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The fifth edition of the Bahrain Food Festival, launched last weekend at Bahrain Bay, promises a slew of food and entertainment options for visitors, along with a special heritage village celebrating the culinary heritage of the island.
The 20-day festival, which will be held in two 10-day legs this year to showcase two different sets of Bahraini and international food vendors, is part of the Bahrain Tourism and Exhibition Authority’s (BTEA) efforts to highlight the milestone title of Manama as the “Capital of Arab Tourism 2020.”
Industry Commerce and Tourism minister Zayed Alzayani opened the festival, alongside BTEA chief executive Nader Almoayyed and Supreme Council for Environment chief executive Dr Mohammed Bin Daina.
“We are happy with the launch of the fifth edition of the food festival in Bahrain and thank everyone who played a part in making this festival a reality,” said the minister. “This year, we tried to change things around a little in the composition of the festival as it will continue for 20 days and after the first 10 days, the participants will change, so that we are able to accommodate the largest number of participants possible and it will exceed more than 200.
“For the first time, we have added the heritage village which is a new concept. It’s unique this year as well because there are several live cooking stations where we will host many local and international chefs in both local and international cuisines.”
In addition to a creative and diverse selection of vendors, including healthy and organic food, street food and gastronomic delicacies, the food festival this year also features a children’s educational play area, Candy Land, fun competitions and more than 150 live performances.
The heritage village has its own live entertainment area surrounded by local culinary artisans showcasing traditional Bahraini snack and sweet-making techniques in a souq-esque environment.
Sana Jalil from Saar was visiting the festival with her family, said: “It’s a fantastic annual event and we have been trying lots of different cuisines. We come every year but this year, the view and the ambience are much better.”
While parking proved to be a significant challenge in the first few days, with clear signage for parking only visible when entering Bahrain Bay via the Al Fateh Highway-Diplomatic Area entrance, shuttle buses are provided from designated parking lots to the main entrance.
Imran Ali, marketing manager at Al Haddad Motors, who was visiting the festival with his family, noted: “Yes, a lot of people have been complaining about the parking situation and I had to walk almost 10 minutes with the family to get in, but once you are here, you are having fun.
“We heard about the festival via Instagram and read about it in GulfWeekly, so decided to come by for the first time. The vibes are great, with lots of children entertainment, music, lighting and of course, a mix of Asian, Arab and international cuisines.”
Mohamed Ateeq, who owns New York 973 Burgers with his brother Anas Ateeq, added: “We have had a successful start to the festival, especially considering that it’s the end of the month and salaries haven’t been deposited in accounts. The event is fantastically organised, with musicians, clowns, jugglers and lots of entertainment for the entire family.”
The sponsors and supporters of Bahrain Food Festival 2020 include stc and Lulu Hypermarket. Lulu has built a two-storey booth at the end with live entertainment and café-style seating upstairs.
Lulu Hypermarket director for Bahrain and Egypt, Juzer Rupawala, said: “We decided to be a part of the Bahrain Food Festival because we wanted to position ourselves among the community. There is a great ambience with more than 150 stalls. We wanted to bring some of the best foods of the world. We have brought in great chefs and good cuisines. We wanted to be part of that magic.”