By Mai Al Khatib-Camille
THE FIA, the governing body of the world of motor sport, is to hold its annual summit in Bahrain in April.
It is the first time the event has been staged in the Middle East and is seen as another major coup for the Bahrain International Circuit (BIC).
The FŽdŽration Internationale de I'Automobile, commonly referred to as the FIA, is a non-profit association and was established in 1904 to represent the interests of motoring organisations and motor car users. To the general public, the FIA is mostly known as the governing body for motor racing events.
Martin Whitaker, the BIC's chief executive officer, said: "We are very honoured and excited that the FIA is holding the summit here prior to our Grand Prix on April 3.
"We have a lot of interesting speakers lined up and many delegates attending the meeting. I am hopeful that we will be staging it for years to come."
FIA officials have been particularly impressed by the safety standards at BIC and its working partnership with the Ministry of Health.
Mr Whitaker explained: "This is one of the reasons why the FIA chose us because it can see that the Ministry of Health has taken giant leaps forward in terms of the way we run the medical facilities during the Grand Prix."
The BIC is the only Formula One circuit to receive an FIA Centre of Excellence accolade.
The Sakhir track had to demonstrate the highest standards of safety management from track safety to crash barriers, run-off areas, communication with marshals and focus on medical facilities included work with paramedics, hospitals and arrangements for dealing with accidents plus helicopter timings of emergency transfers to intensive care units.
Mr Whitaker said: "Most importantly, we are always moving forward and we are always looking at new ways to approach potentially difficult circumstances.
"If there are new initiatives we consider and implement them at the circuit. There is a whole raft of ever-moving solutions to safety from a motor racing perspective.
"What I suppose we are doing here is demonstrating that the Middle East has a vital role to play in the development of motor sport activity.
"There is another circuit being built in Abu Dhabi and one being built in Qatar. So in a sense we want to use the FIA summit as an opportunity to demonstrate the circuit here in Bahrain is the leader in terms of medical development and initiatives taking place."
The FIA's world-renowned medical team will be attending the summit and their actions over improving safety measures in recent years have been praised by drivers, teams and fans alike. Experts believe driver Robert Kubica would never have survived last year's horror crash in Canada without them.
The FIA's headquarters are in Paris and the organisation consists of 213 national member organisations in 125 countries worldwide.
The BIC is also hosting the Motor Sport Business Forum on April 1 and 2 which will attract the sport's most influential decision-makers.