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Bahrain is celebrating its life aquatic with the fourth annual Sea Festival, which opened at Marassi Beach under the patronage of the Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, Zayed bin Rashid Alzayani, in the presence of the new chief executive of BTEA, Nader Al Moayyed.
Since it was first launched in 2015, the Sea Festival celebrates the kingdom’s historical ties to the sea showcasing a wealth of folklore and handicrafts still practiced today by local artisans, in addition to local community organisations working to preserve the kingdom’s sea culture.
Mohanna Aldoseri, founder of Beach Culture, an organisation promoting non-motorised sports in the kingdom said: “We have been involved with the Sea Festival since its first iteration. For this year, we are excited that this is the first time the festival is right on the beach! We hope festivalgoers come with the intention of walking around barefoot, so they can enjoy the sandy beaches and participate in the activities we have going on, and win some prizes, including kitesurfing and windsurfing lessons, tours and much more.”
Amongst the wide range of activities are exciting water sports and boat rides around the beach, as well as recreational, shopping, dining and educational experiences. There is also a volleyball tournament and tug of war, which one can sign up for, on the spot. From hand-crafted miniature dhows to oyster art and of course, a wide spread of seafood, we found something for each of our tastes as we walked around the huge festival, which spans more than 15,000sqm.
There are also various pop-ups on the beach, including a maritime museum showcasing the kingdom’s rich history, highlighting the island’s close ties to the sea, as well as around-the-clock traditional performances where local bands waxed poetic about folklore to the eager listeners. A number of distinguished craftsmen created traditional handicrafts and enlightened us on the origins and trade secrets passed on through the ages, alongside a number of pearl merchants showcasing the famous pearls the Kingdom is known for.
Nader noted in comments to GulfWeekly: “This year, we have more participants, both in terms of booths and anticipated attendees than in previous years. There is more variety, so we hope to attract more people locally as well as from across the region. The BTEA has been promoting the festival across all its offices, so we are excited to see the turnout, and most importantly, to see everyone enjoy and celebrate Bahrain’s sea culture.”
The Festival also includes an outdoor cinema, which has been displaying exciting shows including local dancers and stunning scenes featuring an on-stage Sea World Performance, Cirque de del mare, as well as a number of other activities organised to better familiarise children with the kingdom’s historic roots and sea legacy.
The event also offers a networking opportunity for vendors in the maritime industries, as they can share strategies, find synergies and learn from each other’s growth.
Mohanna said: “What’s really nice is that this event gathers all the business owners in the industry. It helps us get to know each other’s businesses, market trends, and prepare for the coming season. For us this year, along with reaching out to public, we have enjoyed the business-to-business connections and support we have developed this year and we appreciate the support of the BTEA and from the Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, Alzayani.”
The one aspect that makes one uncomfortable about such events in close proximity to the sea is the amount of plastic used. Many events in Bahrain are facing these challenges, which are hopefully addressed, alongside a celebration of the sea.
Many organisations including Cleanup Bahrain and Bahrain Volunteer Dive Team were on hand to raise awareness and ensure that the festival had as minimal a footprint as possible, but faced some challenges.
Kai Miethig, representative of Cleanup Bahrain said: “It is always fun to experience the sea festival and the wide range of activities, entertainment and information about the sea and culture of Bahrain is displayed by the various groups. However, the sea is our life and hence the waste produced by the food providers without proper segregation for recycling is a bit heartbreaking. Plus, access for volunteers was very limited and made it difficult to volunteer. As far as location goes, the remoteness may have some impact on attendance.”
“At BTEA, we strive to organise and host these leading events that work towards further developing the local tourism sector and increasing its contribution to the national economy,” concluded Nader in comments to the press.
The Sea Festival will run every day until this Saturday, starting during the week from 4:00 pm to 10:00 pm every Sunday to Wednesday, and from 3:00 pm to 11:00 pm every Thursday to Saturday at Marassi Beach. The price of the ticket is BD2 per person, entrance is free for children under the age of four.