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The ninth edition of the Bahrain For All festival was held at Bahrain Bay, attracting more than 55,000 visitors and bringing different communities together to highlight inclusivity and harmony in diversity.
The two-day festival, held under the theme “Leaving Nobody Behind”, showcased traditional dance and stage performances and 150 market stalls highlighting cultural items, handmade goods, food and products for sale from various communities and societies on the island including the Regional Institute of Autism (RIA) and the Friendship Society for the Blind.
Bahrain for all founder and organiser Nivedita Dhadphale said: “Bahrain has a very long history of tolerance and unity in its diversity so really this is about promoting inclusivity and endorsing everything that Bahrain stands for.
“We are grateful to Capital Governor Shaikh Hisham bin Abdulrahman Al Khalifa, as well as the Capital Governorate team and the volunteers who have worked with us to make this event happen. Having the event at Bahrain Bay was fantastic – not only was the stage bigger and the view much more scenic, this presented the modern face of Bahrain and we are glad to be part of it.”
The popular Bahraini Police Band, celebrating 100 years of Bahrain Police, also performed at the event, along with several local emcees and musicians.
The event, which was inaugurated by Shaikh Hisham, included stalls exhibiting handicrafts from various countries, including Philippines, Thailand, Ethiopia, India and more.
Thai Ambassador to Bahrain, Thanis Na Songkhla said: “It has been a very successful couple of days. We got a lot of interest from visitors who wanted to know more about our culture and traditions. We look forward to being a part of the event in the coming years.”
Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, Thai, Filipino, Jordanian, Bangladeshi, Egyptian and more performers entertained the crowd during the festival, which also aims to raise awareness and acceptance for individuals with special needs.
For the first time, in consultation with Steps Rehabilitation Centre, a sensory room was set up for differently-abled individuals to assist in focusing on the present moment and to better process sensory information.
The room, designed to combine lighting, colours, textures and aromas, helped individuals overcome anxiety and engage their senses in a safe and calm environment.
Sarva Velamuri, one of the volunteers at the event, added: “The Sensory Room provided a calm space for people with special needs to relax and offered a calming environment to anyone who may have felt overwhelmed in unfamiliar surroundings. That way everyone could enjoy the festival which can be overwhelming to those who are hypersensitive to sensory inputs.”
The festival drew families from across the island, with a special maze, children’s stage and activities set up for the little ones. Mohsin Akbar, who was there with his wife Ahsan and their two children, said: “My kids enjoyed all the different activities and my wife and I enjoyed the view. This is the first time we came to the festival. In previous years, it’s been too far from home but this location is perfect!”
Belgian tourists Christine Tierens and Peter Slabbaert who were visiting Bahrain and staying at a hotel nearby when they saw the festivities and joined in, added: “It was a happy accident that we were visiting the country when this festival took place! It is quite wonderful to be able to experience so many different cultures in one place. We have experienced some of the most generous hospitality during our time in Bahrain and we can see here why so many diverse cultures choose to call Bahrain home.”