Picture yourself on your wedding day, stood on a white, sandy beach, gazing into your loved one’s eyes and looking out over azure waters. Just as you’re about to say “I do”, you spot a friendly camel plodding along in the background, as bright green palm fronds sway and the predictable weather keeps your guests happy and warm. Sounds like you’re in the Seychelles or Maldives, right? Well, following the announcement that the Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority has launched a brand-new action plan to position our little island as a “prime wedding destination”, such idyllic scenes will no longer be the far-off pipe dream it seems.
Over the past few years, we’ve seen a vibrant industry emerge, with more and more jobs springing up. Wedding planners, make-up artists, fashion designers and florists abound and becoming a dedicated wedding singer in Bahrain is an actual possibility. Now, with this new two-year plan, which is part of a long-term strategy to highlight Bahrain’s overall tourism offering, other businesses will also be able to take their slice of the proverbial wedding cake, including the hotel and hospitality industries or the beauty sector, for example. Even transportation companies, such as car rentals and taxi services, would stand to benefit.
With the US$1.1 billion (more than BD400 million) expansion of Bahrain International Airport, which will see its capacity reach up to 14 million passengers per year, and plans afoot to improve the King Fahad Causeway and the Khalifa Bin Salman Port, the idea that Bahrain is next on many people’s must-visit list might not be so far-fetched. Not to mention if plans to develop the country’s beaches take off and work on all those stunning residential and leisure projects is completed.
“The authority will be focusing its efforts on elevating the [wedding] sector through various methods,” explains Dr Ali Hassan Follad, advisor to BTEA, “including hosting a workshop in September to develop the skills of wedding planners in Bahrain with the support of an international accredited company.” (New career idea?) Companies from around the world are also being called on to help fully realise Bahrain’s capabilities, plus major events such as Jewellery Arabia and the globally renowned Wedding Fair will be used to promote the Kingdom as the next Saint Lucia.
It’s not just more parties on The Ritz-Carlton’s island or in the Gulf Hotel’s banquet hall we’re talking about (although, we wouldn’t complain if it was). Soon, swarms of wedding guests could be glamping, Bedouin-style, as the lucky couple tie the knot in a unique, Arabian desert wedding. Or speed freaks could be having the F1-themed wedding of their dreams at the Bahrain International Circuit.
Now, can we get an “I do”?