaults and various other techniques.